Batman: Noel is quite a graphic novel. It takes a tip from Charles Dickens and creates its own version of "A ChriOK, you want me to tell you a story?
Batman: Noel is quite a graphic novel. It takes a tip from Charles Dickens and creates its own version of "A Christmas Carol," minus the ghosts. It is a commentary on the Dark Knight, a vigilante who tends to cross the line that others would fear to cross (Gordon said that).
It's a narrative piece, where someone (we find out who at the end) is telling his kid a story, about Scrooge (Batman) and how he meets three people who make him take a look at his life and make some changes. As the novel says, some people need a wake-up call like getting hit with a baseball bat before they change!
The hint of Christmas is muted in favor of a story of a guy (Bob) who is running some money for the Joker. The Batman jumps on Bob in his search for the Clown of Crime. The Bats has a run-in with Catwoman (who is nicely drawn) and Superman. The final confrontation with the Joker is meaningful and exciting in its storyline and art.
Lee Bermejo draws some great panels. His use of shadow and light and conveying mood and mystery is really exciting. If I could nitpick, it's in the way he throws sweat and spit around. It's a good device to use, but it's over and over again to a point where the "spit" loses interest for me!
Lee also wrote the story and the man really has a talent for the written word. Minimal, yet keeps it informal and interesting.
Bottom Line: This is NOT an adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It's a deep, dark and sometimes frightening look at a man who has crossed the line and has lost all hope in his quest to beat down the criminal element and "reduce the criminal surplus population!" It's a story that a man can change with some conviction and some tough love! Highly recommended.
Quick review on this one. I read this book before several years ago and it's an unusual take on time travel. In the book, time travel is used by scholQuick review on this one. I read this book before several years ago and it's an unusual take on time travel. In the book, time travel is used by scholars to investigate and report back about certain periods of time. One such scholar wants to check out the Middle Ages but she's accidentally placed into the middle of the Black Plague near Oxford. Fortunately she has been innoculated against it, but the people of the past have not, and to her consternation, are dropping like flies.
Back at Oxford of the 21st century, people are dying from a virulent version of the flu. Connie Willis writes in a diary style that is both interesting and provocative. I really liked the story and plan to read it again!
Uncanny X-Men, first issue by Stan and Jack, could cost you thousands. Why not get a reprint instead? I got the Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 trade paperback [Uncanny X-Men, first issue by Stan and Jack, could cost you thousands. Why not get a reprint instead? I got the Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 trade paperback [The Uncanny X-Men Masterworks (The Uncanny X-Men, Nos 1-5)]of the first issues of X-Men stories and though I'm not a fan of the characters, I can see why the series would be so popular among the many characters that Stan and Jack pumped out in the early Sixties.
The X-Men are teenagers at the start. It was interesting to see the development of The Beast, Hank McCoy, who was not talking the high intellectual jargon in the first few issues, "For the love of Pete!". The first and most threatening villain is the evil mutant Magneto, whose power of magnetism are more than a match for the X-Men and they have a hard time putting him down.
Later stories involved the Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver as they team up with Magneto, the Toad and the illusionist Mastermind. My favorite stories in this set include the fight with The Blob, the evil mutants and each other!
Bottom Line: The intro is written by Stan Lee as he relays what he went through and why the X-Men are one of the more popular teams coming out of the Marvel bullpen. The Kirby art and the fun, witty dialogue (and yes at times cheesy) make for some fun and incredibly entertaining stories.
Other Marvel Adventures: X-Men, Vol. 1 (Marvel Masterworks) The X-Men, Vol. 2 (Marvel Masterworks) The Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 3 (Marvel Masterworks) ...more
I like Robert Heinlein's early stories with their running-monologue narrative style that only he could pull off well. "Door Into Summer" is such a booI like Robert Heinlein's early stories with their running-monologue narrative style that only he could pull off well. "Door Into Summer" is such a book, originally published in around 1957, it gives an interesting view of the "future" of 1970 and the even more distant "future" of 2000!
"Despite the crepe-hangers, romanticists and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands ... with tools ... with horse sense and science and engineering." - RAH
I've read a few of Heinlein's early books and this one was the first to delve into time travel. Not really as good as his Methuselah books, still a fun read. Dan Davis is a creative engineer - not much sense when it comes to business nor to love, and gets cheated by both! Bella the secretary turns out to be a shyster - and his business partner Miles is as much a victim as Dan is.
Dan describes the world of 1970, with its recent nuclear war and the capital of the USA in Denver, CO - and he decides to take the Long Sleep - a cryogenic place, run by insurance companies (who else?) and he sleeps for 30 years. And in this mix is Pete the Cat -- finiky and self-serving, as any cat can be!
