Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Slightly Longer Post
I finished a few more books this week than last.
  1. Superman: Camelot Falls, vol. 1 by Kurt Busiek & Carlos Pacheco. (Checked out of the library.)
  2. Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch by Gail Simone, Paulo Siquerra, et al. (Library.)
  3. The Dark Tower, Book 4: Wizard & Glass by Stephen King. I continue to enjoy this series, and I quite liked seeing Roland's back-story. (Borrowed from Teena.)
  4. Batman & the Mad Monk by Matt Wagner. Wagner does an excellent job of reinterpreting one of the very first Batman stories, but I have to say that Batman's early career is possibly the most over-mined subject matter in all of superhero comics.
  5. All Star Superman, vol. 1 by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely. Wow. Just wow. These may be the best Superman stories I've ever read. Morrison fills the stories with mad details and wonderful touches that echo the Silver Age but don't feel corny. As always, Quitely's art is gorgeous. He may be slow, but the work is definitely worth the wait. If you haven't read this, get it.
  6. Usagi Yojimbo, Book 4: The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy by Stan Sakai. Exciting samurai adventures with funny animals.
  7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. This volume is considerably better than the previous one. I enjoyed spotting the clues Rowling put in that hint at the revelations at the end of the book.
  8. The Legend of Wild Man Fischer by Dennis Eichhorn & J.R. Williams.
  9. Death Note, vol. 11: Kindred Spirit by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata. The plots & double-bluffs in this manga have gotten so abstracted that I would have given up on this series a volume or two back if I hadn't known that it will come to a conclusion in the next volume (or the one after; there's some confusion). Since it's ending soon, I'll stick it out to the end.
  10. Usagi Yojimbo, Book 5 by Stan Sakai.
  11. Essential Luke Cage, Power Man, vol. 1 by various. The best story in this is the one where Doctor Doom hires (via proxy) Cage for some detective work and then skips out without paying. Cage then borrows a rocket from the Fantastic Four so he can follow Doom, one of Marvel's A-list villains, all the to Latveria and get his $200. 1970's Marvel was a wild place. (Library.)
  12. The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, vol. 1 by Eiji Otsuko & Housui Yamazaki. (Library.)
  13. Same Difference & Other Stories by Derek Kirk Kim. The short stories at the back of this book vary from okay to pretty good. But the main story is absolutely fantastic.
  14. Runaways, vol. 7: Live Fast by Brian K. Vaughan, Mike Norton, & Adrian Alphona. Vaughan's final six issues, and he brings things to as satisfactory an end as could be hoped in the world of corporate-owned superheroes. I hope Joss Whedon handles the characters well.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Short update this week

  1. Shadowpact: The Pentacle Plot by Bill Willingham, et al. I enjoy this comic, but it suffers from being unable to keep an artist. In the seven issues collected here, there are five different artists, and the work suffers from the lack of a consistent style.
  2. Batman: Secrets by Sam Kieth. Kind of weird for a Batman story; pretty normal for a Sam Kieth story.
  3. Marvel Westerns by various. Mixed bag. (Checked out of the library.)
  4. Boneyard, vol. 5 by Richard Moore. (Library.)
  5. Ranma 1/2, vol. 33 by Rumiko Takahashi. (Library.)

I told you it was short.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Update This Week

  1. The World Below by Paul Chadwick. Somewhat pulpy adventure. Beautiful artwork, as always from Chadwick.
  2. Superman/Shazam!: First Thunder by Judd Winick & Joshua Middleton. I haven't heard a lot good about Winick's current Shazam comic, but this was supposed to be pretty good, and it is.
  3. Superman: Strange Attractors by Gail Simone, John Byrne, et al. Nice, solid storytelling. Not fantastic, but quite a bit better than a lot of comics.
  4. Athena Voltaire: The Collected Webcomics by Paul Daly & Steve Bryant. Definitely pulpy, rather choppy in places. But it began as a weekly webcomic, and if you're telling a pulp story and you have to pick between action & smooth storytelling, the choice is clear.
  5. The Drifting Classroom, vol. 4 by Kazuo Umezu. More histrionic adventures of a grade school transported to a nightmarish landscape. I swear in the entire volume, there's something like two bits of dialog that don't end in exclamation points or question marks. (Checked out of the library.)
  6. Monster, vol. 5: After the Carnival by Naoki Urasuwa. I like this series a lot, but I'm not sure what to say about it. Very tense. (Library.)
  7. Infinite Crisis by Geoff Johns, Phil Jimenez, et al. DC's latest word in "event" comics. Some very nice art, but I can't say the story impressed me terribly. And I do hope we never see emo-Superboy again. (But I know we will.) (Library.)
  8. Usagi Yojimbo, vol. 3 by Stan Sakai. For the third week running, I finish my book update with Sakai's wonderful stories of feudal Japan.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Is Up In Heaven Now

