DOOMSDAY MORNING, which I mentioned last week, was C.L. Moore’s last novel and decidedly different from her usual work. Rohan, once a theatrical star, is now a migrant farm worker in a dystopian near-future America run by the sinister Comus (Communications of the U.S.), which drags him back onto the stage to perform in a traveling show in parts of rebellion-prone California. But why does the show have to be done exactly as written? What’s the meaning of Rohan’s strange dreams. And what is the mysterious Anti-Comus weapon the rebels are supposedly developing.
This was a good, though grim book, very much of its time in some ways; Comus is all-seeing but via psychological testing and monitoring rather than the surveillance tech they’d use today. As I said last week, the theater stuff is dead-on, which was a plus for me. However the various mental compulsions laid on Rohan frequently make him little more than a puppet rather than a free agent.
DOOMSDAY: A Remy Jones Adventure by Heather Elizabeth King is urban fantasy in an off-the-wall setting: a post-apocalyptic, corporate-run city where we have outcast mutants, magic, and a team of magic-powered superheroes (with Heroine Complex going the same route, I wonder if it’s a trend), not to mention a hunky manbeast named Vincent (and obvious reference to the 1980s Beauty and the Beast TV series). The urban fantasy aspects of mutant Remy Jones (one odd point is that the mythos term for mutants is “parasite”) hunting down a zombie making sorcerer didn’t work for me, as I’m not much of an urban fantasy fan, but I give King (whom I met and bought the book from at Mysticon) credit for doing something different from most of the books I read in the genre.
ROUND ABOUT THE EARTH; Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit by Joyce E. Chaplin looks at the history of round-the-world journeys, starting with Magellan’s attempt to reach China, then following through Sir Francis Drake, James Cook and other explorers to the development of commercial tourist trips and then on to railroad, plane and rocket (with sidelines such as several attempts to bicycle around the Earth). This starts well and has interesting thoughts on how growing national cooperation made things easier (the more ports you can stop in, the simpler it is to restock your boat with provisions) but too much of the book is just a list of This Person Went Around The World, Then This Person, Then This Other Person … I got bored.
CAPTAIN BRITAIN by Alan Davis and Jamie Delano was the final collection of Brian Braddock’ superhero adventures before he became part of the Excalibur super-team. While there’s the usual action and peril, it’s surprisingly gentle too. Brian accidentally kills someone in a fight, but the guy’s parents don’t freak out or send anyone to kill him — they know what their son was like and they sympathize with Brian. Dai Thomas, “the cop who hates superheroes” from Chris Claremont’s early run on the series shows up again and apologizes for being a jerk to Brian. And everything ends on a note of peace and affection. That doesn’t sum up the book but after years of reading comics, that’s wht jumps out at me.
SUPERGIRL SILVER AGE V1 by (mostly) Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney reprints Supergirl’s Silver Age adventures up to the point Superman’s ready to reveal her existence to the world. This goes slightly past the stories collected in Showcase Presents Supergirl (it skips a couple of crossovers into other Superman Family books to fit it all in) but the added stories are frustrating.The long arc of Supergirl being replaced by her Kandorian lookalike Lesla-Lar (probably my favorite Supergirl villain), ends with Mxyzptlk as a deus ex machina (thwarting Lesla Lar’s plans without even realizing it). This appears to start an arc where he’s made Supergirl more powerful than Superman, but instead we get two stories of Supergirl undergoing freaky red kryptonite transformations (red k could always provide enough weirdness to fill an issue) and then it’s done. I half wonder if the editors made Siegel cut the Lesla-Lar arc short, or if he just ran out of ideas. As I said reviewing the Showcase, fun but YMMV.
#SFWApro. Art is uncredited all rights to image remain with current holder.