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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 8:08 pm 
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Alright.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 8:13 am 
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Hilarious book of stories, some of which are expanded from stories he tells during his live solo shows, some new. Many explain songs, or explain his mindset when writing songs. A perfect book for any fans of this eclectic singer/songwriter.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:52 pm 
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My wife gave me this for my birthday and I enjoyed it immensely.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2014 2:30 pm 
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Let there be no mistake, this is a science book ... about booze. How it becomes what it is, how it affects us, and everything in between. Lots of chemical names and molecules and the like, but written in a pretty accessible way.

Basically, if you have any interest at all in the science behind alcohol, this is recommended. If not, steer clear.


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Ready Player One is pretty much a geek fantasy for anyone who grew up in the '80s. Set in a dystopian future in which live out most of their lives in an online video game called OASIS, it's bursting with so many '80s references it might as well be a Wikipedia article.

In fact, that would come close to being a book-killing flaw were it not for the fairly exciting narrative. It goes like this: Eccentric billionaire who invented OASIS leaves his billions and control of his company to anyone who can solve a series of riddles and challenges embedded in his massive online video game. While thousands of teenagers try their hand at it, in order to gain control of OASIS a rival company is throwing its weight into the effort, too, and they'll stop at nothing -- including murder -- to get there before legit players do.

Virtual adventure ensues.

Most of the book takes place inside a video game. If you're familiar with World of Warcraft or Second Life, think of something like that x1000. It's the Matrix without the sinister undertones.

The guy who invented OASIS based the contest around the stuff he loved most in life, so all the challenges these people face are deeply rooted in '80s geek culture. Dungeons & Dragons, classic video games, '80s movies and TV shows, anime, song lyrics, and so on. The book is FILLED with them. It almost gets Family Guy-like in its constant dropping of random references.

A small group of teens (who have only ever met online - hints of the Refuge there) are our protagonists. They're a likeable and capable bunch, sort of like the Goonies if the Goonies were entering TRON instead of a pirate's cave. While navigating these virtual challenges and doing their best to avoid being killed by Big Evil Company, they also grapple with the weirdness of online friendship, falling in love, and being a lonely young adult.

The book isn't without its flaws. Truth be told, the prose is pedestrian at best, Cline dumps absolute BUCKETS of exposition at you in those first 50 pages (so much so that I almost bailed before the narrative kicked into gear), the dialogue is pretty bad, and all those '80s references get wearying after a while.

But despite this, once the narrative gets moving it rolls along at a great clip (two brief dead spots are over within 10 pages), the main character is rather likable, the world Cline created is an interesting mix of sci-fi and cyberpunk tropes, and if you're a video game player, well, this thing is a gold mine of fun.

I mean, this is a book that contains Pac-Man, Voltron, Family Ties, War Games, Joust, Rush's 2112, and Ultraman all in equal measure.

Yeah.

Ernest Cline wrote a big fat Mary Sue of a book that should not have worked in the slightest, but somehow it does.

If you were an '80s geek and love all that stuff, this is recommended.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2014 5:27 pm 
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Shoe wrote:

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If you were an '80s geek and love all that stuff, this is recommended.


I read it the first of this year and you're right it is very good.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 1:02 pm 
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A truly excellent book.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:21 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:42 am 
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:46 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:42 pm 
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Got back on a comic kick for the first time in a while. Rather than post about them all individually, I'll just list the trade paperbacks/graphic novels I've read this month:

The Walking Dead Vol. 17: Something to Fear – Robert Kirkman
The Walking Dead Vol. 18: What Comes After – Robert Kirkman
The Walking Dead Vol. 19: March to War – Robert Kirkman
The Walking Dead Vol. 20: All Out War part 1 – Robert Kirkman
The Walking Dead Vol. 21: All Out War part 2 – Robert Kirkman
Irredeemable Vol. 1 – Mark Waid
Irredeemable Vol. 2 – Mark Waid
Irredeemable Vol. 3 – Mark Waid
Irredeemable Vol. 4 – Mark Waid
Irredeemable Vol. 9 – Mark Waid
Irredeemable Vol. 10 – Mark Waid
Invincible, Vol. 1: Family Matters – Robert Kirkman
Invincible, Vol. 2: Eight is Enough – Robert Kirkman
Invincible, Vol. 3: Perfect Strangers – Robert Kirkman
Invincible, Vol. 4: Head of the Class – Robert Kirkman
Invincible Vol. 5: The Facts of Life – Robert Kirkman
Invincible Vol. 6: A Different World – Robert Kirkman
Invincible Vol. 7: Three's Company – Robert Kirkman
Invincible Vol. 8: My Favorite Martian – Robert Kirkman
Invincible Vol. 9: Out of This World – Robert Kirkman
Invincible Vol. 10: Who’s The Boss? – Robert Kirkman

