Friday, November 30, 2007

Comics This Week

Fear Agent 17 - Heath Hudson and his supporting cast return to the present-storyline after the 4-part flashback origin-storyline. The origin-storyline had a shocking revelation that added unexpected depth to Heath's character, but this first part of a new arc muscles it's way back to the hairy, bare-chested, manly pulp SciFi adventure makes this series so great. If you like SciFi and comics you really ought to be reading this. Cheers! It's the Best of the Week!

Madman Atomics Comics 5 - I'm a big fan of Mike Allred's super hero stuff and have been a fan of Madman from the get go. I wasn't sure about the way this story line was getting started, but it's all coming together now and I'm very glad I stuck with it. I love this book. Excellence!

X-men 205 (Messiah Complex part 5) - I've been fairly disappointed so far with the Messiah Complex, but I actually really enjoyed this issue. I think writer Mike Carey and artist Chris Bachalo make a interesting team, and they are doing a solid job with the task they've been given. Bachalo's art has never looked better and his sequential form is solid here (I'm usually confused by at least a few of his panels). The Finch covers look awful and don't completely seem to match the contents, ie Rogue is on the cover but not inside. C'mon you editors! Earn that paycheck. An improvement overall and it approaches Excellence!

Green Lantern Corps 18
- This is the Sinestro Corps War part 10 and it's feeling totally padded out and long in the tooth. This story has gone on way to long. Not much happens here other than Ion (whatever that is) battling Superman Prime (is there a Superman Prime as well as Superboy Prime?) I'm getting confused. Not even sure what Ion is exactly, and I've read all of this current Green Lantern series. Another nice example of poor editing. Pretty much this one Stinks!

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes 36 - Bah, a fairly feeble storyline ends, but I'm looking forward to the new creative team on the next issue. Stinks!

Teen Titans 53 - What would comics do without time travel storylines? Sometimes they work, but time travel mostly gives me a headache. Parts of this one I found a bit confusing but I went with the flow, mostly cuz I like Miss Martian a whole lot. Of the new characters in comics this past year or so, I'm really digging Miss Martian and the Mighty Avengers, Ares. I'm still not sure I like this line-up of Titans; Ravenger is annoying and they have 3 super-strong flying invulnerable girls (Supergirl, Wonder Girl 2 and Miss Martian). Not as successful as the storyline that introduced the evil Titans from future, but It's OK.

Superman/Batman 43 - My impulse buy of the week and was fairly entertained by it cuz it works pretty well as a single issue story. It felt a bit skimpy because its loaded with 3 and 4 panel pages (3 and 4 panel pages usually make me feel slighted - c'mon I'm paying $3 and expect a bit more packed in page). But the story and art is decent so It's OK.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Short Book Reviews

Knights of the Black and White by Jack Whyte - OK, I really wanted to like this novel, and was looking forward to reading an adventure about the Templar Knights. This book reads like a draft outline of a novel in paragraph form. For example, we're told early on that a character has a sparkling wit, and 200 pages on I'm still looking for an example of that wit. There's only sparse dialog here, and what little dialog is very stilted. It's all completely lifeless. Cardboard characters would be a step up from the depth on display here. Thrown across the room because it Stinks!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Short Book Reviews

The Deluge by Mark Morris - Grim post-apocalyptic survivors flee London on a dangerous trek to Scotland while dodging weird monsters. No, I'm not talking about 28 Days Later. The pages turn fast, and Morris writes with a nice clarity while deftly handling a large cast; this is more recycled than original. I might try another book by Morris but this one is Disappointing.

Short Book Reviews

Paragaea by Chris Roberson - I very much enjoyed Chris Roberson's X-men novel, The Return, which was the best X-men story I read this past year; much better than the current comics. This book was engaging and I liked the basic idea of an updated "planetary romance" and the world of Paragaea was filled with cool sense of wonder stuff. But aside from the Dorothy- trying-to-get-home-from-Oz like story line I never felt the cast of characters was under any real threat, and I felt like I was reading a young adult novel. Disappointing but I'm still looking forward to reading The Dragon's Nine Sons.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Short Book Reviews

