Monday, November 24, 2014

Indie Corner - 11/19/2014

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

It's weird reading this after reading Pax Americana a few days ago.  It's weirder still that I had flashbacks to Joe the Barbarian (another good book, if you haven't read it).  But I think, like Joe, Annihilator is a weird story that won't be fully understood until the final issue, and read much better as a whole than serialized.  That's not to say I'm not enjoying the monthly installments, but I'm getting the sense this will be a future hardcover for my shelf.  I'm not going to say anything about what happens in this issue, but recommend checking it out if you're into weird, trippy Grant Morrison stuff.

The Abominable Charles Christopher v02
There are two printed books of Abominable, a weekly strip found here:  It is, without a doubt, one of the best comics I've read in quite some time.  I was taken in by the first strip and have been awed, saddened, and frequently laughed at the unfolding story.  It's exceptionally good, and I can't recommend it enough.  You can read the strip at the link above, or purchase the collections at the same link.

A long wait for a comic short on story, but brimming with absolute fighting insanity.  At long last!  Thragg!  Battle Beast!  And those last three pages are a punch right to the gut.  I guess we'll see that again in 50 issues or so.  Invincible is as amazing as it is devastating.

I think I've mentioned before that I read in bed.  I keep a comic or three on the bedside table, get into bed at night, and read a little before finally going to sleep.  Seconds, the new book from Scott Pilgrim's Bryan Lee O'Malley, is 323 pages and I finished it in three days.  I was reading in chunks of 50 - 100 pages per night - far more than usual - and when I got close to the end, finished it off during the day instead of waiting for night.  It's really good.  And cute, and amusing, and about growing up (at any age), much like how Scott Pilgrim was, though told in a way that's rather different.  Recommended for anyone that enjoyed the Scott Pilgrim series.

I saw the movie, back when that opened almost 8 years ago.  And I always meant to read the comic, but never brought myself to buy it.  Then I bought it and it sat on a shelf for a few years.  But since I'm recently unemployed, I've been plowing through my "to read" list and making decent headway. 

The movie is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the comic.  So your personal opinion on the movie should inform your decision whether to purchase the comic or not.  I enjoyed the movie and enjoyed reading the book, which is longer than I was expecting for such a seemingly thin book.

Originally published in 1998, only three years before Dark Knight Strikes Again, 300 actually feels more like Miller's older works of Ronin, Sin City, or Dark Knight Returns (I haven't read his Daredevil work).  I recommend the book for anyone that's a fan of the movie, which I plan to re-watch soon.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Indie Corner - 11/12/2014

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

I didn't time it, but this felt like a quick read.  Likely, because there was a mostly silent five-page pursuit sequence.  Sheriff Bronson isn't getting any answers and she's not happy.  Meanwhile, Boo gets a piece of information that could actually break things open, from the least likely cast member.  The book is still good, but this issue is just kinda there, moving the story the tiniest bit.  It's likely just a mid-arc bump in the road before things get moving again toward the conclusion.  At least I hope that's what it is.

Drifter 1
The series was described as "featur[ing] the dark revenge themes of Unforgiven with the mind-bending universe-building detail of Dune."  If that's true, it's not evident in the first issue.  The first few pages are quite interesting, but from then on the main character is a complete dick to literally everyone and entirely unlikable.  By the time the twist ending came about, I'd stopped caring.  Very disappointing for a series I'd been looking forward to.

While reading this I was thinking, "The preview pages gave half this story away already!"  Only, not really.  The preview pages were actually the middle of the book, and context is everything.  Plus, there's everything that happens after that, which is pretty significant.  Jude and Hemingway have a new mission and the cover to next issue makes a helluva lot more sense now than it did when it was first solicited.  While I have no idea where the story is going, I'll be along for the ride.

This is a weird issue.  A lot happens, and most of it through exposition.  There's a "men in black" joke in there, but it's actually rather fitting.  Seasoned agent in the secrets business needs a new agent, recruits a woman with a bit more curiosity than sense.  Throw in some the space race, moon landing, and a mysterious entity, and you've got equal parts Men In Black and X-Files.  While I'm interested to see where the story might be going, this isn't the Justin Jordan I'm used to.

