Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Books Worth Reading

The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin (pronounced Owen) Colfer is a series that, although marketed to kids, is (like Sesame Street) extremely enjoyable for adults. A fantasy/tech series which centers on Artemis Fowl (who complains of having a girl's name - he's obviously never heard of Artemis Entreri) a child who takes over the criminal enterprises of his father, Artemis Sr. Young Artemis is always planning many moves ahead, to the extent that he nearly never needs to think on the fly, but when the need arises, he is more than capable of such mental feats. In the first installment, Artemis conspires to capture a Leprecaun and ransom it for gold. Actually, Leprecaun is a misnomer, as it is actually a bastardized form of LEP-recon, LEP standing for Lower Elements Police, the Lower Elements being fairies and mythical beings of all sorts who reside many miles underground. Quite a good series, definitely worth the read, reads extremely fast, and evolves with the characters.
Also available as some of the finest unabridged recordings I've ever heard.
As an aside, it was Eoin Colfer who was chosen by the estate of Douglas Adams to write the conclusion to the Hitchhiker's Guide series: And Another Thing. However, to my mind he goes way overboard on guide entries in that book, to the extent that the actual narrative is extremely slight. Not a problem with the latter series, though.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Synchronicity

Just a quickie:

Earlier this evening, my mother was reading me an email of funny statements (I was at her house trying to fix her printer, gorram HP!). One of them was "War does not determine who is right or wrong...only who is left." Not exactly funny, just a truism.

I was just reading Flashpoint: Deathstroke 2, and the same quote is used there, as well, although with solemnity rather than levity.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book series worth reading

1. The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher. If you can, check out the unabridged audio recordings, read by James Marsters of Buffy fame. Almost no romance, whatsoever, thank the gods. My only peeve in reading them is when, as a Chicagoan, it becomes quite clear that Butcher has very little idea as to Chicago geography or slang. I remember one instance where Dresden kept talking about "the JFK expressway", and it was several minutes before I was able to figure out that he was talking about The Kennedy Expressway! A minor point to be sure, but worth noting. The stories themselves, however, are quite solid. They star a private investigator named Harry Dresden, who often consults for the Chicago PD a Wizard, under which title he is listed in the yellow pages. Everything you've ever heard of in the supernatural exists in this universe, as it is ostensibly the side of ours of which we are blissfully unaware. There are numerous short stories set in this universe as well. The next book in the series, Ghost Story, is due on 7-26-11. This series was adapted into a short-lived Sci-Fi channel television show, which made such significant alterations to its characters and plots that it was cancelled after one season.

2. In second place comes Simon R. Green's Nightside series. I was introduced to this world via the anthology Mean Streets, which also contains a Dresden story. This time there's even less romance, and since it occurs almost entirely within a world created by the author's imagination, there's no (as far as I'm aware) such geographical inconsistencies. Also, quite a number of books in the series, the last of which resolves nearly every plot thread left dangling throughout. Like Butcher, Green keeps the series universe building from the very first book. The setting is also featured in several short stories. As an adjunct to this series, one can also check out Secret Histories, which are set in the "real world" of which the Nightside is an element. This series stars Edwin Drood (of Poe fame) a sort of occult James Bond type figure, although that description is extremely oversimplistic. There is some slight crossover between the two series as well. Also there are romantic elements, there is zero descriptive sex, which is gratifying. This last series is ongoing, and the last book published ended with a cliffhanger. The next Secret Histories installment, For Heaven's Eyes Only, is due on 7-7-11.

3. Similar, yet different, is the Greywalker series by Kat Richardson, featuring private investigator Harper Blaine. Although it does contain some romance, it is thankfully a very small part of the series and plays directly into the interpersonal relationships which are an important part of it. The author lives in Seattle, and sets most of the action there, so it is extremely accurate, to the point where much of the geographical detail is inconsequential for a non-native. However, it does lend authenticity to the work, which goes a long way towards establishing the necessary degree of suspension of disbelief. As with Simon R. Green, I came to this author via the Mean Streets anthology, and also as with his work, this series is building towards something. The next book in the series, Downpour, is due out in August, 2011.

