Friday, February 27, 2015

This Week in Reading

The Black Prism (hc), by Brent Weeks, pages 482 - 560.
Paul and the Faithfulness of God, by NT Wright, pages 190 -219.
Paris Match (ua), by Stuart Woods, COMPLETED. Reviewed here

100 Bullets: Brother Lono #1 - 8
All-Star Squadron #44
Crisis on Infinite Earths #2
Superman (vol. 1) #197
Superman (vol. 2) #93
Turok Dinosaur Hunter #1

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review of Paris Match

Book #8. Paris Match, by Stuart Woods. Unabridged audio.

The latest Stone Barrington novel finds Stone in France, and there are people there who seem to want him dead. The best guess is that this is tied to the vendetta that a Russian businessman has against him. But if the conspiracy involves the family of his new Parisian girlfriend, how can he stay safe? This is a fast-paced action story that I enjoyed quite a bit.

The political scene in the US is merely background in this novel, but we learn that Kate Lee’s presidential run (and her pregnancy) are moving along well. Stone’s reputation with women is such that he is briefly rumored to be the father of Kate’s baby. That is a nice subplot, playing both into the longer Kate Lee subplot, while also referencing Stone’s reputation with the ladies.

The story ended on election night, but the results were not revealed. In addition to the plot of the election, the Mazharov plot seems to also be wrapped up. I appreciate that Woods has been bringing to a close certain arcs and storylines, while adding enough new elements to tell the story at hand.

As always, narrator Tony Roberts does a fine job bringing Woods’ characters to life.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Adapting Holmes: The Newspaper Strips #1

Sherlock Holmes: The Newspaper Strips: Book #1, by Edith Meiser and Frank Giacoia.

Until I received this book, I did not know that a Sherlock Holmes newspaper strip ran from March 1954 to November 1956. These were collected into comic books in 23 issues, starting I 1988. These were also collected in four paperback compilations.

This is the first of these compilations, containing the first five stories presented, which ran over the first 8 months of the strip. The volume starts with an adaptation of the Holmes story “The Problem of Thor Bridge.” According to the copy on the back of the book, an adaptation of “A Scandal in Bohemia” is supposed to be in this volume. But that story is actually not in this volume.

What follows “Thor Bridge” are four original stories: “The Cask of Jamaica Rum,” “The Disappearance of the Canadian Heiress,” “The Haunting of Pendennick Castle,” and “The Return of the Black Plague.”

Meiser wrote for the Holmes radio show before writing the comic strip, and clearly knows the characters and how to write mysteries for them. The “Jamaica Rum” story turns on the ability of a thumbless man to tie a particular kind of knot and “The Haunting of Pendennick Castle” includes a great scene of a booby-trapped grandfather clock. Artist Frank Giacoia had a long professional comics career in the decades following this strip, and does fine work here.

The final story in this volume, “Return of the Black Plague,” is a first meeting story for Holmes and his arch-nemesis Professor Moriarity. I do not like the character design of Moriarity, as he appears to clearly evil. I prefer a more nuanced Moriarity, but I recognize that nuance and subtlety is hard to convey three panels at a time.

Source: A Christmas gift from Ron Sadowski, from theexcellent podcast Dinner 4 Geeks.

Friday, February 20, 2015

This Week in Reading

Dust (ua), by Patricia Cornwell, COMPLETED. Reviewed here. 
The Black Prism (hc), by Brent Weeks, pages 436 - 482.
Paris Match (ua), by Stuart Woods, pages 1 - 163.

The Walking Dead 112 - 114
Catwoman 13-18, 0
Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme 34

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review of Doctor Who: Dead Man's Hand

Doctor Who: Dead Man’s Hand, collecting issues 13-16 and one story from the 2012 Doctor Who Special. Written by Tony Lee, with art by Mike Collins.

The secret to a successful licensed comic book is a writer who understands the underlying property. And as I said when reviewing a prior volume of this title, Tony Lee understands Doctor Who. In addition to his comic work, he has written a number of Big Finish audios, as well.
In this volume, The Eleventh Doctor and Clara travel to the Old West. Because the Doctor wants to wear his Stetson hat again. There, he finds Oscar Wilde, Calamity Jane, and a mysterious gunfighter who can kill by shooting his fingers at a man. This mysterious gunfighter turns out to be the re-animated corpse (sort of) of Wild Bill Hickock. And it’s all an alien plot.

Of course, the Doctor saves the day, because he is the Doctor. The details don’t matter – what matters is that is a fun read, full of references, inside jokes, and lots of Doctor Who goodness. In addition to Stetsons, there are references to Autons, long scarves, governesses, and a coming change to Matt Smith’s face.