The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe - Over the past few years I've read a ton of fantasy novels and have burned out a bit on the genre. (Too much "world-building"; thin characters; plodding plots with too little action; never ending series; tongue twisting names, etc.) This book however, comes as a welcome antidote to all those ills. It's got action, mystery, interesting characters, all nicely paced in page-turning action. The rather worn out and creaky noir detective is melded successfully with a light touch to the fantasy tropes; and the author plays fair with the mystery. No deus ex machina ala fantasy magic revelation here. All the clues are presented for you to solve the case. This book is Good Fun!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Comics This Week

Brave and the Bold 8 - This is probably one of the current best titles being published by either DC or Marvel. It's a fun ride across the DC universe that beats hands down any of the big event titles like Identity Crisis, 52, Countdown, Civil War or Messiah Complex. This issue packs in some laughs while continuing the 2nd story arc. If not the best of the year, it's certainly worth Cheers! Best of the Week!

Action Comics 859 - Continuing the Superman/Legion of Super-Heroes team-up, this issue follows the intriguing mystery and I can't wait to see what comes next. I'm loving this story line almost as much as I'm looking forward to Jim Shooter returning to the Legion. Things are looking up for the Legion. Excellence!

Incredible Hulk 111 - Repeats some of the story from the final issue of World War Hulk from a different prospective with a likable cast. Seems to be a transition story toward the title changing to feature Hercules. It's pretty decent and I'll stay tuned to find out what happens next, and why does Angel have a snowflake on the front of his costume? It's OK.

New X-men 44 - Woot! Humberto Ramos! I skipped last weeks Messiah Complex and don't feel like I missed much. The story does move forward in this chapter and it's the best so far. I pretty much like this one. No doubt in large part to Ramos' artwork. Marvel ought to give him a X-title with Nightcrawler, Angel, Wolverine, Colossus and Storm; they look awesome here. Angel has a halo on his costume and not a snowflake which looks much better than in the Hulk book. Surprisingly, it's pretty good!

Countdown to Mystery 3
- I'm still enjoying this title, even though I'm not reading the rest of the Countdown stuff. Still loving the artwork by Stephen Jorge Segovia. Guest appearances by the Creeper and Batman. Very Enjoyable!

Flash 233-234 - My impulse buy of the week, to check out the new artist replacing the wonderful Daniel Acuna. Freddie Williams wonderfully colorful artwork is a fine match for the Flash. The story seems to be progressing well, even tho I'm a bit put off by the Flash kids thing, and I seem to be warming to the concept. So overall, It's pretty good!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Short Book Reviews

Starship: Pirate by Mike Resnick - I've just started reading Mike Resnick books in the last year or so, and he's already become one of my favorite SciFi writers. This is the sequel to Starship: Mutiny. Great clean prose, snappy dialog, bigger than life characters and completely entertaining plotting and action. This is yet another handsome book from the publisher, Pyr and it's got some cool 'extras' at the end. I can't wait to get my hands one the next volume, Starship: Mercenary, which is coming in early December. More than Highly Recommended.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Short Book Reviews

Marvel Masterworks Avengers Vol. 7 - This reprint series finally gets to what I think of as the best of the Avengers. For me the Avengers really turned golden when the Vision was introduced (in Vol. 6) and and continued through around issue 200. This reprints Avengers 59-68 and a Black Knight story from Marvel Super-Heroes 17. A wonderful collection. Marvel please print more of this, and faster! Perhaps I've being nostalgic but this is Highly Recommend.

The Black Order by James Rollins - Another fun pulpy Sigma Force adventure that I enjoyed, but not quite as fun as the more recent Judas Strain. I haven't been reading these in order, but will probably go back and start at the beginning to catch up. Good Fun.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Short Book Reviews

Eat the Dark by Joe Schreiber - I am a big fan of Schreiber's first novel, Chasing the Dead, which was a fun Lovecraftian page-turning romp. This book however plunges into the slasher genre, and doesn't really bring anything new to the table. I'm not a fan of slasher movies, but if you are you might enjoy this. I found it to be Disappointing.

Comics This Week

All Star Superman 9 - More sublime perfection in story, art and color. It's all a wining formula that DC really ought to copy across their product company wide. This book is the antidote for everything that ails current comic books. Love that Superman is really smart; an aspect that's forgotten in most Superman books. A sharp contrast to Frank Miller's dreadful All Star Batman. Cheers! Best of the Week!