4. Dean Koontz has written several books featuring Odd Thomas as their point-of-view character, a character who, similar to Harper Blaine, can see dead people. No, this is not that movie. This is entirely different and far more sinister. Odd attempts to help the dead pass on by resolving their unfinished business, and often finds himself in the midst of diabolical plots with threaten to kill many people. Four excellent novels and a series of webisodes have been published. There are also two graphic novel prequels, but they are drawn in a manga style that is entirely unsuited to the character and tone of the prior works, and their narrative voice is extremely different than that of the novel. Additionally, the second GN contains elements that directly contradict parts of the novels. I recommend you skip them.

5. On the subject of comics, X-Men writer Mike Carey has an interesting little series, the Felix Castor mysteries, featuring an "occult detective" living in London. This series is set in a world where the dead have begun to return, leading to zombies, loup-garous, and ghosts being normal parts of the everyday world. Felix operates as an exorcist, however, his role begins evolving as of the end of the first book in the series. There are two titles in the series which have already been published in the UK, but only three of these have been released in the US.

6. Sometime comic writer Charlie Huston has also written an Urban Fantasy series, The Joe Pitt Casebooks. These feature a vampire who begins the series as something of a private investigator, but whose role quickly morphs into something else entirely. The series has ended after five books, which leave the reader wanting more, the hallmark of good storytelling. There is zero sex, (since the main character's girlfriend has HIV,) minimal romance, and a balls to the wall pace that may leave the reader gasping for air.

7. Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles offers a drastically different mythology and setting for vampires. The finest works in this series are those which focus on individual characters and are set in the historical past. Regarding sex, there is lots, much of which contains overtones -- if not blatant depictions of -- homoeroticism, which may make the series uncomfortable for some. Also, with the publication of Memnoch the Devil, Christianity and the assumed truths of its core beliefs becomes primary to the underpinnings of the series. With the publication of Merrick, Rice integrated her other series, Lives of the Mayfair Witches, into the Vampire Chronicles universe. This second series also has strong sexual elements, this time with lots of incest, which again, may make it uncomfortable to some. Personally, I find it to be distracting. These taboo or religious elements seem to be themes that Rice is interested in exploring and therefore has managed to work into her text, but they distract one from the overall narrative for the most part. These elements notwithstanding, the series in general is quite enjoyable.

8. The Hollows, written by Kim Harrison, blends romantic vampires with detective fiction, in a different way. These books are set in Cincinnati, following a catastrophic plague known as "The Turn" during which enough of the world's normal population was wiped out, leading its supernatural element to come out of the closet and become fully integrated into society. The series' protagonist, a witch named Rachael Morgan, operates with her vampire best friend Ivy as a "runner", a sort of bounty hunter who goes after supernaturals. This series only starts to become good after the first two books, in which the status quo for the series is established. Unfortunately, this series wastes a lot of time on sex. However, beginning with the third book, said romantic elements have normalized and become less distracting.

9. A series with much, much, much more sex and romantic elements is the Southern Vampire Mysteries, now also known also as the True Blood series. These books are written by Charlaine Harris, and, for those living under a rock, feature a barmaid named Sookie Stackhouse whose peculiar talent of mind-reading lead her to be drawn into the affairs of the newly publicized vampire population of the United States. Although there is an unhealthy amount of sex in the series, the mysteries which form the basis of the novels are quite gripping, and the extended cast is extremely well fleshed out. The series of novels is actually much more entertaining and much better plotted than is the current HBO series. Additionally, there are quite a number of short stories set in this universe, the best of which do not involve Miss Stackhouse whatsoever, leading one to wish that they would be fleshed out into another series of novels, rather than being relegated to a mere handful of short stories. The most recent book, the eleventh in the series, entitled Dead Reckoning, was published quite recently.