Third number one this week and third strike out.  Resurrectionists seems to focus on people harnessing the memories and abilities of their past lives.  Even though there's exponentially more people alive now than ever before.  But whatever.  The fight sequence at the beginning of the issue reminded me of the Five Ghosts series of Image.  I think I'll stick with that instead.

We get a lot more story this issue compared to the last, and the creeping dread starts right from the beginning with discussion of "the lump."  Sailor and Lucy are both losing it, whether from visions or memories, while dad and Reggie struggle to keep up.  Definitely a bizarre, creepy, yet good book.  I'll be sticking around for a while.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Best Audio Books of 2014

Similar to last year's list, this will be a collection of some of the best book I've listened to in the last year, not necessarily ones that were released in the last year.

Casino Royale
James Bond, from the beginning.  I'd been curious about the books since re-watching every Bond movie and was pleasantly surprised to find it's aged quite well.  Book two, Live and Let Die, does not make the list.

Audible recently released several Bond novels read by celebrities.  I'd already started the series, and jumped at Moonraker after hearing the sample read by Bill Nighy.  The book isn't just the best of the series (so far), but I wish Nighy read all the Bond books.  He's absolutely brilliant.  The book, I should mention, is nothing like the movie.

Another great from Chuck Palahniuk.

3:10 to Yuma
I have several books from Elmore Leonard in my library; this remains one of my favorites.

Devil in the White City
Educational, fascinating, and horrifying.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
The first of several on this list that are comedies.  The title was enough to get me to listen to the audio sample.  The audio sample made this an instant purchase.

A Christmas Carol
I've been listening to a lot of classics.  This is the first to earn the title.

Dimension of Miracles
The return of (narrator) John Hodgman to the list.  This is written by Robert Sheckley, whose right there next to Douglas Adams for his brilliant, hilarious, insightful writing.

Year Zero
Another Hodgman narration, and another Douglas Adams comparison.  I'll be keeping an eye out for future works from Rob Reid.

Medium Raw
The return of Anthony Bourdain to the list.  And another enjoyable, entertaining listen.

I'm surprised nothing from Neil Gaiman made last year's list.  I'm making up for that with two this year.  I enjoyed the movie, and the book is also excellent, but I especially love when Gaiman reads his own work.

Good Omens
A quote from the linked page talks of "wackiness" and "morbid humor."  Too true.

The Importance of Being Earnest
This is actually a recording of a live performance of the Oscar Wilde play.  It's both ridiculous and hilarious.

You Are Now Less Dumb
David McRaney's earlier book was on last year's list.  This one is also excellent.

George Carlin Reads to You
George Carlin reads three of his books.  What more could you ask for?

A Universe from Nothing
The subtitle is "Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing" which was what initially grabbed me.  It's informative and interesting without being dry.

Physics of the Future and Physics of the Impossible
Michio Kaku was on last year's list and I liked his book so much that I bought two more.  Both of these are good, though one is better than the other.  I just can't remember which.

13 Things That Don't Make Sense
For all our scientific knowledge, there remains many things we fundamentally don't understand.


Dead Six
The team of Larry Correia and Bronson Pinchot is unbeatable.

I got into Parker because of the Darwyn Cooke adaptations.  The books are brilliant and better than all the movies put together.

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Having loved The Hitchhiker's Guide for almost two decades, I finally ventured into Dirk Gently territory.  It was brilliant and absurd, and I wish there was more.

Millennium Trilogy
Or, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the other two."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Indie Corner - 11/05/2014

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

The last page features No saying, "Yes."  My grin from seeing that hasn't faded yet, but it has washed away some of the creepier aspects of the issue.  It struck me this issue that Spread is like Walking Dead if you skip the first 100 or so issues.  Humans are living in clusters around charismatic leaders, but the underlying reasserts itself at the worst possible moment for maximum impact.  This book is glorious, and disgusting, and I love it.

