Saturday, July 19, 2014

Forever Buddy Drama...

Forever Evil collected edition by Geoff Johns and Daniel Fitch

Last year in the fall DC comics stirred up their New 52 universe by introducing the new version of the a Crime Syndicate from the pre crisis era DC. This evil version of the Justice League arrives and claims to have killed the Justice Leage and now rule the world. This seven issue series spotlighted the villains of the DC universe particularly Lex Luthor as the heroes of the story; much of the narration of this tale is from his voice. For me the book certainly has its moments and though I didn't love it I did like it enough to reccommend it to DC comic fans who have been a little let down by the recent reboot of the universe.

For the uninitiated the Crime Syndicate is the evil mirror versions of the Justice League; Ultraman/Superman, Superwoman/Wonder Woman, Owlman/Batman, Power Ring/Green Lantern, Jonny Quick/ Flash and adds Deathstorm/Firestorm, Atomica/Atom, Grid/Cyborg to the mix respectively with compareible powers if darker and more bent personalities. Though its cool to see these characters again since their last appearances the cast of other ne'er do wells that are the stars of this boob is pretty big for this book give the old earth 3 villains little time in the spotlight. Surprisingly Grid, one of the new creations who is the creepy counterpart/part of Cyborg, felt like he most personality overall having more interactions with the other syndicate members than the rest. The characters that really shone in this story were Lex Luthor, his creation B-zero (yup its who you think), Captain Cold and Black Manta with a backup band of Black Atom, Sinestro, who have their cool moments too. There are Hero's in evidence but they amount to hostages and mere bit players in my opinion like many villains are in their books.

So why would you want to read a book that stars the heel? Well, Lex is a heel don't get me wrong he may do an overall good in this book but his some of his action show he's still the loveible self centered sociopath he's always been. Johns makes him if not heroic pragmatic because he has no intention of bending knee to the Syndicate and as it turns out he is not the only one. To let you all know I have been enjoying the villain centric books recently like Magneto, Sinestro, and the Superior Foes of Spider-Man so its likely no surprise I like this one too. Lex who tells most of the story in his own voice tells a lot about himself, he knows how people think about him and over the course of the seven issues I got a feeling he learned that though he thinks he knows himself the person that comes out of the experience of fighting alongside his creation and other he has changed if just a bit. That is the strength of the story, the growth that happens to the players. I was saddened by so,e of the outcomes and am really tempted to follow the further adventurs of Lex and Captain cold as part of the new justice league. There are a few kitchy surprises in Forever Evil and some of the bit players, those being the overexposed Batman and his partner here, Catwoman have some nice characterful interchanges.

The art by David Fitch is as exaggerated as you might expect for someone who started his career working for image but his style has grown over the years and developed into something very fun to look at. His faces are expressive and saying he made a character who basically all mechanical like Grids emotive might say its all on that front. The art tends towards dark and moody with many scenes taking place in caves, sewers tunnels and cities in a state of disrepair and balances that with bombastic displays of power, flames and lightning all those pretty energy blast colors so its funny that the things that win the day are subtleties. Its a very lice book to look at and his redesigns of the characters are great since they include a sketchbook section.

All in all Johns and Fitch give good treatment to this tale about how the bad guys can be the heroes too because well they have to live in this world too and well some things are unacceptable even if your the bad guy. The last few pages sets up future stories, some of the syndicate are still out there and there is something darker on the horizon. Maybe it didn't hit on all cylinders for me but if you like to see a cool buddy story between a man and his monster doing right this should be on your list. Forever Evil collected edition is out September 9th from DC comics in hardcover.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dynamic Duo

All round one of the best DC comics I have read in years; it was conceived long before the New 52 and it was as enjoyable for if not more so then the the new 52s Green Lantern that ended Geoff Johns run and th aren Red Lanterns book. Bloodspell takes two of DC's long extant fishnet wearing heroines and gives them both the opportunity to have real character agency and does it with truly georgeous art and style. This book brought me joy as a comics reader for more then just its exiting and fun story that avoided the grim and dark that has gripped the new DC; Dini and Quinoes have a real grasp for DC's long and rich history and delivers hints of it throughout the story, art and even page layouts.

