Sunday, January 31, 2016

Book Review: WARRIORS OF THE STORM

WARRIORS OF THE STORM
HARPERCOLLINS – @HarperCollins

AUTHOR: Bernard Cornwell
ISBN: 978-0-06-225094-0; hardcover (January 19, 2016)
320pp, B&W, $27.99 U.S.

Warriors of the Storm is a 2016 historical novel by author Bernard Cornwell, a popular British author of historical novels.  This is the ninth book in Cornwell’s “Saxon Tales” series, and it continues the story of Saxon warlord, Uhtred of Bebbanburg.  “The Saxon Tales” series is also known as “The Last Kingdom” series, and the first novel in “The Saxon Tales,” The Last Kingdom, has been adapted into a British television series.

As Warriors of the Storm opens, a fragile peace reigns in the Saxon lands of Britain.  Edward, son of King Alfred, rules from Wessex and is slowly chasing the Danes from East Anglia.  Edward's sister, Aethelflaed, rules from Mercia, but Mercia borders Northumbria, a land of NorthmenNorsemen and Danes.  These Northmen, restless and eyeing the rich lands and wealthy churches to their south, are increasingly mounting raids into Mercia.

Now, the Northmen have allied to a fierce warrior named Ragnall Ivarson.  He leads a band of ruthless Irish, and his union with the Northumbrians has formed a threat may overwhelm Mercia.  The “Pagan Lord,” Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the Saxon kingdoms’ greatest warrior, controls northern Mercia from the strongly fortified city of Ceaster.  It is up to Lord Uhtred to stop Ragnall, who apparently relishes facing the Pagan Lord in battle.  Edward and Aethelflaed are reluctant to invade Northumbria, and further complicating matters, Ragnall's brother is Sigtryggr, who is now Uhtred's son-in-law because he married Stiorra, Uhtred's daughter.  Even if Uhtred is the man to stop Ragnall Ivarson, he will need to be at his best, with only a small band of loyal warriors at his side.

Bernard Cornwell has received praise from George R.R. Martin, the author of A Game of Thrones, who says that Cornwell writes the best battles scenes he has ever read.  USA Today says that Cornwell is “the reigning king of historical fiction.”

Warriors of the Storm is only the fourth Bernard Cornwell novel that I have read, and only the third of the nine “Saxon Tales,” books, which are a fictional chronicle of the making of England.  However, I can agree that Cornwell writes the best battle scenes that I have ever read, and he is also my reigning king of historical fiction.  Still, half-way through Warriors of the Storm, I started thinking that I had read this novel before and that it was more of the same.

I was wrong.  In subtle ways, Uhtred is changing, as a father, a lover, and a friend, and also as a ruler and leader of men.  Is he more human, or is it that with age comes wisdom and more knowledge, which Uhtred applies judiciously?  Near the end of Warriors of the Storm, Uhtred's reaction to another person's grief shocked and surprised me.  No, Warriors of the Storm is not more of the same, and, after three books, I can say that the king still reigns and is getting better with age.

A

www.bernardcornwell.net

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1


INVINCIBLE IRON MAN (2015) No. 1
MARVEL COMICS – @Marvel

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ART: David Marquez
COLORS: Justin Ponsor
LETTERS: VC's Clayton Cowles
COVER: David Marquez with Justin Ponsor
VARIANT COVERS: Adi Granov, Ryan Stegman with Richard Isanove; Sara Pichelli with Jason Keith; Mahmud Asrar with Sonia Oback; Valerio Schiti with Jason Keith; Nick Bradshaw with Paul Mounts; Bruce Timm; Skottie Young; Brian Stelfreeze; John Tyler Christopher; Yasmine Putri; Dale Oliver photographed by Judy Stephens
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (December 2015)

Rated “T+”

I was very happy with the most recent “new” Iron Man comic book series, Superior Iron Man, that was launched in 2014 as part of Marvel Comics' “Avengers NOW!” initiative.  As part of the “All-New All-Different Marvel,” there is a new Iron Man comic book, and it is entitled Invincible Iron Man.  This new series is written by Brian Michael Bendis; drawn by David Marquez; colored by Justin Ponsor; and lettered by Clayton Cowles.

Bendis and Marquez were the creative team of the second Miles Morales Spider-Man comic book, and Invincible Iron Man was the title of an Iron Man (2008) comic book written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Salvador Larroca.  I loved me some Miles, but I did not read a single issue of the Fraction-Larroca Iron Man, although I still plan to do so.

Invincible Iron Man #1 opens with an former A.I.M. operative trying to make a deal with Madame Masque.  Meanwhile, Tony Stark is enjoying some shop time and finally finishes him newest armor, his best armor.  He will need this new suit as enemies old, new, and transformed step forward.

This breezy first issue of Invincible Iron Man makes it difficult to be particularly critical or adoring of it.  But I do like it, and will read future issues.  I enjoy the Bendis-Marquez team, and if this first issue is any indication, I will enjoy this duo again.  Still, I don't know if this Iron Man comic book will be a particularly memorable one, which is something I can say about Superior Iron Man.  Knowing Bendis, I should have an idea soon.

B+

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review: BATMAN & ROBIN Eternal #1

BATMAN & ROBIN ETERNAL No. 1
DC COMICS – @DCComics

[This review originally appeared on Patreon.]

STORY: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
SCRIPT: James Tynion IV
PENCILS: Tony Daniel
INKS: Sandu Florea
COLORS: Tomeu Morey
LETTERS: Tom Napolitano
COVER: Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea with Tomeu Morey
VARIANT COVER: Mikel Janin
40pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (December 2015)

Rated “T” for “Teen”

Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger

Batman Eternal was a weekly Batman comic book series that began in 2014 and was produced as part of the year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of the debut of Batman (in Detective Comics #27: cover dated May 1939).  Although the series was planned to run 60 issues, Batman Eternal lasted 52 issues.

Batman Eternal was enough of hit that DC Comics decided to do it again.  Thus, we get the weekly Batman & Robin Eternal.  Batman Eternal “showrunners,” Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, have written the story for Batman & Robin Eternal.  Tynion will be the lead scripter, with contributions from a rotating team of writers:  Tim Seeley, Geneveive Valentine, Steve Orlando, Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly and Ed Brisson.  Tony Daniel is the lead artist, with artists Paul Pelletier and Scot Eaton as contributors.

The first issue of Batman & Robin Eternal is scripted by James Tynion IV and drawn by Tony Daniel (pencils) and Sandu Florea (inks).  Tomeu Morey provides colors and Tom Napolitano letters.

Batman & Robin Eternal #1 opens with two glimpses into the past.  Then, the story follows Dick Grayson, current super-spy and former sidekick, across the skyscrapers of Gotham City.  That brings him into contact with Red Hood aka Jason Todd aka his successor as RobinRed Robin aka Tim Drake aka the third Robin joins the fun.

Meanwhile, Bluebird aka Harper Row, who was going to be trained by Batman... before he died, finds herself confronting the new robot-Batman.  Second meanwhile, Grayson is back on the mission for the spy agency, Spyral, but things go bad in ways Grayson does not expect.  Something from Batman's past is coming back to haunt every one of those young people who have fought by Batman's side.