There are some things that comics can do better than television. In this volume, we get a terrific scene of the alien speaking with the Doctor, who responds in each of his past guises. It is a scene that is simply impossible in television, but flows perfectly in this format.

The only weakness in these issues is the occasional inconsistency of the art. This is common in comics, but it is more noticeable when the figures are based on likenesses. There are times when both of the main characters lose their similarity to their actor. But this was never enough to pull me out of the story for more than a panel or two.

After this issue, IDW lost the license to produce Doctor Who comics, and I believe that this is Tony Lee’s last story writing for the Doctor. I have thoroughly enjoyed his time on the character, and hope that he can eventually find his back to it.

Source: public library

Monday, February 16, 2015

Review of Dust

Book #7. Dust, by Patricia Cornwell. Unabridged audio.

Picking up where her prior novel (The Bone Bed, reviewed here) left off, Cornwell’s Dust finds longtime friend Captain Marino not working for Kay Scarpetta anymore, but because of who he is, he can’t stay away from her. Scarpetta’s husband Benton Wesley is continuing to have problems with his FBI office, and her niece Lucy is still as enigmatic as ever.

When a woman shows up dead on the rugby field of a local university, her body arranged ritualistically, Scarpetta is called in to investigate. She finds traces of fluorescent dust that links this case to three others. Unfortunately, the other link is through her husband, Benton Wesley. Wesley arrived in Boston shortly after the murder, while the other three deaths occurred while he was in Washington. The concern is that someone is stalking him, using his writings on serial killers as inspiration.

Benton works the case with his wife, despite the fact that his FBI supervisor doesn’t want him to. All suspect that this is for nefarious reasons, as if the supervisor is trying to divert the investigators’ attentions. Facing that kind of pressure, Scarpetta and her team try to find the killer before he strikes again, and before they are pulled off the investigation. 

Dust is another fine Scarpetta story, one of the better ones from the past decade. The focus in this one is on the plot, while the character beats take a back seat. And that was a nice change of pace. The dramas with Marino and Benton and Lucy that have been present in prior novels are still here, but it was nice to have a story again that focused on the case at hand.

Friday, February 13, 2015

This Week in Reading

Paul & The Faithfulness of God, by N.T. Wright (pb), pages 177 - 190.
Dust (ua), by Patricia Cornwell, pages 77 - 281.
The Black Prism (hc), by Brent Weeks, pages 377 - 436.

The Walking Dead 109 - 111.
Superman: The Man of Steel 37.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:
Grab your current read.
Open to a random page.
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

From Chapter 1 of  Dust, by Patricia Cornwell.

"But as I sit up in bed and talk on the phone it's exactly as it happened and I can't block out what I saw. The bodies and the blood. Brass cartridges were bright like pennies scattered over floors inside that red brick elementary school, all of it vivid as if I'm still there.”

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Review of All-Star Western 30-34

All-Star Western, issues 30-34. Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. Art by Staz Johnson, Fabrizio Fiorentino, and Darwyn Cooke (issue 34)

Having returned to his own era, Jonah has trouble convincing his “deadly duo” compatriot Tallulah Black that his surgically-repaired face is indeed him. But his new face does keep him out of trouble, as he is a wanted man. But his new face bears no resemblance at all to the one of the wanted poster.

He and Tallulah lose out on a bounty, and are drugged and run out of town tied to their horses. Before they can wreak their revenge back in the town, they are fell upon by highwaymen. That does not go well for the highwaymen. Jonah re-collects his bounty, and heads back into town. 

After spending a few quiet days with Tallulah, the couple hear word of a man who has taken up the mantle of Jonah Hex, and they investigate the impostor. They have to decide if they want to confront the man who was taken Jonah’s name, or with Hex’s new face and plenty of money, pack up and move on, under new names.
These are the last issues of this run, and it is unclear if Jonah will return to the DC Comics family any time soon. But this was a nice way to send the man off into the sunset, at least for the time being. Palmiotti and Gray tied up the time-travel story from earlier in the run with this ending, answering a few of the “timey-wimey” questions that were raised in that earlier arc. Darwyn Cooke’s art style was a perfect complement for the wrap-up story of issue 34.

This run has also included regular backup stories, and issues 30 and 31 contained the last of these. They told the story Madame .44, a fun story made even more so by the terrific art of José Luis Garcia-López.

When a favorite comic series ends, it always tempting to be angry and curse the publishing company for cutting short your story. But this title lasted almost three years, which is a pretty good run these days from a Western title. And DC did give Palmiotti and Gray plenty of time to wrap up their story, and they wrapped it up in style.

Sure, I’ll miss this title, but I am very satisfied with what we got here. A long story, with a strong beginning, an intriguing middle, and a satisfying end.

Source: my daughter and I have been purchasing this title from various comic shops.