The story is one that mixes just a few story elements and comes out with something glorious like the best Italian and Indian recipes that not have five ingredients or less. The story that brings them together starts with a foiled caper in Las Vegas where Black Canary goes undercover and gets trapped in a magical curse. The story may lean towards slapstick at times but the stakes are at the highest, lives are at stake. Among some pretty hideous offscreen deaths Satanna gets pulled into the story when Dinah goes to her for help realizing what she faces is beyond her ken. Along the way we get a road tale that includes flashbacks that refer to different eras, styles and costumes across DC history as it was. Bloodspell for me is a bit of a love letter to the past and makes me want more of this duo, this fishnet duo.

Paul Dini and Joe Quinones apparently originally pitched this sometime in 2005 and its a great thing to have this stand alone team up tale spotlighting these versions of the characters. The story takes Black Canary and Zatanna their pre heroine days meeting in the Himalayan alps to their then current adventuring lives Zatanna on her own and Dinah as partner to Green Arrow in his goatee style era. The story has the fun tongue in cheek yet serious action that Paul Dini does so well and the art by Joe Quinones somehow straddles that gap between realism and warner brothers cartoonish ness that few artists pull off so well. This is one of those books that pops off the pages in ways 3d comics desperately aspire to. And though I got the opportunity to read this as an advance reader I'm more then tempted to get a real copy because I seldom see a project like this that seemed produced with so much love and care; the book includes the pitch, the script, unfinished pages and design work. Its too good to pass up for fans of female character written so well and for art so detail rich and lovingly rendered.

This edition collects not just the story and its glorious art and story, they give us the initial pitch, the script which is hardly ever included and design work from Joe so this book is like a blue ray disk version of the book. If you love comics with heart that will give you much more then the usual this is one to have especially if your familiar with DC history all the better. Five stars out of five. Bravo....

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mindless ones and Z-listers

 

So I know there will be lots of reviews and thoughts on this out there and since I love comics and particularly enjoyed this and the zero issue of Original Sin I thought why not add some reviewey comments to the mix. Jason Aaron pulled some particularly nice bits of storytelling together I. This issue given how crowded it was and managed to move both his story and they mysteries along quite well. He manages to hit most of his cast and throws in the a whole heap of monsters and some little used characters along the way. He writes some great dialogue along the way that winds up being both characterful and funny as well as drives the story along. Some of the "mystery figures" from issue one are revealed and many many more questions are raised. Mike's are is solid pretty much throughout and clear despite the mood lighting in some scenes and the opening scenes following Black Panther, the White Queen and Antman into the monster graveyard (the preview has been up a while that shows this but apologies none the less for spoilers.

It left me quite happily entertained and looking forward to leaning more about what is going on. Just enough was revealed to give me some hints as to the timing of the so called original sin and I'm really interested to see how it all its together. Also seeing some truly obscure seventies characters come out of the woodwork was pretty fun; it made me look again at some of the murkier scenes from issue one. Truely this one is aces if you have a grasp of some marvel history and this makes me want to get some of the pre superhero boom marvels....

So yeah I'd say this is one crossoverey story can reccommend. Though issue one felt a bit crowded and not quite there between the touching zero issue starring the new Nova Sam Alexander and this one I'd so get into Nick's flying car for this ride....

Five stars out of five.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok that's a bit of room just in case

 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wanted Dispatch May 6 2014

The Silk Map by Chris Willrich

Ok wow crap... Was so sure I wrote and posted a great review of Chris's first book The Scroll of Years because of how damn much I loved it and I can not seem to find any record of it either saved or on the blog. The book was an absolutely amazing mix of sword and sorcery caper story and mature characterful romance along the lines of my favorite book to reccommend these days Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed. Chris has taked characters from a westernish setting and put the. In a Silk Road fantasy setting. I can't say mucho out the second volume since it so reveals too much about the first. From the memories I have of Scroll of Years I expect more of the touching story revolving around the affection, respect and pain that bonds the cast of fastinating characters together. I must re read it and write a proper review of the first Gaunt and Bone novel....