After the 52 inconsistent and red herring-filled issues of Batman Eternal, I am not ready to invest in another weekly Batman comic book.  On the other hand, I am really digging the fantastic comic book artist that Tony Daniel has become over the last decade, especially the last five years.  Sandu Florea is probably the perfect inker for Daniel, and Tomeu Morey's colors do wonders for both the storytelling and the visual appeal of the Daniel/Florea team.

And I must admit that I am intrigued by the second half of this story (because I certainly wasn't feeling the first half).  Plus, I am a sucker for Batman comic books, and it takes extra effort to avoid trying each new one.

For the time being, I plan to keep following Batman & Robin Eternal.

B+

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

DC Comics from Diamond Distributors for January 27, 2016

DC COMICS

NOV150175     AQUAMAN #48     $3.99
NOV150297     ART OPS #4 (MR)     $3.99
NOV150226     BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL #17     $2.99
OCT150242     BATMAN BY ED BRUBAKER TP VOL 01     $19.99
OCT150250     BATMAN THE JIRO KUWATA BATMANGA TP VOL 03     $14.99
OCT150168     BLACK CANARY #7     $2.99
NOV150177     CYBORG #7     $2.99
NOV150154     DC COMICS ADULT COLORING BOOKS COLORED PENCIL SET     PI
NOV150181     DEATHSTROKE #14     $2.99
NOV150234     GRAYSON #16     $3.99
NOV150257     HE MAN THE ETERNITY WAR #14     $2.99
NOV150306     JACKED #3 (MR)     $3.99
NOV150189     JUSTICE LEAGUE 3001 #8     $2.99
NOV150173     JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #7     $3.99
NOV150305     LAST GANG IN TOWN #2 (MR)     $3.99
AUG150281     LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN GALLERY ED HC (MR)     $125.00
NOV150193     OMEGA MEN #8     $2.99
NOV150258     SCOOBY DOO TEAM UP #14     $2.99
NOV150168     SUICIDE SQUAD MOST WANTED DEADSHOT KATANA #1     $4.99
OCT150252     SUPERGIRL TP VOL 01 THE GIRL OF STEEL     $16.99
NOV150215     SUPERMAN #48     $3.99
NOV150217     SUPERMAN LOIS AND CLARK #4     $3.99
SEP150308     SUPERMAN SECRET IDENTITY DLX ED HC     $29.99
OCT150262     SWAMP THING TP VOL 07 SEASONS END     $16.99
NOV150199     TEEN TITANS #16     $2.99
NOV150312     TWILIGHT CHILDREN #4 (MR)     $4.99
NOV150314     VERTIGO QUARTERLY SFX #4     $7.99

DC COMICS/DC COLLECTIBLES

AUG150317     BATMAN ARKHAM KNIGHT AZRAEL AF     $25.00
AUG150319     BATMAN ARKHAM KNIGHT MAN BAT AF     $25.00
AUG150318     BATMAN ARKHAM KNIGHT PROFESSOR PYG AF     $25.00

Marvel Comics from Diamond Distributors for January 27, 2016

MARVEL COMICS

NOV150948     A-FORCE PRESENTS TP VOL 03     $14.99
NOV150784     ALL NEW ALL DIFFERENT AVENGERS #4     $3.99
NOV150822     ALL NEW INHUMANS #3     $3.99
OCT158862     ALL NEW WOLVERINE #2 BENGAL 2ND PTG VAR     $3.99
NOV158410     AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #6 ALEX ROSS 2ND PTG VAR     $3.99
NOV150874     ANGELA QUEEN OF HEL #4     $3.99
NOV150937     ARMOR WARS WARZONES TP     $16.99
NOV150954     AVENGERS DEATH OF MOCKINGBIRD TP     $34.99
NOV150953     BLACK WIDOW ITSY BITSY SPIDER TP     $19.99
OCT158863     CARNAGE #2 DEL MUNDO 2ND PTG VAR     $3.99
NOV150828     CARNAGE #4     $3.99
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NOV150888     EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN #6     $3.99
NOV150925     GROOT PREM HC     $24.99
NOV150793     GUIDE TO MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE CA FIRST AVENGER     $3.99
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NOV150866     TRUE BELIEVERS DEADPOOL MUSICAL #1     $1.00
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NOV150944     WHAT IF TP INFINITY     $14.99
NOV150956     X-MEN TP COLOSSUS GODS COUNTRY     $24.99

IDW Publishing from Diamond Distributors for January 27, 2016

IDW PUBLISHING

NOV150452     ATOMIC ROBO & THE RING OF FIRE #5     $3.99
NOV150450     DUNGEONS & DRAGONS FORGOTTEN REALMS OMNIBUS     $24.99
NOV150451     GARBAGE PAIL KIDS TP     $19.99
NOV150348     GHOSTBUSTERS INTERNATIONAL #1     $3.99
NOV150439     INSUFFERABLE TP VOL 01     $19.99
NOV150329     JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS #11     $3.99
NOV150331     JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS #11 COMP METALLIC FOIL BOX SET     $24.99
OCT150421     NOS4A2 WRAITH DLX ED HC     $150.00
NOV150409     ORPHAN BLACK HELSINKI #3     $3.99
NOV150457     SHRINKING MAN TP     $17.99
NOV150374     TMNT ONGOING #54     $3.99
NOV150400     TRANSFORMERS SINS OF WRECKERS #3     $3.99
NOV150339     VICTORIE CITY #1     $3.99
NOV150378     X-FILES SEASON 11 #6     $3.99
NOV150380     X-FILES SEASON 11 #6 SUBSCRIPTION     $3.99

Dark Horse Comics from Diamond Distributors for January 27, 2016

DARK HORSE COMICS
NOV150030     COLDER TOSS THE BONES #5     $3.99
NOV150088     CONAN THE AVENGER #22     $3.50
MAR150112     CRIMINAL MACABRE CAL MCDONALD BUST     $149.99
AUG150145     DEATH DEALER MINI STATUE     $99.99
SEP150056     EC ARCHIVES PANIC HC VOL 01     $49.99
NOV150062     ELFQUEST FINAL QUEST #13     $3.50
SEP150065     GROO FRIENDS AND FOES TP VOL 02     $14.99
NOV150010     HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL 2016 #1 MAIN CVR     $3.99
NOV150086     ITTY BITTY HELLBOY SEARCH FOR THE WERE-JAGUAR #3     $2.99
NOV150089     KING CONAN WOLVES BEYOND THE BORDER #2     $3.99
SEP150068     MIND MGMT HC VOL 06 THE IMMORTALS     $19.99
JUL150090     NEGATIVE SPACE #3     $3.99
SEP150080     PASTAWAYS #8     $3.99
SEP150097     SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN TP VOL 21     $19.99