10. Another series which has had a successful cable series created from it is the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay. Again, for those who have been living under a rock, this series centers on a blood spatter analyst in the Miami Police Department named Dexter Morgan, who also just happens to be the Miami area's most prolific serial killer. If you choose to read these, however, I recommend you skip the third book in the (so far) five book series, which features an abortive attempt at introducing an unnecessary supernatural element into the saga of a self-professed monster who has spent his life trying to fit into society. Also, it's the only book in the series to not be narrated exclusively by the protagonist. Skip it. The remaining novels are much better, in my humble opinion, than the Showtime series of the same name, as Dexter actually begins to develop real emotion as of the most recent installment. Also, unlike the television series, it doesn't feature the brutal murder of recent mothers as a "plot element". In my opinion, that's the point at which the television series entered the realm of Identity Crisis, if you get my meaning. It's also the point at which I stopped watching the television series, having been overly traumatized by the aforementioned "plot element" of last season's finale. Also, the television series has way too much sex...especially considering the fact that the title character is supposed to be repulsed by intimate contact. However, critics seem to love both of these elements, which either shows what a prude I am, or how deeply depraved the majority of television critics are.

11. And now for something completely different, to which I was introduced to via its Devil's Due Publishing comics adaptations. I am speaking, of course, of R.A. Salvatore's series of novels set in the Forgotten Realms world of Dungeons and Dragons, featuring one of fantasy's most popular characters, Drizzt Do'urden. Drizzt, a dark elf, or Drow, is born in the cavernous interior of the continent of Faerun called the Underdark. Unlike the majority of his race, Drizzt's alignment is towards Good, rather than the Evil worshipped by the matriarchal society into which he was born. Finding himself a philosophical outcast, he sets out on a journey which brings him to the surface world. He eventually finds acceptance as the world's only dark elf Paladin. I mention this series specifically because it is one of only two pure fantasy series I have ever been able to read and enjoy. This is largely due to the cast of the novels which are written with such depth, and such infinite relatability, that the world in which they are set in largely inconsequential. As an added bonus, the author was once a boxer and a bouncer, and thus his fight scenes are uncharacteristically well choreographed. The series is made of smaller series, with two spinoff series, the Sellswords trilogy, and the Cleric Quintet, and another series, War of the Spider Queen, overseen by Salvatore, while written by various authors. Drizzt was so successful as a character, that another Drow of similar persuasion was created by a different writer who parlayed her into another successful, albeit less so, series of novels. There has been much speculation on adapting this series for television, but, admittedly, its core Dungeons & Dragons/Forgotten Realms fan base is an extremely small niche.

12. The only other pure fantasy series which I have enjoyed immensely is the Earthsea series by Ursula K. LeGuin. These books feature a young man who becomes the world's greatest mage. Again, what sets these tales apart from others is the intensiveness of their character development, leading the settings to be largely inconsequential, however beautifully rendered. This series was adapted into a television miniseries of which the less said, the better.

13. Moving the fantasy setting to the America of the early 1800's is something that Orson Scott Card did very well in his as-yet unfinished Alvin Maker series. Set in a world where all folk magic and superstition is real, this series blends fantasy with history in a wonderfully seamless -- and even educational -- manner. Born the seventh son of a seventh son, Alvin has much more than the "knack" of some sort to which many people in his world can lay claim. He has the potential to use every knack and then some. The series is littered with historical characters such as Tecumseh, William Henry Harrison, Davy Crockett, and many more. The second book in the series, Red Prophet, has also been adapted into twelve issue Marvel comic series.

14. As have most of the books in Orson Scott Card's more famous Ender's Game series. This series has succeeded beyond OSC's wildest expectations, blossoming from a short story to the six book Ender's Game series, and its four book counterpart, the Ender's Shadow series. Beginning with the tale of a young boy trained to be the finest military commander that Earth has ever known, the Ender's Game series morphs into something entirely different with the next released book in the series, Speaker for the Dead. With the subsequent publication of Xenocide, the series again morphs into something different with a much greater theological bent to it. Although the theology starts occupying massive sections of Xenocide and Children of the Mind, it can, for the most part, be ignored in favor of the story itself. However, it is the lack of said theological element that makes the counterpart Shadow series superior in some ways to its parent. Numerous short stories exist which greater inform this universe, and some of its stories have begun their existences as comic books, primary among which is the current series The Formic Wars: Burning Earth.