Here is a link to Chris' site and the synopsis of this volume but a warning totall spoilers follow...

At the end of The Scroll of Years, the poet Persimmon Gaunt and her husband, the thief Imago Bone, had saved their child from evil forces at the price of trapping him within a pocket dimension. Now they will attempt what seems impossible; they will seek a way to recover their son. Allied with Snow Pine, a scrappy bandit who’s also lost her child to the Scroll of Years, Gaunt and Bone awaken the Great Sage, a monkeylike demigod of the East, currently trapped by vaster powers beneath a mountain. The Sage knows of a way to reach the Scroll — but there is a price. The three must seek the world’s greatest treasure and bring it back to him. They must find the worms of the alien Iron Moths, whose cocoons produce the wondrous material ironsilk.

And so the rogues join a grand contest waged along three thousand miles of dangerous and alluring trade routes between East and West. For many parties have simultaneously uncovered fragments of the Silk Map, a document pointing the way toward a nest of the Iron Moths. Our heroes tangle with Western treasure hunters, a blind mystic warrior and his homicidal magic carpet, a nomad princess determined to rebuild her father’s empire, and a secret society obsessed with guarding the lost paradise where the Moths are found — even if paradise must be protected by murder.

The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher

Orbit books has the best luck when it comes to finding talented authors to publish. Oversight almost slipped my notice till I was looking at the books that they have coming out over the next season. This is another book set in what seems to be becoming a very overpopulated Victorian era though this time eschewing the regular steam and gear powered devices for the occult and staring a dwindling group of heroes protecting the normals from magical things. In reading the sample chapters you get a feel for the Charlie's writing which like many British authors assumes readers are able to get the gist without too much exposition. As a fan of alternate histories this one is pretty high on my read it soon list.

Here is a link to a era is from Tor.com and a short synopsis....also why not a link to the excerpt on orbits site too....

"The end always happens faster than you think."

Once there were hundreds of members of the Oversight, the brave souls who guard the borders between the mundane and the magic. Now there are only five.

When a vagabond brings a screaming girl to the Oversight's London headquarters, she could answer their hopes for new recruit, or she could be the instrument of their downfall.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"This guy.... This #¥<{!^£ guy...

Nominated for two Eisner awards this year Sex Criminals issues one through five get a collected edition April 15/16 just in time for Tax Day at the image first volume low price of $9.99. On to the review...




So "This guy... This ~^.&*!( guy" (yes I'm talking about Matt Fraction and I'm actually borrowing a quote from Matt's character Suzie from this very same book to describe him). This series is a great mixture of relationship tale, caper story, and comedic sexual innuendo and exploration. Sec Criminals is a book not safe for kids and may be embarrassing for adults reading ichoosing to read it in public given its somewhat explicit content but I will say it takes a fairly mature tact towards its subject matter. The artwork by Chip Zdarsky is downright georgeous, expressive and characterful and is well worth any embarrassment it may cause and manages to be fair to Bo sexes where it comes to being explicit. The title has more to say about sex and relationships then one may think and its well worth reading for people with a healthy ability to laugh at themselves and who have a fairly open mind in general.

Matt and Chip are telling several different stories within the comic and manage to do a good job of tackleing a couple per issue but with the collection that does not really stand out. There is the present day caper tale about the heroes Suzie and Jon using their orgasm given ability to freeze time to pull of bank robberies to save the imperiled library Suzie works at; then there are the tales about their first experiences with their a-hem lacking another way to put it well explorations and exploits with their seemingly unique talents. The first dealing with the combined good and back that comes with having someone as a part of your life and as a part of your life that seemed to be uniquely yours; the addition of their ability to stop time for everyone else when they climax serve to magnify the joys and difficulties that come when you have that someone special in your life. The lack of of better term origin stories for both Suzie and Jon reveal things about them how they approach finding out what the hell is going on with them and how they deal with the revelation that sex with others seems to still leave them alone when time stops for them. There is also the story following another group of characters who have the same sex derived power and their apparent attempts to police those who abuse it. All these tales leave me with the feeling there is some interesting things afoot in the world building here.

