Category Archives: Reading

Some graphic novel gems, some real stinkers: books read

I wasn’t impressed with the first volume of Grant Morrison/Liam Sharp’s Green Lantern but GREEN LANTERN: The Day the Stars Fell is considerably less satisfying. This involves Hal Jordan, some Silver Age one-shot characters (seeing Strong Woman and Hyperman was the fun part of this) and a swarm of multiversal Green Lantern counterparts battling the anti-Hal Jordan of the anti-matter universe. This leaves us with so many character swarming around it was hard to figure what was going on; Sharp’s art didn’t make it any clearer. Outside of a one-shot included with this TPB, involving a Jordan family reunion, I could have skipped this and not suffered any great loss in my life.

QUINCREDIBLE: The Hero Within by Rodney Barnes and Selina Espiritu (who did the cover) was much better, though not so much better I’ll be back for more. Protagonist Quinton West is one of many New Orleans residents who gained superpowers during a meteor shower, in his case invulnerability. Now he’s caught up in helping a voodoo priestess stop a developer who wants to raze a black cemetery to reclaim and rebuild his family’s ancestral land.

I like the cast and setting it in black New Orleans adds some interest. That said the story just didn’t engage me enough. And I really wish Barnes had explained by the developer is black when he’s written like a descendant of white slaveowners — yes, there are lots of ways that could happen (free blacks owned slaves, for instance) but I still wanted an answer.

IMMORTAL HULK: Breaker of Worlds by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett and Ruy Jose has the Hulk and General Fortean in a final showdown as the general goes increasingly rogue (“Collateral damage.”) only to find he’s no match for the Hulk’s Joe Fixit personality. This was good except for the pretentious last issue — comics written from the perspective of a completely alien mentality rarely come off as more than a stunt.

The follow-up, We Believe in Bruce Banner, has Banner and his allies taking over Fortean’s Shadow Base with an eye to using it to take down villains untouchable by the law. As Roxxon’s minotaur leader, Dario Aggo, is one of the untouchables, he sees this as a threat. Most of the collection focuses on his counter-attack, which includes the return of Xemnu the alien Hulk (a pre-Fantastic Four character renamed the Titan when he showed up in the Bronze Age, as on this Gil Kane cover). This shifts direction sharply, but it works.

THE AVANT-GUARDS vol 1 by Carly Usdin and Noah Hayes has protagonist Charlene attending a school for the performing arts only to discover it has a basketball team. She’s sworn off the sport but they need one more player to field a team and team leader Liv is both cute and persuasive … a bit too decompressed (this could have filled about two issues) but still charming.

I also read the first volume of Punk Mambo but I covered that one over at Atomic Junkshop. If you don’t want to get out the boat suffice to say it’s competent but underwhelming. Covr by Adam Gorham#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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Ending my staycation with a pulp covers post

The art is uncredited but does it not look like Inigo Montoya?A couple of Earle Bergy covers, not quite as evening-gown as some of his alien women look. I reviewed The Dark World here.And an old cover by Frank R. Paul.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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Another crunch-time cover poster

Work is going well but i have almost no wriggle room. So here’s a cover by Lawrence Stern Stevens.#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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For today’s post, a Richard Powers cover

Work on the book is going well but I can’t let up yet.Of course, “Who Goes There?” is covered in Alien Visitors as the source for The Thing From Another World and John Carpenter’s The Thing so it’s appropriate.

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In lieue of a post, here are some book covers

All stuff I’ve posted before, but like I said Friday, I’m a little rushed finishing Alien Visitors. I suspect I’ll have a political post Monday because I feel the need to vent.

Can’t say I’m a fan of the book, but I do love the Powers cover.Here’s Gallardo’s cover for a book I’m not familiar with.Next, one by Earle BergeyAnd one by Lawrence Sterne StevensAnd a once famous Frank Frazetta Conan cover.#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

 

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History shelfies

A couple of images of our history books, first European/Asian history — Then British.#SFWApro.

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Juvenile Delinquents and John Le Carré: books read

A CYCLE OF OUTRAGE: America’s Reaction to the Juvenile Delinquent in the 1950s by James Burkhart Gilbert looks at the conviction American society was under siege by youth running wild (teen sex! teen crime!) and that the cause of it was found in popular culture: movies, comic books and rock-and-roll were corrupting America’s youth (part of the issue for intelligentsia taking this line was that national popular culture erased regional, local culture, and didn’t embrace Social Realism the way they thought it should). Gilbert looks at the various movers and shakers from the FBI to anti-comics activist Fredric Wertham and their various efforts to figure out a solution. However as they were frequently at odds with each other (was government censorship the answer?) nothing really developed.