Image Comics from Diamond Distributors for January 27, 2016

IMAGE COMICS

NOV150718     APHRODITE IX REBIRTH TP VOL 02 NEW PTG     $19.99
NOV150586     BEAUTY #6 CVR A HAUN (MR)     $3.50
NOV150587     BEAUTY #6 CVR B HINKLE (MR)     $3.50
NOV150588     BEAUTY #6 CVR C SHERRON (MR)     $3.50
NOV150592     BLACK MAGICK #4 CVR A SCOTT (MR)     $3.99
NOV150593     BLACK MAGICK #4 CVR B DOYLE (MR)     $3.99
NOV150595     CHEW #54 (MR)     $3.50
NOV150482     CRY HAVOC #1 CVR A KELLY & PRICE (MR)     $3.99
NOV150483     CRY HAVOC #1 CVR B STEWART (MR)     $3.99
NOV150602     DEADLY CLASS #18 (MR)     $3.99
NOV158282     DEADLY CLASS #18 CVR B (MR)     $3.99
OCT150554     EAST OF WEST #24     $3.50
NOV150607     FUSE #17 (MR)     $3.99
NOV150615     ISLAND #6     $7.99
NOV150616     JUPITERS CIRCLE VOL 2 #3 CVR A SIENKIEWICZ (MR)     $3.50
NOV150617     JUPITERS CIRCLE VOL 2 #3 CVR B QUITELY (MR)     $3.50
NOV150672     LAZARUS TP VOL 4 POISON (MR)     $14.99
NOV150620     MONSTRESS #3 (MR)     $3.99
SEP150573     ODYC #9 (MR)     $3.99
NOV150625     OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #15 (MR)     $2.99
NOV150499     PROPHET EARTH WAR #1     $3.99
NOV150688     RASPUTIN TP VOL 02 (MR)     $14.99
NOV150539     REVIVAL #36 (MR)     $3.99
NOV150633     RINGSIDE #3 (MR)     $3.99
NOV150635     SAGA #33 (MR)     $2.99
NOV150548     SAVAGE DRAGON #211     $3.99
NOV150692     SEX TP VOL 04 DAISY CHAINS (MR)     $14.99
OCT150578     SOUTHERN BASTARDS #13 (MR)     $3.50

IMAGE COMICS/MCFARLANE TOYS
OCT152461     TMP SPORTS NFL SERIES 37 JAMEIS WINSTON AF     PI

Comics, Magazines and Books from Diamond Distributors for January 27, 2016

PREVIEWS PUBLICATIONS
DEC152538     GAME TRADE MAGAZINE #192     $3.99
DEC150004     PREVIEWS #329 FEB 2016 CUSTOMER ORDER FORM     PI
DEC150001     PREVIEWS #329 FEBRUARY 2016     $3.99

COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS

NOV151771     A CERTAIN MAGICAL INDEX GN VOL 04     $13.00
NOV151772     ACCEL WORLD GN VOL 06     $13.00
NOV158113     ADVENTURE TIME ORIGINAL GN VOL 01 COLOR PLAYING FIRE     $14.99
NOV151161     ADVENTURE TIME SUGARY SHORTS TP VOL 02     $19.99
DEC151199     ADVENTURES OF DRIPPY THE NEWSBOY TP VOL 02     $12.00
NOV151773     AKAME GA KILL GN VOL 05     $13.00
NOV151774     ALICE IN MURDERLAND GN VOL 03 (MR)     $17.00
NOV151519     ANGELARIUM BOOK OF EMANATIONS HC     $24.99
NOV151060     ARCHIE FUNHOUSE COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #18     $4.99
NOV151159     BEE AND PUPPYCAT TP VOL 02     $14.99
NOV151207     BELLADONNA #0 CENTURY RED HOT CVR (MR)     $39.99
NOV151205     BELLADONNA #0 COSTUME CHANGE 6 CVR SET (MR)     $36.99
NOV151333     BEVERLY GN (MR)     $21.95
NOV151144     BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA TP VOL 02     $14.99
OCT151217     BILL TED MOST EXCELLENT COMIC BOOK ARCHIVE HC     $34.99
NOV151509     BLACK BAG #3     $3.99
NOV151688     BLOODSHOT REBORN #10 CVR A LAROSA (NEW ARC)     $3.99
NOV151689     BLOODSHOT REBORN #10 CVR B SOOK (NEW ARC)     $3.99
NOV151690     BLOODSHOT REBORN #10 CVR C JOHNSON (NEW ARC)     $3.99
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SEP151339     BLUBBER #2     $3.99
NOV151725     BOOK OF DEATH FALL OF THE VALIANT UNIVERSE TP     $14.99
NOV151085     CALIGULA COMP BOX SET (MR)     $139.99
DEC151445     CICI A FAIRYS TALE GN VOL 01 BELIEVE YOUR EYES     $7.99
DEC151190     CLASSIC ILLUSTRATED TP AROUND WORLD 80 DAYS     $9.95
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NOV151510     COPS FOR CRIMINALS #3     $3.99
NOV151143     CURB STOMP TP     $14.99
OCT151619     CYBERINES #1     $3.99
OCT151225     DEAD LETTERS TP VOL 02     $14.99
NOV151520     DEAD MANS PARTY TP     $19.99
NOV151775     DEVIL IS PART TIMER GN VOL 04     $13.00
OCT151415     DF INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1 DF EXC MAYHEW SGN     PI
OCT151650     DOCTOR WHO 10TH YEAR TWO #5 BROOKS SUBSCRIPTION PHOTO     $3.99
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NOV151073     EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT IRIS SOURCEBOOK     $4.99
NOV151702     FAITH #1 CVR A KEVIC-DJURDJEVIC     $3.99
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NOV151810     GFT RED AGENT #1 A CVR LILLY (MR)     $3.99
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NOV151813     GFT RED AGENT #1 D CVR CAFARO (MR)     $3.99
NOV151806     GFT STEAMPUNK #1 A CVR CHEN (MR)     $5.99
NOV151807     GFT STEAMPUNK #1 B CVR ORTIZ (MR)     $5.99
NOV151808     GFT STEAMPUNK #1 C CVR KROME (MR)     $5.99
NOV151809     GFT STEAMPUNK #1 D CVR REI (MR)     $5.99
NOV151821     GFT WONDERLAND #43 A CVR RICH (MR)     $3.99
NOV151822     GFT WONDERLAND #43 B CVR SALONGA (MR)     $3.99
NOV151823     GFT WONDERLAND #43 C CVR PANTALENA (MR)     $3.99
NOV151836     GFT WONDERLAND TP VOL 08 (MR)     $15.99
OCT151624     HENCHGIRL #4     $3.99
NOV151391     HIP HOP FAMILY TREE #6     $3.99
NOV151780     HORIMIYA GN VOL 02     $13.00
NOV151781     HOW TO RAISE BORING GIRLFRIEND GN VOL 01     $13.00
NOV151511     INFINITE ADVENTURES OF JONAS QUANTUM #5     $3.99
OCT151564     INVADER ZIM TP VOL 01     $19.99
NOV151782     KAGEROU DAZE GN VOL 04     $13.00
OCT151706     KODOJA #3     $3.99
DEC151172     LADY DEATH (ONGOING) #25 PHILADELPHIA VIP CVR (MR)     $19.99
DEC151174     LADY DEATH APOCALYPSE #4 CENTURY SET (MR)     $199.99
NOV151518     LEGO FRIENDS GN VOL 02 FRIENDS TO RESCUE     $7.99
NOV151783     LOG HORIZON WEST WIND BRIGADE GN VOL 01     $13.00
DEC151483     MEAN GIRLS CLUB ONE SHOT     $5.95
NOV151222     MEDIEVAL LADY DEATH BELLADONNA DLX BOX SET (MR)     $119.99
NOV151189     MUNCHKIN #13     $3.99
NOV151504     MY LITTLE MONSTER GN VOL 12     $10.99
NOV151505     NORAGAMI STRAY GOD GN VOL 10     $10.99
NOV151409     OLYMPIANS GN HC VOL 08 APOLLO BRILLIANT ONE     $17.99
NOV151408     OLYMPIANS GN VOL 08 APOLLO BRILLIANT ONE     $9.99
NOV151190     PEANUTS VOL 2 #30     $3.99
SEP150913     PRINCELESS DLX HC VOL 01     $24.99
NOV151784     PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA MOVIE REBELLION GN VOL 02     $13.00
NOV150988     PUPPET MASTER #11 LUMSDEN CVR (MR)     $4.99
NOV150986     PUPPET MASTER #11 MAIN CVR (MR)     $3.99
NOV151541     RICK & MORTY #10     $3.99
NOV151262     SCALES OF TIME (ONE SHOT)     $3.99
NOV151130     SIMPSONS ILLUSTRATED #21     $4.99
NOV151421     SIX #3     $3.99
NOV151785     SO I CANT PLAY H GN VOL 04     $13.00
NOV151154     SONS OF ANARCHY TP VOL 04 (MR)     $14.99
NOV151174     SPIRE #6     $3.99
NOV151443     STAN LEE CHAKRA THE INVINCIBLE #7     $2.99
NOV151014     STRAYER #1     $3.99
NOV151786     SWORD ART ONLINE GIRLS OPS GN VOL 02     $13.00
NOV151787     SWORD ART ONLINE PHANTOM BULLET GN VOL 01     $13.00
NOV151788     TABOO TATTOO GN VOL 01     $13.00
NOV151132     TAROT WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE #96 (MR)     $2.95
NOV151789     TRIAGE X GN VOL 11 (MR)     $14.00
NOV151790     UBEL BLATT GN VOL 04 (MR)     $20.00
NOV151791     UMINEKO WHEN THEY CRY GN EP 5 VOL 03 END OF GOLDEN WITCH     $20.00
NOV151792     UNTIL DEATH DO US PART GN VOL 11     $25.00
NOV151175     VENUS #2     $3.99
NOV151213     WEBWITCH #3 COSTUME CHANGE 6 CVR SET (MR)     $36.99
NOV151514     WES CRAVEN COMING OF RAGE #4 (MR)     $3.99
NOV151516     WES CRAVEN COMING OF RAGE #4 B&W LTD CVR A (MR)     $24.99
NOV151517     WES CRAVEN COMING OF RAGE #4 B&W LTD CVR B (MR)     $24.99
NOV151173     WILDS END ENEMY WITHIN #5     $3.99
AUG151693     WORLDS GREATEST FIRST LOVE GN (MR) VOL 03     $12.99