The really nice thing about reading this title and really anything ive read by by Matt is a his maintaining a "wink wink nudge nudge" sence of humor that is smile inducing and goes just far enough without breaking the tension in the story. In a book that could easily go for the quick gag or the obvious he takes things to a more interesting place then you'd expect. The same I would say for Chip's artwork which is just cartoonish enough to carry off the outlandish ideas in this without it being, well, ewww gross or off colour. Sex Criminals is nothing like anything I'm reading or have really read in comics but my taste runs more towards the more four colour titles so that may be the reason why. I do recall some titles that addressed sexuality in the past but I'm glad to say that this is nothing like the late eighties Black Kiss by Howard Chakyn that though fun for the time I could do without the shock value it had.

The stories in this form several complete story arcs and come to a satisfying climax (ok so I had to....) and conclusion. You get a real good idea about who both Suzie and Jon are good I'll and embarrassing; a pretty delightfully Coen brothers like caper gone pear shaped and the introduction to some characterful and sort of mysterious figures for stories going into the next volume. As I said Chip's art fits the tone well with its thick lined slightly cartoonish character designs and the colours by Becka Kinzie and Christopher Sebela do make his art pop off the page. Sex Criminals also explores the subject of sex with a kind of gentle humor that western particularly American stories usually don't have in them. I mean honestly yes its embarrassing to talk about and ask questions about and the truth and honesty Matt takes towards the outlandish things he introduces into the equation makes the story that much better. The book is clever and fun but most of all beyond the sillyness, crazyness, and even beyond the musical scene that takes over the middle issue that had me in stitches there is a lot of truth in the story he's telling. This book is a success but I've come to expect no less. Well worth it all told....

 

 

 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Wanted Dispatch (first two weeks of April) plus April 12 edition

 

The Goblin Emperor by Katheine Addison

Since I read a good number of author blogs I read plenty abut this novel well before it came out and was really looking forward to it. Katherine Addison is a pseudo name for a writer I've been wanting to read for a while but I'll leave her real identity secret if not much of one. Writer Jim C Hines who seems to have reading tastes a lot like mine and Elizabeth Bear who's fiction I simply can't resist both have great things to say about this to name just a few so I'll leave you with a bit of synopsis and a link to the excerpt from tor.com.

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment. Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody.

 

The Revolutions by Felix Gilman

Among the steampunk and western punk writers I have yet to get the time to read Felix is just about at the top. This novel promises to be a mix of elements I really enjoy Victorian setting science fiction and pulp era genre conventions. This may not exactly be your cup of tea but I think it is tea time in this here readers day. Here is the synopsis that tor.com posted a while back along with the article about the cover design.

In 1893 a storm sweeps through London, while Arthur Shaw—a young astronomer with a side career writing fiction—is at work in British Museum Reading Room. The storm wreaks unprecedented damage throughout London. Its aftermath of the storm Arthur’s prime literary market closes, owing him money, and all his debts come due at once. His fiance Jo takes a job as a stenographer for some of the fashionable spiritualist and occult societies of fin de siècle London society. Meanwhile, Arthur deciphers an encoded newspaper ad seeking able young men. It seems to be a clerking job doing accounting work, but the mysterious head man Mr. Gacewell offers Arthur a starting position at a salary many times what any clerk could expect. The work is long and peculiar, and the men spend all day performing unnerving calculations that make them hallucinate or even go mad...but the salary is compelling.

