Right off the bat you can tell that Home Brew Vampire Bullets (HBVB) is a labour of love from all of the home-grown Australian contributors involved. HBVB is a quarterly anthology pulp book inspired by the likes of Tales from the Crypt, 2000AD, Métal Hurtlant and Ozploitation Movies. It’s a beautifully created piece of material that tantalises and leaves you wanting more.

The second issue gets quite an increase in size from the first issue at 162 pages, and is chock full of amazingly written prose from a massive line up of highly accredited writers and creators. It features a superbly in your face cover by Sacha Brying, and a foreword by none other than Australian comedic legend Tony Martin.

The material inside is not for the faint of heart with the books own website giving it a "75% R" rating, but if you're a fan of this type of genre you'd know this already. It’s available both digitally and in print form. As much as I'm trying to embrace the digital path of reading, this anthology warrants being purchased in print form as it really feels like a piece of art.

All the work in this tome is fantastic and it would be too hard to choose a favourite. That being said, I did check out some of the articles and pieces from new comers to the HBVB family first. Dr Emma Beddows’ investigative piece on the misogyny in Aussie Geek Culture was intriguing and informative, especially given it has been a hot topic in recent years; Johnny Fuckface by Dean Rankine had me grinning from ear to ear and then laughing out loud on the bus; Kellie Gollings’ Abando series of photographs were hauntingly beautifully, and had me staring at them for quite some time; and Laura Crawford’s prose piece on the Aussie indie gaming scene had me realise little I know about a medium I love.

Some notable mentions of creators returning to the fray include Aftertward: On ‘The Hobbit’ by Arran McKenna, Clive Parma & The Rainbow Serpent by Matthew Dunn, and Watch What You Eat by Justin Hamilton and Garth Jones.

Organising all of the incredible creators in the one book is the talented Garth Jones. As editor he has made this a rather unique book and quite the pleasure to read. Do yourself a favour and jump on their website and buy a copy.

- Billy

EB Expo is back and promises to be better than ever! 

With only a week until tickets go on sale, EB has confirmed that not only will the Expo be bigger than previous years, physically, but also that the legendary UK TV show Robot Wars will be there in all of there steel shredding glory.

Follow on after the jump for the official press release. 

EB Expo 2014: Major Publishers + Legendary UK TV Show “Robot Wars” Confirm Attendance

The EB Expo is back bigger than ever in 2014 with today’s announcement that all the major Australian gaming publishers have confirmed their attendance. The event will be held October 3-5 at the Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park. Tickets go on sale next Thursday 24 April at 10am AEST – only 1 week to go.

The EB Expo continues to be the premiere event for all leading and emerging publishers to showcase and introduce unreleased blockbuster games to the Australian public.

Attendees can play, watch, connect and experience gaming on a whole new level. The EB Expo is the public's chance to experience the latest releases from Activision, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, PlayStation, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, XBOX plus many more.

This year the Expo will be even larger than last year, with a brand new pavilion expanding to a massive 35,000sqm. The pavilion will feature never-before-seen attractions including the famous Robot Wars UK exclusive to the EB Expo all the way from the Northern Hemisphere.

Included EB Expo admission is the opportunity to get up close with robots weighing in at a whopping 100kg each. The robot’s sheer power and size has to be seen to be believed and will be demonstrated at free sessions, Q & As, and photo opportunities in every session.

“The EB Expo is a video game mecca with the big draw card being hands-on game play with the hottest unreleased games. Add all the live shows, awesome attractions and a night time fireworks and pyrotechnics show – it truly is a gaming utopia,” said EB Games National Brand, Events & Engagement Manager Debra McGrath.

“Whether you’re a gaming enthusiast or someone who just likes to play with your family, you’ll be spoilt for choice over the weekend. We’ve kept everyone’s favourite events and live shows from last year and planning heaps of new exciting content that will make this year’s EB Expo the biggest and best ever.”
The EB Expo is the perfect place to kick off the school holidays with the new discounted Multiplayer Pass and the Friday Daylight Session now offering a schedule suited to teens and their families.