MAGAZINES
OCT151965     BRICKJOURNAL #38     $8.95
NOV151909     COMIC SHOP NEWS #1493     PI
SEP151874     DC BATMAN AUTO FIG MAG #76 BLACK & WHITE #3     $21.00
SEP151875     DC BATMAN AUTO FIG MAG #77 CLASSIC TV ORIGINAL BATCYCLE     $21.00
OCT151924     DC BATMAN AUTO FIG MAG #78 ARKHAM ORIGINS BATWING     $21.00
OCT151925     DC BATMAN AUTO FIG MAG #79 CLASSIC TV CATMOBILE     $21.00
SEP151888     HOBBIT MOTION PICTURE FIG MAG #5 YAZNEG THE ORC     $16.50
SEP151889     HOBBIT MOTION PICTURE FIG MAG #6 BOLG THE ORC     $16.50
OCT151935     HOBBIT MOTION PICTURE FIG MAG #7 NARZUG THE ORC     $16.50
OCT151936     HOBBIT MOTION PICTURE FIG MAG #8 MASTER OF LAKETOWN     $16.50
SEP151881     MARVEL CHESS FIG COLL MAG SPECIAL #4 GAMORA & DRAX ALT BISHO     $38.00
SEP151887     MARVEL FACT FILES BINDER     $14.00
NOV151571     NICKELODEON MAGAZINE #8     $4.99

BOOKS
OCT151921     ART OF XCOM 2 HC     $39.99
AUG151751     DARK SOULS II DESIGN WORKS HC     $49.99
NOV151793     ISOLATOR NOVEL HC VOL 02     $20.00
NOV151794     KAGEROU DAZE LIGHT NOVEL SC VOL 03 CHILDREN REASON     $14.00
NOV151524     KOLCHAK NIGHT STALKER PASSAGES OF THE MACABRE     $16.95
SEP151857     NEIL GAIMAN ART OF NEIL GAIMAN VISUAL BIO SC     $19.99
DEC151824     SHERLOCK MIND PALACE COLORING BOOK ADV     $14.99

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Review: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2015) No. 1
MARVEL COMICS – @Marvel

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Dan Slott
PENCILS: Giuseppe Camuncoli
INKS: Cam Smith
COLORS: Marte Gracia
LETTERS: VC's Joe Caramagna
COVER: Alex Ross
VARIANT COVERS: Mark Bagley; Giuseppe Camuncoli with Marte Gracia; J. Scott Campbell with Nei Ruffino; Andrew Hennessy with Nolan Woodard; Mike Del Mundo; Humberto Ramos with Edgar Delgado; Ryan Sook; Gameloft with Trevor Cook; Aaron Rivin photographed by Judy Stephens
68pp, Color, $5.99 U.S. (December 2015)

Rated  “T”

Spider-Man created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

There have been at least three prior series to start with the title, The Amazing Spider-Man, to say nothing of all the comics published as Spider-Man #1.  In fact, there was The Amazing Spider-Man #1 launched by writer Dan Slott and artist Humberto Ramos just last year.

With the arrival of the “All-New All-Different Marvel,” The Amazing Spider-Man starts over, again with writer Dan Slott; artists Giuseppe Camuncoli (pencils) and Cam Smith (inks); colorist Marte Gracia; letterer Joe Caramagna; and cover artist Alex Ross.

The Amazing Spider-Man #1 opens in Shanghia.  Why?  Because Spider-Man has gone global, that's why.  Spider-Man and Mockingbird are trying to receive the secure servers of Parker Industries (P.I.), which contain critical data concerning P.I.'s “Webware” Internet app/browser/provider.  An adversarial entity calling “The Zodiac” is the culprit, but another, far more dangerous villain is lurking in the shadows.

I totally dug The Amazing Spider-Man 2014, mainly when Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos were the creative team.  Yes, it is only one issue, but I am not as excited by The Amazing Spider-Man 2015.  Still, the last page will make sure I come back, and I must say that, in general, I find Dan Slott to be one of the best Spider-Man comic book writers that I have had the pleasure of reading.

B+

[This comic book includes previews of Spider-Man 2099 #1; Silk #1; Spider-Woman #1; Webwarriors #1; and Spider-Man #1]

[This comic book includes the bonus comic “The Spider's Corner with Petey P” by Anthony Holden with Jordie Bellaire.]

