Thursday, January 31, 2008

Comic Book Review This Week

Green Lantern 27 - Writer Johns and artist McKone are the perfect team for Green Lantern. Continuing the story that unveils the Alpha Lanterns (an uber-powered Lantern Corps Internal Affairs Dept.) with some neat plot twists and foreshadowing of things to come. I'm enjoying this even more than the Sinestro Corps War storyline, and while the competition from DC was tough this week, by a whisker this one wins Cheers! Best of the Week!

Action Comics 861 - Another superb Johns chapter of the Legion team-up with art continuing by Frank. The best Legion story in forever keeps getting better, and it's making me wish Johns would spin off this Legion in their own title. Excellent!

The All New Atom 19 - OK this didn't get released this week, but it came to my attention that Rick Remender (Fear Agent) is going to be writing this title soon, so I thought I'd check it out now. I have not read this title and was a fine place to start with a fun single issue story. Neat cover by Laddron (I think). Good Fun!

Batman 672 - I'm not a big Batman reader. I like his supporting cast and his villians, but I've felt Batman himself has been a mostly one-note character ever since Frank Miller did the Dark Knight Returns. This kick-ass storyline by Morrison and Daniel (Daniel's Batman looks fantastic) has definitely got me on board. It's been many years since I came across a Batman story this good, and I'm still thinking I'm going to have to read the rest of Morrison's run on this. Excellent!

The Mighty Avengers 8 - Really bad. Need to stop buying this title. Avengers fight a Venom virus. Can't the Sentry just wish it away? He just wished his wife back to life. Iron man puts virus in Reed Richards machine and creates an antibiotic in five minutes to cure everybody. Umm. Antibiotics don't cure viruses, but while he's at it why not make an antibiotic to cure AIDS in another five minutes? Horribly Stupid - This Stinks!

Madman 6 - More groovy goodness as this storyline cranks up! Excellent!

JSA Classified 34 - A pretty nifty single issue story with Hourman and Liberty Bell. No complaints other than it's got too much black. Black costumed-hero fighting black-garbed villains on black backgrounds make for a bit tedious viewing. I think there's too many black costumed heroes in the JSA. They need a little color therapy. Nonetheless, it's Good Fun!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Short Book Reviews

Fantastic Four Visionaries George Perez Vol. 1 - This collection is a mixed bag of non-consecutive issues 164-167, 170, 176-178, and 184-186 of the original series in the 1970s. Since there are missing issues it's a bit disjointed, but the point is to showcase the Perez artwork. It's not his best work, and often doesn't really look like Perez style that's so distinctive. The stories are sometimes fun, sometimes silly, but mostly will appeal for nostagia value. For hardcore Perez fans only. Veering toward disappointing but mostly OK.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Short Book Reviews

The Stealer of Souls by Micheal Moorcock - I've been interested in sampling Moorcock's Elric fiction for some time. Unsure of where to begin, as the shear volume of Moorcock's prodigious writing is quiet intimidating, I decided to start at the beginning with this short story collection. I'm not much of a fan of short stories, and honestly was not expecting much from this old fashioned sword and sorcery book of the 1960s, but I found this book surprisingly readable and enjoyable. It's got one foot firmly in the pulps of yesteryear and one foot treading on timelessness. It reads as fresh today as it must have in 1963, and that's no mean feat. A nice-looking new edition with added content is out next month. Recommended!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Short Book Reviews

Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell - This is the third book in the Saxon Tales series, after The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman, which follows the anti-hero and pagan warrior Uthred. Unexpected plot twists, sword-slinging battles, blood feuds, brilliant curses, Christians vs. pagans and Danes vs. Saxons all enhance the engaging narration of the brutal Uthreds voice. Testosterone driven action doesn't get any better than this. I loved this book! Gotta get me a copy of Sword Song, the fourth book, which is out now. Highly Recommended!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Comic Book Reviews This Week

Legion of Super-Heroes 38 - Creative team Shooter and Manapul continue brilliantly in part two of their opening arc. Sure to please fans both old and new, I hope these guys are signed on for a long run. Loved the art, story and color. Super-hero comics don't get better than this. Two months in a row this one wins my Cheers! Best of the Week!

