Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Last Week's Comics Today - 04/25/2017

This isn't everything I bought, nor is it even everything I read, but it is everything I was able to write about within my own self-imposed time limit.

Pick of the Week
Super Sons #3 - I love these kids.  The series is only on issue three.  If you like the current Superman title, give this a try.  And Superman, by the way, is great, if you weren't already aware.

Superman #21 - Weird things are happening in this small town and I'm very intrigued.  Batman is missing (after investigating said weirdness last issue) and --his son-- Garth teams with Superman and Jon to find him.  And that's when the giant alien squid-thing attacks a fair.  Things get surprisingly heavy for a moment and I'm left wondering how no one realizes Jon is superboy.  Clark/Superman in a city is mildly believable.  Jon/Superboy in a tiny town is really not.

Honorable Mention
Aliens: Dead Orbit #1 - If you like Aliens, you should get this book.  Stokoe is a perfect fit for the technological and organic details of Giger's now classic designs.  I'm going to stop writing now so you finish reading this sooner and can go buy the book.  On sale Wednesday!  P.S. The writing is great too.

Cave Carson #7 - I didn't know Oeming drawing Superman was something I wanted.  All the violence, swearing, and trippy visuals of the previous six issues, only now with Superman.

Descender #21 - Another character gets thrown out of a hatch!  I can't be sure if they're dead or not.  It looks like it, but I expect confirmation one way or the other next issue... which starts Rise of the Robots!  I don't know what that entails (I've got a decent idea), but I expect great things as every issue is fantastic.  This series continues to be highly recommended.

God Country #4 - When this concludes with issue six, I may demand another series.  I'll wait to see how everything shakes out, but it seems like there's enough material to keep going.  Anyway, a man walks into hell to save his granddaughter and is confronted by something he wants even more.  From there, it's all consequences of one's actions.

Moon Knight #13 - Moon Knight's long, strange journey is almost over.  It's been a brilliant series and I'll miss it once it's over.  No, I will not mention anything that happens this issue.

Sex Criminals #18 - Some real heavy, deep discussions this issue, and it's all brilliant.  Then the book ends with a dick in the ear.  There's also a page with 64 panels on it, which is a sight to behold.

Shaolin Cowboy #1 - I saw at C2E2 over the weekend and had the pleasure of explaining to a friend the chainsaw bo staff used in an earlier series as we stood at Geoff Darrow's table.  The skull, the sword, the shark, the whole bit.  That issue happens to be my first exposure to Shaolin Cowboy, before I went back to get the previous issues.  I will now read any new material for as long as Darrow produces it.  No, I once again will not discuss what happens this issue.

Everything Else
Batwoman #2 - Boatloads of backstory and a good half dozen characters are introduced.  It's good, and interesting, and I get the feeling some of these characters will be in it for the medium- to long-haul while a few are all but certain to die before the end of the arc.

'Namwolf #1 - A werewolf taking part in the Vietnam war.  That either sets your curiosity on fire, or I don't think we can be friends.  Get it.  It goes on sale tomorrow.

Trinity #8 - I expected this to continue the Dark Trinity (not the one currently in Red Hood & The Outlaws) story that started last issue.  Instead we get an entire issue of Batman, Wonder Woman, and superman talking about Superman Reborn, --Dr-- Mr. Oz, and what it all means.  It's an easily skippable book.

Wild Storm #3 - I had to read the first few pages a couple times to get what was going on.  I wasn't paying close enough attention the first time through, went back, thought I knew what was going on, and then read it again just to be sure.  Anyway, after that bit of character introduction, a pretty awesome firefight breaks out just after Grifter's team meet Angela.  Granted, it's been a long time since I've read anything with Grifter in it, but he seems more awesome more than I ever remember him being.  Maybe that's Ellis' doing.  I like it.

World Reader #1 - The "story" is more of an introduction to the premise - aliens existed in the universe, but every planet we find with evidence of life is now dead.  However, the art is beautiful, there's nice character development, and the final pages interesting enough to get me to come back.  I'll see where this goes.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Recent Audiobook Reviews

There's two (really three (actually kinda four, except that two are in the same universe, so back to three??)) series below and while trying to keep spoilers to a minimum, reading later reviews will certainly spoil certain aspects from earlier in the series.  You've been warned.

