Books and Comic Books (#SFWApro)

Despite the title, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ LLANA OF GATHOL—John Carter’s granddaughter—is primarily an adventure of John Carter himself. Once again wandering anonymously, he and the survivor of a lost city of ancient Barsoomians discover Llana has been kidnapped by an aspiring conqueror. Rescuing her leads them to a machine that can kill with the touch of a button, an ancient city of mummies and a land of invisible warriors, none of which is terribly fresh (Burroughs already had an invisible race in Swords of Mars). The original structure (four novellas published separately) doesn’t help as Burroughs repeats information and shticks over and over, such as Carter fighting yet another duel with a supposed master swordsman. Minor, the equivalent of Tarzan’s endless wandering into Lost Cities.
incognegrohc INCOGNEGRO by Matt Johnson and Warren Pleece is a striking graphic novel about Zane Pinchback, a light-skinned black man in 1930s Harlem who goes undercover in the South reporting on lynchings and naming the people who lynch. With the Klan close to identifying him, Zane’s sworn off going undercover again, but when his brother gets arrested for murder, he has to make one more trip South to clear his name and save him from a lynch mob. Very good, with an interesting backstory (the author says it reflects his own fantasies growing up as a light-skinned black). Cover by Stephen John Phillips, all rights to current holder.
HELLBLAZER: The Devil’s Trenchcoat is a weak John Constantine collection by Peter Milligan and multiple artists. In one story arc, John’s trenchcoat takes on a life of its own; in the other, John’s desperate efforts to free his sister from hell put his wife Epiphany’s soul at risk (I had no idea he was married BTW). The first tale is fair, the other has too much idiot plot: I can agree John might risk Eppy in the confidence he can cheat Satan, but he’d put more thought into it than he does here.
BATMAN: Earth One by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank was apparently written in the faith you can’t retell Batman’s origin too many times. This revisionist take has Bruce, much to Alfred’s disapproval, donning his costume to expose the political conspiracy he believes led to his parents’ death—but all the added twists and turns just feel like needless additions to a solid core story.
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ABE SAPIENS: Dark and Terrible and the New Race of Man by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, John Arcudi, Sebastian Fiumara (he did the cover, rights to current holder) and Max Fiumara collects the first two story arcs of Abe’s ongoing series. Increasingly mutated, Abe sets out into the new, chaotic world where he uncovers hints that his transformation is tied directly into the ongoing wave of new monsters (I’m guessing just as Liz proved a key player in the last apocalypse, so will Abe). The first part is very good, the second is readable but slow-paced.
THE COMPLETE PEANUTS, 1959-1960 shows Charles Schulz continuing to experiment as he brings in Sally Brown and her perpetual crush on Linus and Linus for the first time tells the legend of the Great Pumpkin. Meanwhile the Little League team continues to lose, Linus and Snoopy battle over his blanket and Lucy continues mooning over Schroeder. Meanwhile earlier characters such as Patty, Pig Pen and Shermy are fading or gone. I’ve got to give Schulz credit for continuing to change such a successful strip (adding Peppermint Patty and Woodstock later, for instance)—and in general for just creating a classic.
I didn’t care for Jason Lute’s first Berlin TPB but BERLIN: City of Smoke worked better for me. Germany moves into the 1930s as fascists and Communists both try to build a following, a black jazz quartet plays Berlin and various characters shift and change their relationships. Well done.

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Filed under Comics, Reading

One response to “Books and Comic Books (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Book reviews: Mars, robots and Revelation (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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