Wonder Woman 16 - Another beautiful and engaging chapter in The Circle arc. I'm enjoying this title a bunch, tho I'm disappointed to learn that the Dodson's are leaving in a couple of issues. I'm a bit confused that Hippolyta is alive. I remember her dying in one of those recent crisis. Guess I missed something that's not explained in this storyline. Good Fun!

JLA Classified 51 - Creaters Stern and Byrne are crafting a fine old fashioned tale of the Justice League's early days that works great for an old comic book reader like myself. And it's much better than the current storyline going in the regular Justice League of America. Solid entertainment and Good Fun!

X-men 207 (Messiah Complex Chapter 13) - This nicely illustrated and blood-thirsty "conclusion" leaves open more questions than it provides answers, so it's very unsatisfying. Is Mystique captured by the X-men? Is Bishop right about the baby? (Wouldn't you go back in time to kill Hitler?) Is Bishop dead? What's the baby's relationship to Jean Grey? Why does she grab Cyclops' girly locket? Does Emma Frost know that Cyclops wears a locket with a photo of himself and Jean close to his heart? Hasn't Cyclops let go of his past with Jean? Why does Professor X's body disappear? Why does no one seem to notice? Why does yet another death of Prof. X mean the end of the X-men? (They've functioned just fine when he's been dead before. Apparently Cyclops has forgotten this.) How many times has Prof. X died? Did we ever get an explanation of Cable's resurrection from the dead? If time travel is so easy for Cable, can't he go back and instantly save Prof. X? Or go back to the start of this story and whisk the baby off to the future? All told Messiah Complex is a mind numbing tale of deaths, resurrections and time travel. Pretty Dumb!

New Exiles 1 - I've not read Exiles in many years and I thought I'd try this reboot. You'd think this would be a good place to jump on board, but I'm just lost. It's just not engaging for a new reader which it should be. So, it Stinks!

Countdown to Mystery 5 0f 8 - Why did they change artists on this title mid-way thru? Totally ruined my enjoyment of this. Stinks!

Astonishing X-men 24- It's a pretty good chapter in the Breakworld saga. On the whole, the content was skimpy but I'm looking forward to reading the conclusion. This story would be better to read as a graphic novel. It's OK.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Etc.

Artwork for the original appearance of Manly Wade Wellman's Strangers on the Heights. See review below.











Artwork from the British paperback version of Strangers on the Heights.











Original artwork for Wellman's Nuisance Value, which is also included in the Night Shade edition of Strangers on the Heights.

Short Book Reviews

Strangers on the Heights by Manly Wade Wellman - Every once in a while I get the itch to read an old-timey pulp tale. In yet another nicely made volume from Night Shade books, I discovered a long out of print (originally from 1944) swift moving, first contact tale complete with e.s.p., teleportation, zombies, invaders from another world, a lantern jawed hero and a beautiful South American damsel. It's also got space vampires allergic to right angles, much like in Peter Watts recent Blindsight. A second short alien invasion novel, Nuisance Value (aka The Dark Destroyers) is included in this volume as well. In all, a light and breezy book that's Good Fun!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Short Book Reviews

Ghost Circles by Jeff Smith - The Bones and friends return in the 7th flawless volume of the colorized editions! This is the grimmest, darkest chapter so far as evil takes over the valley with the Bones running for their lives. There's simply nothing better than reading a new Bone book in color. Jeff Smith has a new series in the works call RASL which should hit in Feb. Highly Recommended!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Short Book Reviews

Wit'ch Fire by James Clemens - Undaunted by the disturbing use of magic piss in Clemens' Shadowfall, I decided to pick up this book as I've enjoyed the novels he writes as James Rollins. While it doesn't bring anything groundbreaking or new to the fantasy genre, I found this one to be an enjoyable ride with its relentless, thriller-like pacing, nice plotting and solid characterizations. I'd sure like to see more fantasy novels written with this swiftness of pacing. I'd call this one Good Fun!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Comic Book Reviews This Week

Fear Agent 18 (Hatchet Job 2 of 5) - Writer Remender and artist Opena continue to astound in this masterful SciFi tale. Heart wrenching, action packed and funny, the flawed and heroic Fear Agent Heath Hudson just gets better with every issue and has become a character I care deeply about. If I could only buy one comic a month, it'd be this one. Cheers! Best of the Week!