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:03 pm 
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 7:03 pm 
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Pleasant kid's fare, although no Secret Of NIMH.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 6:10 am 
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Still on the first comic kick I've been on in some years now. Since the last post, I've read:

Invincible Vol. 11: Happy Days
Invincible Vol. 12: Still Standing
Invincible Vol. 13: Growing Pains
Invincible Vol. 14: The Viltrumite War
Prelude to Planet Hulk
Planet Hulk
World War Hulk
World War Hulk: Frontline
World War Hulk: The Incredible Hercules

So let's see:

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I can't deny it: this series is terrific. Remove the graphic violence and this is a classic superhero comic done in the classic style, yet with a modern edge. Plenty of soap opera but not a lot of talking heads. Tons of big action. Ongoing subplots. Good humor. Real drama. Explosive art.

Every time it hits a dead spot and I think it's going to start to falter, I'm pulled right back in again.

For instance, Kirkman experimented with an ill-advised attempt to cram an entire summer "event" story into a single issue called The Invincible War. It was a HUGE crossover with all the Image heroes fighting a battle that ended up leveling entire cities. Problem was, the issue was an incoherent mess. Genuinely one of the worst comics I've ever read.

But then he followed it up with Conquest, aka Still Standing, which was a powerful, brutal extended fight that stretched for several issues. That story raised the stakes of the series, had great twists and turns, and set up a war the entire series has been building towards.

Speaking of building, this series is GREAT at it. For example, the Out of This World arc begins to set the stage for a major conflict that won't take place for another 30 issues, yet even the setup is gripping, terrific fun. Throughout he's got subplots boiling, periodic glimpses of what villains are up to, and so on, all of which keeps you invested because something is ALWAYS happening.

Kirkman takes a page from Larsen's Savage Dragon by periodically mixing up the status quo, but he does it in classic comic style. Rather than reinvent everything from the ground up, he has a big twist that shakes things up but that leaves the series recognizable.

Again, this is classic superhero stuff.

At this point I don't want to harp on the violence anymore. It's brutal and graphic, yes. During this stretch we see a little KID punch through someone's mouth and out the back of their skull, this just after he eviscerated the bad guy's partner. We also see a villain accidentally electrocute his wife and infant child - and yes, you see the sizzling, smoking, charred corpses. Oh, and we see a young woman punched through the abdomen, various aliens disemboweled, and so on.

So it can be really violent.

But at this point, I don't care. The light tone was a red herring for those first few issues, but by now the series is what it is. After 70 issues, there is no sense in complaining because you know what this book is at this point. So no point in griping about.

Especially now when the book is so damn GOOD.

I officially love this series.

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The whole series has been building towards the climactic war with the Viltrumites, so you knew this was going to be BIG. There was going to be action and bloodshed and more, so when I say the ending was shocking most people are going to expect that a key character was disemboweled or something.

No, it was more shocking than that. But it's also not what you think.

The first of these two arcs is just buildup, some in-between stories until the big war. Then there is the war. Invincible and friends have their showdown against an alien race made up of nothing but people as powerful as Superman. Hard hitters, all. The pacing is kind of haphazard, but the story milestones are pretty major and it ends with a HUGE change for the world of Invincible that is deceptively quiet. I found it both bold and ominous.

Taking a break before returning to this series. Instead, switching over to Marvel to catch up on some stuff.

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Well color me surprised. This much-praised epic from 2006/2007 actually lives up to the hype.

Tony Stark, Redd Richards, and a few others decide that the Hulk is just too dangerous to remain on the Earth, so they trick him into a shuttle and zoom him off to a distant planet. Something goes wrong, though. The Hulk goes through a portal instead and, greatly weakened, ends up on a savage planet ruled by a murderous emperor. There, the Hulk is forced to become a gladiator.