Last year’s sold out Family Day is back. On the Sunday families can enjoy major attractions like the Video Game Hero parade, meet the stars of the ABC show 'Good Game', or enjoy free activities like face painting, balloon twisting and more. Joining the line up is the new Tumbletown playground area, Family Zone Café and the Lovesac Handheld Lounge & Stage where attendees can relax, win prizes or battle it out to score the Mario Kart champion title.

Building on the success of last year’s Retro Gamer Garden, this year we introduce Free Play City. Relive gaming through the ages in Retro Central Park, have the chance to hold the highest score in The Arcade, get serious in the Console Business District (CBD) and experiment with PlayStation®4 (PS4™) and Xbox One in The NXT Gen Lab.

A detailed schedule of sessions and events can be found at the EB Expo website www.ebexpo.com.au.

Tickets go on sale 24 April 2014.
Darkest Night: Act Three is the latest chapter in Hayden Fryer's dark and brooding comic book drama series.

Concluding the first story arc, 'Love', the issue is both written and illustrated by Fryer. While reading this latest installment I almost had to pinch myself: could this series really be from the same guy that brought us Billy Demon Slayer, a story that featured a teen's chainsaw-handed rampage through heaven?

Don't get me wrong I love Billy for what it is, but Darkest Night represents something much more sophisticated. It's single minded in both visual and narrative tone, intricately paced and dialogue is used sparsely for the most part, but to great effect. This series has proven to be a real master-class in effective visual storytelling with this latest installment being no different.

Act Three opens with protagonist Caleb Marcus catching up with his mates for some beers, the culmination of the positive note that Act Two left us on. The evening soon takes a turn for the worse when an attempt at a casual hook-up reminds Caleb of his ex-girlfriend, Carlie, and sends him spiraling back down into despair. Let the brooding commence. Caleb soon returns to his old ways of obsessing over Carlie and her new boyfriend, seemingly stuck in a sort of emotional limbo. Despair soon turns to anger when Caleb finds himself confronted by Carlie's new boyfriend upon attempting to reconnect with her.

Before I knew it I found myself intoxicated by the drama. Believe me when I tell you no one is able to convey an overwhelming sense of despair quite like Fryer. Through generous use of silent panels and clever choice of images Fryer deliberately keeps the issue at a snails pace, a tribute to his visual story telling skills and mastery of the comic-book format. All the while he slowly and methodically builds his way to a heart wrenching climax in the books closing pages.

Act Three is a generous issue coming in at a whopping 44 pages, about double the usual single issue page count. These extra pages allow Fryer to take his time, culminating in a really satisfying slow burn. The icing on the cake is the stunning painted cover that perfectly captures, the mood of this latest installment.

It's shocking, surprising but most importantly the perfect ending to this first chapter in what continues to assert itself as a stand-out independent series. Fryer's distinct drawing style and generous use of shading make for a book visually like no other. Although I'm pretty sure I said this about the last two issues, Fryer's art continues to improve issue to issue. It's become more technically sophisticated while continuing to stand out stylistically.

Darkest Night: Act Three, as well as Act One and Two, are available through the Siberian Productions website. Darkest Night: Act One and Two are also available via Comixology.  

- Christof

You can guarantee that every convention blessed by Madman's attendance will receive news regarding their recent acquisitions and Supanova Melbourne is no different. In fact, it seems a though they went out of their way to announce a bumper crop to their homeground audience! While details are scant (but not as scant as the clothes in Maken-ki), we'll keep you up to date when further information comes to hand.

Noucome - My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with my School Romantic Comedy

What would you do if every one of your actions was dependant on a limited set of parameters, like multiple choice for instance. Furthermore, what if those choices were perverse, sadistic and downright weird? 

Kanade Amakusa – a boy cursed with the mental power who will turn any multiple-choice quiz he thinks about into a reality. 