The Incredible Hercules 113 - Easily now my favorite title from Marvel. Greg Pak and crew are creating a very fine tale of pulpy goodness that easily shifts from ancient Greece to the modern age, all wonderfully illustrated by Khoi Pham. It's going to be an interesting showdown between Ares and Herc, and I can't wait to see what happens next. I'd just like learn how Ares went from a traditional Marvel villain to current Avenger. Screw Loeb's Hulk, my money's on this one. Excellent!

New X-men 46 (Messiah Complex 12) - Ramos's artwork looks great, so that buoyed this issue quite a bit. However there's so many villains here I don't know who most of them are. The real downfall of this chapter is the unexplained thrust of the book. Mystique is fretting over healing Rogue? After shooting her and trying to kill her? Hunh? Also, the "cliffhanger" Bishop vs. Cable ending is weak. Prof. X is in the room and he can just stop Bishop with a thought. Plus I still don't get why Cyclops wants X-men to be killers. Kinda Stupid.

World of Warcraft 3 - I've enjoyed the first two issues in a guilty pleasure sort of way, but this chapter shows much improvement in the storyline. It's pretty neat to see the virtual Warcraft world fleshed out into an entertaining fantasy tale. This is shaping up to be a solid title. It sure is good to have a sword and sorcery book in my monthly stack. Good Fun!

The Flash 236 - Mark Waid ends his short run on this title here, and it's a satisfying conclusion, both in the main story and the backup. I've only been an off and on reader of the Flash title, but I think I'll stick around and see how it shapes up with the new writer. Good Fun!

Warbound 1 and 2 (of 5) - I generally steer clear of spin-off titles featuring supporting characters, but the killer combo of Greg Pak and artist Leonard Kirk pulled me in. I'm glad it did. This is another feather in Pak's cap, along with the Hercules title that makes me think I'll probably be picking up titles with his name on it in the future. He's gotta be Marvel's best writer. Excellent!

Justice League of America 17 - Much like this weeks New X-men, the confusing array of an army of villains weaken the main story. Who the hell are all these people and why should I care about them? It seems to be tying into some storyline happening in another title that I have not read, so I don't quite get what's going on. The non-dynamic composition of Benes' layouts really does not help out the story either. He sure can draw pretty people with nice muscles that all look alike, but I doubt if he could draw a craggy character if his life depended on it. The backup story fares much better with engaging art by Jon Meyers. Disappointing!

Atomic Robo 4 (of 6) - I missed the first three issues of this title and wish I'd been on board. From what I can tell with jumping in mid-way it seems to be a fun concept. The story and art could have packed more into the pages, so it felt a bit skimpy; but on the whole I did enjoy it. I'm just hoping that it will be collected in a graphic novel, as I can't seem to find the back issues. This one shows some promise. Good Fun!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Short Book Reviews

Blasphemy by Douglas Preston - This is a decent science fiction novel about scientists making a machine that talks to God. It's got some faults. A bit slow getting started (the page-turny-ness cranks up after the first 100 pages), some thin characters, and a SciFi idea that stumbles toward the end and could have been pushed farther. But by the resolution, it's strengths win out - it's a rollicking read that recovers nicely with a satisfying conclusion, that has the added plus of possibly pissing off a few radical Christian fundamentalists. An enjoyable SciFi ride and it's Good Fun!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Short Book Reviews

Superman/Batman: Saga of the Super Sons by Various - This collection of related stories hails mostly from World's Finest from the 1970s. The advertisement I saw for this collection said it included a reprint of the destroyed, banned and elusive Elseworlds 80-Page Giant #1. That got me all excited and I ordered a copy. However, that's not the case; only one very short story is reprinted from the Elseworlds Giant. The shallow "generation gap" 70's stories are pretty much, if you've read one, you've read them all and make for very repetitive reading. I feel pretty ripped off. This one Stinks!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Short Book Reviews

