Saturday, August 20, 2016

This Week in Reading

Ask Not, by Max Allan Collins, COMPLETED. Review here.
Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, pages 1 - 102.
Strength for the Journey, by Diana Butler Bass, pages 148 - 175.
Dragon Token, by Melanie Rawn, pages 469 - 512.

DOOM 2099 8 - 10
Firehair 8
Green Arrow 5
Lois Lane 2
Perhapanauts Annual 1
Secret Origins 45
Wonder Woman 4
World of Warcraft: Legion 1 - 4 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Review of Ask Not

Book 29. Ask Not, by Max Allan Collins. Unabridged audio.

A direct follow-up to the Collins novel Target Lancer (reviewed here), this one finds Chicago PI Nate Heller drawn into the investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination. And as he finds out, looking into the president’s death can be a risky proposition for one’s own safety.

Despite the grand scale of the crime being investigated, Collins manages to keep the smaller-scale feel of a traditional PI novel. Nate Heller’s skill as an investigator provides the driving force for the novel. This helps keep the story grounded, despite its outrageous premise.

There is a very nice mix of history and fiction in this novel. There are enough recognizable conspiracy moments in the book to make the conclusions appear reasonable – in this world, Kennedy was assassinated by a group of Kennedy enemies that included the mob, elements in the CIA, and Lyndon Johnson. In the last chapter, Louisiana DA Jim Garrison appears, and the Oliver Stone movie “JFK” is mentioned in the novel’s final pages, implying that the film was on the right track in its thesis.

In addition to his skill at portraying the world of the private investigator, Collins captures very well the essence of 1964. Both Beatlemania and the growing Vietnam War are happening in the background of the novel, adding a nice sense of realism to the novel.

I have enjoyed these two Max Allan Collins novels, and I look forward to diving deeper into his long bibliography. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

This Week in Reading

Ask Not, by Max Allan Collins, pages 1 – 102.
Strength for the Journey, by Diana Butler Bass, pages 114 – 148.
Dragon Token, by Melanie Rawn, pages 419 – 469.

Airboy Comics, volume 4, issues 5, 6, & 7; volume 5, issues 2, 3, 4, & 7
Criminal 10th Anniversary Special
DC Bombshells 16
Green Arrow 4
Legionnaires 3 & 4
Pep 372
Strangers in Paradise (volume 3) 2 & 12
Superman & Team Luthor 1

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Podcast Guest Appearances

Over the course of this summer, I was able to as a guest on some terrific podcasts, hosted by a couple of terrific podcasters. There are a few more to be recorded and released in the near future, but here are two that recently came out.

On episode243 of Michael Bailey's Views From the Longbox podcast, Emily and I joined Michael to talk about the graphic novel Kingdom Come, to celebrate the books 20th anniversary. We talked about the characters, the story, and the art. This was the first part of a podcast crossover, as Michael joined us on episode 7 of Dorkness to Light to talk about the religious themes and biblical imagery that are contained in the story.

I was also invited to join Chad Bokelman on the first episode of his new podcast that covers the Action Comics Weekly comic book, published in 1988. I was on to talk about the story featuring the WWII hero Blackhawk, struggling to make a life for himself in the post-war world.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Review of The Return of Tarzan

Book 28. The Return of Tarzan, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

This is the second novel of the Tarzan series, and I was hesitant to tackle it without first having read Tarzan of the Apes. But I assumed that between movies, comic books, and general pop culture osmosis, I could jump right into the second novel.

And I was able to catch up very quickly. The novel starts with Tarzan separated from Jane Porter, despite them being in love with each other. He begins this novel feeling rootless, having sacrificing his prospects of marrying Jane. He leaves America for Europe, and on the ship runs into a range of characters, including the Russian Nikolas Rokoff. Tarzan breaks up Rokoff’s efforts at shipboard crime, earning the man’s ire.

Rokoff dogs Tarzan in his adventures across Europe and Africa, but the King of the Apes eventually defeats the Russian once and for all. The story also details Jane’s emotional and physical traumas during this time. The novel ends with a pair of weddings, and Tarzan coming fully into his identity as Lord Greystoke. He has also become the King of a tribe in Africa, with access to huge stockpiles of gold. It is safe to say that this is a very happy ending.

There are easy comparisons to be made between Burrough’s storyline for Tarzan and his storyline for John Carter. Both are adventure stories with an underlying love story. With the Carter novels, I found that the books became repetitive once Carter and Dejah Thoris married. I hope that Burroughs did not fall into the same trap with this series.

But there is no reason to worry about future novels at this point. This was a fun adventurous romp of a novel, with a deeply satisfying emotional core.

Source: The Classic Tales Podcast. Narrator BJ Harison does a terrific job handling the various characters and accents, as well as creating an interesting and effective “Tarzan cry.”

Saturday, August 6, 2016

This Week in Reading

Foreign Affairs, by Stuart Woods, COMPLETED. Review here.
The Return of Tarzan, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, pages 1 – 175.
Strength for the Journey, by Diana Butler Bass, pages 85 – 114.
Dragon Token, by Melanie Rawn, pages 368 – 419.

Airboy Comics #3-5, #4-2, #4-3
Amalgam Books: All-New All-Different X-Patrol, Amazon, Spider-Boy
Namor the Sub-Mariner 30, 42
Saint Sinner 1 – 7
Wonder Woman 3
X-Factor 95
X-Force 25

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Review of Foreign Affairs

Book 27. Foreign Affairs, by Stuart Woods. Unabridged audio.

Another few months pass, another new Stuart Woods novel is released. In this one, Stone Barrington is in Europe. And of course, he makes a new girlfriend on the flight from New York to Rome. And of course she is immediately thrown into danger.

Barrington’s business partners want to build a new hotel in Rome, but the local mafia bosses don’t appreciate that they are trying to build without their “input.” As each mob threat is ignored, the next threat is more intense. Eventually, the new girlfriend is kidnapped, and Barrington will stop at nothing to get her back, and make the mafia don pay.

This novel focuses mostly on Stone, although Dino makes a strong supporting appearance. Due ot the international aspects of the story, Stone’s friends in the White House and the CIA make important cameo appearances. Most of the rest of Stone’s supporting cast is absent, which gives this novel a closer, more personal feel.

I have mentioned in prior reviews that I assume that Woods is using a stable of uncredited ghost writers to keep his work as prolific as it is. And there was definitely a different feel about this book, as if this was a co-writer he hadn’t worked with before. There was a lightness and a sense of humor that these novels generally don’t have, and the love scenes were far less descriptive than they often are.

As always, Tony Roberts does a fine job providing distinctive voices to the range of character he portrays in the audio version.