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: WHO'S WHO Volume 1


WHO'S WHO: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE OF THE DC UNIVERSE VOL. 1
DC COMICS – @DCComics

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITERS: Len Wein, Marv Wolfman
PENCILS: Joe Orlando, Craig Hamilton, Carmine Infantino, Don Heck, Alex Saviuk, Scott Shaw!, Jerry Ordway, Marshall Rogers, Mike Zeck, Keith Giffen, Ernie Colón, Gil Kane, José Delbo, Howie Post, Greg Theakston, George Pérez, Chuck Patton, Steve Bissette, Jan Duursema, Eduardo Barreto, Rick Hoberg, Murphy Anderson, Curt Swan, Tod Smith
INKERS: Joe Orlando, Dick Giordano, Frank McLaughlin, Murphy Anderson, Don Heck, Scott Shaw!, Jerry Ordway, Marshall Rogers, John Beatty, Bob Oksner,  Ernie Colón, Gil Kane, Romeo Tanghal, Howie Post, Greg Theakston,  George Pérez, John Totleben, Jan Duursema, Eduardo Barreto, Rick Magyar
COLORS: Helen Visik, Shelly Eiber, Tatjana Wood, Joe Orlando, Greg Theakston
LETTERS: Todd Klein (production)
EDITORIAL: Len Wein with Marv Wolfman and Robert Greenberger
COVER: George Perez
32pp, Color, $1.00 U.S., $1.35 CAN, 45p U.K. (March 1985)

Who's Who: The Definitive Guide to the DC Universe was an encyclopedia of the characters, places, and things of the DC Universe, but it was published in a comic book format.  Created by Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, and Robert Greenberger, Who's Who began publication in 1984 one month before the release of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the 12-issue comic book series that changed the DC Universe of characters.  Who's Who ran for 26 issues, but there were updates (in 1987 and 1988) and spinoffs (including one for DC Comic's 1980s “Star Trek” comic book series).

In Who's Who, each of the characters, places, and things (for the most part) has its own page and is depicted in an illustration, pin-up, or technical drawing created by a comic book artist or a penciller/inker team.  Some of the artists are legendary comic book creators or are famous or are at least known for their association with DC Comics.  Others are comic book artists who were active working professionals in American comic books, including in independent and alternative comics, at the time of the publication of the original Who's Who.

At the recent Louisiana Comic Con (October 17 and 18th, 2015 in Lafayette, LA), I found a copy of Who's Who: The Definitive Guide to the DC Universe #1.  I once had several issues of this series, but I don't know what happened to them.  Although I actually once read some of the text, I really bought Who's Who for the illustrations.

First of all, I love the wraparound cover art by George Perez, especially the detail with “Arak: Son of Thunder” sitting on a rock outcropping.  Inside, there is also a lot to like.  I think that it is just great that the first illustration of this first issue is by the late, great Joe Orlando, a depiction of House of Secrets star/victim, “Abel.”  Seeing classic Flash artist, Carmine Infantino, draw “Abra Kadabra,” a character in Flash's “rogue gallery” is a treat.  Fans of Jerry Ordway's 1980s work for DC Comics will be happy to see his double-page spread of the cast of All-Star Squadron.

I can never say no to “Ambush Bug” drawn by Keith Giffen.  I can never say “No” to anything by legend Gil Kane, who offers a drawing of pre-Grant Morrison, “Animal-Man” and a drawing of his version of “Atom.”  I like Ernie Colón, so I was happy to see a few drawings from him, including one of “Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld.”  “Arcane” by the classic Swamp Thing art team of Steve Bissette and John Totleben is a highlight.  Classic Golden and Silver Age DC Comics artist, Murphy Anderson, offers a drawing of one of his signature characters, “Atomic Knight.”  Anderson also inked “The Atomic Skull” drawing by one of my all-time favorite artists, Curt Swan.

Greg Theakston did a good job with an “Apokolips” drawing, but I would have preferred that “Fourth World” creator, Jack Kirby, draw Apokolips for this series.  Eduardo Barreto is a fine comic book artist, but I wish that Jose Luis Garcia Lopez had drawn the Atari Force double-spread.

In the nearly three decades since Who's Who: The Definitive Guide to the DC Universe was originally published, much of its text is no longer relevant.  That is the result of DC Comics' numerous reboots and relaunches and “new directions.”  Still, this series can be of use as a reference source for writers, comics historians, and archivists, and especially for fans of DC Comics' bygone days.  Fans of classic and veteran comic book artists, of course, will want this series.  I plan on hunting down more issues.

A-

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Review: DOCTOR STRANGE #1

DOCTOR STRANGE (2015) No. 1
MARVEL COMICS – @Marvel

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Jason Aaron
PENCILS: Chris Bachalo
INKS: Tim Townsend, Al Vey, and Mark Irwin
COLORS: Chris Bachalo
LETTERS: VC's Cory Petit
COVER: Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend
VARIANT COVERS: Neal Adams; John Tyler Christopher; Juan Doe; Eric Henderson; Dave Johnson; Kevin Nowlan; Jakub Rebelka; Skottie Young; Allen Lee Hansard with Mary Cahela and Judy Stephens
36pp, Color, $4.99 U.S. (December 2015)

Rated T+

Doctor Strange created by Steve Ditko

“The Way of the Weird”

Doctor Strange is a Marvel Comics superhero character.  Doctor Strange first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (cover dated:  July 1963) and was created by artist Steve Ditko, although Marvel Comics also recognizes Stan Lee as the character's co-creator.

Doctor Stephen Vincent Strange is a brilliant, but egotistical neurosurgeon who only cares about using his career and talents to become wealthy.  A car accident severely damages his hands, ending his ability to perform surgery.  His pride causes him to lose everything, but his encounter with the Ancient One changes him.  Doctor Strange becomes the “Sorcerer Supreme,” the “Master of the Mystic Arts,” who is the primary protector of Earth against magical and mystical threats from wherever they may come.

As part of the “All-New All-Different Marvel” initiative, Marvel Comics is launching a new Doctor Strange comic book series.  The new series is written by Jason Aaron; drawn and colored by Chris Bachalo, with inking by Tim Townsend, Al Vey and Mark Irwin; and lettered by Cory Petit.

Doctor Strange #1 (“The Way of the Weird”) with Strange battling possession in the Netherworld.  After a day of battling soul-eaters and a psychic-leech, Strange sees a pattern.  Something bad is coming.  Plus, Strange meets Doctor Voodoo, Shaman, and the Scarlet Witch.

I am intrigued by some of the elements presented in this new series, but I don't know that this is a title that I would buy every month.  If you have ever seen Chris Bachalo's art, and you have because he has been a Marvel Comics stable pony for over a decade, then, this comic book will look familiar to you.  Maybe some of it looks like Bachalo's work on Neil Gaiman's Death comic book miniseries.  Anyway, I can't recommend this, not because it is bad, but because I don't see myself being a regular reader of this new Doctor Strange.  So why should I suggest that you be?

Now, there is also a five-age epilogue written by Aaron and drawn by the great Kevin Nowlan (who also draws one of this #1 issue's variant covers).  For a long time, Nolan has been known as a comic book artist's artist, and Nowlan's five pages are worth every penny of this book's cover price.  I will come back to this title if there is more Nowlan.

[This volume includes a bonus story written by Jason Aaron; drawn and colored by Kevin Nowlan; and lettered by VC's Cory Petit.]