Things are beginning to look up when the wages of dabbling in the esoteric suddenly come due: a war breaks out between competing magical societies, and Arthur interrupts Jo in the middle of an elaborate occult exploration. This rash move turns out to be dire, as Jo’s consciousness is stranded at the outer limits of the occultists’ psychic day trip. Which, Arthur is chagrinned…

Operation Shield by Joel Shepherd

In this fifth book Joel returns to his part military SF part cyberpunk part part space opera creation that started years ago with the novel Crossover. Like Revolutions above when authors mix genre conventions into a new beast it often adds up to be something I particularly enjoy. Joel's earlier books read a bit like thrillers to me and though I don't read them much I think he does them pretty handily. Here is the synopsis from one of my favorite publishers Pyr...

In 23 Years on Fire, Cassandra discovered that the technology that created her has been misused in her former home and now threatens all humanity with catastrophe. Returning home to Callay, she finds that Federation member worlds, exhausted by the previous thirty-year-war against the League, are unwilling to risk the confrontation that a solution may require. Some of these forces will go to any lengths to avoid a new conflict, including taking a sledgehammer to the Federation Constitution and threatening the removal by force of Cassandra's own branch of the Federal Security Agency.

More frighteningly for Sandy, she has brought back to Callay three young children, whom she met on the mean streets of Droze, discovering maternal feelings she had not known she possessed. Can she reconcile her duty as a soldier, including what she must do as a tactician, with the dangers that those decisions will place upon her family-the one thing that has come to mean more to her than any cause she now believes in?

 

Steles in the Sky by Elizabeth Bear

And speaking of Elizabeth Bear here is the last volume of her Silk Road fantasy series that has been heaped with praise from so many quarters. I didn't plan it this way but it seems that this will be one of the fantasy series that I will be able to read in its entirety once this is out. I know Elizabeth for her first series of science fiction novels but have every expectation that these will be equally as entertaining given her imagination and creativity. Tor.com has an excerpt here and for your reading pleasure a bit of synopsis action as always...

Re Temur, legitimate heir to his grandfather’s Khaganate, has finally raised his banner and declared himself at war with his usurping uncle. With his companions—the Wizard Samarkar, the Cho-tse Hrahima, and the silent monk Brother Hsiung—he must make his way to Dragon Lake to gather in his army of followers.

But Temur’s enemies are not idle; the leader of the Nameless Assassins, who has shattered the peace of the Steppe, has struck at Temur’s uncle already. To the south, in the Rasan empire, plague rages. To the east, the great city of Asmaracanda has burned, and the Uthman Caliph is deposed. All the world seems to be on fire, and who knows if even the beloved son of the Eternal Sky can save it?

Hollow World by Michael J Sullivan

Known for the epic/sword and sorcery Riyria Revelation series that he self published as ebooks and was more recently picked up for publication by Orbit Books is expanding out from his beginnings with Hollow World. A time travel novel that Michael says he never intended to write certainly is a draw for me, one of my favorite novels from last year The Shining Girls was an unconventional sci fi time travel yearn and I'm up for more explorations of this oft mishandled trope. Here is a link to Michael's website for the novel coming from Tachyon books and a short synopsis hook.

Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man who is about to embark on an extraordinary journey. All his life he has played it safe and done the right thing, but faced with a terminal illness he’s willing to take an insane gamble. He’s built a time machine in his garage, and if it works, he’ll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. Ellis could find more than a cure for his illness; he might find what everyone has been searching for since time began…but only if he can survive Hollow World.

 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Wanted Dispatch March 22-23

Truth and Fear by Peter Higgins

Last year I had the pleasure to read the first book, Wolfhound Century, and you can find my full review along with some handy links here. I have been looking forward to reading the follow up volume of Peter's weird alternate Russia where stone angels, sentient rain, strange powers and Russian myths blend with a Stalinist police state where paranoia is and important life skill. Wolfhound Century was one of my favorite new reads from last year and to me was reminiscent of encountering China Mieville's Perdido Street Station or the more stranger works of PK Dick.

