First read 2005, re-read 2014. It's been almost 10 years since I first read this series, so I figured it was time for a re-read. Turns out I still lovFirst read 2005, re-read 2014. It's been almost 10 years since I first read this series, so I figured it was time for a re-read. Turns out I still love this opener in all its crazy, gory, heartfelt glory. So great.
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People've been telling me I should read Preacher, since I like Hellblazer so much, and I finally got around to picking up the first book today. I'm glad I did, because I enjoyed it thoroughly. Like Hellblazer, it's not for those with weak stomachs, but it's also wickedly funny and the three main characters are great. Basically, it concerns one Jesse Custer, a preacher in a small town in Texas who is possessed by a mysterious half-angelic, half-demonic being called Genesis. He's pulled from the smoking wreckage of his church by his ex-girlfriend Tulip and an Irish vampire named Cassidy, who've just happened by at an opportune moment. And then the fun starts, because Heaven needs to get Genesis back, pronto, so they've sent an undead killer after Jesse... Oh, and have I mentioned that sometimes Jesse holds conversations with John Wayne? It's absurd, and it's gory, and it's sometimes just a tad mean-spirited, but I couldn't help but love it....more
I was pretty excited to read this collection, because it's once again stuff that hasn't previously been collected. I wasn't wild about the first couplI was pretty excited to read this collection, because it's once again stuff that hasn't previously been collected. I wasn't wild about the first couple story arcs collected here, but I really enjoyed the last long one, Critical Mass. It was a nice way of resolving some of the lingering plot from Ennis's run, while also opening up a new story....more
"I'll be with them asleep or dreaming I'll be there when they wake up screaming At the hour of death I will nurse them To have a moment more to curse the"I'll be with them asleep or dreaming I'll be there when they wake up screaming At the hour of death I will nurse them To have a moment more to curse them Watch the maggots crawl out of them Hear the angels call above them Watch them as the cold air sucks them Down to hell good night good luck Then if any should escape above me Beg and cheat until they trust me Drag them down to be damned with me Laugh at them as they forgive me
Mothers eyes are sparking diamonds Still the moon shows no likeness Roses wither may god deliver The rake at the gates of hell tonight." - The Pogues, "Rake at the Gates of Hell"
This is a fantastic Ennis collection. The opener, Damnation's Flame, is a little weak; it starts off strong, but the ending is a bit rushed and confusing. Still, it's got its moments.
Things are back on firmer footing with a return to the UK. "Act of Union" is a wonderful character sketch of young Brendan, John, and Kit, all the better for William Simpson's return as the artist. It meshes beautifully with "Confessions of an Irish Rebel" and "And the Crowd Goes Wild," both ghost stories of different sorts, and an excellent lead-in to "Rake at the Gates of Hell," which bookends Ennis's run by finishing what "Dangerous Habits" started.
This is a classic Constantine story, with blood and guts and double-crossing and awfulness.. and then Ennis goes and does that Ennis thing, where there's a peaceful and heart wrenching interlude all set to "Rainy Night in Soho" that actually leaves me crying. Right in the Feels, man. Right in the Feels. Then it all goes to hell again, but there's that wee bit of redemption at the end. It's fine, fine work.
The last story in the collection is also fine work, of a different sort -- a kind of slice of life letting us know what Kit's up to and that she's got her own crap to deal with. It's a strange note to end on, but it works.
"When I let her go, it felt like life itself was slipping through me fingers. I started to say something, I dunno, something bloody stupid and sentimental, something not-very-Constantine-at-all… But she knew as well as I did that it wouldn't last for long, that I'd be no use if I came with her, and even if I did change, shit, I'd just laugh it off and drown it in bravado. So the last thing she said to me, her smile getting wider all the time, was 'Good night and God bless -- now f*ck off to bed.'"...more
This is a graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's excellent children's novel, Coraline.
While P. Craig Russell is one of my very favorite comic bookThis is a graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's excellent children's novel, Coraline.
While P. Craig Russell is one of my very favorite comic book artists, it took me a while to get into his style for this book, simply because Dave McKean's illustrations for the original novel are so firmly ingrained in my head. Russell is a much more straightforward, less stylized artist than McKean, and I really rather missed McKean's spookily angular figures. Leaving aside my prejudices and taking Russell's illustrations on their own merit, however, he's done a beautiful job.