15. Another series being successfully adapted into comic format is the Dark Tower series of Stephen King. Originally begun while he was in college, its first installment, The Gunslinger, became much more than originally planned, eventually encompassing a majority of King's ouvre, including such seminal works as Salem's Lot, Hearts in Atlantis, and The Stand. Of particular note in this all-encompassing story is the children's book The Eyes of the Dragon, which, although written for kids, is an essential part of the mythology which makes up Roland Deschain of Gilead's world. For a long time, there was great concern by many that this magnum opus would forever remain unfinished, especially following the author's being struck by a van while walking on the side of the road one day, an event which eventually worked its way into fictional format with the publication of the sixth book in the series, Song of Susannah. (King's son, Joe Hill, has also found success recently with the publication of two novels, a collection of short stories, and the Locke & Key comic series for IDW.)

16. One of King's most recent books, Under the Dome, is set in the world of another author's character, one who, under his creator Lee Child (Jim Grant), exists in a world much more recognizable as the one we live in. Child's character, Jack Reacher, is a former Military Policeman, who, since being RIF'ed from the US Army, has spent his retirement wandering around the United States as a drifter. Reacher has a tendency to always be in the wrong place at the right time. Or the right place at the wrong time. Or any other variation of the phrase, depending on your point of view. Four of the fifteen novels in which he features have been written in the first person, which Child says is more natural for him, with the remainder being written in third person. He is a supporting character in one short story, James Penney's New Identity featured in Fresh Blood 3.

17. Another character along similar lines is John Clark, a feature character in several of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels. Beginning with The Hunt for Red October, Jack Ryan and his world have been featured in thirteen novels, the most recent of which, 2010, Dead or Alive, was co-authored by Grant Blackwood. Although Clancy in ostensibly somewhat of a fascist, especially with respect to his work The Teeth of the Tiger and various of his political statements, his knack for the dramatic is clear, especially with respect to politics and the military, his knowledge of which is made quite clear through the scope of his novels and non-fiction works.

18. Next, an entire series with two authors. FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is a character in eleven novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The series begins with Relic and its sequel Reliquary, in which Pendergast plays a supporting role, before graduating him to lead character with their third novel, The Cabinet of Curiosities. The series has also encompassed two of their stand-alone works, Thunderhead, which introduces supporting character Nora Kelly, and The Ice Limit introduces supporting character Eli Glinn. The fourth Pendergast novel, Still Life with Crows, makes reference to an as yet unpublished work by Preston and Child, Beyond the Ice Limit, and the later book Dance of Death mentions a further sequel, Ice Limit III: Return to Cape Horn. Pendergast is such a memorable character due to several unusual traits: he is extremely well-educated, having graduated Summa Cum Laude from Harvard, followed by a dual PhD at Oxford; he has an extensive knowledge of myriad subjects unrelated to said degrees; he is a connoisseur of the finer things in life, including his Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith; he is a Southern Gentleman; he speaks at least six languagues; he is a master of disguise; he spent a year in Tibet studying meditative techniques. He is, in effect, a modern Sherlock Holmes.

19. Which brings us to the last series, Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Undoubtedly the greatest fictional detective, and one of the most famous literary creations of all-time, the Sherlock Holmes stories can be used as case-studies in deductive reasoning. Even, now, more than 100 years after his creation, the Holmes mysteries remain as popular as they ever were, if not more so. Holmes has been used in several films, (most recently portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr.,) radio plays, stage plays, comics, and novels by other authors. Conan Doyle's masterful creation deserves his spot on any list such as this.

--

Most of the novels, short stories, and series related above exist as unabridged audio recordings as well, some of which, notably the Dresden series', may serve to enhance the enjoyment of the work.

If that's not enough reading material to last you for quite some time, I don't know what is!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Deadpool Team-Up

Wow. Somebody was listening!
Way back in December of '07, in my post on Cable / Deadpool #48, I mentioned my desire to see a volume of Marvel Team-Up starring our favorite Merc with a mouth. I didn't even remember writing that.
And by golly, a year later we got that very thing! And overall, it's good. For a laugh. Or two. Or three. Or more.
And goshdarnit, comics should be fun!

Synchronicity

No, not the album by The Police, rather, the (as I like to put it) "metaphysical opposing 'force' to entropy"*. (A simple, non-technical, non-physical explanation of which being "things fall apart"**.)
Synchronicity is when similar things happen in clusters, where/when one would not expect them to.

