Saturday, July 30, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The Avengers are back after Civil Wars, alien invasions, bad guys running America’s top security forces, and other assorted wackness. Now Hawkeye, Iron Man, Captain America (the Bucky one), Wolverine, Spiderman, Spiderwoman (they SERIOSULY needed both?), Thor, and Noh-Varr have to head to the future and stop a never ending war that will destroy the entire time-space continuum.
After probably the 33,467,898th roster change we have an Avengers line up worth caring about (except for Spiderwoman and Noh-Varr. Nobody cares about them). And with the parenthetical exception all our new avengers have big budget movies coming out or have recently come out. Smart move Marvel! All imputing of crass marketing motives aside, this is an awesome roster of awesome heroes. Bendis makes good use of the heroes too and gives us plenty of super powered mega battles of EPIC proportion. When time gets all herky-jerky the Avengers have to fight foes from all sorts of alternate time streams, which gives Bendis and Romita Jr. to through in a bunch of shout outs to older Marvel stories that the super fans will appreciate (I did!). The art (as with anything Romita Jr. does) is superb. The plot is brisk and action packed and there is no drawn out soul searching or political allegories! A great read for fans of superhero comics and awesomeness
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
That’s how over-the-top shivery and scary this riveting gothic tale is. Do you like monsters? Check. How about violence? Double-check!
You won’t be able to look away! Even when you’re covered in gore!
The Monstrumologist is told through the eyes of 12-year-old Will Henry, who serves as the hapless but ever-stalwart assistant of Dr. Pellinore Warthrop in the New England town of New Jerusalem. Warthrop calls himself a doctor of philosophy, which would be accurate if by “philosophy” you really meant “things that go bump in the night.”
One spring night in 1888, a grave robber deposits a grisly find on the doctor’s doorstep. To say what, exactly, the creature is would be to deprive you of the same shock, horror and disgust that both Will Henry and I felt as it was unveiled. Suffice to say Yancey does not subscribe to the current trend of vampires, werewolves and zombies.
The discovery of the dead creature sets in motion a race against time. Warthrop suspects more of them survive and if so, the people of New Jerusalem are in grave danger. This leads to Warthrop taking drastic measures, including inviting a fellow monstrumologist, John Kearns — though Warthrop’s morals may be questionable at times, we come to learn Kearns is devoid of a moral compass at all. Mayhem and carnage ensue.
Yancey does an excellent job of weaving an atmosphere of tension and dread and then punctuating it with brutal, detailed scenes of bloodshed:
"The massively muscled forearm followed, rotated ninety degrees, and the next second found Burns’s head buried in the grip of the huge claw. With a sickening pop the beast tore his head completely off his shoulders and yanked it back through the hole punched through his heaving gut."You have to hand it to the man. Yancey’s creative even in his descriptions of butchery.
Those scenes, however, ensure that this book is not for the faint of heart. Better yet, you should probably have a strong stomach, too. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m trying to read all the books on the 2011 Lone Star Reading List. The Monstrumologist is on that list. I definitely have to give props to the Texas Library Association's Young Adult Round Table for putting together such a diverse selection. This novel was my first taste of horror and I find I rather like it.
What I like about this book is that you come to care for its main characters, which ratchets up your fear for their survival amidst such depictions of slaughter. Will Henry is an earnest boy who’s seen far more than any boy — or any man — should have to see. But he remains stubbornly devoted to the doctor, realizing he truly has no one else and that the same case applies to the doctor.
Warthrop, for his part, doesn’t do much to dispel the mad-scientist stereotype. His mania for monsters goes hand-in-hand with his absentmindedness: obsessively focused on his hellish hunt while caring little for the prosaic details of day-to-day life like eating. Even then, we find sympathy for him as we learn a little of his background and the terribly legacy left to him by his monstrumologist father.
The story's most intriguing conflict does not revolve around the monster's rapaciousness but rather the cruelty of man. There are shocking instances of inhumanity and mercilessness among the novel's human characters, requiring readers ask themselves, "Who really is the monster?"
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Superman: Mon-EL byJames Robinson Illustrated by Renato Guedes and Jose Wilson Magalhaes YP FIC ROBINSON
Mon-El met Superman when he was just a Superboy, and young Clark Kent thought he had found a fellow Kryptonian, but unfortunately Mon-el was a Daxamite and Clark accidentally poisoned him and had to banish him to the Forbidden Zone. Oops. But after the Phantom Zone started to vanish Mon-El was freed and cured. Now with Superman off trying to help build New Krypton (long story) someone has to keep the world safe. Mon-El steps in to be the world’s hero only to find that his cure was temporary and he is flying on borrowed time.
Okay, so all that up there is confusing, but the book does a great job of including short comics to introduce all the main characters of the book, so when the storyline gets going even a total newbie will be able to follow. What makes Mon-El such a fun book is to see someone with all the powers of Superman, but without his training. The book is filled with loads of action and a bunch of weird lesser known DC heroes and villains from around the world. The art by Guedes and Magalhaes is top notch. I think this is a good read for someone wanting an interesting and fast paced super hero story.
Clark Kent just wants to be normal and fit in, unfortunately he can see through walls, has lasers come out of his eyes, he’s more powerful than a locomotive, faster than a speeding bullet, and he can fly. He’s very super, but he just wants to be a man. With his great gifts he could be the world’s best athlete, a rich scientist, or toil thanklessly to police and save the entire Earth. Just as he thinks he’s made his decision an enemy he never knew existed comes to Earth with one mission: Kill the last Kryptonian.
Sort of Straczynski’s answer to Miller’s Batman: Year One, but not as groundbreaking, Earth One is good but not one of the greats. Con: Tyrell the villain invented by Straczynski as the destroyer of Krypton just looks plain silly. Straczynski has a habit of this, inventing a brand new villain that looks unimpressive but saying they are the Greatest Foe the hero has ever faced!!! He did it multiple times with Spider-Man and it didn’t work then either. Another Con: Nothing in this story seems new or different enough to reboot Superman as just another modern dude trying to find himself. Pro: the idea of Superman playing sports is great fun. Pro: good art and action (except for how silly the villain looks). All in all a good read for Superman and super hero fans, but far short of a new classic.