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The Phoenix – Issue 28 REVIEW

July 15, 2012

The Phoenix - Issue 28

The Phoenix – Issue 28

Wait a second… What’s this? Has Harry finally doing another review about The Phoenix after a long time?

Well, yes, of course – have you even read the title and seen the supporting image, you numpty.

But really, yes – I’m back with another Phoenix review after my ye olde review of Issue 13! The scary thing is – back then, I asked whether the comic could get any better. To simplify what could be paragraphs upon paragraphs of praise – yes, it easily can – and it can get better still. I don’t think it can but I know that sticking to the same routine is not the Phoenix way – that’s more like The Beano’s way. Yet another reason why The Phoenix towers above DC Thomson’s most popular comic.


‘The Pirates of Pangaea’? That’s gone. ‘Long Gone Don’? That’s gone. ‘Elsewhere’? That’s gone. The Bald Boy and The Dervish? Well, that’s gone forever. All that remains from the original crew (and have appeared in every issue) are: Jamie Smart’s ‘Bunny VS. Monkey’, which has now extended to three wonderful pages; Kate Brown’s ‘The Lost Boy’; Simone Lia’s ‘Lucie’; Lorenzo Etherington’s puzzling ‘The Dangerous Adventures of Von Doogan’ and Ricardo Tangle’s ‘Planet of the Shapes’ – with ‘How To Make Awesome Comics’ by Neill Cameron, Adam Murphy’s ‘Corpse Talk’ and the ‘Tale Feathers’ also regularly appearing but taking small breaks every now and again. 

And now another is back.

The “intrepid” and “laugh-out-loud” funny intergalactic crew of the Star Cat have triumphantly returned after a long break – their first series ending all the way back in Issue 12! No doubts they got lost – maybe the Star Cat found a wool spaceship and chased after it – during their time away, whilst returning back to where the last left off – lazing about drinking space tea, eating space cake and playing space draughts. 

The issue really is simply brilliant – full of laughs, adventure and fantastic story-telling on every page. With ‘Troy Trailblazer’ now on an epic-length weekly series in the comic, ‘Good Dog, Bad Dog’ back once again on the trail of the supposed murderer and ‘Gary’s Garden’ in yet another brilliant four page story of awesomeness – the comic really is always mind-blowing!

But now I’m just teasing you – I’m sure you all want to know the content of this apparently brilliant issue – correct? Yes, that’s what I thought imaginary longing voices in my head requesting the continuation of this review.

Well then, impatient voices – here you go:


PG 1: Front Cover: Star Cat – James Turner

– Finally! A Star Cat cover after long last! Now I’ve just got to wait patiently for a Good Dog, Bad Dog cover and we’re sorted! A simple cover – I quite liked it but felt the white background didn’t work too well – there could have easily been a better cover picture – I’d personally go for The Star Cat flying  from the corner of the page – its head and part of its body showing – maybe the crew floating in space above it with a caption like “Right, who pressed the ejector seat button?” and Plixx whistling with the words “The crew of the Star Cat are back with a brand-new series!”. Ah well, it’s still good enough for me. GOOD 

PG 2: Welcome! (with supported illustrations by Matt Baxter)

– The Welcome page has had a totally new redesign since my last review with a contents now on the page as well – this works so well in my opinion with some great taster images included. However, I personally preferred the DFC’s contents where everything was mentioned with artists included with a few pictures as well. Matt Baxter’s illustrations are perfect for the Phoenix team – I loved this week’s header image – the robots look brilliant! They look happy and yet also evil – Matt Baxter never fails to disappoint! GOOD

PG 3: Troy Trailblazer – Rob Deas

– Troy’s easily on his greatest and longest adventure yet in a six week epic-length series – overall meaning 24 pages of Troy Trailblazer action! Rob Deas treats us with yet another part to the series which is easily 100% action and suspense! The artwork is flawless – The Starfire Knight looks fantastic but I can’t help feel sorry for him strangely! I must say, I find the backgrounds very odd in this story with rendered photos of real trees, sky and mountains being used – certainly looks strange but it actually works quite nicely. TOP 5