InsomniaI struggled through the entire first half of this book, even joking it might be a cure for insomnia because it nearly put me to sleep more than once.  I only have experience with one other of King's books - The Gunslinger - the first in the Dark Tower series.  It's a book I enjoyed and I always meant to get back to the series someday.

My friend Dan is a big King fan and suggested this to me, though it had already been on my radar due to the occasional sleepless nights of my own.  That aspect - the deep inner-monologue of the main character's thoughts while suffering insomnia - kept me going during that first half while I wondered what the plot was.  I kept thinking, "This is well written but uninteresting" as contradictory as that seems.  I even met friends for dinner one night and asked, "Have any of you read Stephen King?" wondering if it was just me that didn't enjoy this best selling author.  There was group consensus King is boring, which made me feel vindicated, but I still didn't stop reading listening.  There was just enough interesting bits going on in the periphery of an old man getting less and less sleep each night to propel me forward.  Around the mid-point things both kicked into gear and went off the rails.  It's hard to discuss without spoiling things but I'll say the book has ties to The Dark Tower that rekindled by interest in the series.

I have no idea how to rate or recommend this.  The narration was brilliant and music added at tense and dramatic moments effectively amplifying the mood.  The first half was a fight to stay awake and when it got interesting, I was primarily interested in the bits that related to The Dark Tower.  I'm planning to read more Dark Tower and pass on anything else from King.

White Fire (Book 13 of the Pendergast series) - Nothing against New York, but I tend to prefer the Pendergast books set outside the city.  This is one of those, set in a small, affluent resort town in Colorado.  Being outside of New York City also means he's away from his usual supporting cast and the deep ongoing drama of his life.  Basically, there's no real foreknowledge needed despite this being the 13th book in the series, and there are enough references to prior events to fill you in on whatever is necessary.  He's in Colorado to help a friend get out of a pickle she blunders her way into while investigating 150-year-old bear maulings but winds up helping solve an arson case all while looking for a lost Sherlock Holmes story.  That makes more sense in context than when summarized into a single sentence.  I quite enjoyed it.

I don't remember where I first read about Gideon Crew (I've tried to find it again because I'd hoped to quote it but can't), but he sounded ridiculous.  Basically, he's your typical nuclear engineer, master chef, former thief, and master of disguise.  You know, a real everyman.  But I'm a big fan of an earlier Preston and Child book - The Ice Limit - and a sequel to that is the book fourth in Gideon's series, so I figured I'd give the guy a shot.

Gideon's Sword (Book 1) - The book starts with what seems like a clear mission that might take the length of a novel to resolve but actually wraps up in just a few listening hours.  From there, he's hired for a job by a recurring character from the Lincoln and Child universe and that guy's involvement helped propel me onward.  'cause I really like that guy and want to know/read more about him.  In a Liam Neeson particular-set-of-skills way, Gideon gets in WAY over his head yet manages to still save the day.  I'm kinda shitting on him and the book here, but it's entertaining and I enjoyed it.  Book 2 however...

Gideon's Corpse (Book 2) - The first book was good enough to get me to listen to the second.  However, if this had been the first, I doubt I would have continued.  The stakes are dramatically higher here than in the first book, but the pacing is much slower.  Reading them back-to-back, it was mildly infuriating.  There's also the fact that he develops feelings and has relationships with three women over these two books - this is set immediately following the previous book - in the span of about two weeks.  I don't think I have a single good thing to say about this book other than I got more of that character I vaguely mentioned liking above.

The Lost Island (Book 3) - This book's shift from its reasonably fictional beginning to fantastical ending is so slow, I stopped near the end to consider, "How did we get here?"  I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it.  It's well told but definitely goes off the rails.  The break-neck pacing is back which I think explains how the fantastical is so easily inserted - you don't get a moment to consider the absurdity of it.  The real draw for me here is this book is a stepping stone to the one I actually want to read - Beyond the Ice Limit, a sequel to the authors' early The Ice Limit which remains one of my favorites from the pair.  Those past and future events are mentioned multiple times here and each time my excitement grew.

The series is narrated by MacLeod Andrews, whose done nearly 300 books on Audible, but I'm most familiar with him from The Reckoners series.  In short, he's excellent.