Tooth & Claw 1
It's unfortunate that I'm currently writing a fantasy comic starring a diverse cast of anthropomorphic animals... because that's what Tooth & Claw is, and it's really good.  I knew I was in trouble early on, with the amount of world-building going on by page six.  It only gets more brilliant and expansive from there.  It's 48 pages, no ads, and $2.99.  I've already added it to my pull list.

The family gets reunited, more or less.  But how that happens causes things to get a little violent.  Also, more is shown of the other world, and specifically what happens just after Mike arrives there.  I find the scenes on this world compelling, but don't especially care about the other world.  What I'd like to know is what immediately proceeded Mike's return, but I fear that won't be revealed for some time.  Still, it's a solid title.

We're given a bit more Rath family history, and a lot of information on just what Ruben did to get into so much trouble.  That's about all I can say about this brutal, gripping book.  Fans of Aaron's Southern Bastards should definitely give it a chance.

DAY MEN vol 1
Here's the setup: vampires have too much power and money to leave it all to chance while they sleep during the day.  Enter Day Men, employed by vampires to look after their interests, move about in the human world, and generally do whatever needs doing.  It's a vampire book that's not really about vampires.  The writing is tight, the art is great, and reading it collected means you don't have to wait long periods between issues like I originally did.  Issue 5 of the series also hit stands last week.

Wow.  So, I just finished reading this in basically two sittings.  First half yesterday and the second half today.  A lot of people read this as singles, but I stopped after issue two when I realized I'd rather have this on my shelf than tucked away in a box.  The story is good, as Scott Synder stories are.  It's a huge story about adventure, exploration, and a dozen other themes.  The art is simply amazing, spanning from boundless and vibrant to deeply claustrophobic.  Recommended to anyone that's a fan of Snyder or Murphy.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Indie Corner - 10/29/2014

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

Rasputin 1
Powerful first issue that's short of dialogue but tells one helluva story.  Rasputin begins just before this death (or rather one of) before quickly transitioning to his childhood.  Things don't go well.  The writing is tight, knowing how to tease us with enough tasty bits and when to back off.  The art is equally impressive.  I'll be adding this to my pull, and recommend giving it a shot.

If you're into Avatar books (Crossed, Uber, God is Dead, etc.), you'll probably like this.  I used to like Avatar, or at least Warren Ellis Avatar books like Strange Kiss and Dark Blue.  And I like Justin Jordan, so I figured I'd give this a shot... and it's just not my thing.
P.S. to colorists: If you've got an office worker in dark pants and shoes, don't give him white socks.

Last time I wrote, "The art is gorgeous, the characters are all well written, but the story... it's barely there."  And it's still true.  I've decided to give this until the end of the arc (next issue), and if I still feel the same, I'm cutting it loose.  Things happen - mostly relationship drama -  and the art is still good, but I continue to struggle with wanting to like it more than I actually do.

It likely wouldn't be as good, but I hope someday there's a chronological version of Bunker put out.  Maybe Zero could do the same.  Anyway.  This is a Heidi issue, taking place in both the present and future.  As the future gets further fleshed out, scenes from the present are intercut and may contradict events from the first issue.  Is this a sign that things are changing, or merely adding detail to what's already been established?

I've never read McCay's Slumberland.  I've wanted to for quite some time, and even back two Kickstarters that failed to get funded.  I feel like if I had been alive 100 years ago, my mind would have been properly blown.  But I wasn't, I've spent 25 years reading comics and watching movies that drew inspiration from McCay.  So my mind isn't blown that way it might have been.  Still, if I had to name one person to draw this series, it would be Gabriel Rodriguez, hands down.  It just feels like I'm late to the party.

This will likely be the last time I include Saga, since it really doesn't fit the "under people's radar" mandate.  That said, a little story:
What people may not know about Saga, -but has been scientifically proven- is that its gotten better over time.  Seriously, there was a claim made that Fiona isn't as good in this issue as she was back in issue one.  So we pulled the first trade to compare side-by-side.  Survey says: she's even better now than she was then.  Case closed.