He is enamored by the year 2000 with its zipperless clothing and "grabbies" (movies). But what interests this reader is how he adapts the environment so well, bends it to solve his current problem of getting his former protégé Ricky (now a grown woman) and is bummed to see she is married - but that's actually not a bad thing, as we find in the last chapters.
The discovery of an experimental time machine (temporal device) saves the day. The how and why I'll leave to Heinlein.
Bottom Line: Enjoyable, sometimes a bit too wordy and self-narrative chatty, but overall a typical Heinlein yarn. Enjoy.
Other Heinlein Collections (there are many!):
Requiem: New Collected Works by Robert A. Heinlein and Tributes to the Grand Master
TOMORROW THE STARS. A Science Fiction Anthology. Edited and with an Introduction by Robert A. Heinlein.
If you ever wanted to know what happened when the Aztecs were invaded by Cortez's band of thugs – uhm, I mean "explorers," then Shelley Tanaka's bookIf you ever wanted to know what happened when the Aztecs were invaded by Cortez's band of thugs – uhm, I mean "explorers," then Shelley Tanaka's book is the one to read. This book is designed for older children and teens and gives a fascinating overview of the Aztecs, how their leader Moctezuma was so easily fooled by the offers of goodwill by Cortez, and how Cortez and his men slaughtered the city of Tenochtitlan and eventually built upon it another colony in the Spanish conquest.
The illustrations by Greg Ruhl are very well maintained, drawn realistically and do not have a cartoon look – nearly photographic!
I also enjoyed the flavor of the book. The blood sacrifices that occured at the time were not watered down – we get to see where the hearts were thrown! And new photos of the archeologic digs in Mexico City were also fascinating and interesting.
This book is part of the "I Was There" series, five titles illustrated by Greg Rhul.
- The Buried City of Pompeii - In The Time of Knights - Lost Temple of the Aztecs - Secrets of the Mummies - First on the Moon
What I liked about The Husband has to do with the husband's reactions to the news that his wife has been kidnapped and the kidnappeFirst Impressions:
What I liked about The Husband has to do with the husband's reactions to the news that his wife has been kidnapped and the kidnappers seem to have unlimited resources and can kill him at any time.
Plots (some spoilers):
His name is Mitch, and he lives a good life as a gardener. He knows he does not have the money. Later the criminals get him to get his brother Anson involved, who, it turns out, is a criminal himself. The kidnappers know this and want to pull one over on Anson.
Despite these criminals thinking they have it all under control, Mitch finds deep inside himself the balls to do something about it, including killing (in self defense, of course) and stealing to get the money together.
Dean Koontz does get into a sub-plot of Mitch and his brother and their relationship with their parents who had an unusual way of raising children, including a sense-deprivation room that was designed to "help" but really it was to break them. The book really does not explore this fascinating item very well. We meet his dad, Daniel, but his mother Kathy is barely mentioned and not at all developed. They were caricatures to me and not really well-developed, despite them being a critical influence on Mitch and Anson and their sisters (who are not even mentioned until near the end of the book and even then not developed).
The book does get into the criminal minds and only fully develops the last guy – the one with a spiritual bent and who has no problem killing people so that they may attain "ascendancy".
Holly is the kidnapped wife who we don't even meet until well into the book – at least not to any great degree. She too has depth and needs to reach in for strength and is surprised to find that she too can be devious.
Why The Book Fails:
The book fails for me in touching on certain characters (Julian Campbell with his child porn business is never developed, so you have no sympathy nor care that the guy gets his later) and leaves a huge plot hole at the end (Mitch kills and steals and then near the last chapter he has kids and is friends with the Columbo-like detective – huh? What happened?). Too much landscape vocabulary to show us how smart and real Koontz is, but does not add to the tale.
Conclusion: Not Dean's best, though I do appreciate his writing a "straight" novel. However, I much prefer his supernatural stuff. ...more
I remember this this book back when I was introduced to Spider Robinson back in college. At that time Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon, Shogun and Asimov'I remember this this book back when I was introduced to Spider Robinson back in college. At that time Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon, Shogun and Asimov's Foundation trilogy were my favorites.
Well, Spider's tales are not up there with those great writers. In fact the stories are pretty strange, enlightening and give a lesson at the end. Even now in my reread, the lessons seem a bit trite. But I am getting ahead of myself.
First published as a collection in the 70s, Robinson's bar joint with its misfit clients came to life between the covers of Analog Magazine. And though more fantasy than science fiction, makes for some interesting reading.