The world the books are set in is roughly 19th century with rifles and trains and even a rudimentary punchcard computer.  I considered describing it as "steampunk without monocles" but there's so little detail given outside of the two main groups - Mages and Mechanics - that I don't feel comfortable describing it at all.  I've seen it called "Science Fantasy" but that seems so broad it's effectively meaningless.  Essentially, the Mages and Mechanics have carved out niches for themselves around magic and machinery, and everyone else is referred to as a Common.  Limited tech is given to Commons, but otherwise these groups don't share or get along with one another.

The series is six books long; I've read three of those in the last two weeks, and I'll likely read the rest of the series within the next month.  While I like the main characters and what they're trying to accomplish, I think the secret history of the world is the real hook for me.  I want to know more about the past as much as I'd like the see the ongoing storyline resolved.

The descriptions below are intentionally vague.  I should also note the titles of the books themselves are spoilers since each references something late in the third act.

The Dragons of Dorcastle (Book 1) - The first book started slow and I briefly considered returning it because the main character was so cold.  I hadn't realized this was intentional until the perspective switched the other main character.  At that point, the book really came alive as the two wildly different characters were thrust into adventure together.

The Hidden Masters of Marandur (Book 2) - This was an immediate purchase after finishing the first book.  Things unfold further as the main characters try to stay alive while the very powerful guilds try to have them killed and a prophecy mentioned in the first book is developed.

The Assassins of Altis (Book 3) - Even more attempts are made to capture and/or kill the main characters and unless I'm mistaken, there's a new antagonist keeping a low profile.  Where there were previously only hints as to the world's real history, the actual history is gone into here.

Last Week's Comics Today - 04/03/2017

I must have used up all my words last week as this week I'm back to my usual brevity.

Pick of the Week
Dark Knight III #8 - Damn, Wonder Woman was the shit.  Batman and Superman show up for a few pages, but this was Wonder Woman's show, and she owned it.  I still don't understand Lara, though.  Maybe her motivation will make sense next issue when this wraps up?

Honorable Mention
Aliens Defiance #10 - I saw a headline or ad this week saying the upcoming Aliens: Dead Orbit is the best thing to happen to Aliens in years.  I have no doubt it will be excellent but also feel that statement overlooks the fantastic work Brian Wood and a handful of artists have been doing for the last 10 issues.

Everything Else
Black Widow #12 - S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to be terrible at everything.  Seriously, how do they still exist?  Compassion trumps vengeance and two lines from Maria along with Tony's money sweep any lingering plot threads under the rug.

BPRD Hell On Earth v15 - I'm not ready for this to be over.  The end was suitably apocalyptic, but I was hoping for more closure.  This is all I find I'm able to say about it as I may be in denial about it being over.

Moonshine #6 - There's a whole lot of death this issue. I'm hoping someone still knows how to make the titular Moonshine, otherwise all this death is just over pride.  This issue marks the end of "Book 1", per the final page, so I'll eagerly be awaiting more as this is always one of the first I read each week it comes out.

The Sixth Gun v. 1 - I avoided this book for a long time because I had my own supernatural western comic I was working on.  Even when it became clear that comic wasn't going to happen, I still kept away.  Now, the series is complete and the team is working on their old series - which I quite enjoyed - The Damned.  This served as a reminder to me that I should finally give this series a try.

I like it and have since bought four more of the nine volume series.  Briefly, there's a set of guns, each imbued with a special power.  There's a gang in control of five of these guns, looking for the sixth, and a loosely held together group in opposition to them acquiring it.

The story moved far more quietly than I expected, and I found this quite satisfying.  Just reading it made me feel like I'd learned something about storytelling from it.

Transformers Lost Light #4 - Whirl and Cyclonus are brilliant together (as always).  Megatron is having a case of deja vu, hoping things will turn out differently this time.  Rodimus doesn't seem to care about what's going on, which seems off, but lets his true feelings known while getting into an argument with Megatron which should make for great drama down the line.  There's also a few pages with Anode and Lugnut, but I couldn't care less about them.

Transformers Till All Are One #8 - I'm lost.  There's a titan, but it's not the titan it's supposed to be.  And someone's locked up with a connection to the titan that's not supposed to be but gets out.  And necrotitans are killed, but it's not clear how many are still a threat.  And someone died (highly doubtful).  I miss the Cybertronian politics.  This extended action-sequence-with-a-twist has failed to impress.

Unfollow #17 - The cover says '40' but that's nowhere near true by the end.  The sprint to the finish continues as a whole lot more people die and Ferrell's plan is finally explained.  Those two sentences read as somewhat dismissive, but it's quite good.