Do you know what a Humanist is? I am honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that functionless capacity. We Humanists try to behave well without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife. We serve as best we can the only abstraction with which we have any real familiarity, which is our community.

We had a memorial services for Isaac a few years back, and at one point I said, "Isaac is up in Heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to a group of Humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in Heaven now." That's my favorite joke.

I discovered Vonnegut in high school. I couldn't tell you what book I started with, but chances are it was Slaughterhouse Five. I read most of his works but stopped after Galapagos. No particular reason, I just didn't feel like reading him anymore.

A few months ago, Vonnegut appeared on The Daily Show and rekindled my interest in his work. I checked A Man Without a Country out of the library & re-discovered what an amazing writer he was. His style is deceptively simple. He could say amazingly powerful things in a few straight-forward sentences. I intended to revisit his books, but I never did. Maybe his death will get me going on that.

Good-bye, Kurt. You'll be missed.

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — 'God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Books, Books, Books
  1. Doctor Strange Versus Dracula: The Montesi Formula by Roger Stern, Dan Green, et al. I'm not sure why Marvel chose to put out this collection of comics, but I'm glad they did. I've always enjoyed Roger Stern's writing, but he doesn't seem to have the reputation I think he deserves.
  2. X-Factor, vol. 1: The Longest Night by Peter David, Ryan Sook, & Dennis Calero. The art's a little dark & sometimes unclear, but generally I like this quite a bit.
  3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. Until I reread this, I had forgotten just how much I hate Dobby, and the whole House Elves story. Fortunately it's not too prominent in this volume. (Borrowed from Teena.)
  4. Livewires: Clockwork Thugs, Yo by Adam Warren & Rick Mays. (Checked out of the library.)
  5. The Punisher, vol. 6: Barracuda by Garth Ennis & Goran Parlov. Formulaic but satisfying. (Library.)
  6. Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser by Howard Chaykin & Mike Mignola. For years I've heard good things about Leiber's stories, but I've never read any, even though I've bought some of his books. If this adaptation of some of his stories is any indication, I've been missing out. This graphic novel was lots of fun.
  7. Hikaru no Go, vol. 4: Divine Illusions by Yumi Hotta & Takeshi Obata.
  8. Bleach, vol. 18: The Deathberry Returns by Tite Kubo. I have no idea where Kubo gets his chapter titles (which are also used for the collection titles), because they make almost no sense at all. But I shouldn't be surprised; there still has been no explanation as to why the series is called Bleach.
  9. We Are on Our Own: A Memoir by Miriam Katin. A touching story about how the author & her mother fled Budapest in 1944. (Library.)
  10. DMZ, vol. 2: Body of a Journalist by Brian Wood, Riccardo Burchielli, & Kristian Donaldson. This is an excellent comic. It feels like it does a fantastic job of portraying life in a war zone, even if that war zone is Manhattan. Highly recommended.
  11. Megatokyo, vol. 4 by Fred Gallagher. I'm not terribly familiar with the genre, but this may be the emo-est book ever. The main character, Piro, makes Hamlet look impulsive and carefree. There are some great ideas here, but the story moves at a glacial pace because Piro has to examine every little decision in excruciating detail and more often than not ends up not doing a damn thing. I can only imagine what it would be like reading this as a webcomic; it is updated (at best) 3 times a week. At least with the books, you get around 200 pages at once. (Library.)
  12. Ultimate Spider-Man, vol. 8 by Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley.
  13. Superman: Back in Action by Kurt Busiek, Fabian Nicieza, Pete Woods, et al.
  14. Usagi Yojimbo, Book 2 by Stan Sakai. I ended my update last week with the first volume in this series, so it seems appropriate to end this week's with the next. Good stuff.