But the ghost of Spartacus rears his ugly head, and the Hulk goes from gladiator to rebellious savior of the planet.

Maybe.

There is a LOT to like about Planet Hulk. At first it seemingly strips things back to basics with a new twist, pitting Hulk up against all sorts of alien monsters. Lots of beat 'em up action.

It's more than that, though. It then plays with the uneasy balance between hero and anti-hero, and goes on to explore if the Hulk really wants nothing more than to beat things up and be left alone, probing into his deeper desires.

All this is taking place on a richly realized world. Greg Pak created a brand new, living, breathing society with a complex political landscape, interesting lifeforms, a layered social hierarchy, and a rich history. He gets this across without gobs of exposition, too. You learn through action. It's a fantastic science fiction creation.

And there is LOTS of action. Hulk ends up hooking up with some other gladiators and forms a team with them (though initially against his will). They're a haphazard bunch of weird aliens and creatures, some plucked from Marvel's past and some brand new, and all of whom you grow to like - even a Brood!

First they beat a bunch of shit up. Then there is a revolt and they beat more shit up. Then they go to war and they beat more shit up. HULK SMASH!

Pak smartly weakened Hulk, though. He can be stabbed. He can bleed. He can be killed. So at the start of this story, he's not the unstoppable force he usually is. That gives things a good sense of danger. He actually has to use courage and wits to survive some of what he goes through.

Maybe the best thing is where the story ends up going. The ending is pretty powerful and is a fantastic setup to World War Hulk. It builds to strong climax, a moment of peace, and then an explosive ending. Great stuff.

It's not without its flaws. Though the art is crisp and the storytelling solid, once in a while the writing is a bit choppy. Some guys are good at clipped dialogue. Pak isn't one of them. There are a few deus ex machina moments that would have worked better had they been set up earlier, too. Small bits of foreshadowing can help ensure big turns don't feel cheap and random.

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For example, the Spikes actually being peaceful creatures. That was awfully convenient. Biggest of all, the shuttle blowing up at the end. Pak REALLY should have foreshadowed that, because it felt like it happened just because he needed it to happen at that moment. Felt too random.


It's most self-contained. The omnibus SHOULD have included the four Prelude to Planet Hulk issues, which would have given this story a nice clean start instead of an abrupt start. And the end, of course, leads into World War Hulk. But you'll be satisfied with just the omnibus stories.

Overall, this was just as good as people make it out to be. Some of the best Hulk I've ever read.

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World War Hulk
World War Hulk: Frontline
World War Hulk: The Incredible Hercules

Following the events of Planet Hulk, Hulk be madder n' shit, so he comes to Earth with his cronies to beat the snot out of Black Bolt, Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Dr. Strange.

And that's what he does. He beats the snot out of them, Marvel's goofy deus ex machina hero, the Sentry, is called in, there is a great big light show, the end.

I bailed out on Frontline two issues into it and skimmed the rest. The Frontline tie-ins were my favorite part of Civil War, showing the impact of that battle on everyday people through the eyes of some reporters, but it fell flat here and never grabbed me. The backups were better than the main story.

The Incredible Hercules segment is really a collection of the Incredible Hulk tie-ins, which follows an annoying kid named Amadeus Cho ("the 7th smartest person on the planet!" who can outwit SHIELD, Reed Richards and everyone else), Namorita, Hercules, and Angel as they ... I don't know WHAT the hell they did. Total yawner and totally pointless.

So that leaves World War Hulk proper. This is ACTUALLY the end of Planet Hulk, bringing that saga to a close (including an important reveal about stuff that happened there), so in some ways you really should read this if you enjoyed Planet Hulk - and you should, because it's awesome. Thing is, unlike Planet Hulk, WWH is empty. There just isn't anything here. Lots of Hulk Smash!, but none of it is exciting. John Romita Jr. does what he does, but later issues look a little rough, and the coloring is largely shitty throughout.

Thematically, there could have been a LOT to say with this story. Stuff about responsibility, consequences, revenge, ends and means, friendship, and more. Yet it says none of that. Nothing here goes anywhere interesting, and even the action is boring because it's poorly staged and poorly presented.

Epic Fail.