However, one day in school, he is given another choice: a beautiful girl will fall before him or he will fall from the rooftop in female clothes. Although he chooses the first option and it comes true, he and his new-chosen love – Chocolat – are in for a hilarious multiple-choice adventure.

Yuushibu - I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job.

Seriously? What's with all of these lengthy anime titles of late? Moving on. Imagine that your lifelong dream was to be a hero, only to have that possibility ripped from possibility. Well, meet Raul.

Raul had always wanted to be a hero, but failed the exams necessary to become one. He reluctantly took a job working at a small electronics store called Magic Shop Leon. 

His life is dull but busy until a new girl comes applying for a part time job. She’s the daughter of the demon king who defeated him in his exam.

Blaz-Blue Alter Memory

Based on the fighting game series which is responsible for an almost infinite number of rage quits (from me), Blaz-Blue Alter Memory promises to expand on the already kick arse story (pun intended).

Long ago, the world was saved from a monstrous creature known as the Black Beast by a group of heroes wielding a powerful combination of magic and science. 

Now, a rebel named Ragna the Bloodedge—who happens to be the most wanted man on the planet—finds himself in the middle of a mysterious plot that’s somehow connected to the Black Beast’s resurrection and the possible end of the world.

Haganai NEXT

More Haganai? Don't mind if I do. Encompassing volumes 4 to 8 of the light novel series by Yomi Hirasaka the "Neighbour's Club" continues to prosper as they learn more and more about each other. Needless to say, comedy ensues.

Yozora, Sena, and their misfit band of sorta-friends return in Haganai NEXT! 

The members of the Neighbors Club are still trying to figure out what friendship really means – even as their bonds are tested and relationships begin to change.

Inari Kon Kon

If the description of Inari Kon Kon below is anything to go by, we're looking at the love child of Fruits Basket and Ah! My Goddess and no part of that is a bad thing. 

Inari is a cheerful girl in Kyoto who has a crush on one of the coolest guys in her middle school, but she can’t seem to confess her feelings to him. 

After saving a beautiful goddess’s familiar, the deity blesses Inari with the ability to shapeshift—much to the chagrin to the rest of the spiritual world. Will love bloom for the newly empowered girl when the spirits intervene?

Maken-ki 2 

Like fanservice? Well you're in luck because Maken-ku returns for a second outing. 

The busty babes of Maken-ki! are back in a follow-up to the hit first season! When Takeru enrolls in Tenbi Academy, he discovers that he has a magical power called “Maken.” 

The hornball might end up a great fighter—if he can keep from being distracted by all the gorgeous girls running around his new school.
There seems to be an increasingly frequent trend in anime of late with series taking place in a time which is so interconnected with the internet that the human psyche, personal connectivity and gaming are inextricably linked. The latest of which to hit Aussie shores, thanks to Hanabee, is Accel World. Comparisons to Sword Art Online aren't completely unwarranted after all the same writer, Reki Kawahara, is responsible for the manage and light novels for both series.

Haruyuki, poor short, shy Haruyuki. Completely unremarkable to the naked eye, Haruyuki's real-world exterior hides an incredible online presence wherein the young man is an incredibly talented gamer with an untapped potential. Untapped until he meets Kuroyukihime, Black Lotus. 

Haruyuki is a really sweet kid with some serious self-confidence issues. At time it's almost painful to what how crippled he is by his own insecurities. That said, every cringe-worthy moment that he's put through helps to compound the joy that is felt when he manages to spread his wings in the virtual "burst world". This is just one of the ways that light and shade are used within the story. Visually we see short, round Haruyuki's avatar as a lithe and lethal robot which inhabits a rusted, lifeless world in stark comparison to the bright, vibrant natural world. 

Production studio Sunrise are known for their quality work and that's due in no small part to their creative teams which included not only animators but also writers. Screenwriter Yoshino Hiroyuki (Guilty Crown, Code Geass) does a great job of bringing seemingly disparate characters together at just the right time. Instead of starting off with a massive cast, each character is introduced in due course giving them each a chance to tell their own story. If there's one thing that a good story needs, it's character development and Accel World has it in spades. All of the main characters are introduced with some form of shortcoming and evolve into something more, something greater. Sure, at times the dialogue gets a little heavy handed, particularly considering that it's coming from a bunch of high-school kids, but for the most part it's very strong. The first couple of episodes are a little heavy on the exposition but this does an admirable job of speeding up the pace of this first season so that we can jump straight into the thick of it.