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint or syndication rights and fees.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

DC Comics from Diamond Distributors for January 20, 2016

DC COMICS

NOV150296     ASTRO CITY #31     $3.99
OCT150210     BATGIRL #47     $2.99
OCT150244     BATGIRL TP VOL 01 SILENT KNIGHT     $19.99
NOV150219     BATMAN #48     $3.99
NOV150225     BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL #16     $2.99
NOV150252     BATMAN ARKHAM KNIGHT GENESIS #6     $2.99
NOV150298     CLEAN ROOM #4 (MR)     $3.99
OCT150147     DARK KNIGHT III MASTER RACE #2 COLLECTORS ED HC     $12.99
NOV150183     DOCTOR FATE #8     $2.99
NOV150301     FABLES THE WOLF AMONG US #13 (MR)     $3.99
OCT150253     GRAYSON TP VOL 01 AGENTS OF SPYRAL TP     $14.99
OCT150254     GRAYSON TP VOL 02 WE ALL DIE AT DAWN     $14.99
NOV150236     HARLEY QUINN #24     $3.99
NOV150256     INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US YEAR FIVE #2     $2.99
OCT158891     JUSTICE LEAGUE DARKSEID WAR BATMAN #1 2ND PTG     $3.99
OCT158892     JUSTICE LEAGUE DARKSEID WAR FLASH #1 2ND PTG     $3.99
OCT158893     JUSTICE LEAGUE DARKSEID WAR GREEN LANTERN #1 2ND PTG     $3.99
OCT158894     JUSTICE LEAGUE DARKSEID WAR SHAZAM #1 2ND PTG     $3.99
OCT158895     JUSTICE LEAGUE DARKSEID WAR SUPERMAN #1 2ND PTG     $3.99
NOV150302     LUCIFER #2 (MR)     $3.99
NOV150191     MARTIAN MANHUNTER #8     $2.99
OCT150259     NEW TEEN TITANS TP VOL 04     $19.99
NOV150166     POISON IVY CYCLE OF LIFE AND DEATH #1     $2.99
NOV150308     RED THORN #3 (MR)     $3.99
NOV150242     ROBIN SON OF BATMAN #8     $3.99
NOV150203     SECRET SIX #10     $2.99
OCT150261     SHOWCASE PRESENTS BATMAN TP VOL 06     $19.99
NOV150246     SINESTRO #19     $2.99
NOV150213     SUPERMAN WONDER WOMAN #25     $3.99
NOV150201     TITANS HUNT #4     $3.99
NOV150205     WONDER WOMAN #48     $3.99


Marvel Comics from Diamond Distributors for January 20, 2016

MARVEL COMICS

OCT158856     ALL NEW X-MEN #1 BAGLEY 2ND PTG VAR     $3.99
OCT150983     ALL NEW X-MEN TP VOL 07 UTOPIANS     $19.99
OCT150981     ASM INHUMAN ALL NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA INHUMAN ERROR TP     $12.99
NOV150803     ASTONISHING ANT-MAN #4     $3.99
NOV150738     CAPTAIN MARVEL #1     $3.99
OCT158857     DAREDEVIL #1 GARNEY 2ND PTG VAR     $3.99
NOV150904     DARK TOWER DRAWING OF THREE LADY OF SHADOWS #5 (MR)     $3.99
NOV150897     DEADPOOL #6     $3.99
OCT158858     DOCTOR STRANGE #3 BACHALO 2ND PTG VAR     $3.99
NOV150812     DRAX #3     $3.99
NOV150853     HERCULES #3     $3.99
OCT158860     HOWARD THE DUCK #2 FOWLER GWENPOOL B&W 2ND PTG VAR     $4.99
OCT158859     HOWARD THE DUCK #2 QUINONES 2ND PTG VAR     $4.99
OCT158861     INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #4 MARQUEZ 2ND PTG VAR     $3.99
OCT150994     MARVEL FRONTIER COMICS TP COMPLETE COLLECTION (MR)     $39.99
NOV150901     MARVEL UNIVERSE AVENGERS ASSEMBLE SEASON TWO #15     $2.99
NOV150905     MAX RIDE #3 ULTIMATE FLIGHT     $3.99
NOV150824     MS MARVEL #3     $3.99
NOV150787     NEW AVENGERS #5     $3.99
NOV150848     PATSY WALKER AKA HELLCAT #2     $3.99
OCT150993     PUNISHER MAX TP VOL 01 COMPLETE COLLECTION (MR)     $34.99
NOV150763     SILVER SURFER #1     $3.99
NOV150920     STAR WARS #15     $3.99
OCT150988     STAR WARS TP LANDO     $16.99
NOV150857     STARBRAND AND NIGHTMASK #2     $3.99
NOV150816     STAR-LORD #3     $3.99
OCT150985     THOR TP VOL 01 GODDESS OF THUNDER     $19.99
OCT150995     THUNDERBOLTS CLASSIC TP VOL 01 NEW PTG     $34.99
NOV150863     TRUE BELIEVERS GROOVY DEADPOOL #1     $1.00
NOV150864     TRUE BELIEVERS MEATY DEADPOOL #1     $1.00
NOV150865     TRUE BELIEVERS WEDDING OF DEADPOOL #1     $1.00
NOV150818     UNCANNY INHUMANS #4     $3.99
OCT150772     UNCANNY X-MEN #2     $3.99
OCT150984     X-MEN TP VOL 01 INFERNO     $34.99

IDW Publishing from Diamond Distributors for January 20, 2016

IDW PUBLISHING

NOV150337     AMAZING FOREST #1     $3.99
NOV150345     GI JOE A REAL AMERICAN HERO #224     $3.99
SEP150486     HORROR BY HECK HC     $24.99
NOV150407     JUDGE DREDD (ONGOING) #2     $3.99
MAY152754     ORPHAN BLACK CARD GAME     $29.99
NOV150364     STAR TREK ONGOING TP VOL 11     $19.99
NOV150394     TRANSFORMERS #49     $3.99
OCT150317     TRANSFORMERS GI JOE TYRANTS RISE HEROES ARE BORN TP     $19.99
OCT150312     TRANSFORMERS ROBOTS IN DISGUISE ANIMATED #6     $3.99
NOV150480     WEIRD LOVE #11     $4.99
NOV150474     WORLDS OF COLOR WELCOME TO OZ ADULT COLORING BOOK TP     $9.99

Dark Horse Comics from Diamond Distributors for January 20, 2016

DARK HORSE COMICS

SEP150069     ADVENTURES OF DOG MENDONCA PIZZABOY TP VOL 03 REQUIEM     $12.99
NOV150018     BPRD HELL ON EARTH #139     $3.50
NOV150027     BTVS SEASON 10 #23 MAIN CVR     $3.99
NOV150043     CALL OF DUTY BLACK OPS III #3     $3.99
NOV150066     DARK HORSE PRESENTS 2014 #18     $4.99
NOV150045     DRAGON AGE MAGEKILLER #2     $3.99
NOV150046     EVE VALKYRIE #4     $3.99
SEP150076     MIDNIGHT SOCIETY BLACK LAKE TP     $14.99
SEP150022     PLANTS VS ZOMBIES GARDEN WARFARE HC     $9.99
NOV150050     PLANTS VS ZOMBIES ONGOING #8 PETAL TO THE METAL     $2.99
NOV150032     ROOK #4     $3.99
NOV150033     STEAM MAN #4     $3.99
NOV150087     USAGI YOJIMBO #151     $3.99