Wonder Woman 14 - My impulse purchase this week, because I really like Terry and Rachel Dodson's artwork. I have not been following this title, and am a bit confused about some story elements from proceeding issues. However, I like that Wonder Woman has her secret identity of Diana Prince again; and that she is not super powered when she's Diana Prince. Plus it has talking monkeys. Pretty good.

Titans East Special 1 - This is a prolog to the new Titans monthly. While it was kind of cool to see the classic New Teen Titans have an adventure in the first 15 pages of this book, it was kind of an odd and almost disturbing revisioning. (Mostly due to the awful artwork by Ian Churchill.) I'm always suspicious of books that have "Who Will Die?" on the cover and this book solidifies that belief. The remaining story kills off characters that should have been killed off long ago (there's a Little Barda?), to set up the start of the Titans book. I'm not sure why some plot device could not be invented that brings back the classic New Teen Titans (down to Dick Grayson as Robin or at least a version of Red Robin, ala Kingdom Come and Wonder Girl in her red uniform). Isn't that what most fans want? Maybe Titans will improve, but this one Stinks!

World War Hulk 5 - This story line seems like it's been going on forever, but it comes to a mostly satisfying conclusion. Although Marvel did pass up the perfect chance to kill off the horrible Sentry. I was really rooting for the Sentry dieing. Not that I want to see the Hulk as a killer, I like him as the noble monster. I just don't see the need for the Sentry, Thor is back. :) Pretty good.

World of Warcraft 1 - As a Warcraft fan I've been looking forward to this one. It somehow felt rather slim, but seems to be a good start. Am looking forward to reading more. Pretty Good.

Thor 4 - OK, I have mixed feelings about this title. I try to steer clear of comics written by Straczynski, but this is drawn by one of Marvel's best artists Oliver Coipel. I'm glad Thor is back and I dig his updated uniform. I think I like it even better than his original look. The overall story is proceeding at a glacial pace, but it sure looks great. It's OK.

Captain Marvel 1 - Mixed feelings on this one as well. I like that Captain Marvel is back; it was dumb to kill him off in the first place. Lee Weeks art is solid, but the story is odd in a couple of ways. We see Captain Marvel in action at two points in the story. In the first, he basically kills off a villain and then he destroys the Iron Giant. I don't like heroes as killers, so that was distasteful, and isn't the Iron Giant someone else's property? I wanted to like this, but I think it Stinks!

Green Arrow and Black Canary 2 - I totally love the artwork of Cliff Chiang and he's one of my favorite artists. While I was not a reader of the previous Green Arrow series, I've hopped on board this title with ease, and am quite enjoying the ride. It's shaping up to be one of my current favorites. Excellence!

Outer Orbit
- This is a collected edition of a four part series. It's a humorous SciFi adventure that's very enjoyable. Nicely plotted and illustrated silly fun. I would love to see more Quinn and Krunk. Dark Horse, please make more of this series! Highly Recommended.

X-Factor 25, which continues the disappointing Messiah Complex, looked so drab and dreadful I didn't pick it up. Still not reading Countdown. It still looks to be too big of a commitment for too little pay off. Crossover burn out? You bet! Am looking forward to reading Moore and O'Neills League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier, but will wait for the paperback edition.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Short Book Reviews

The Sargasso Ogre by Kenneth Robeson - I've finally gotten around to reading a Doc Savage novel. While I enjoyed the characters, the setting and the whole concept, it didn't all really gel for me. If I'd read these books when I was a kid, I'd probably be a fan. Yawn, Ho-hum.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Short Book Reviews

Bloodline by F. Paul Wilson - This is the 11th (of 12) Repairman Jack novel and it's a snappy, fun and page-turning read. I'm a big fan of the Repairman Jack series and this one does not disappoint. The story ends with some dangling plot threads that have me anxiously awaiting the conclusion. Highly recommended.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Comics This Week

Lobster Johnson 3 - Having been a bit disappointed by the current BPRD and Hellboy books, I turned to Lobster Johnson and it's been a awesome ride so far. Pitch perfect pulp goodness in story and art. Earns my Cheers! Best of the Week!