PG 7: The Big News! (with supported illustrations by Matt Baxter)/Planet of the Shapes – Ricardo Tangle

– I originally rather disliked this page – I found it was a waste and pretty dull. But now with its sneak-peeks and helpful news – I actually believe every comic should have a page like this! This week’s sneak preview looks very interesting – all I know is that it’s called ‘Charlie Small’s Big Escapes’, has a great name and features a gorilla which says “Give!”. You must all bow down to my detective supremacy. Heh heh… Ricardo Tangle is still producing some top stories with Planet of the Shapes which has so far appeared in every single issue including the limited edition Issue 0! This week’s is very funny – one which may take a few seconds to figure out but once you’ve got it, you immediately love it! Always the best kind! GOOD

PG 8: Star Cat – James Turner

– Eeeeeeee! MASSIVE FAN FREAK-OUT!! – *ahem* – sorry about that but I’ve been so BLIMMIN’ EXCITED for the return of Star Cat for far too long – and now I can finally read The Phoenix’s top comic strip (narrowly beating Cogg and Sprokit)! The humour is always there – seeing my favourite character back – AKA The Pilot is also AKHLLHM’ DWBHSHMF!! The story is so funny – the aliens are great, a cockroach tribe is so odd and genius! Arggh! I’ve missed it so much!! TOP 5 

PG 10: Tale Feathers: The Vulture – John Dickinson and Warwick Johnson Cadwell

– I’ve actually read another Tale Feathers (I never read the book extracts – they’re so boring!) – this original story was great! A simple storyline with a fairly dark but funny ending and some loose and brilliant artwork by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell – especially keen on the header picture in the hospital. Very funny! GOOD

PG 12: Collect Them All! – (with supported illustrations by Matt Baxter)

– I LOVE these pages – they’re perfect for nerds like me! Not only do they show all of the issues together (something I love doing with my own copies) but I can also look at each cover and try and remember which feature-length(s) featured in which issue! It makes me proud to know I have each of the issues in perfect condition  and can even boast I have the limited-edition Issue 0! Woo-hoo! GOOD

PG 13: Bunny VS. Monkey – Jamie Smart

– Jamie’s ‘Bunny VS. Monkey’ is still going strong with some hilarious stories and beautiful illustrations (the scenery is always amazing especially!) – and best of all, THREE PAGES OF IT! WOO-HOO!! I can’t explain how much I love Bunny VS. Monkey – it’s so incredibly silly and ridiculous that you can’t help but love Jamie for his wacky humour! Also thought it was so cute when Metal Steve hugged Octo-Blivion! Such a cute character! The final picture is so sweet with both Metal Steve still hugging the invention and the Octo-Blivion also happy. It’s what makes Jamie’s artwork so beautiful – it may not be impressive in detail like Lorenzo Etherington’s but you can always attach to the characters and when it’s Jamie’s stuff – it’s always going to have humour and always have a cute aspect. The final panel really is beautiful – the artwork may not be incredible but it doesn’t matter – I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks it’s perfect in every way. TOP 5 BEST

PG 16: Corpse Talk – Adam Murphy

– That’s right – Blimpville has also gone since my last review and now Corpse Talk takes the centre pages with two pages of sheer magnificence by the brilliant Adam Murphy! A far better usage of the centre-pages and Corpse Talk works EVEN BETTER as a two page story as opposed to the original one page stories! This week’s corpse dug up by Adam is the famous lady writer, Jane Austen – her story may not have been as breath-taking as Mahatma Ghandi’s and Cleopatra’s but still proved to be a good read! I hope Corpse Talk stays in the centre pages like this – far more story, far more awesomeness! GOOD 

PG 18: How To Make Awesome Comics! – Neill Cameron

– I refuse to call this page ‘Art Monkey Presents…’ as I preferred the old title and it’s still exactly the same really! These are always great pages – comic strips that are funny and teach you about how to make comics are genius! I love the story of the little boy – it’s so true and interesting to watch the stages of development and what goes on inside our brains whilst drawing and getting primary (and secondary) research. I also love how every strip follows along the same guidelines – it isn’t confusing, it makes perfect sense. GOOD

PG 19: The Fanfare! – (with supported illustrations by Matt Baxter)

