It started out by alienating fans, reducing Wonder Woman to an unnecessary "placeholder for nostalgia and recognizabThis was so very much not for me.
It started out by alienating fans, reducing Wonder Woman to an unnecessary "placeholder for nostalgia and recognizability" and comparing her to Paris Hilton in being "famous for being famous."
I really only skimmed through the next few chapters, but it was clear that this was not a book about Wonder Woman herself, but one that uses the early comics as a springboard to discuss gender theory, feminism, and social values. I found it a very dry, very technical read, and not something that held my interest....more
It's a little hard to fairly judge the merits Bred to Rule based on its first of four planned installments, The Incident, but Tim Bearden has done a gIt's a little hard to fairly judge the merits Bred to Rule based on its first of four planned installments, The Incident, but Tim Bearden has done a good job of establishing the story, the world, and the characters in it.
The story starts as something of a police thriller, complete with an antagonistic chief and a little mismatched buddy cop rivalry. The dialogue is well done, and the characters are immediately identifiable. It's initially a bit light on physical description, but definitely picks up once they hit the streets.
When Williams and Max get pulled into a special FBI investigation, the story really takes off, and some of the dream snippets we've been witness to start to come together. The story ends on a bang - quite literally - setting up a superpower tale that (so far, at least) owes more to cinematic action than comic book panels. Overall, The Incident is a fun read, and should be more than enough to hook readers into picking up its just-released sequel, The Rebirth.
As a teenager, I probably spent more time in comic books stores than was wise, and certainly spent far more money there than I care to remember. I witAs a teenager, I probably spent more time in comic books stores than was wise, and certainly spent far more money there than I care to remember. I witnessed the rise of of superstars like Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee, enjoyed Tim Burton's stunning cinematic rebirth of Batman on the big screen, and suffered through Sidney J. Furie's death-blow to the Superman franchise on VHS. I saw comic books stores explode across North America . . . and then slowly die of attrition a the 'coolness' factor of comic books waned once again.
While I stepped away from the comic book world when the reboots and restarts made it clear the writers had run out of stories, I never lost my love of superheroes. As a result, I'm always on the lookout for new books that feature superhero themes. They're generally hit-or-miss, but Don't Be a Hero is definitely more hit than miss. From the writing style, to the characters, to the storyline, to the dialogue, it's clear Chris Strange has not just a love for the genre, but an understanding for what makes it work.
Yes, it's derivative and cliched at times, but honestly so. Strange wears his superhero cape proudly, and tells precisely the kind of story you might expect. Simultaneously, it's also daring and original at times, with some rather unique touches that undeniably make the story his. Rather than reuse another nameless, faceless, booming North American metropolis, he transplants us to the streets of New Zealand, giving us a setting that's familiar, but which has room for invention. It's a world where mankind has made it to the Moon, establishing a colony for unwanted superheroes, but still gets by with steampunk-ish technology.
Similarly, he resists the urge to go with either the 'super' masculine or the endearingly geeky hero, giving us instead a lesbian superhero - one who's disillusioned and cynical, but otherwise quite ordinary. Heck, there's even a sidekick with the corny "guess my power" name of Carpenter, but he provides a nice balance to Spook. As for the villain of the story, he's very well-crafted, a character who serves as both a worthy foil and source of tangible menace - and who, it must be said, has some memorable henchmen. Strange clearly understands that at the heart of every great superhero tale is that balance . . . that conflict . . . that dichotomy of good versus evil. Without a worthy adversary, even the greatest superhero is just an impressive guy (or gal) in tights, and Quanta certainly helps to make Spook matter.
After a pair of superhero-themed novels that I left unfinished last year, and another pair that I quite enjoyed, I was curious to see how Strange would tilt the balance. Fortunately, this is another story that I quite enjoyed, and one that has me anxious to see what he'll do next. Not only does he keep superheroes cool, he makes then fun again.
Jack King seems like a normal guy. He works at a bookstore, has a beautiful girlfriend, and loves photography. But he isn’t normal. Not by a long streJack King seems like a normal guy. He works at a bookstore, has a beautiful girlfriend, and loves photography. But he isn’t normal. Not by a long stretch. He could blow up half this city in the blink of an eye.
It was with this simple tease, just a few short lines, that Raymond M. Rose first captured his attention.Without knowing anything more about it, The Fire Inside immediately slipped into the depths of my towering review pile, just waiting for its chance to see the light of day - or, as the case may be, light of my new Kindle Glo!
Stylistically, the novel challenged me a bit, requiring a bit of persistence to get beyond the sometimes awkward dialogue, irregular word choices, and oddities of grammar. It felt like the manuscript could have used one more round of editing and polishing to smooth out the rough edges, but while it tried my patience early on, it (thankfully) never exhausted it.