Starship: Mercenary by Mike Resnick - The cunning Captain Wilson Cole and the cast of the Starship Teddy R. are back in the third novel in this vastly entertaining series. Easily accessible to non-science fiction readers, its larger-than-life, witty and mythic-sized characters propel the book through snappy dialog and clever plotting. I loved this book and it surely will win a spot on my 2008's best list. (C'mon Hugo award givers, isn't it about time Renick won a best novel award?) Fans of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly really should be reading this. Highly Recommened!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Short Book Reviews

Essential Avengers, Vol. 4 by Roy Thomas, John and Sal Busecma and Neal Adams - This 640-page black and white collection reprints issues 69 - 97 of the Avengers original run from the early 1970s. Widely regarded as the Avengers best run, it does indeed hold up well, due largely to the Skrull-Kree war storyline that take up the last 1/3 of the volume. Although the Skrull-Kree portion is available elsewhere in a color collection, the bulk of this book is not available in color reprints. I had a great time reading this and look forward to reading the next volume. Excellent!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Short Book Reviews

The Creeper: Welcome to Creepsville by Steve Niles and Justiniano - I've always had a soft spot for Steve Ditko's creation, the Creeper. He's never been much more than a guest star with a cool costume appearing occasionally in various DC titles. This volume is a collection of a mini-series which serves as a gentle reboot and introduction to new readers. While not ground-breaking, it succeeds at its task and is an enjoyable read. Justiniano's artwork is a good match for this character. Good Fun!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Short Book Reviews

The Salem Branch (Dark Shadows) by Lara Parker - As a long time Dark Shadows fan, I really wanted to like this novel by the actress that played Angelique. It works in part as a guilty pleasure, and the surprise ending is one I didn't see coming. For the most part it's filled with uneven pacing, one note characterizations of the under utilized supporting cast, and strange developments as the vampire Barnabas Collins focuses on old grudges, old rugs and fall foliage even before he's dosed by hippies on acid and a pot brownie. It's got some highlights but it's mostly Disappointing.

Etc.

Woot! Found the cover art for Andy Remic's War Machine sequel Biohell over on the Solaris website. Looks great to me, and I can't wait to read it!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Comic Book Reviews This Week

JLA Classified 50 (part 1 of 5) - This here's a very enjoyable blast from the past. Two old pro's, writer Roger Stern and artist John Byrne, unite for a tale from the Justice League's history. The awesome cover by Josh Middleton drew me in on impulse buy. I have not read this title in years, but I'm on board for this one. Cheers! Best of the Week!

Green Arrow and Black Canary 4 - Sort of a "Tonight on a Special Episode of Blossom" issue that details the aftermath of Green Arrow's son being shot. I only have a vague notion who Connor Hawke is, so there's no real emotional impact for me. However, it looks so great I'm thinking that the N.S.A./ M.I.T. project to clone artist Cliff Chiang really needs to speed up, so he can draw every title DC prints- a.s.a.p. Please get this new Speedy a new costume. She's like looking at Kitty Pride in leg warmers. It's Good Fun!

The Twelve 1 (1 of 12, oddly enuf) - Another impulse by this week. I usually steer clear of Straczynski's stuff, but I kind of liked the art work. I actually rather liked this one. It seems to be, more or less, a Marvel version of DC's mini-series Golden Age from a few years ago. I'm surprised but it's Good Fun!

X-Factor 27 (Messiah complex 11) - The plot moves forward nicely in this chapter but I'm pretty ready for this to be over. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next for the mutants after this event. It's OK.

The Mighty Avengers 7 - The coolest thing about his issue is the Sentry's wife, Lindy, asking Iron Man to kill her husband! Yay! About time! Get rid of that nut! Just wish Lindy had asked Iron Man to bring back the Scarlet Witch, Thor, the Vision, Ant Man, Hawkeye and Quicksilver, instead of Spiderwoman. Apparently the Sentry can bring back people to life by wishing it. The Sentry brought Lindy back to life last issue; can't he bring Captain America back to life? I think I might stop buying this title. It's quickly devolving into New Avengers Deux. Yuck.