Overall it's a pretty straightforward adaptation; there isn't much here that expands on the original novel, but it's an enjoyable read, and may draw in readers who would have passed over the book in novel form....more
August Derleth was one of the writers who most wholeheartedly took up the tentacly reins upon H.P. Lovecraft's death, and indeed, he is responsible (oAugust Derleth was one of the writers who most wholeheartedly took up the tentacly reins upon H.P. Lovecraft's death, and indeed, he is responsible (or perhaps to blame?) for much of the actual mythos that makes up what we think of as "the Cthulhu Mythos." Really, the man started his horror career writing what amounts to Lovecraftian fan fic, and he never really stopped.
That's not to say this isn't good, pulpy horror of the most fun kind. "The Whipporwills in the Hills" is truly shivery. Derleth also deserves enormous props for starting Arkham House and preventing Lovecraft's work from slipping into obscurity. Overall, though, one can't help feel that by giving Lovecraft's mythos more structure and defining it more thoroughly, some of the more unsettling elements were lost. Sometimes it's best to leave things a bit more in the dark....more
The title of this book misled me slightly, because I was thinking of "new horror" as in "new stories," rather than "stories in a new style of horror"The title of this book misled me slightly, because I was thinking of "new horror" as in "new stories," rather than "stories in a new style of horror" -- and thus was surprised at first to find that some of the stories were at least 25 years old. It speaks to Straub's editorial skills, however, that the older stories blend seamlessly with the newer ones, and for the most part if I hadn't already been familiar with a few of the older stories, I might have thought they were brand new.
Most of the stories in this collection fall into the "weird and unsettling" category, rather than being out-and-out scary. Not all will be to everyone's taste, but there are a lot of gems here, and this is an excellent collection that I would recommend to those who enjoy weird literary fiction and speculative fiction, as well as horror fans....more
This is basically just as gripping as The Forest of Hands and Teeth, but overall I didn't enjoy it quite as much (even if I read it wicked fast). I miThis is basically just as gripping as The Forest of Hands and Teeth, but overall I didn't enjoy it quite as much (even if I read it wicked fast). I missed the atmosphere of the first book; while the Recruiters are fine villains here, they're not nearly as complex or creepy as the Sisters in The Forest of Hands and Teeth -- I guess I don't find corrupt military villains as interesting as a religious order keeping everyone in the dark for their own good. I did really like Gabry as a main character; even if I wanted to shake her sometimes, her confusion and fears seemed realistic and I could relate to her. The "love triangle" in this one annoyed me a lot less, probably because it felt less like a contrived romance novel trope.
I think the main thing that frustrates me about these books is that there is often really interesting stuff that's hinted at or partially described, but then left by the wayside. In this case, I really wanted to know more about the Soulers, which are a fascinating group (they worship zombies), and especially about Elias's connection to them....more
The story takes a turning point in this volume, and Herr Starr suffers further disfigurement.
Sometimes the sense of doom I get from this series makesThe story takes a turning point in this volume, and Herr Starr suffers further disfigurement.
Sometimes the sense of doom I get from this series makes it hard reading. Oh Jesse... Oh Tulip… Oh Cassidy… Still, it's great to revisit it ten years after my first read-through. Dillon is absolutely on top of his game as an artist, and I found myself laughing out loud at some points, just reveling in the humor he imbeds in the work. Good stuff.