Take a pass.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 7:50 am 
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I 100% agree with your assessments of both Planet Hulk and World War Hulk. I'm someone who has always loved the character and hated the comics when it comes to Hulk. There are some great stand alone stories from the 70's that I got into but the soap opera part of extended Hulk series always felt flat to me.

Planet Hulk gave me what I wanted and set it up so that when the ending hit, I was so emotionally invested that I completely empathized with Hulk. That's why I was so amped up to read World War Hulk. I was looking forward to him beating the absolute shit out of all of them, but I also wanted to hit those themes of responsibility and consequences you mentioned above. I was totally disappointed by the end and that Amadeus Cho kid turned me off completely from the side stories.

One of the side effects of reading Garth Ennis' The Boys series is that he skewered superhero comics so well that if a series isn't written well, I begin to see just how flat and lazy the writing is almost immediately. World War Hulk fell into that only two issues in and it really pissed me off that they squandered such a good opportunity.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:15 am 
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caryc wrote:
Planet Hulk gave me what I wanted and set it up so that when the ending hit, I was so emotionally invested that I completely empathized with Hulk.

My thoughts exactly. The end of Planet Hulk was a genuine downer. Greg Pak somehow managed to make us care about those misfit monsters, and you really felt like the Hulk was wronged in a thousand ways. The whole story managed to do a good job of touching on some strong themes beneath all the action, too.

Made World War Hulk all the more disappointing.

I am currently reading Secret Invasion, which is the big event that followed Civil War and World War Hulk. If you're not familiar with it, the gist is that for years many of Marvel's heroes have secretly been Skrulls.

So far, it's pretty good. A little nonsensical, but pretty good.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:30 am 
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I've been on something of a comic kick recently but I've been hitting a bunch of smaller short run titles from Vertigo that I got in a torrent years back. I'm almost done with that and then I think I may finally dive into Fables. It's been recommended to me by a number of people (including Manphibian at Fest).

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:47 am 
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Fables is, I think, hit or miss. When it's hitting it's terrific and one of the best books out there. It's not always consistent, though, and the dull patches are quite dull indeed.

That said, it's generally top shelf stuff. Most flaws stem from the fact that it's envisioned as an ongoing series, not a finite series. That may be my bias talking, but I feel like works envisioned as a finite series tend to be more focused and consistent.

You're read Y: The Last Man, yes?

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 1:50 pm 
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Shoe wrote:
You're read Y: The Last Man, yes?


No but I have it ready to load on my tablet. Been meaning to read it for ages.

I agree with you about finite stories. My biggest problem with all of the superhero books whether they be Marvel, DC or independent is just that. It's very hard for me to be emotionally invested in a character if I know that there are literally hundreds of issues of ongoing adventures after the one I'm currently reading. The writing had better be incredible or otherwise I just lose interest.

That's actually one of my favorite things about Hellboy. Even from the beginning it was telegraphed that this character would eventually die (in one way or another). The final Hellboy series was everything I expected it to be and more.

Now that they've picked his story back up in Hell, I don't feel cheated at all. It's just a new phase completely.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 5:41 am 
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Y: The Last Man is definitely worth fast tracking in your read queue. Rather than talk it up, I'll just say that I've read the whole series three times and let that speak for itself.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 2:41 pm 
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My efforts to catch up on events in the Marvel Universe continue:

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Secret Invasion: The Infiltration
Secret Invasion
Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four
Secret Invasion: Frontline
The Mighty Avengers: Secret Invasion
Avengers: The Initiative, Vol. 3: Secret Invasion
The New Avengers, Vol. 8: Secret Invasion, Vol. 1
The New Avengers, Vol. 9: Secret Invasion, Vol. 2


So for three years, Brian Michael Bendis was planting seeds for a massive story in all the Marvel comics he wrote, leaving subtle clues that would lead to this, a massive subterfuge by the Skrulls. It's a pretty big story. Turns out the Skrulls been impersonating a ton of people for a really long time, and have a big plan to take over the world. With the heroes of Marvel still divided thanks to the Civil War, they have a good shot at pulling it off, too.

Let's quickly run down the crossovers:

The Infiltration -- Mostly setup & intro stuff. It's not a single unified story. It's a selection of separate issues that set the stage for the big story. Worthwhile.

Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four -- I thought this would be essential. Skrulls = FF, right? But it's not. It's a semi-cute story that explains why Ben & Johnny weren't around for the big event. Unessential. Also not very good.