Hulk 1 - Ummm. I'm not sure about this title. It didn't really do much for me. I think the absence of previous Incredible Hulk writer Pak is a mistake. I usually like Mcguiness's art work, but it seemed ho-hum to me. A first issue should grab ya pretty good. This one didn't. Think I'll start reading Pak's Warbound title instead. Disappointing.

Teen Titans Lost Annual - This one's pretty much of a mess despite assists from the Allreds. Might have worked with better layouts, but the still story is a weak wreck. Should have stayed lost. Stinks!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Etc.



The Avengers Battle the Earth-Wrecker by Otto Binder is the very first novelization of any Marvel property, from 1967. I stumbled across a cheap copy last night and am anxiously awaiting delivery. Can't wait to read this one!

Short Book Reviews

The Snake Agent by Liz Williams - The paranormal investigation sub genre is pretty crowded field. I've read quiet a few of them over the last few years, and the thought of reading yet another one practically had my eyes rolling back in my head and foam frothing from my mouth. None the less, I found this novel to be quite hard to put down. It's inventiveness certainly raises above it's competition. Part ode to the pulps of yesteryear, part mystery, part new weird and set a few beats into the future, it's all guided by Williams' gently erudite British craftiness into winning combination. I'll certainly be reading more of her work with pleasure. This one is Good Fun!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Comic Book Reviews This Week

Metal Men 5 (0f 8) - Duncan Rouleau is doing something no one else has done before. He's forged the Metal Men into a complex, smart, cool and beautiful SciFi tale. It's nearly in the vein of some of novelist Charles Stross' work. This book is as nifty as comic books get, and I whole-heartily recommend it to all. I was a bit perplexed by this title early on, but the various thread are coming together quite nicely. Rouleau has found the perfect match for his unique talents here, and I hope he buddies up with the Metal Men for a much longer run than this 8 part series. Cheers! Best of the Week!

Teen Titans Year One 1 (of 6) - This one nearly nabbed by top spot of the week. This is a new take on the original Teen Titans on their first adventure. The story is off to an interesting start, and the artwork by the team of Kerschl, Lapointe and Peru is very striking. I don't think these original Titans have ever looked better. Am eagerly looking forward to reading more. Excellent!

Lobster Johnson 5 (of 5) - The story comes to a close in all it's pulpy goodness. I'm just sad that this mini-series is at it's end. It's been one of my favorite Mignola creations in quite a while, but then I've got to catch up on some BPRD. Good Fun!

Uncanny X-men 494 (Messiah complex 10) - Not sure if every copy of this issue looks like the copy I picked up, but mine looks like the registration was off on the press. The artwork is very blurry throughout. I'd be hopping mad if I was the printers pre-press manager. But maybe it's supposed to look like that. I dunno. Story-wise I didn't feel like I got a lot for my money and came away thinking the relevant plot twists could have been told in about 3 pages. The rest was filler. Some chapters of this Messiah Complex are pretty good. This one's not. Disappointing!

Supergirl 25 - Ummm. This one looks pretty good and the story's a wee bit better than the "Hunh?" inducing previous issue. Might have to drop this title if it doesn't improve pretty quick. It's OK.

Countdown to Mystery 4 (of 8) I guess I am rather fond of comic books with 2 stories. A Doctor Fate continuing tale and another with the Spectre makes me pretty darn happy. Dig the plots and nice art on both parts. Couldn't be more please with this series. I'd love to see these creative teams continue to work with these magical heroes. Excellence!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Short Book Reviews

The Android's Dream by John Scalzi - This thoroughly entertaining novel is part space opera, part political cloak and dagger and part adventure, with a nice touch of Scalzi's own brand of sly humor. I was a big fan of Scalzi's Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades, but I'd been dragging my feet on reading this after the disappointing The Last Colony, but I do believe Scalzi's back on my must read list. Easily recommended because it's Good Fun!