No movies, some books

I loved P.C. Hodgell’s Godstalk and Dark of the Moon so much that it frustrates me I don’t like her more recent works in the same series, such as BOUND IN BLOOD. The characters are good, the settings are good, the individual scenes are good, but the book is less than the sum of its parts. It doesn’t advance the overall series arc much, but it doesn’t feel like it has enough self-contained material to stand alone—it’s like reading a long excerpt from a larger work, so by the time I finish, I’m disappointed. Very frustrating.
THE BEST OF MGM by Elizabeth Miles Montgomery is a standard coffee-table book chronicling how the Loew’s theater chain took over and combined two small studios to provide a steady stream of content for its movie houses and thereby created the glamour factory that gave us Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, the backstage musical, Forbidden Planet and The Crowd. Fun to flip through, too light on substance (if I had a better MGM book I wouldn’t have bothered with it).
SECRET SIX: The Darkest House by Gail Simone and J. Calafiore wraps up the pre-DC reboot Secret Six comic as the team goes to Hell to rescue Scandal’s lost love and battles a slacker crimelord (the best bit as the villain cheerfully attempts to imitate both SPECTRE and the Rat Pack) before a disastrously unsuccessful showdown in Gotham City. This reads like Simone wanted to give the team some sort of emotional closure with the emphasis on their tight bond; it isn’t always successful, but over all a good farewell.
HOUSE OF MYSTERY: Conception by Matthew Sturges, Luca Rossi and Werther Dell’Edera is the penultimate TPB of this Vertigo series, as Figg learns her responsibility for creating the Conception, the Conception catches up with her and the House of Mystery blows up real good (I’m sure it’ll be back). Pretty good, but not their best—I hope the closing gives them a chance to wrap it up effectively.
BATMAN: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo collects the first six issues of the post-reboot Batman, in which he discovers the Court is a secret society lurking among Gotham’s elite and preying on the city as it has done for more than a century. Having been underwhelmed by Snyder’s American Vampire, I was pleased to find this entertaining, if hardly standout (the Court’s assassin Talon is formidable but in the DCU, not very novel—though I admit his origin is startling). Still, like the other post-reboot volumes below, this was nothing they couldn’t have done without the reboot.
JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL: The Signal Masters by Dan Jurgens, Aaron Lopresti and David Finch is fairly formulaic: The UN recruits a team of second-string heroes without secret identities so that the world will see who’s defending it; the team then proceeds to bond personally and in combat as they go up against an alien Earth-destroyer. Routine, but Jurgens makes it readable.
ANIMAL MAN: The Hunt by Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman is as good as I’d heard, with Buddy Baker (who has the ability to duplicate the powers of any animal) discovering his daughter is fated to be the next avatar of “the Red,” the collective unconscious of animal life, which makes her a prize for the corrupting essence of the Rot if it can take her over, with the help of three dead totems it already has working in its cause. Weird and effective; my only complaint is that Buddy’s wife comes off too shrewish (even given that the circumstances are putting her under stress).

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One response to “No movies, some books

  1. Pingback: Graphic novels | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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