This is very inside baseball in spots, though Gilbert does a good job showing how the crisis was perceived and whether there really was a crisis (statistics aren’t reliable enough to be sure). A brief discussion of Teenagers From Outer Space makes me think the juvenile-delinquent stereotype is the reason for making the ETs teens (whose ruthlessness comes from Bad Upbringing).

TEENAGE CONFIDENTIAL: An Illustrated History of the American Teen by Michael Barson and Steven Heller focuses more on the pop culture side, showing how teens went from cute and wholesome (Andy Hardy, Archie) to Wild And Dangerous, as captured in multiple films, comics and paperbacks. More entertaining than Cycle of Outrage, and I don’t think less deep. Between them they should give me some useful thoughts about how teens are portrayed in movies such as The Blob.John Le Carré’s SILVERVIEW has a businessman turned bookstore owner strike up friendship with Edward, a local gent who has some good advice on how to boost store traffic — and by the way, could I use your computers to do some relevant online research? Unfortunately it turns out Edward has a mysterious past, connections with MI5 and a current project that’s of great concern to the heads of national security … In the introduction, the late novelist’s son says his father charged him with finishing and publishing any leftover material at the time of Le Carré’s death; to his surprise, this novel was finished and polished so he just had to get it to the publisher. I wonder if the issue might have been that his father wanted to add some material: 200 pages is relatively short these days and Edward’s project could have used some explaining. As is, it’s not great but it is good.

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

 

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Jack Kirby for Halloween (slightly late)

Once again, I didn’t have time to write out a post, so here are some Jack Kirby monster covers as a Halloween leftover. The Where Monsters Dwell cover is Gil Kane. I’ve no idea why Grottu’s cover came out bigger than the others (different source website I suspect)#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holder.s

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Cover to Cover

Kicking off with one by Jeff Jones —Next, a Rudolph Belarski cover I like.Art is uncredited for this Robert Bloch cover.Next, a photo-still cover for the tie-in to Gorgo (which is a fun film if you haven’t seen it).

And here’s one I’ve run before by Matt Fox#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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From a trailer park to Chicago: two books

BLESS YOUR HEART: Fairy Tales of a Trailer Park Queen I by Kimbra Swain is an urban fantasy whose protagonist, Grace, is a fae royal in exile, currently living in an Alabama trailer park. Under the orders of this mythos’ magical council, the Sanhedrin (I have no idea why a magical body composed mostly of fae would pick a distinctively Jewish name) she helps out local law enforcement so she and top cop Dylan Riggs wind up investigating the supernatural murder of two kids, plus dealing with their relationship.

This one didn’t work for me. No sooner do we visit the crime scene, which Grace declares the most horrible thing she’s ever seen than she and Dylan take several chapters to discuss their relationship. I’m fine with this being a fantasy romance but the juxtaposition didn’t work. Nor did one big reveal which I won’t go into. And Grace doesn’t feel particularly fae — if she were a wizard or a djinn it wouldn’t have changed much.

CLARK AND DIVISION by Naomi Hirahira works very well. It’s 1944 and Nisei protagonist Aki Ito and her family have just been released from Manzanar and sent to Chicago (the government doesn’t want Those People back in California). Aki’s adored older sister, Rose, went on ahead to set things up but by the time Aki and her parents arrive, Rose is dead. The police consider it a suicide, possibly linked to her getting an abortion.

Aki can’t believe it so she begins moving through the Japanese-American community in Chicago, and sometimes the white world, trying to find answers. The mystery works and didn’t play out as I expected, but the real pull is the setting. A world of Nisei and Issei (Japanese-born Americans) uprooted from their homes, needing work but having a hard time finding it, dealing with racism and wondering about their friends or family still in the camps or fighting in Europe with the 442nd Nisei. Hirahira knows her stuff — she collected oral histories of post-camp life for a nonfiction book — and it shows.

As it’s Halloween, rather than post a book cover, here’s an unrelated but spooky one by Joseph Eberle.#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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