Metal Men 4 - Although I've been a bit confused at times with this books plotting, the beautiful Steampunk inspired artwork by Duncan Rouleau has won me over completely. It seems to be a gem of a reboot that will only read better as a collected edition. I think this is one of my current favorites. Excellence!

Supergirl 23 - OK, I've always been a big Supergirl fan. This title is finally improving. I really didn't like the first several story (by Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly) arcs or the artwork. The new creative team (Puckett/Johnson) however looks to be a good match for Supergirl. And while I was scratching my head at the ending, am looking forward to reading more. Good fun!

Uncanny X-men 492 - The plot creeps along in this part two of the drab-colored Messiah Complex. Lots of talking heads and some fighting. Billy Tan can draw muscles really well, but lacks dynamic composition for the most part. Colossus looks pretty cool and nice to have Angel in a X-book. Storm is on the cover but not in the book. What's up with that? Yeah, I'm an X-men fan from way back, but they have mostly disappointed me since Joe Mad's run on Uncanny or Grant Morrison's New X-men. Yawn, Ho-hum.

Iron Man, Enter: the Mandarin 3 - I'm rather enjoying this title set in Iron Man's earlier days. I like that Iron Man has his pointy helmet, and the plot is pulpy fun. Would love to see more new books from Marvel set in the Silver/Bronze age days. Be a great way to bring back the classic Avengers that I'm missing so much. Good fun!

Astonishing X-men 23
- This book has been coming out so slowly I forget what's happened previously, so it might work better as a collected edition. It sure does seem like this current Breakworld story has been going on for years and years. Pretty to look at though. Ah, it's OK.

Illuminati (New Avengers) Secret Invasion/The Infiltration 5 - Jeez, the title is about as long as the plot. And apparently is kicking off yet another big event. Groan. While I'm so not a fan of the whole 'New Avengers' thing (gimme the classic Avengers, please!) I have to admit this creative team handles the task they've been given nicely. I just wish the talented artist Cheung would return to doing the Young Avengers, a title I miss and hope that continues at some point. Ah, it's OK.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Short Book Reviews

Humans/Hybrids by Robert J. Sawyer - These two books are parts 2 and 3 of the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. I read the first part Hominids last month. They are all nicely paced and plotted SciFi thrillers about a gateway opened between two worlds, ours and another world that is populated with modern age Neanderthals. These are not primitive cave men; in fact, one of the lead characters is a Neanderthal physicist. It's all a frame to hang the outsider-looking-in-at-our-world upon and the author uses the device well to comment on our human nature. Sawyer's is a liberal view and one that I enjoyed much. Entertaining on several levels. Tho, I thought the 2nd book repeated a bit too much from the first. There's some laughs along the way, neat science and a couple of rather silly plot points. For those that have not read any Sawyer and are unsure about committing to a trilogy, try the authors Mindscan. Recommended.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Short Book Reviews

Descendant by Graham Masterton - Another solid entertainment by the reliable Masterton. I'm not a fan of things vampire (it's been over done), but I did enjoy this book. It's the story of a strigoi mort hunter in mid 20th century Europe. Some nice plotting and twists; huge body count and bloody while not extremely graphic - nice balance. Recommended for vampire fans.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Short Book Reviews

Phantom Nights by John Farris - This is one of the most satisfying books I've read this past year. It's a tender and heartfelt ghost story of revenge beyond the grave. Perhaps even better that the authors cult classic, All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By. Very Highly Recommended.

The Judas Strain by James Rollins - This is a very fun adventure story that is much better than the rather pedestrian Map of Bones. It's a Doc Savagey tale that packs in pirates attacking a cruise ship, a glowing witch goddess, cannibals, hidden treasure in Angkor Wat. Highly Recommended.

The Wheel of Darkness by Preston and Child - I've read all the Pendergast novels from these authors and had pretty much given up on this series. I really enjoyed The Relic and Reliquary, and parts of a couple of the other books. This one is a brilliant return to form of the earlier books; complete with a supernatural monster. Confirms my belief that the Pendergast books work best with monsters. :) Highly Recommended.

