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The Phoenix Weekender

Published On December 7, 2013 | By Richard Bruton | General

Well, after the extra sized Issue 100 last week, we’re back to regular sized Phoenix goodness this time. Although the good news is that it’s got added Jim Medway, and Molly is always up for that. Me too for that matter… onwards…

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Inside there’s the final part of 3 & A Dog, which continues the problematic thing of not living up to the comedic promise of the first episode. Damn, that was funny, had all the hallmarks of an instant classic and then the Ficklings and Dan Boultwood’s strip got a little too bogged down in story. The ending ends the story, not much more. It’s okay, it’s nice to look at, but darn it, this could have been top notch if the comedy and the adventure would have continued hand in hand.

 

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Jamie Smart’s Bunny Vs Monkey has been running for 101 issues now, so it’s no wonder Smart has been dropping a lot of ideas for plot points into his strip, there’s many, many weird plans afoot around the forest, and here we get to see the fallout of Bunny discovering the reason he couldn’t remember his urban roots last issue…

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Of course, being Smart, there’s a lot of gaggery going into this story as well, loads of throwaway visual gags, just like the look on Le Fox’s face in that panel above. Consistently great.

Adam Murphy seems to have hit on a second top notch educational and funny idea, first there was Copse Talk, and now his strip Hey, Dr. Smarty Pants is doing much the same thing, a couple of pages to tell the readership something fascinating, Corpse talk does it through the medium of the undead telling a tale, Dr. Smarty Pants merely shows us science and all its wonders. Both are excellent. This week it’s bees, and just how they make honey. It’s really well done, presenting a load of information very quickly, yet never failing to be entertaining.

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Next up we have Jim Medway’s Sgt. Chip Charlton & Mr Woofles, a strip with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Fab adventuring with the ever so serious and sensible straight laced Mountie, this time looking to defend the rights of those very important to Canada’s commercial interests loggers being “hounded by violent saboteurs“, who of course turn out to be just a group of well-meaning hippies. There’s a lot going on in here, maybe too much? the whole thing reads great to me, but to a typical Phoenix reader? not so sure. Whatever, I’ve long been a fan of Medway, and here he’s on fine form, loads of gags around the mountie being so super serious and straight-laced, and I reckon they all work…

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Laura Ellen Anderson’s Evil Emperor Penguin (or EEP) has really improved in recent months, delivering silly gags and delivering them with some style. Unfortunately we take a bit of a step backwards here, with EEP meeting what may well be his even more evil twin. We lose a little of the fine humour and quick dialogue of previous episodes and focus a little more on the story, and EEP is worse for it. Not bad by any means, but can be, and has been, better.

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Rounding the issue out is the second episode of Troy Trailblazer and the Horde Queen.┬áRemember what I said about 3 & A Dog forgetting to be funny and concentrating too ┬áhard on the storyline…. well Rob Deas’ Troy Trailblazer doesn’t fall into that particular pitfall, not a bit of it. It’s such an improved series, and this new series seems destined to maintain the quality Deas established with his cast in their last adventure. This is still in the setting up phase, thus allowing Deas to have a little more fun with it than when he needs to pin down a storyline, but even then, the adventure always comes with a hefty serving of humour.

This episode sees Troy failing to realise they’ve detoured from their original destination as Jess has answered a distress call. This is not the beach he was looking for…

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Deas’ style is actually getting a little more fluid, there’s a lovely flow and kinetic nature to so much of his art, so much going on in most of his panels, it’s a real joy to read these three pages and see the movement and style going on everywhere you look.

Like this… love this panel…

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Aint that nice? TT is full of great little moments like that. Great strip. And getting better.

It’s on rather good form right now is the Phoenix. In fact, it’s pretty consistent, there’s been a few dips here and there, but so far across the 100+ issues it’s been such a solid performer, a shining light representing Brit Comics for children. You really should subscribe. Details here.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

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