Books I’ve read

KARMA GIRL by Jennifer Estep is a chick-lit super-hero novel in which a disgruntled reporter discovers a)her fiancé is a super-hero; b)her best friend is his mortal enemy; c)they’re also cheating on her. All of which prompts her to build a career exposing masked adventurers’ identities, which convinces arch-fiend Maleficia that the reporter is the perfect agent to expose Maleficia’s mortal foe—whether she wants to or not. Not as much fun as it sounds—it reads like Estep couldn’t decide whether this was camp or serious and falls awkwardly between the two.
POINT MAN by Steve Englehart is one of those books that has me wondering why I didn’t like it the first time around—the story of San Francisco DJ and Vietnam veteran Max August discovering a magic McGuffin in his possession has landed him smack in the middle of a war of wizards kept me thoroughly entertained on rereading, even though the mysticism is pretty stock (as several characters point out). The geopolitics don’t date as well (30 years later, the Russian menace looks wildly overstated—let alone the assertion America has never taken the threat seriously), but this is solid entertainment from one of my favorite comics writers; I look forward to picking up the sequel Long Man eventually.
SHARPE’S SWORD: Richard Sharpe and the Salamanca Campaign, June and July 1812 by Bernard Cornwell has Sharpe’s pursuit of an arrogant French counterspy during the Salamanca campaign embroil him with a stunningly beautiful woman, suffer a near fatal wound and struggle to acquire the title weapon from his enemy as a mark of triumph. A good one.
NINE LIVES: The Folklore of Cats by Katharine Briggs is a collection of cat-related folktales and general observations from around Europe which, for the most part, I was fairly familiar with (too bad she didn’t go further afield—Asia, say) regarding cats’ roles as luck-bringers, tricksters, witches, enchanted maidens and occasionally friends to the hero. A good book, but not right for me (though I still love Briggs’ Encyclopedia of Fairies).
THE BATMAN CHRONICLES Vol. 5 is part of DC’s ongoing reprinting of Batman’s adventures issue by issue; this slice of 1941 and 1942 includes the return of the Penguin, a couple of Joker stories and several entertaining one-shots (“The Three Racketeers” in which three men swap their tales of clashing with Batman and “24 Hours to Live,” a darker take on the D.O.A. concept). As a comics buff, it’s interesting to see the Joker as he veers from the coldly flamboyant killer of his first stories to the more gimmicky criminal he’d be until the early seventies; it’s also striking how much more human Batman and Robin are in these (you’d never get away with a plot nowadays that had Batman overcome by just a couple of ordinary hoods).
SHOWCASE PRESENTS ECLIPSO presents the collected Silver Age exploits of Eclipso, a villain manifesting from scientist Bruce Gordon’s body whenever there’s a solar eclipse somewhere in the world (or sometimes if an object just “eclipses” the light Gordon is standing in). This gets points for novelty as the only Silver Age series devoted to a villain (Sub-Mariner and Hulk don’t count) and one where the villain is really villainous—villain-centric series in the seventies often wound up pitting the lead character against even nastier villains, but that rarely happens here. That being said, the stories aren’t terribly outstanding, but it was an interesting read nonetheless (though given Eclipso’s face has a distinctive “eclipse” mark on it, B&W isn’t the best format for this.
MODESTY BLAISE: THE GABRIEL SET-UP by Peter O’Donnell is the first in a series of trade paperbacks collecting the long-running newspaper strip about Modesty, a retired master criminal who goes to work for British intelligence (along with her trusted right-hand, Willie Garvin) out of sheer boredom with respectable life. While the set-up strip is a bit of a slow story, the next two were excellent; I look forward to picking up more of these.

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2 responses to “Books I’ve read

  1. Pingback: So if I’m writing a super-hero novel, why don’t I like reading them? « Fraser Sherman’s Blog

  2. Pingback: Campy comics, Greek gods and superhumans: comic-book stuff | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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