– The Phoenix does have some talented fans – it has to be said! Morris Smith’s comic he sent them (Zen Volt) was  pretty cool for a starting point! He may prove to do well in the comic business – who knows? Also couldn’t help but notice the sneaky “ASDF Movie” tribute with ‘The Science Show’! Gotcha, Morris!  The other comic strip had a lovely style to it as well – nice use of colouring pencils – very simple yet effective. Overall, a good Fanfare page as usual! GOOD

PG 20: The Lost Boy – Kate Brown

– Woah! Awesome artwork! Seriously, the best yet!  I love the facial expressions on both Jim (on Thursdays) and the adorable Bob! Also like how the humid, bright colours originally seen have gone and now the colours are becoming increasingly darker – could it be a sign? Not long left now until the end of The Lost Boy – EEEEE! GOOD

PG 22: Gary’s Garden – Gary Northfield

– Blimey! And I said ‘The Lost Boy’ was pretty dark! Firstly, must say – Gary’s done a brilliant job at the colours – especially love the first panel – the sky has a great variety of colours plus the fox’s dark silhouette against the scenery – big claps for Gary! *clap clap clap*! The story is brilliant, very funny and original – Gary’s Garden is fantastic – it’s a shame this is the last one of its current series! TOP 5 

PG 26: The Little News – (with supported illustrations by Matt Baxter)/Lucie – Simone Lia

– Star Cat VS. Bunny VS. Monkey? HOW THE BLINKIN’ FLIP AM I MEANT TO CHOOSE THAT ONE?! For those who don’t know what’s going on – a Phoenix Championship is taking place where the readers vote the top story – so far ‘The Pirates of Pangaea’ and ‘Gary’s Garden’ have narrowly got through – sadly eliminating two of my favourites, ‘Cogg and Sprokit’ and ‘Planet of the Shapes’. Currently Corpse Talk and Von Doogan are battling it out for a place in the next round – COME ON CORPSE TALK! Lucie was surprisingly somewhat decent this week – a good story with decent artwork and a decent enough ending. Would prefer a new mini-strip instead though. GOOD

PG 27: Good Dog, Bad Dog – Dave Shelton

– Back in its second series with the mystery remaining unsolved – Bergman and McBoo’s latest story-arc, ‘Double Identity’ continues and in what a way! Dave Shelton is a brilliant artist – he can convey every emotion needed and while barely anything ever happens action-wise in Good Dog, Bad Dog – it feels like you’re reading a detective novella or watching a detective series. With loads of speaking, mystery and mysterious characters – the story really is perfect! Even better than the Golden Bone of Alexandria and The Dog’s Dinner put together! The cliffhanger is also rather exciting – chase scenes are always good! TOP 5 

PG 30: The Dangerous Adventures of Von Doogan – Lorenzo Etherington

– *Yawn!* – do I really have to read it? I suppose I have to… Oh, actually – that one was alright! A bit easy perhaps but decent enough! I hope after this story-arc ends that Von Doogan takes a break – I’d like to see something new on Page 30 – preferably a comic strip. GOOD

PG 31: Subscription Page – (with supported illustrations by Matt Baxter)

– This works far better – subscription page on the inside back cover and Next Week sneak-peek on the back. Also allows for the Time Machine to be advertised – and that’s one blimmin’ helpful thing to have when you’ve missed an issue! GOOD

PG 32: Next Week!

– Ooh, Star Cat is clearly in there (no surprises really! It’s not done a Kit and Clay!), Art Monkey’s Even Bigger Adventure; well, that looks rather exciting! Plus Starborn is back – well, Danica is at least in ‘The Secrets of the Universe’ by Paul Duffield! It’s been too long since the last Phoenix story by Mr. Duffield so this I am really looking forward to! GOOD

There’s really no point reviewing anything else – it was all brilliant – not one average page in there! Well done, Phoenix!

The Phoenix – Issue 28, featuring the return of Star Cat is on sale RIGHT NOW for only £2.99 – go into your local Waitrose or selected comic shops and grab a copy now! Alternatively, why not subscribe?

That’s all for now, blog fans!

– Harry Rickard

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