Here is the synopsis from Orion books (his UK publisher)

Peter Higgins' Vlast is a superbly imagined 'other' Russia, an epic land of trackless forest, sentient rain and deep powers in the Earth. Its capital Mirgorod is home both to a brutal dictatorship centuries old and fleeting glimpses of the houses and streets of another city. Compared to the works of both China Mieville and John Le Carre WOLFHOUND CENTURY was a hugely original creation. Now Peter Higgins returns to that world.

Investigator Lom returns to Mirgorod and finds the city in the throes of a crisis. The war against the Archipelago is not going well. Enemy divisions are massing outside the city, air-raids are a daily occurrance and the citizens are being conscripted into the desperate defence of the city.

But Lom has other concerns. The police are after him, the mystery of the otherworldly Pollandore remains and the vast Angel is moving, turning all of nature against the city.

But will the horrors of war overtake all their plans?


Burning Dark by Adam Christopher

Adam is having a pretty good year he's got one novel out not long ago from Angry Robot and now a completely different type of story from TOR books here in the US. Taking a break from his explorations of superhero esque stories Adam tries his hand at straight up sci if and from the sounds of the reviewers from fellow writers he's written a ripping yarn here. Here is a link to some of those thoughts and the synopsis....

Back in the day, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland had led the Fleet into battle against an implacable machine intelligence capable of devouring entire worlds. But after saving a planet, and getting a bum robot knee in the process, he finds himself relegated to one of the most remote backwaters in Fleetspace to oversee the decommissioning of a semi-deserted space station well past its use-by date.

But all is not well aboard the U-Star Coast City. The station’s reclusive Commandant is nowhere to be seen, leaving Cleveland to deal with a hostile crew on his own. Persistent malfunctions plague the station’s systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic. Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard.

Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned subspace radio, only to tune into a strange, enigmatic signal: a woman’s voice that seems to echo across a thousand light-years of space. But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past—or a warning of an undying menace beyond mortal comprehension?

 

Code Zero by Jonathan Mayberry

Jonathan has been writing the adventures of Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences for a good few years now beginning with the amazingly fun Patient Zero and its play on zombies and terrorism. The subsequent volumes have been tales on genetic engineering and fears of robots and such so its strange to be just now hitting a direct sequel to the horror that started in that first story. I recall the truly creepy ending of the book and the story kernels it left me with so I have great hopes for this one.... Here is the synopsis from Macmillan and a link to their site where you can peruse ass the missions Joe and his crew have have seen to date.

 

For years the Department of Military Sciences has fought to stop terrorists from using radical bioweapons—designer plagues, weaponized pathogens, genetically modified viruses, and even the zombie plague that first brought Ledger into the DMS. These terrible weapons have been locked away in the world’s most secure facility. Until now. Joe Ledger and Echo Team are scrambled when a highly elite team of killers breaks the unbreakable security and steals the world’s most dangerous weapons. Within days there are outbreaks of mass slaughter and murderous insanity across the American heartland. Can Joe Ledger stop a brilliant and devious master criminal from turning the Land of the Free into a land of the dead?

 

Dawns Early Light by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

Well it's been a good while since I've signal boosted for a bit of the good old steampunk but here is something not to miss. Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine are a few of my favorite podcast writers from several years ago who have worked tooth separately and together on multiple projects ranging from Scifi fantasy to erotica. I've been reading great things about this Victorian era secret agent series and backed a kickstarter for an RPG based in this storyline and am glad to see it getting noticed among other writers who blog regularly like Chuck Wendig.

Here's a bit of synopsis and a link to the Ministry of Peculiar Occurances site online where there is free audio fiction and such...

After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States—intended to keep them out of trouble—suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen.

Even with the help of two American agents from the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical, Braun and Books have their work cut out for them as their chief suspect in a rash of nautical and aerial disasters is none other than Thomas Edison. Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious machinations of a new threat known only as the Maestro, they may find themselves in far worse danger than they ever have been in before…