Image Comics from Diamond Distributors for January 20, 2016

IMAGE COMICS

AUG150524     68 LAST RIGHTS #4 CVR A JONES & FOTOS (MR)     $3.99
AUG150525     68 LAST RIGHTS #4 CVR B VANDYKE & FOTOS (MR)     $3.99
OCT150602     68 TP VOL 05 HOMEFRONT (MR)     $19.99
NOV150582     ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE #8     $2.99
NOV150612     I HATE FAIRYLAND #4 CVR A YOUNG (MR)     $3.50
NOV150618     LEGACY OF LUTHER STRODE #4 (MR)     $3.50
NOV150515     NOWHERE MEN #7     $2.99
NOV150491     PENCIL HEAD #1 (MR)     $3.99
NOV150627     PHONOGRAM THE IMMATERIAL GIRL #6 (MR)     $3.99
NOV150629     POSTAL #9 CVR A SEJIC     $3.99
NOV150630     POSTAL #9 CVR B GOODHART     $3.99
OCT150607     REVIVAL DLX COLL HC VOL 03 (MR)     $34.99
NOV150653     SYMMETRY #2 CVR A IENCO     $3.99
NOV150654     SYMMETRY #2 CVR B IENCO     $3.99
NOV150658     TOKYO GHOST #5 CVR A MURPHY & HOLLINGSWORTH (MR)     $3.99
NOV150659     TOKYO GHOST #5 CVR B MURPHY & MCCAIG (MR)     $3.99
NOV150661     WAYWARD #13 CVR A CUMMINGS & BONVILLAIN (MR)     $3.50
NOV150662     WAYWARD #13 CVR B RANEY & GOING (MR)     $3.50
NOV150576     WOLF #5 (MR)     $3.50

Comics, Magazines and Books from Diamond Distributors for January 20, 2016

COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS

NOV151550     ABSENT CAPTAIN #2     $3.99
NOV151196     ADVENTURE TIME CANDY CAPERS ENCHIRIDION ED HC     $49.99
NOV151140     ADVENTURE TIME ICE KING #1     $3.99
OCT151543     ADVENTURES OF BASIL AND MOEBIUS HC VOL 03 SECRETS O/T ANCIENT     $18.99
OCT151625     AKUMA NO RIDDLE GN VOL 02 RIDDLE STORY OF DEVIL     $12.99
NOV151309     ALICE COOPER VS CHAOS #5 RARE CHIN VIRGIN ED     $50.00
NOV151012     AMERICAN MONSTER #1 (MR)     $3.99
OCT151770     ARCHER & ARMSTRONG DLX HC VOL 02     $39.99
OCT151103     ARCHIE GIANT COMICS JACKPOT TP     $7.99
NOV151064     BETTY & VERONICA COMICS ANNUAL DIGEST #240     $5.99
NOV151176     BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA #20     $3.99
OCT151667     BLACKLIST #6 REG PHOTO     $3.99
OCT151668     BLACKLIST #6 SUBSCRIPTION LOBEL     $3.99
NOV151547     BLOOD FEUD #4     $3.99
NOV151724     BOOK OF DEATH TP     $14.99
JUN151312     BOOK OF HOPE HC     $34.99
OCT151839     CARVER PARIS STORY #2     $3.99
NOV150979     CASK OF AMONTILLADO     $3.99
NOV151105     CROSSED BADLANDS #92 ART DECO CVR (MR)     $9.99
NOV151106     CROSSED BADLANDS #92 C DAY WORLDWIDE CVR (MR)     $3.99
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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Book Review: ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS

ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS
HARPERCOLLINS – @HarperCollins

AUTHOR: Adriana Trigiani
ISBN: 978-0-06-241857-9; hardcover (October 13, 2015)
464pp, B&W, $26.99 U.S.

All the Stars in the Heavens is a 2015 romance and historical novel from Adriana Trigiani, the New York Times bestselling author of The Shoemaker's Wife.  Based on a true story, this new novel is set in the “Golden Age” of Hollywood (a two-decade period from the late 1920s to the late 1940s) and is a story of adventure, artistry, family ties, artistry, and romance.

All the Stars in the Heavens has both a prologue and an epilogue that is set in October 2000, and its story goes back to 1917.  However, the main body of the narrative is set in 1930s Los Angeles.  In Hollywood, the movie business is booming, as the film industry turns out glittery fantasies to take Americans minds off the Great Depression.

Loretta Young is an ambitious young actress who carefully plans the arc of her career.  In 1935, she is 21-years-old when she is cast in The Call of the Wild.  She considers this new film to be a pivotal moment in her career.  With the help of her personal secretary, Alda Ducci (a former novice who wanted to be a nun), Loretta carefully plans a trip to Mount Baker, Washington where The Call of the Wild will be filmed.

When he first gets a look at Loretta, Clark Gable instantly falls for his stunning and vivacious young costar.  Loretta cannot deny that she is also attracted to Gable, but her recent “romance” with former costar, Spencer Tracy, on an earlier film, has made Loretta wary of married men, which Gable is.  However, she can't resist him, and their love will be a star-crossed one.  Filled with such Hollywood legends as Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy, David Niven, Hattie McDaniel, and more, this story imagines a great love affair in Hollywood's most glittery era.

When HarperCollins offered a galley copy of All the Stars in the Heavens for review, I practically jumped at it.  Reading a summary that described it as being set in Hollywood's “Golden Age” was enough for me.  I think people generally consider the 1930s and 1940s as the golden age of American movie-making.  Some historians believe that age lasted until the end of the studio system.

Anyway, many of the movies that I consider the best films of all time:  Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, The Best Years of Our Lives, The Maltese Falcon, Pinocchio, and Bambi, to name just a few, are from the 1930s and 40s.  Some of my favorite films:  The Adventures of Robin Hood, Crossfire, Lost Horizon, Ninotchka, and To Be or Not to Be, to once again name just few, are also from those two decades.

However, I have only seen two Clark Gable films in their entirety, Gone with the Wind and It Happened One Night (for which Gable won an Oscar).  I am familiar with Loretta Young's name, but that is all she is to me, now.  After reading this book, I do plan to sample some of the work of Loretta Young, who was also an Oscar winner.

All the Stars in the Heavens captures the drama, luster, power, and secrets that could only thrive in the studio system of Hollywood's yesteryear, simply because the novel is full of the drama and the secrets of the stars and also the power of the studios.  Every bit of it is dressed in the luster of lavish costumes and elaborate sets used to make movies and also in the stylish clothes and in the splendor that defined the lives of Hollywood's biggest stars.  Using colorful descriptions and detailed explanations of where the stars lives, how they dressed, what they ate, etc., Adriana Trigiani transports her readers back in time to an idealized version of a bygone era that specialized in creating the fanciful and the ideal.

Much of the novel is set in the mid-1930s, and the rest of the novel focuses on what occurred in the 1930s.  For all intents and purposes, All the Stars in the Heavens is like a prose version of a film from the 1930s.  In a way, it reads like a novelization of a film biopic of the real-life romance of Loretta Young and Clark Gable.  The joy and sorrow and the love and the pain reflect the high drama and melodrama of a movie one might see on Turner Classic Movies.

I will say that the last two chapters of All the Stars in the Heavens are more like a television movie about the “good old days.”  These forty pages lose the luster of “Old Hollywood,” and are surprisingly melancholy, being mostly sad and regretful.  This part of the novel yearns for the films of a dream factory that made black and white movies that sparkled as if they were colorful jewels.  It is there that everything feels right... even if none of it would last for long.  Even with almost 450 pages of story, All the Stars in the Heavens sometimes feels as if it isn't long enough.

B+

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Review: NEW X-MEN #114

NEW X-MEN No. 114
MARVEL COMICS – @Marvel

[This review originally appeared on Patreon.]