Secret Invasion: Frontline -- Ben Urich is once again in the thick of things. Solid ground-level story about how a group of New Yorkers experience the invasion, but again, unessential. You really don't learn anything new here.

The Mighty Avengers: Secret Invasion -- A mix of essential backstory and not-so-essential Nick Fury stuff, this collects a bunch of single-issue tales that flash back to how the Skrulls did a lot of what they did, and an ongoing story about Nick Fury's return in the face of Skrull invasion. Scattered but solid, the Hank Pym stories were damn near essential. The other stuff, so/so.

Avengers: The Initiative, Vol. 3: Secret Invasion
-- Mostly junk. A story on the fringe of the invasion, it showcases just how widespread the Skrull plan was (they infiltrated 50 different superhero teams), but its focus on D-list characters and the uneven story makes this very skipable. It adds absolutely nothing to the crossover.

The New Avengers, Vol. 8: Secret Invasion, Vol. 1 & The New Avengers, Vol. 9: Secret Invasion, Vol. 2 -- A bunch of one-shots that fill in various corners of the Secret Invasion, from flashbacks to stuff running concurrently with the main story to expanded scenes and such. A lot of this stuff is close to essential and really fleshes out the story, but much of it isn't. Makes the way these crossovers are handled kind of frustrating. Still, a good half of this makes the whole event MUCH better, so it's worth reading.

Skipped all the other (MANY) crossovers.

Finally...

Secret Invasion

Cool premise, pretty epic setup -- planting the seeds for this thing for three years is awesome -- and some really great story beats suck you in early. Gripping from the start. Plenty of good ideas, and Bendis doesn't succumb to Bendis-like writing, either. No pages after page of witty quips, just a lot of forward momentum to the story. I really loved the whole premise and all the potential here. Good, fun moments, shocking reveals, etc.

It did go off the rails in the end, though. First, it gets kind of hung up in the Savage Land and begins to spin its wheels. Stuff is happening all over the world, but the Avengers are mucked up fighting a bunch of duplicates with Ka-Zar.

The things reach New York and it turns into a mess. The big climactic battle was totally incoherent. Just a series of crowded large panels and splash pages with random "Hit 'em hard and fast!" dialogue. A mess. Just a mess.

I hate this about modern comics. I LIKE decompression. I like the pacing of modern books. I like the larger panels and pages that aren't packed deep with exposition and the small character moments they will indulge in.

But DAMN, you almost never see good, coherent action any longer. A good action scene should be its own narrative, with a beginning, middle and end; ups and downs; a clear flow. They shouldn't be just a bunch of images that belong on a poster. They should be a NARRATIVE. Modern comics, they are great until it's time to fight, then they're a mess. This one is a perfect example of that. The climactic battle takes up a solid 40 pages and will take 5 minutes to read. There is no flow and no narrative to it. It's just random panels of large groups of people punched. "Hit 'em hard and fast!"

Also, the ending of Secret Invasion sets up Siege, which is when Norman Osborne takes control of ... well, everything. And boy howdy, what a non-nonsensical turn of events THAT was. Really really really hard to suspend my disbelief for that one. Stupid.

But Secret Invasion itself was a cool idea done pretty well for its first 3/4. It would be FAR better presented with some cherry-picked New Avengers and Mighty Avengers issues interwoven throughout to flesh things out -- about half the tie-in issues did an excellent job of expanding the story -- but overall this was a solid story marred only by a shit ending.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 7:49 pm 
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Read this one in a day...excellent.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:21 pm 
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Hahahaha, no.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:27 pm 
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Sole Survivor.

EDIT: LONE SURVIVOR

Good book. Far better than that shitty movie.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:57 pm 
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Monterey Jack wrote:
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Read this one in a day...excellent.


I loved this book. I enjoyed it more than anything of his I've read since Bag of Bones. The thing that sets it apart?

It's well edited. In other words, it's short. I won't go so far as to say it's "lean" but it's the length it should be and I wish he'd do things like this more often.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 5:57 pm 
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caryc wrote:
I loved this book. I enjoyed it more than anything of his I've read since Bag of Bones. The thing that sets it apart?

It's well edited. In other words, it's short. I won't go so far as to say it's "lean" but it's the length it should be and I wish he'd do things like this more often.


