An extraordinary read. Comics are the perfect medium for this story of an old man, stricken with dementia, drifting back and forth between a lonely pr...moreAn extraordinary read. Comics are the perfect medium for this story of an old man, stricken with dementia, drifting back and forth between a lonely present and a doomed past. He was a semiprofessional hockey player, once. His little brother, Vince-- bigger and better than Lou in every way-- joined the team and started to turn them into winners. But Vince didn't want to devote his life to hockey, he wanted to go home to the farm... and Lou couldn't help but notice the way that Vince's beautiful girlfriend Beth stared at him...
What follows is a series of painful mistakes and regrets, somewhat amended by the end. I think the message of this book is not that mistakes can ruin even the best of lives-- we all understand this intuitively-- but that making no effort to correct those mistakes, letting painful things spin out of control, is what will leave a person truly alone.(less)
This is a shockingly good book. Compelling, with interesting (non-fictional) characters replete with conflict and tragic flaws. A must for comic book...moreThis is a shockingly good book. Compelling, with interesting (non-fictional) characters replete with conflict and tragic flaws. A must for comic book fans, who will feel an immediate attachment to the material, but also a wonderful primer on the world of Extremely Shady Finance. Who knew that Marvel's financial crisis in the late 90s would look startlingly like the nation's financial crisis in 2008? And that many of the players-- Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Carl Icahn-- would be the same jackasses who literally gambled the world's economy on their own short term gains?
The fact that the corporate tycoons that are the headliners in the story act like supervillains doesn't hurt either. Ron Perelman (whose name sounds like Peril Man, obviously a bad guy) is a pure vulture capitalist and legal fraud artist, pumping up Marvel's value through unwise expansion and $700 million in debt in order to sell billions in high-risk junk bonds to investors. Carl Icahn is the "corporate terrorist" who recognizes the financial weakness inflicted by Perelman and purchases enough of the company to sue everyone associated with it like a madman while threatening to sell off Marvel's intellectual property for "parts." Finally, Toy Biz founder Ike Perlmutter is there, both championing Marvel as a company and trying to save it from the above two figures, while also proving to be a paranoid control-freak who could easily destroy the company he's fighting to save.
Very well-written and accessible. This is a fun read, filled with tension and absurdity. And I love the cover, where two middle-aged businessmen duke it out while Wolverine, Captain America, and She-Hulk stand nearby and look vaguely embarrassed and Spider-Man narrates the scene.(less)
This is a rare book; I'll definitely be seeking out Russell elsewhere.
This collection of short stories manages to be clever, creepy, funny, mean, and...moreThis is a rare book; I'll definitely be seeking out Russell elsewhere.
This collection of short stories manages to be clever, creepy, funny, mean, and wise-- usually in turns, but sometimes several at once. The stories are brilliantly imaginative, and never end up as the story I thought the author was telling at first. Magical realist stories or genre-defying fantasies, these tales had me talking to my wife about each story in turn as I read them. The stories include:
-- The problems of two blood-averse vampires, seeking their cure in an Italian lemon grove -- The fate and terrible rebellion of a group of Meiji era Japanese women, enslaved and transformed into something inhuman in the service of the silk industry. -- A teenage boy who discovers that an invasion of seagulls are secretly stealing people's fates... and finds inspiration. -- A creepy Weird West story about an eleven-year-old boy trying to deliver a glass window to his closest neighbors, almost a day's ride away. --A massage therapist accepts a PTSD-crippled client, and discovers that she can alter his memories by altering his tattoos.
Good good stuff! Each story kept me coming back and wanting more.(less)
I think James Kochalka's American Elf deserves the credit it gets. It's a good and entertaining journal comic, and is definitely the best Kochalka tha...moreI think James Kochalka's American Elf deserves the credit it gets. It's a good and entertaining journal comic, and is definitely the best Kochalka that I've read.
That said, Trondheim's "Little Nothings" put all other journal comics to shame. It's not just his mastery of the form-- his highly detailed watercolors and masterful development of themes and even storylines in his own life is extraordinary. Even better, though, is his sense of humor. Trondheim is a master of delivery, and whether he's relating a perfectly unique experience or telling a fart joke, the nuanced way he tells jokes helps them surprise me every time. At the same time, I feel like I get to know the artist through his work, in a very genuine and uninhibited way. A+.(less)
I first read this story when I was in high school. It holds up better than I expected, and while there are some hilariously over-the-top elements to t...moreI first read this story when I was in high school. It holds up better than I expected, and while there are some hilariously over-the-top elements to this story-- Pope Innocent XLII's secret identity, for example-- it is an interesting example of dystopian science fiction delving into religious issues. On the religious front, I wish so many of the corrupt Catholic figures were less cliched, from the pedophilic priest to the sado-masochistic Grand Inquisitrix that leads Innocent's new Inquisition.
The story is interesting for it ties to earlier Grendel stories, and for its blend of dark humor, science fiction, and horror. It's also interesting in that the incarnation of Grendel this story deals with is not the protagonist. Eppy Thatcher is more of an interesting sidebar, a wild card that neither of the big players in the story can predict. The conflict between Innocent and his adversary, Orion Assante, is the core story. Looking at it as a reader, Orion's narration is a bit dry and removed from the story, diluting the epic nature of the conflict. He doesn't talk about his story like he's remembering a time when all of human history hung in the balance, but more like an old man remembering an important moment in his own life. Maybe that says a lot about Orion as a character. I'm not quite sure. He's honestly a bit of a vacuum as a hero, not as interesting as any of the things going on around him.
There is also a lot piled into this story. Multiple conflicts make the story unpredictable, but also difficult to follow at times. The constant barrage of animal imagery is interesting, but because it is constant it sort of runs together and loses any intrinsic meaning. And the entire story with the Deva Princes seems largely pointless, serving only to prove that the Church is a malevolent force to be reckoned with.
Even so, there's a lot of good here. Innocent and his ally, Pellon Cross, are interesting characters, as is Eppy Thatcher. While I remember the book as being difficult to follow and read, the print quality in this collection is much better than in the individual issues, and that makes a huge difference. Finally, there is an interesting philosophical problem at this book's heart-- how a Church that claims to represent God is very much based on Earth, and can become as corrupt and violent as any other institution.
In summary, this isn't Wagner's best work, but it's still a worthwhile read. I give it three stars, and it probably gets at least four stars if you're a fan of the Grendel series.(less)