These nine stories always start with some pretty crazy characters. The narrator is Jake; the barkeep is Callahan and whoever walks into that bar usually has a story to tell as we say a toast and crash our glassware into the fireplace!
Callahan is a tough Irish barman, but he meets his match when he hears the story of a man who lost his wife and was locked away, forgotten, in a South American prison cell for over ten years. Or an alien who has been assigned to recommend annihilation of the human race! Or another, who was once Adolph Hitler (could Callahan forgive that?!). And a woman who has lived over 200 years and has a death wish; interesting solution to that problem. Or a time traveler who wants to stop a certain tragedy and would the boys in the bar help him out?
And the puns in this book are just horrible! And a few philosophical lines like "joy always equals pain in the long-run" are a bit beyond my understanding but what the heck - it's a Spider story!
Because the stories were written in the 70s, references to Vietnam and Nixon are evident. Despite these dated situations, you should have a great time visiting Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon, meet a few wild and crazy people and throw your glass half-full of Bushmill's Brew as you tell a tall tale.
Other Spider Books:
The Free Lunch Very Hard Choices The Callahan Chronicals ...more
They call themselves The Four Horsemen! Four academics hang out at a poker game in Portales, New Mexico after some teaching/reA Bit of Familiar Plot:
They call themselves The Four Horsemen! Four academics hang out at a poker game in Portales, New Mexico after some teaching/researching at the local university. Checking out some satellite images, they find a gate of sorts in the middle of the Sahara Desert and buried under a lot of sand. [Nope, we never go to England and see Stonehenge! Oh well!]
They decide to pool their resources and get there!
Similar in some ways to Stargate in plot, except these four people are getting the ride of their lives without help from the military or anything like that. Its very unbelievability is its best protection.
Now, the first half of the book moves a bit slowly as the author develops the characters, mostly narrated from the view of Will Stone, teacher and researcher, who is not exactly prepared for a large adventure.
Yes, I’m getting to it: The gate they find is a teleportation device to other planets. It seems these builders built a great civilization and somehow died out in some forgotten war a few millennia ago.
The whole story feels quite familiar with the weak character, the reluctant hero, some light romance and a heavy aspect of racial tension and war between the Whites and the Blacks, who seem to reliving their gods’ myth: A black god and a white woman married and then warred.
Writing Style: The story does not really get to a final conclusion. We learn more about the builders but not much else. The racial storyline is not bad, but does not really get to a conclusion for me that resolves the war. I am happy to report that the slavery issue in that other world does eventually get resolved.
Also, the expression “he grabbed my arm” is used over and over again – kinda annoying!
Ram is the reluctant hero which Williamson builds up nicely. Really, he’s the only character you can really relate to!
Bottom Line: Jack Williamson is part of the Golden Age pulp fiction writers. He wrote The Stonehenge Gate at the tender age of 97. He passed away in 2006, so this was his last novel! A pulpy adventure with aliens, robots and heroes who don’t realize they actually are. Recommended for pulp readers! ...more
Lex Luthor creates a problem for Superman -- he creates an emergency very close to the sun (Sol) the energy of which is where Supes gets his powers. BLex Luthor creates a problem for Superman -- he creates an emergency very close to the sun (Sol) the energy of which is where Supes gets his powers. But he gets overcharged and gets his version of cancer! Now in the 70 years of Superman, I don't think anyone but Morrison came up with this. Quite a novel idea.
Loved the Frank Quitely art. The way he draws the teeth and extremities is so realistic. And his women, especially Lois Lane, are drawn proportionately rather than the Barbie look that I see too much of, such as on Image Comics covers. :P
Lois Lane is granted powers for a day. When she kisses Supes on the moon, now that was fun. What's even more hilarious is that she does not believe him when he reveals he is Clark Kent. Opening the Fortress of Solitude with a small house key made of dwarf star material that only he can lift was fun too.
Jimmy Olsen becoming Doomsday to defeat Superman who gets tangled up with Black Kryptonite!
Superman's descendants pay him a visit with unpredictable results.
All in all, a good graphic novel... Can't wait for Vol. 2! ...more
I picked up "He is Legend" because I've always been a great admirer of Richard Matheson mainly through his film and television scripts and adaptations I picked up "He is Legend" because I've always been a great admirer of Richard Matheson mainly through his film and television scripts and adaptations, some of the more famous being "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" (Twilight Zone) and "The Incredible Shrinking Man". As well, the most interesting being his story "I Am Legend" from which the Vincent Price film "Last Man on Earth" was filmed from (and of course more recently, "I Am Legend" the film with star Will Smith).
Anyway, this book is a different take on Matheson's story - all these authors base their stories on a Richard Matheson story, either writing a sequel or adding more info to the tale.