I have to admit, on this read-through I'm finding some of Jesse's anti-PC rants to be a bit hard going; it takes me a bit out of the story to find myself wondering why Ennis made the choice to have his hero express such sentiments. Since Jesse is the hero, are we supposed to take them at face value, a mouthpiece for Ennis's views? Or is it just part of who Jesse is, one of his (many) possible flaws? One of Jesse's downfalls appears to be his strict adherence to a kind of John Wayne moral code, which comes back and bites him in the butt repeatedly, even as it also makes him incredibly appealing. He's absolutely an antihero, and absolutely a hero, at the same time. Fascinating....more
I didn't like this quite as much as Gruber's first novel, Tropic of Night. This installment was not as tightly plotted, and after a VERY long, slow buI didn't like this quite as much as Gruber's first novel, Tropic of Night. This installment was not as tightly plotted, and after a VERY long, slow build-up, the ending felt rushed and was not entirely satisfying. I still plan on seeking out Gruber's other novels, however....more
I am addicted to the Pendergast novels, and I'm unable to resist reading each new one as it comes out. I'm beginning to feel, however, that the seriesI am addicted to the Pendergast novels, and I'm unable to resist reading each new one as it comes out. I'm beginning to feel, however, that the series might be starting to get kind of tapped out. This was not as enjoyable as some of the earlier installments. Some of this may be because there was much less of an emphasis on Pendergast being an odd duck and doing extremely clever things, and part of it might just be that it's getting really hard for these books to be anything other than fairly predictable. Still, it's hard to argue with zombies, so this was good popcorn despite everything feeling a bit tired....more
AWESOME. The larger format and better paper quality takes an already fantastic series of comics and makes it even better. The colors practically glowAWESOME. The larger format and better paper quality takes an already fantastic series of comics and makes it even better. The colors practically glow on the page, and there are several two-page spreads that are nothing short of breathtaking. One of the real treats is the famous "Ramadan" story, featuring P. Craig Russel's amazing artwork. When I got this collection, I wasn't sure if it was "necessary" since the color and overall print quality of the original comics was already much better than those earlier in the series. I don't know if it's "necessary" or not, but oh, it's a fantastic thing to have....more
Found myself surprisingly a bit more sympathetic to John this go-round than I was the last time I read the series. I'd always rather felt that Kit wasFound myself surprisingly a bit more sympathetic to John this go-round than I was the last time I read the series. I'd always rather felt that Kit was the best thing John ever had, so of COURSE he cocked it up. Which is absolutely true -- but in re-reading, it also becomes clear that the cock-up wasn't one-sided. Kit loved John, but she never loved ALL of John, never wanted to know about the dark stuff. And ultimately, when she gets dragged in, and it's the last straw, and she leaves (which is probably a wise move, given what tends to happen to his associates)… well, it's not really John's fault. Except that he has a wonderful knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
At any rate, bless Ennis for giving us a complex couple of characters who love each other and discover that is not enough and probably never will be. It's better than a Tom Waits song.
John really takes the Tom Waits dive, then; he's forty, he's just lost the woman he actually almost managed to say "I love you" to, and he's been a complete ass to his friends. So then what does one do, except go on a complete bender and try to drink oneself to death? Of course, it's never that simple. What's brilliant is that when Ennis is writing Hellblazer, NOTHING is ever that simple. Love this guy's stuff....more
This is a nicely atmospheric, if uneven, collection of Halloween-themed stories. There are some classics here, like "Heavy Set" by Ray Bradbury, and aThis is a nicely atmospheric, if uneven, collection of Halloween-themed stories. There are some classics here, like "Heavy Set" by Ray Bradbury, and a lot of stories I hadn't read before. I think one of the reasons I ended up not being particularly thrilled with the collection is that it's HUGE and after a while the themes start to get really repetitive. I also was not a big fan of the "My Favorite Halloween Memory" sections, which were short essays from horror writers about Halloween. Some of them were really well written: funny, scary, or poignant by turns -- but I really wish the editor had given them some kind of guideline like, "Please don't mention how Halloween isn't what it used to be because of razor apple scares, etc." I swear, at least 75% of the essays mentioned this, and it started to really drive me crazy.
So I guess my overall take on this book is that it's a good seasonal collection, but you might want to space it out over the entire month of October, instead of reading it in a few days the way I did....more
This is probably my absolute favorite Stephen King novel. On this re-reading, I particularly appreciated the realism of the relationship between JackThis is probably my absolute favorite Stephen King novel. On this re-reading, I particularly appreciated the realism of the relationship between Jack Torrance and his wife, Wendy, and all the conflicting emotions involve. I think I noticed it more this time around because I also just re-watched Kubrick's adaptation, and it struck me that one of the things that's really missing from the film is any strong sense of Jack as a loving father and husband. The movie also just guts Wendy's character to the point that I can barely watch Shelley Duvall sniveling around... ANYWAY, this book is still creepy and utterly enjoyable, and there are moments that still give me delicious shivery goosebumps....more