STORY: Grant Morrison
PENCILS: Frank Quitely
INKS: Tim Townsend
COLORS: Brian Haberlin
LETTERS: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
COVER: Frank Quitely
32pp, Color, $2.25 U.S., $3.50 CAN (July 2001)

X-Men created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

“E is for Extinction” Part One of Three

When Joe Quesada became Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, one of his first goals (apparently) was to make the company's flagship titles regain some of “their former glory.”  One of the franchises in need of some polishing was the X-Men, and Quesada recruited writer Grant Morrison, known for his work at DC Comics, to take the X-Men in a new direction.

Morrison took X-Men, the X-title that began in 1991.  Its title was changed to New X-Men, but retained the series numbering.  Thus, the new direction began with New X-Men #114, written by Morrison; drawn by Frank Quitely (pencils) and Tim Townsend (inks), colored by Brian Haberlin; and colored by Richard Starkings.

As New X-Men #114 (“E is for Extinction” One of Three) opens, Scott Summers/Cyclops and Logan/Wolverine are in the process of destroying a Sentinel, after saving a persecuted mutant, Ugly John, from the death machine.  Meanwhile, Professor Charles Xavier, a.k.a. “Professor X,” attacks his renewed mission to help a new generation of mutants with a sense of urgency that can also be described as an episode of mania.

Jean Grey is trying to assist him, and so is Henry “Hank” McCoy a.k.a. “Beast.”  However, each has his or her own issues.  Jean and Scott's relationship is in a difficult state.  Hank has undergone a shocking “secondary” mutation that sometimes physically complicates his ability to be a super-scientist.  What the X-Men do not realize is that a new enemy has arisen from seemingly nowhere, and she wants to launch a campaign of genocide against all of mutantkind.

As a kid, I read most of my comic books so many times that they practically fell apart.  As an adult, the only comic books that I read repeatedly were Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, The Sandman, and anything by Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and Will Eisner.  I also often re-read works of alternative comix creators like Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Peter Bagge, and R. Crumb, to new a few.  Everything else was one-and-done.

I must admit, however, that I have lost track of how many times I have read the New X-Men story arc, “E is for Extinction,” especially “Part One” in New X-Men #114.  I think that the reason is because no matter when I read it, this story arc feels fresh and ground-breaking.  New X-Men # 114 especially seems new and an exhilarating; it is as if by reading it I find myself on the cusp of a revolution.

Well, New X-Men ended up being only “kind of a revolution.”  The rest of Grant Morrison's run on this series was never as explosive and “begin-with-a-bang” as “E is for Extinction,” mostly because this first story arc was so different from anything an X-Men comic book had ever been.  It was as if there were a decades' worth of advancement between New X-Men #114 and the two decades of X-Men comic books that had come before it.

Also, I find that Morrison's best work on an established comic book series is usually his first 12 issues, as was the case here.  After the first year, Morrison's work on established series or characters turns weird or contrived, although that weirdness is usually still better than most other comic books coming out at the same time.

It also did not help that Frank Quitely was incapable of keeping up a monthly schedule, so that the first two years of Morrison's run on New X-Men is a patchwork of inconsistent art styles, some of them ugly and some of them being an ill fit with Morrison's storytelling.  It seemed as if Quitely was the only artist who could make Morrison's New X-Men stories seem truly revolution.

Another thing that I have to admit is that I had and still have mixed feelings about the villain, Cassandra Nova, who turns out to be some kind of sibling to Professor X.  I think a better choice for “E is for Extinction” villain would have been either an obscure X-Men villain from the distant past or an obscure Marvel character reconstructed or “retconned” into being a mutant.  The entire subplot slash narrative angle involving Cassandra and Professor X is almost a bridge too far for me.

Still, even with my complaints, I think that New X-Men #114 is one of the all-time great single issues ever published in American comic books, so I am going to read it again.  In fact, I am going to find other individual New X-Men back issues (especially the Quitely-drawn ones) so that I can enjoy Grant Morrison's “revolution” of the X-Men.

A+

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaus


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and  syndication rights and fees.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review: ROCKETEER Adventures #4

ROCKETEER ADVENTURES No. 4
IDW PUBLISHING – @IDWPublishing

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITERS: Dave Gibbons; Joe Pruett; John Arcudi
ARTISTS: Scott Hampton; Tony Harris; Brendan McCarthy
COLORS: Scott Hampton; JD Mettler; Jamie Grant
LETTERS: Shawn Lee
PIN-UPS: Ashley Wood
COVER: Alex Ross
ALTERNATE COVERS:  Dave Stevens (Cover B), Alex Ross (Cover RI – sketch); and Dave Stevens (B/W Incentive Edition)
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (August 2011)

Rocketeer created by Dave Stevens

Long live The Rocketeer!

Born in 1955, Dave Stevens was an illustrator, artist, and storyteller who worked on newspaper comic strips and as a storyboard artist on both live-action and animated films and also for television.  Many, like me, know Stevens for his comic book work.  While there was not much of it, what Stevens did produce was spectacular and beautiful.

His most famous comic book creation is The Rocketeer, a superhero Stevens first introduced in 1982.  The Rocketeer’s style and the mode of his adventures recall the Saturday matinee heroes of the 1930s and 1940s.  The Rocketeer’s exploits are mainly set in and around Los Angeles, beginning in 1938 and into the 1940s.  The Rocketeer even made it onto the big screen in a 1991 film from Walt Disney Pictures.

The Rocketeer is Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovers an experimental jet pack (or rocket pack).  When he straps it on, Cliff can fly and becomes The Rocketeer.  Cliff’s friend, Peevy, an airplane mechanic, helps him maintain and modify the rocket pack.  Cliff’s girlfriend is the actress, Bettie, whom Stevens based on real life, 1950s pin-up and fetish model, Bettie Page.

Debuting in 2011, Rocketeer Adventures was an anthology series from IDW Publishing.  Edited by Scott Dunbier, Rocketeer Adventures featured Rocketeer short stories (about 7 to 8 pages in length) produced by some of the most popular, imaginative, and unique creators in comic books.  The series, which had a sequel, basically paid respect to Stevens (who died in 2008) and his most beloved creation.

Rocketeer Adventures #4 features three stories.  The first is “A Day at the Beach,” written by Dave Gibbons and drawn by Scott Hampton, which finds the Rocketeer taking on surfboard thieves.  In “Waterlogged,” written by Joe Pruett and drawn by Tony Harris, the Rocketeer battles a Japanese submarine.  “The Flight of the Aeronaut,” written by John Arcudi with art by Brendan McCarthy and Jamie Grant, finds Cliff battling Nazis who want Peevy’s plans to improve the Rocketeer’s rocket pack.

“A Day at the Beach” shows off Scott Hampton’s technique in illustrated narrative, which I still find eye-catching decades after I first saw his work.  The delicate watercolors (or watercolor-like colors) perfectly convey a sunny day at the beach.  “The Flight of the Aeronaut” is scary, and I wish it were longer.

In fact, since Rocketeer Adventures was first published, IDW Publishing has published three original miniseries starring the Rocketeer (one of them featuring Will Eisner’s The Spirit).  So here’s an idea for another miniseries, Mr. Dunbier, editor of all things Rocketeer, a follow-up to “The Flight of the Aeronaut.”

As a bonus, Rocketeer Adventures #4 features two pin-ups by artist Ashley Wood.  The second of the two, entitled “Heaven Bound,” captures the sense of wonder and hope that the Rocketeer embodies.  Long live the Rocketeer.

A-

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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