For example:
Two weeks ago, on pure impulse, I decided to check out Buffalax on youtube to see what new videos he's posted since the last time I checked. (Answer: a lot!)
Anyways, one of the videos of his that I watched was for Kaoma's song "Lambada" from 1989. You may be surprised, but I had never heard this song before. (In 1989 I was in the midst of an oldies and classical music only phase. (It lasted until 1993.)) Anyways, a couple of days later - Mother's Day - I decided to go to a 6:30am drop-in hockey at a nearby rink. I had actually found out about this rat time on the same day I was checking the Buffalax videos. (The only reason I went that morning, was because my regular Sunday late night skate was canceled for an ice show.) Anyways, while I was waiting to see if anybody else would show up, (as a goalie, it makes no sense for me to suit up if there's nobody to shoot on me!,) I happened to hear a tune emanating from one of the video games in the lobby. It was Kaoma's Lambada! I immediately knew it was familiar, but I couldn't place it until I later associated the Buffalax lyrics with it. Then I went back to his page, checked the likely candidates, and found the song within three tries.

THAT'S Synchronicity. There was no reason I should have felt like checking out Buffalax's uploads, going to an early Sunday open hockey was nigh unprecedented for me, and only happened because of extenuating circumstances. There was no reason to expect the song to be emanating from, of all things, a video game machine. (No, it wasn't DDR.)

Anyways, Synchronicity. This is distinctly different from providence.

Providence: "things happen for a reason"***.

Example: This past Friday, a friend of mine got into a stupid car accident. It was his fault - he rear-ended an SUV - no damage to the other guy - and his car was rendered undrivable. Because of this he was able to go visit his grandmother who was in the hospital, something that he had not been planning on doing when he had the accident. Later that evening, she died. If he had not had the car accident, he would not have had the opportunity to see his grandmother one last time.

Obviously, some may the coincidence of the two events is just random. That it's no different than a corollary to synchronicity. However, I beg to differ. In my view, and as I have explained it above, Synchronicity which involves like events separated by an enormous gulf of coincidence, is, essentially, of no import. Nothing has happened because I heard the song Lambada in two places, nor could it, conceivably. Whereas with providence, things happen for a particular reason. This reason may not be self-evident...may only come clear after some amount of time, but in hindsight it is obvious that one event led to another.

The story of how I met my wife is another example of this, but that's too long for this post.

On second thought, perhaps the Lambada synchronicity is providential...because it, among other things, inspired me to start blogging again. I had been tempted to begin anew for a while now, but hadn't actually gone ahead and done so, but this coincidence inspired me to make my (hopefully triumphant) return. There have been other motivating factors, but I'll save those for another post as well. And while I'm at it, discovering the song through Buffalax is providential as well, because without his crazy lyrics, I wouldn't have been able to make the connection. So I guess it is all connected! XD

Welcome back to you and to me.

~ace

* This is my own personal definition. Wikipedia doesn't mention metaphysics.

** This is how the concept was explained to me way back in high school Chemistry, and due to its simplicity it has stuck with me ever since. Wikipedia will give you a more complicated and much less simple answer. If you dig around you will find this definition buried within the entry of "Social entropy": "disorder increases with time"...same idea, but I like my definition better. It just seems more...elegant.

***This definition is accurate. Wikipedia will drown you in philosophy and comparative religions and such, but I prefer elegance in simplicity.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Long Count #1

The Long Count #1
I decided to try this new title out. The story is somewhat interesting, what little of it there is. It basically felt like the entire issue consisted of some chica running...probably because that's an extremely accurate description of the story. There were some fights thrown in, but with the exception of the first one that lasted all of one page, the artwork made it much too difficult to understand what was going on in them. Oh, sure, it's extremely pretty, but after the first issue, I'm no more enlightened as to the motivations, backstory, or even the settings, than I was before I read the book. And what does the title even mean? For these reasons, I will (perhaps unfortunately) not be reading any further issues. EH.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Angel: After the Fall #2