Some of these work and some don't!
I won't bore the reader with every single synopsis of each story. There are 15 stories here from various authors, notably Richard's son, and a collaboration with Stephen King and his son, Joe Hill, a pretty amazing horror writer in his own right.
Most of these stories are written from Matheson stories from the 1950s and 1960s, adapted for modern audiences. I was most impressed with only a few:
"Return to Hell House" is the most graphic, with harsh language and some fairly obscene sex scenes. This is a "prequel" to Matheson's story where a group of psychics and scientists stay at this house and a malevolent spirit clearly shows them the way to hell. As I say, graphic writing that will literally haunt your thoughts!
"Throttle" is a take on Matheson's story "Duel" (you may have seen the film version with Dennis Hopper - first film directed by Stephen Spielberg!) about a truck driver with a murderous thirst for killing people on the road. A father and son are the head of a bike gang and we find out all kinds of things about them - and as they head to Vegas, a trucker starts bumping off the bikers - and the driver's identity is quite a shock! Stephen King and Joe Hill do a great job here in building suspense and tension.
"The Diary of Louise Carrey" by Thomas F. Monteleone is the story of "The Incredible Shrinking Man" from the view of the wife of the shrinking man! From reading the original story and seeing the 1950s film, I can see where she is coming from. A distasteful sex scene is the only thing I didn't like about this story, but it certainly paints the wife as an unsympathetic loser.
Bottom Line: Most of the stories are a fair read, but the three above really hit me one way or the other, thanks to the quick pacing of plot and the great homage to writer Richard Matheson. But please, read the originals first. You'll enjoy these adaptations more if you do.
I Much Prefer:
The Incredible Shrinking Man I Am Legend & Hell House Nightmare At 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories By Richard Matheson ...more
An unusual falling star -- a puff of green smoke-something on the planet Mars -- and the world turns and goes about its business, unFirst Impressions:
An unusual falling star -- a puff of green smoke-something on the planet Mars -- and the world turns and goes about its business, unknowing in its complacency as the cold, calculating Martians and their machines make their first drive on the planet Earth.
It's interesting that I've never actually read H.G. Well's War of the Worlds! I've watched two films and listened to Orson Welles' radio show and thought I had the story down. Yes, but only in a general way.
The plot at times runs slow and I'm sure that's the Victorian era style of writing that this modern reader was having some hard time with, so I won't criticize the novel for its style. I will say though that the story is frightening and more likely a horror story that has various themes.
The themes of people going crazy in the face of an unstoppable enemy is frightening in its accuracy. I've seen this in other science fiction stories as well: people have their foundations for their lives knocked out from under them and so have no problem with killing each other for food, for property and even cannibalism.
Wells makes some comment on how the people of his generation marry for convenience or money, get a trophy wife and go about their business not really living life. He makes this point several times.
Another theme is against an ironclad belief in religion to such a degree that you give up all your self-confidence and realism, shout that God is punishing you and give up and die. This idea was abhorrent to H.G., apparently. The journalist's run-in with the priest (the "curate" actually) was an interesting tale in desperation as each fought to the other, animalistically, and yet were completely motivated by fear.
The book shifts to the journalist's brother, whose tale of a fallen London is quite epic. The only problem with this part of the book was that it's unclear how the brother got to the journalist-narrator to get his story in the first place!
Future Inventions: Use of the idea of flight, the heat ray to burn down anything and everything, the unscratchable Martian armor, and the poison black smoke that kills all it comes in contact with, was a fascinating look into the future, some of it fairly accurate.
Another fun thing at the end had the apparent hint of a Mars/Venus altercation. Too bad he didn't write a sequel on that one!
Books to Media:
The 1953 version of War of the Worlds is my favorite adaptation. It kept the idea of a journalist and the heat ray. The unstoppable Martians could not even be stopped by an atom bomb!
The Tom Cruise version kept the idea of the baskets and how the Martian machines would scoop people up into these baskets -- the book explains for food and keeping more humans for breeding and food purposes.
And of course the Halloween treat by Orson Welles' radio show of 1938 which clearly put his face out there and where he enjoyed some fame as a twenty-something producer as he formed an invasion of New Jersey. Wow!
A classic in many respects, The War of the Worlds is a narrative that criticizes in science fiction form the attitudes and strict Victorian society of the time as well as contemplates Man's reactions to an apparent extermination of the species. Will we have men like the artilleryman, who dreams of a society of supermen who will some day bring down the Martians, or the curate, who would give up and die under the foot of the Martian march across the Continent?
Or will a simple sneeze wipe out a whole invasion force?