I really didn't like this book. The characters, particularly the male lead, are all boring and unlikeable, and the story seems to be a thinly-veiled aI really didn't like this book. The characters, particularly the male lead, are all boring and unlikeable, and the story seems to be a thinly-veiled allegory about a creator who loses himself in his work, loses his family in the process, and ultimately realizes that he can't fix his problems by trying to erase them. People also get shot in the face and blown up. Or maybe it's an attempt at an edgier Fantastic Four, with bits of Alien thrown in for good measure. The painterly art is nice at times, but the "throwback" nature of the fantasy components to the story (worlds of nameless savage frog people and technologically-advanced Aztec shamans) are dated in not such a good way. ...more
Well-executed speculative fiction that wears its William Gibson influence pretty visibly. Doesn't require much familiarity with the rest of the ValianWell-executed speculative fiction that wears its William Gibson influence pretty visibly. Doesn't require much familiarity with the rest of the Valiant Universe, though there are a few nods to other stories that establish the story's ties to its continuity. The creators don't seem invested in establishing a "New Japan" with clear ties or resonances to a historical "Old Japan," taking their cues more from comics and action films: like many of these sorts of stories, it becomes more generally about what it means to be human, how to deal with authority, what we gain and lose from technology, etc. How much this bugs you might determine how much patience you have for Yet Another Dystopian Future featuring Guys With Swords. ...more
The idea of an underground academy of child assassins is set up well in the first two issues, and the art team manages to pull off the more ridiculousThe idea of an underground academy of child assassins is set up well in the first two issues, and the art team manages to pull off the more ridiculous elements of the story so you buy that the characters inhabit this world, but then for some reason the book decides to go on a road trip to Las Vegas (complete with groan-inducing Hunter S. Thompson shout-outs) instead of developing the whole "Deadly Class" dimensions of the concept. Like Black Science, the book traffics in stereotypes / genre conventions to a fault at times (here with teen movie / coming-of-age tropes vs. fantasy) and the main character is a bit of a cipher, but I'm more invested in seeing how things develop than I was in Black Science. ...more
Another really solid Mary Roach book (I'd probably put it behind Packing For Mars and ahead of Stiff in my Mary Roach Top Three List that no one elseAnother really solid Mary Roach book (I'd probably put it behind Packing For Mars and ahead of Stiff in my Mary Roach Top Three List that no one else cares about). The chapters about sleep deprivation and submarines, maggots in twenty-first century hospitals, and the development of odors for use in combat and espionage were particularly great. ...more
Garth Ennis writes a war story that guest stars The Shadow, which is a very Garth Ennis thing to do. I'm not totally familiar with The Shadow's historGarth Ennis writes a war story that guest stars The Shadow, which is a very Garth Ennis thing to do. I'm not totally familiar with The Shadow's history or his major stories (I mainly know Alec Baldwin and Orson Welles in terms of context), but it did seem unusual to take the character out of the city and to focus more on Lamont Cranston using his wealth, his intelligence, his network, and whatever it is The Shadow does to get what he wants done done. I think it was a smart move to get away from the stuff that is well-worn terrain with this sort of character: The Shadow may have been there first, but Batman and eight hundred other things have done the vigilante bit by now.
I did like the whole "Batman would probably be a huge a-hole" approach here, the lack of much explanation re: The Shadow's past (no flashbacks to crying children), and the usual Ennis stuff on the horrors of war and the disgusting core at the center of people in the business of war. The art was typical of lots of Dynamite stuff in that it's serviceable but unmemorable. I would like to see Ennis do more pulp stuff, but I don't care much whether it's with The Shadow or with any other character. ...more
I loved this book: one of the best memoir / essay collection hybrid things that comedians have been writing in recent years. Personal favorite chapterI loved this book: one of the best memoir / essay collection hybrid things that comedians have been writing in recent years. Personal favorite chapters were the "How I Fell in Love with Improv" sections and "Treat Your Career Like A Bad Boyfriend."...more
I thought this was interesting to read as an attempt to create an expanded universe in comics out of a much-beloved set of movies, but it's also superI thought this was interesting to read as an attempt to create an expanded universe in comics out of a much-beloved set of movies, but it's also super rough and inconsistent and weird. The bulk of this collection is a trilogy that takes place after the events of Aliens and features some familiar faces, and the authors (here and in the novelizations; not sure which came first) take advantage of the comparative lack of budgetary restrictions in the medium to kind of go completely insane. There is full-scale planetary carnage and ultraviolence on display, but much of it is boring and bland, and the take on the Aliens -- territorial killing machines that aren't much different from us, so who's the real Aliens when you think about it, mannn -- is pretty weak. The third major story collected here has some really nice Sam Keith art, so that's worth a look if you want to see that guy draw some Aliens. ...more
I did not like this book, which is a bummer, because I remember being super into The Passage and I was excited to learn that a trilogy had been planneI did not like this book, which is a bummer, because I remember being super into The Passage and I was excited to learn that a trilogy had been planned. To be honest, this conclusion ended up casting the entire series in a negative light for me, in part because I think it made some of Cronin's shortcomings much more visible: he's not great at suspense beyond the end-of-chapter reveals, he's not great at writing women (and he puts his female characters through some pretty awful things, especially when compared to what his male characters endure), he tends to give a lot of air time to some of the more boring characters (in this one for me it was Greer, Carter, and to be honest, Amy and Fanning; I found the Michael stuff to be the most compelling, and I was disappointed in what Alicia was given to do here, because she was the highlight of The Twelve for me), he somberly quotes stuff you read in high school English class like that's an interesting thing to do (Station Eleven also did this; we get it, you like Shakespeare for all the boring reasons everyone likes Shakespeare), and while his plot seems pretty neatly mapped out (man builds boat, bad guy makes move, good guys go after bad guys against impossible odds, man continues to build boat) a lot of the chapters read like filler while you're waiting for these big plot point shoes to drop on the character's heads. The Fanning origin story stuff kind of drove me nuts too: it almost seemed like a different and much less interesting book from a genre I have no interest in (coming-of-age story about Ivy League boy rubbing shoulders with the wealthy for the first time and being sad about women, ugh).
On the other hand, Cronin continues to jump around time and space in interesting ways (retaining one of the more interesting but infrequently deployed devices of the trilogy), and I found more traces of the apocalypse compelling here than in previous books (particularly the investments in the global impacts of our daily decisions and our impact on future generations, and the almost-perverse glee Cronin seems to take in violently hitting humanity's reset button with his virals). There are also a few nice visuals: Fanning ruling the ruins of Manhattan in an old suit, Michael at sea, Alicia and Soldier's return to civilization. While I'm not obsessed with seeing every book turned into a movie or TV show, I'd be curious to see how Cronin's weird trilogy of early-millennial existentialism was translated and revised by filmmakers who might be able to do more with the core material here....more
I got into The Replacements long after they broke up, and I'd heard lots of stories about their live shows and various troubles. This is an extremelyI got into The Replacements long after they broke up, and I'd heard lots of stories about their live shows and various troubles. This is an extremely detail-oriented tour through the band's history (and pre-histories), with lots of attention given to the events surrounding the creation of particular albums, stories from the road, struggles with addiction and attention. It's a pretty dark and bleak book at times, and the unhappy endings are unavoidable. Mehr does a nice job of documenting without romanticizing things too much, though the importance of the band to its fans and the ways each member valued their place in the scheme of things is also here (even without the benefit of recent reflections from Chris Mars, among others). Worth reading if you're a fan of the band or you're curious about this particular time in the history of North American rock music....more