Angel: After the Fall #2
This title is pretty good, and the first issue of it was most definitely a welcome surprise. I had no idea that Angel was going to have another season in comics as Buffy was, and was thus thrilled when I read the first issue. With that in mind, though, I present what is likely the major criticism of this series:
Nobody looks like themselves.
I know who all the principles are (except Gwen. Who's Gwen?), and that's the only reason that I'm able to keep the dialogue straight. Because sometimes, it's as if the artist has never seen any of these characters before, and is merely making it up. What with the show having been a pop culture phenomenon, I know that can't be true, but yet, it is. And Tony Harris' covers are much nicer than the interior artist's. Still, this is an OKAY series. Just shy of GOOD, for now, but I'm hoping that it'll ramp up relatively soon.

Birds of Prey #113

Birds of Prey #113
That's actually not bad. McKeever's first issue fires on all cylinders and gets right exactly what Bedard kept getting wrong: the team dynamic. That's what makes this book unique. It's not the Justice League where the heavy hitters all go charging in guns blazing, nor is it the Justice Society that trains younger heroes and provides a place for the old fogeys to belong, nor is it the Outsiders who do, well, I'm not quite sure WHAT they do. This is a team (of chicks) run with (usually) surgical precision by Oracle, who coordinates them from her Watchtower. And sometimes they screw up. And sometimes they screw up BIG TIME. My only problem with this issue is that when it's obvious that many people have died, the Birds seem to be taking it too easily. Sure, they're not exactly resting on their laurels, but it takes Superman to come in and lay down the blame. Nevertheless, this is a GOOD issue, and for the first time since Gail left, I'm finally excited to read the book again.

Why do giant robots always need to have giant breasts and hair? Did somebody actually go to the trouble to design them like that?

Cable & Deadpool #48

Cable & Deadpool #48
Yay! Deadpool is back and answering letters! Boo hoo. He's leaving us soon. Please don't go, Deadpool, I promise I'll buy multiple copies of your title if you stay. Now that Cable's dead. What? He's not? Gee, I really thought that would stick! Bwahaha! Still, I'd like to see a new volume of Marvel Team-Up starring everyone's favorite Merc with a Mouth...drum roll please...T-RAY! Just kidding, Deadpool's my favorite, and always will be (until the real Spider-Man 2099 comes back).

Who do you think Deadpool would really want directing him? I don't think Gavin Hood can do him justice. Goyer says he wants Ryan Reynolds playing him. I'd go with a much more wise-cracking badass: Bruce Campbell!

Well, so long DP, I'll look forward to finding the Wade-ster in my favorite Marvel comics - because as soon as they begin to feature him, they'll definitely be my favorite. I vote that Deadpool gets to lead an X-Team! Who's with me? Anybody? Anybody? Hello?

Plus, Zuvembies!

GOOD fun.

Catwoman #74

Catwoman #74
The ending of this book just SCREAMS editorial mandate. What in the nine hells is Catwoman getting hunted down like a criminal for? She's a hero! Still, Pfeifer always seems to try to make the best of stupid editorial decisions, and I'm sure that he'll have a lot of fun with Catwoman on Murderworld.

But it's not fair to end a story arc with a non-ending. That's just not right. And it busts this issue down to merely OKAY.

Foolkiller #3

Foolkiller #3
Though not nearly as good as the first pair of issues, this book has still got it. Though I think bringing the Kingpin in on this is a grave error. Marvel has essentially written the Kingpin out of the picture. And anyways, he was never cruel like the assholes in this rigged gambling organization are. He was always somewhat moral - for a corrupt criminal - if you see what I'm saying. Plus, bringing the Kingpin in completely undercuts all the recent developments in Daredevil and New Avengers, which is not a smart move, as those are two of Marvel's highest selling books. The odds are that anyone reading this book is reading one or both of those as well.

Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's just some ugly fat guy. God, I hope so.

Still, it's an OKAY issue of this title.