Having said that, this was an exceptionally fun read, and one that pretty well captured the spirit of what a superhero novel should be. With many similar novels I've read over the last few years, the trend seems to have been to dress up, modernize, and rationalize all the joy out of the comic book inspiration. I think that's why I struggled so with Myke Cole's first Shadow Ops novel, ultimately relegating it to the DNF pile, while so many peers were gushing over it. I don't want a superhero novel that struggles to attain some level of plausibility - just accept that you've suspended my disbelief, and entertain me.
That's that Rose has done here with The Fire Inside, letting his characters (and their respective powers) shine, free of any artificial guilt restraint. Of course, it helps that they have a solid core story to work around, with a central mystery that invites the reader to play along and try to out-sleuth the characters. I suspect most readers will guess the identity of the supervillain before the characters, but that's all part of the fun. The liberal sprinkling of 'geek' nods is a bit of a distraction, in that it so often pulls you out of the story with either an ah-hah laugh or a knowing smirk, but it shows a love for the genre that can't be ignored.
Are the characters a bit too perfect, a bit too attractive, and bit too good to be true? Sure, but that's precisely what we want our superheroes to be. This is a comic book without the panel illustrations, but one that provides enough detail to allow the reader to imagine their own illustrations. Some readers may feel there's a bit too much exposition, with Rose struggling to pain too much of a picture which each new character introduction or scene change, but think of it in terms of a comic book, with those transitional 'blocks' of text to carry you through, and it all feels quite natural.
Overall, this is a fun, fast-paced, action-packed adventure with enough backstory and character development to really engage the reader. While not perfect - there are a few plot holes or inconsistencies that nagged at me - I'd more than curious to see where Rose takes the Sidekicks saga next.
Growing up, I was an absolutely huge fan of comic books. Every Wednesday and every Friday we'd either grab our bikes or hop on the bus downtown to picGrowing up, I was an absolutely huge fan of comic books. Every Wednesday and every Friday we'd either grab our bikes or hop on the bus downtown to pick up the newest releases. Although I was primarily a Marvel man (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Uncanny X-Men, Excalibur, and The Incredible Hulk were my must-haves), I regularly hopped shelves into DC territory or some of the independents. At some point, however, I began to lose interest. Part of it was frustration with the expensive gimmicks of variant covers, foil covers, bagged editions, etc, but a bigger part of it was sheer boredom. I got the point where I could recognize all the rehashed story lines, and the novelty of massive reboots quickly began to wear thin.
I've tried getting back into comics and graphic novels over the years, particularly with the Dark Tower adaptations and the comic book seasons of Buffy and Angel, but it just wasn't the same. I still like the stories, but the medium just didn't work for me anymore. So, with that in mind, the idea of a comic book novel began to seem very appealing.
Enter Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher - not the first comic book novel I've read, but certainly one of the strongest. The first thing that struck me about it, right from the opening chapters, is that this was a more realistic take on superheroes, and one seemingly tailored for a maturing audience. It's dark, a little gritty, and surprisingly bloody. People actually die, violently and permanently. More than that, it's a bit cynical and jaded, with a city being oppressed by the last remaining super-villain, and supposedly protected by a team of superheroes who aren't in any rush to put their lives on the line to stop each and every act of villainy being perpetrated.
Oddly enough, for a book called Seven Wonders, the heroes are the least interesting part of the novel. Instead, for me, it was the conflict between Tony and The Cowl that kept me reading. Here you have an ordinary guy slowly acquiring superpowers, freeing him from the shroud of terror under which he's lived for years, and the last remaining super-villain, just as slowly losing his superpowers, putting his ultimate end-game for San Ventura (and the Seven Wonders) in jeopardy. The balance between police drama and superhero drama was a nice touch as well, deliberately contrasting themes of heroism, responsibility, and accountability throughout.
I did say it's dark, gritty, cynical, and jaded, but it's also romantic (sometimes in a creepy sort of way), humorous (often in an ironic or sarcastic sort of way), and absolutely action-packed (with very real consequences to those actions). There is also a surprising amount of character development involved, with Tony nearly unrecognizable by the end, and The Cowl and Blackbird . . . well, I'll refrain from saying any more about that pairing, for fear of spoiling one of the most interesting developments in the story. Given that we're dealing with prose, and can't actually see the costumes, I must say Christopher does a solid job of differentiating the Seven Wonders themselves, which I expected to be a major challenge.
In terms of plotting, the book reads very much like a comic book, completely with chapter-ending cliffhangers and twists that seem to come out of nowhere. The same with the narrative, where dialogue 'bubbles' that are regularly broken up with descriptive 'blocks' as we move from imaginary panel to panel. It's awkward at first, and has the potential to annoy some readers, but it also helps preserve that comic book feel.
If you like your superheroes all perfect and shiny, your mortality clear-cut, and the lines between good and evil explicitly defined, this may not be the novel for you. Similarly, if you're just looking for more of the same in terms of Dark Knight grimness and grittiness, this may take you in directions you're not comfortable going. However, if you're a comic book fan with an appreciation for all the different flavours of superheroes, and an avid reader with an appreciation for a novel that does something new (and does it well), then this is definitely worth a read.