The Pale Horsemen by Bernard Cornwell - This second volume of the Saxon series improves upon the first, which I greatly enjoyed. For those folks who have enjoyed George RR Martins' A Song of Fire and Ice series should skip other fantasy books and turn their attention here. This is a awesome series of a Viking pagan anti-hero making his way thru 9th century Briton. Highly Recommended.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Comics This Week

Action Comics 858 - Action Comics is kicking ass! Hot off of Eric Powell's super excellent Bizarro 3 parter, we're treated to Gray Franks excellent work with a Superman/Legion of Super-Heroes team up. Bar far the best comic book of the week. Love that they've returned to the pre-crisis idea that young Superman (Superboy) had adventures with the Legion. Yay! Finally that horrible mistake has been corrected. Cheers! Best of the Week!

X-men: Messiah Complex - A pretty disappointing start to what's billed as the biggest X-men event in a decade. It's got a $3.99! cover price but 10+ pages are ads for the series, so the actual content is pretty much normal length. I'm kicking myself for having paid an extra buck to look at some ads. Perhaps the story will improve, so I'm holding off judgement on Brubakers writing. I really am not a fan of the sharp angles of Silvestri's artwork. Then there's a mostly confusing array of villains here. Not sure who all those people are. But that's rather on par with much of Marvels product lately. Confusing and hard to follow. And that's coming from someone who's read X-men for the best part of 30 some years. Stinks!

New X-men 43 - I'm a fairly new reader to this title, and it's got a lot of charactors to follow. I started reading this when Skottie Young picked up the art chores. He's going a pretty good job here. I've maybe read four or five issues of this title, and I'm still confused with about what's going on. I thought they were bringing Magik back. Guess not. Great Art.

DC Infinite Halloween Special - 13 stories here in a extra size comic. Mostly surprisingly good and entertaining stories featuring DC heroes and villains. Seems kind of odd they didn't use Cain and Abel (from House of Mystery/House of Secrets) or the 3 witches (from the Witching Hour) or the Spectre. Deadman shows up which was a nice treat. And I think one story had the Phantom Stranger tho he looked very different. Some great art here. Loved the art on the Zatanna story. Pretty good fun.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes 35 - This one is so-so. Improves over the previous issue, but I'm looking forward to the new creative team on this title. This title so far has not been my favorite incarnation of the Legion. I'm very glad Supergirl is with the Legion again. Now if they'd only bring back Superboy and the Legion as well. It's OK.

Countdown to Mystery 2 - This title I'm enjoying very much. I'm liking the new Dr. Fate and the back up story with Eclipso is pretty good so far. I'm very glad the Spectre is getting some attention. I really love the art by Stephen Jorge Segovia. I don't like that Plastic Man hit his kid and has become a criminal. I'd really like to see Segovia do a Spectre series. It's Good.

(Tales of the) Fear Agent 16 - I'm a pretty big Fear Agent fan. This issue is a one shot and it was pretty decent. It's OK.

Justice Society of America 10 - I'm really digging this series so far at least story wise. Tho, I'd prefer that they had a better artist. Would love to see Peter Snejbjerg here. It's Good.

Dark Shadows Movie

I've read that Johnny Depp wants to star as Barnabas Collins in a Dark Shadows movie. That's cool, but I hope it's done smartly with a new story. It would be awful for it do redo the same old story that was 1) done in the original TV show; 2) remade in Night of Dark Shadows movie; and remade again in 3) the 1990s TV show. Let's not see yet another version of the origin of Barnabas. Jeez that's certainly been done to death.

So, here's my thoughts on how to do it smartly that engages both new fans and old fans. The film should start a new storyline. The storyline should pretend that the original TV series never ended, but that there's a history gap of stories that are untold.

Barnabas Collins, having been cured of the vampire curse decades ago by Julia Hoffman, is an old dying man. Rodger Collins and Liz are long dead and buried, although their ghosts may still linger. David Collins is the reigning patriarch, married and with children.

David's widowed cousin Carolyn also lives at Collinwood and has become an expert in matters occult. Carolyn has become the occult protector of Collinwood and has fended off the dark forces that usually threaten Collinwood for many years. Her protections fail when her youngest son, Quentin celebrates his 21st birthday and inherits his fathers werewolf curse.

Evil forces, such as the eternally youthful witch Angelique. Angelique has returned to Collinsport to offer the dying Barnabas a bargain. His youth for his love. He accepts, and is given his youth as well as being transformed into a vampire again.

OK - that's my idea for the first 20 mins or so. With much high drama and shocking plot twists to follow.