GRENDEL: Hunter Rose collects Matt Wagner’s backup series from his Mage book, telling the story of the eponymous deadly assassin and his day job as bestselling author Hunter Rose. This didn’t work at all for me (I gave up midway through, partly because I had to get it back to the library)—there’s no real build or sequence (the stories are told from different POVs and set in many different times) but individually they’re not strong enough to impress me.
SECOND WAVE by Michael Alan Nelson is a War of the Worlds riff in which the alien tripods show up, die of disease, and then one day they show up again, leaving the protagonists scrambling over a devastated, hostile landscape where other human beings can be as dangerous as the aliens. All of which made me feel the real inspiration was Walking Dead, but Nelson doesn’t have Kirkman’s ability (at least not based on this sample)—I never really engaged with this.
Continuing a disappointing week, SPIDER-MAN: Kraven’s First Hunt by multiple authors and artists has Kraven’s daughter target Spider-Man, only to seize on Peter’s roommate instead (“I found the costume in your apartment, you’re the right build …”). The elements are mostly right, but this still fell flat, possibly because Kraven Junior is just dull, packing Daddy’s skills but none of his presence.
Now, for some fun stuff: BPRD Hell on Earth: Lake of Fire by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Tyler Crook has Liz recover from the injuries she received when last we saw her. Only the doctor treating her has some very suspicious experiments … can she regain control of the fire in time to stop him? Good to see Liz again, and her matter-of-fact response to the monsters, and I think bringing her and Fenix back to the BPRD will liven up the team some. I’ve added this to the Hellboy Chronology (cover by Mignola, all rights with current holder)
PRINCELESS: Get Over Yourself by Jeremy Whitley and Emily Martin is the second in a series about a young princess who escapes her tower disguised as a knight rather than wait for Prince Charming. Now she sets off to do the same for her beautiful older sister, but the sister’s circumstances turn out to be a little different. Lightweight, but quite enjoyable.
BIRTH OF A NATION: How a Legendary Filmmaker and a Crusading Editor Reignited America’s Civil War by Dick Lehr covers a lot of material that’s familiar to me—Griffith’s rise in the movie world, his willingness to claim creative credit for film techniques he didn’t originate, the incendiary racism of his greatest film, and the efforts of black America to get the movie banned or censored (which Lehr notes was an uncontroversial method at the time), particularly Boston newspaper Monroe Trotter. That said this is a good history, and I did learn some interesting stuff (Woodrow Wilson’s “it’s history writ by lightning” quote may have been one of many that Griffith made up). Unfortunately Lehr’s writing style is kind of blandly serious which made it hard for me to get into the book.