The visuals are consistently great across the board, just as you'd expect from Sunrise. Unfortunately the copy that I got my hands on was the DVD version. While in no way is the DVD quality poor, but considering how great it looks, I can only imagine how fantastic the Blu Ray would have been. The colours are vibrant, the lifework sharp and the blending of CGI and traditional animation was barely even noticeable. Add to that some distinctive character and mecha designs and you've got a very pretty piece of work on your hands.

This is a fantastic introduction to the world of Accel Saga and the fact that I've been left wanting more speaks volumes. Not only is the series itself a tasty treat but the packaging is too. Coming in a slimline jewel case (which unfortunately already has a broken 'open' button) with what I'm guessing is a clear sheet of acetate, the cover art seems to hover like a digital projection. These are the kind of finishing touches that make for more than just a DVD release, it's a collectors item. 

- Ryan
Accel World Part 1 is available from Hanabee on DVD and Blu Ray now.

After watching, and blubbering through, 2011's eagerly anticipated return of Jim Henson's THE MUPPETS I was excited to hear that they would be returning to the screen accompanied by the razor tongued yet surprisingly emotive (see Derek) Ricky Gervais. Sadly, this sequel is just as the opening song suggests, a sequel and not as good as the original. 

Still filled with laughs, jovial musical numbers and more than a handful of cameos, Muppets Most Wanted lacks one thing that the original had in spades: heart. I remember feeling moved by the first film, the feeling of reminiscing with old friends and the sadness that we don't have Jim Henson here to enjoy it with us. This film however contains little in the way of emotion and while it's a fun movie, that's where the connection ends. Sure, younger audiences will still love the film which is bright, funny and filled with wacky characters, but adults may find themselves yearning for more than just giggles and cameos. For the record, Ty Burrell is hilarious.

The opening musical number, "We're Doing a Sequel", by Flight of the Conchord's Bret Mackenzie, is a tongue in cheek ditty which admits that they made enough money to make a second film but not to expect it to be as good as the first. Even appearances by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett couldn't stop this prophecy from self-fulfillment. Other songs by McKenzie including "Something So Right", "I'll Get You What You Want" and "The Big House" are standout tracks while the rest of the soundtrack, not including the classic "Together Again", seem to fall somewhat flat. From there we're introduced to new characters who lead The Muppets on a round the world trip of music and peril. There are no surprises here. The bad guys are bad and the good guys are good. The bad guys lose and the good guys win. Was there ever any doubt? Ricky Gervais plays Dominic Badguy who is apparently doing a Ricky Gervais, impersonation for the entire film. 

What helps this movie along are the cameos which are plentiful and riotous, particularly those that take place in a Siberian Gulag. Tina Fey makes an appearance as a prison warden and shines as usual even when surrounded by a rag-tag group of prisoners including Jermaine Clement, Ray Liotta and the ever intimidating Danny Trejo. Other cameos include P-Diddy/Puff Daddy/Puff Pastry or whatever name he goes by at the moment, Salma Hayek, Stanley Tucci, Chloe Grace Moretz, Usher, James McAvoy, Tom Hiddleston and many, many more. The sheer volume of cameos goes to show just how much sway this bunch of glorified sock puppets have in Tinseltown.

From the eyes of an adult The Muppets Most Wanted is okay, just okay. It's a spot of fun with characters that are known and loved but lacks the heart and soul of the 2011 outing. While James Bobin reprises his role in the directors chair, there seems to be a lack of whimsy and levity which made me long for the return of Jason Segel. For kids, this film will undoubtedly be an hour and a half of laughter, music and mayhem albeit lacking in ongoing appeal.

- Ryan