Terror, Inc. #4

Terror, Inc. #4
As I feared, this issue is nothing but filler. It's still a lot of fun, but I can't give it much more than an EH, for the sole reason that, were this chapter omitted, I believe that the story would not suffer at all.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

This week's books (as yet unread)

The thing about the Sinestro Corps war is that it’s in a holding pattern now, just killing time. It was supposed to have been over by now, but DC saw the initial success it had and prevailed upon Johns to stretch it out over a few more months than was originally intended. So, the story remains the same, but we get such wasteful issues as last month’s Green Lantern Corps which featured an issue-long fight between Ion Mark II and Emoboy Prime. And not even a resolution. And we get scattered GLC vs SC battles in nowheresville America before suddenly relocating to New York City. You just KNOW that these elements got no more than a page or two in the original script, but now they’ve been blown out of proportion and the event has begun suffering because of it.

Simon Dark is certainly interesting, but it’s not that good. For one thing, it’s set in a Gotham city unlike any that we’ve ever seen before. What’s the point of setting this book in a shared universe if you’re not even going to take advantage of said universe’s preexisting elements? I’ll read it, because I’m mildly curious, but I’m not excited about it or anything, nor would I strongly recommend it to anyone as anything more than a curiosity.

Astounding Wolf-Man has been moving v e r y s l o w l y. So slowly that I can’t really recommend it to anyone looking to pick up a new book. I love the K-Man, don’t get me wrong, and am therefore reading this book. But it’s more out of loyalty and anticipation than anything else. I’m really just waiting for K-Man to bring the AWM into his shared Invincible Universe. As an agent of The Pentagon (parking in rear).

As for the resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul, there’s one huge problem that keeps coming back to me, and that’s that the ONLY functioning Lazarus pit in THE ENTIRE DCU is SUPPOSED to be IN THE BATCAVE! Recall a few years ago (Ra’s Al Ghul: Year One) when Bats destroyed every single one, only to be confronted with the reanimation of the dead and the refusal of the dying to actually die? And he realized that by destroying all the pits he had disrupted the universal balance? At that point, he figured that the safest place to create a new pit would be in the Batcave, so that’s what he did. Yet, others apparently have sprung into existence since that time, with absolutely no explanation! Continuity IS important, regardless of what others may say, otherwise, each story must need to stand alone in its own microcosm.

Booster Gold is GREAT FUN, but it's not for everyone.

Battlestar Galctica: Origins has nowhere to go. The show is so tightly plotted, with such a tight continuity, that no matter what happens in the series, there’s no possibility of jeopardy, surprise, or, therefore, fun.

Salvation Run has MAJOR PLOT HOLES THAT YOU COULD DRIVE A TRUCK THROUGH. Primarily, if the point was to exile criminals to another planet, WHY send them there in their COSTUMES WITH THEIR WEAPONS??? Makes no sense. Might be fun, but ultimately isn’t worth the read.

Gen13 #14 was AWFUL, so bad that it was tough to read through. Gail ripped the heart out of the series in her last issue, and #14 had the characters acting completely against their previous 13 issues of characterization. I’m NOT going to be continuing to read this series.

The rest of the Wildstorm Armageddon books have been really, really BAD, and I see no reason to believe that the Stormwatch book will be any different.

Captain Carrot has just NOT BEEN FUN.

The problem with Ultimate Iron Man II is that the original series was supposed to tell a complete story, but Orson Scott Card just couldn’t stick to his monthly deadlines and it ended up getting cancelled after FIVE issues! I see no reason to expect any differently THIS time around. This reader is STILL waiting for the long promised conclusion to the Alvin Maker series. Long delays like this make me start to worry that a writer will actually DIE before finishing the story. The Crystal City was published in 2003!!! And no word from Alvin Maker since.

My ongoing problem with New Avengers is that Bendis has been writing The Hood COMPLETELY DIFFERENTLY than he was originally envisioned by BKV. I’d have preferred that he just create a new character, as opposed to butchering the characterization of an already extant one.

Top Cow managed to alienate me completely with its last Marvel crossover issue. That was teh SUCK, and following it I have absolutely NO INTEREST in reading any of their established properties AGAIN.

And is anybody STILL reading Countdown? Why torture yourself? A couple of times since dropping the series I’ve come back for an issue because of somebody else’s online review, and every time, without fail, I’ve found myself hearkening back to the “good old days” of Bruce Jones on Nightwing. That’s how bad it is.