King always works best in short bursts...his 70's output is almost entirely lean and to-the-point (yes, The Stand looked forward to the bloat of his later period, but even that was initially shorn of nearly 400 pages of material, and mostly for the better), but at some point after the gargantuan It, his editors obviously threw up their hands and went, "Fuck, people buy his shit no matter how long it is...why waste time editing?" Over the last 20+ years, his best books have been the ones where he's kept things to 500 pages or less, and his short story and novella collections. Even the mega-long ones which are good, like Under The Dome and 12/22/63, tend to get bogged down in agonizing detail and usually sputter to a disappointing halt when King just runs out of ideas and just gets an "End this fucker NOW" mentality (still, the book version of Under The Dome is still a thousand times better than that shitty, neutered TV series, which I deleted from the DVR none too soon). I know he likes to ramble on, but I wish he'd release more books like Joyland and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon that the avid reader could consume in a day or two.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:12 am 
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More catching up with Marvel comics ... but I think I'm close to done with this shit, at least for the next couple of years until I dive in again:

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Dark Avengers, Vol. 1: Assemble

Norman Osborne, having been inexplicably been given control of SHIELD and Avengers Tower and who knows what else, forms a new Avengers team made up of super villains (Bullseye, Venom, etc.) dressed up like heroes. Then they go fight some monsters on behalf of Doctor Doom.

It was stupid and the idea is stupid and the art is stupid and you should not read this.

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The New Avengers, Vol. 10: Power

The Skrull invasion is over, now the outlaw Avengers who never registered with the government have to get Luke Cage's baby back and do some other stuff, all while Norman Osborne flaunts his brand new Avengers team.

Eh. Whatever. I just don't get the whole notion of Spider-Man and Wolverine and folks hanging around in an old warehouse together. Why is Spider-Man doing this? Shouldn't he be patrolling the city? And doesn't Wolverine have an X team to lead? And why are the stories here so boring?

Skip this.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:50 pm 
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Shoe, I have to ask you (and you may have already said): Did you ever read The Boys?

Not trying to demean what you're reading or anything but as I've mentioned before, reading The Boys ruined me on superhero comics to some degree and honestly, I'm not sad about that. I'd read the whole Civil War thing right before I read The Boys and now, I just can't bring myself to read anymore for exactly what you're saying above. It seems like lazy writing.

While Planet Hulk was anything but lazy.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:07 pm 
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The Boys is fucking great. Though I have read some other superhero-type comics since I read it. Damn few that were published after the early 90s, though. When people decided that what's-his-name, the X-Force guy, was a decent comic book artist, the whole industry went to shit.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:17 am 
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I liked The Boys and thought it was often pretty funny, though to be honest I thought it was often kind of lazy, too. There are few things easier to pick apart than the superhero genre, and despite my love for Ennis -- both Preacher and his run on Hellblazer are some of my favorite comics ever -- I thought the Boys was sometimes just kind of cheap and obvious.

As always, his dialogue is among the best out there. He REALLY knows how to paint vivid characters who live and breath. I can count comic writers who are his equal when it comes to conversation on one hand. The superhero deconstruction parts, though, were pretty one-note and repetitive. "Look how depraved these people really are!" You can't sustain a series on that. Ennis tried to anyway, and after a time it just became, "Oh, look, it's another superhero with a hamster up his ass and his arms ripped off." Other people have done a much better job of unpeeling the genre.

I'd put his Preacher, Hellblazer, War Stories, Punisher, and maybe even Hitman (maybe) above it.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:58 am 
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Shoe wrote:
I liked The Boys and thought it was often pretty funny, though to be honest I thought it was often kind of lazy, too. There are few things easier to pick apart than the superhero genre, and despite my love for Ennis -- both Preacher and his run on Hellblazer are some of my favorite comics ever -- I thought the Boys was sometimes just kind of cheap and obvious.


All valid points. I just couldn't remember if you had read it or not. I'm with Eric in that I think it's fucking great. Yes, I get it that it went on a little too long, but I didn't mind it picking at the obvious tropes repeatedly. My only beef with it was that I felt the last 10 issues or so were anticlimactic.

As for reading superhero comics after, I still have and do. It's just that when the writing gets lazy I'm less forgiving than I was before. Reading something like the Dark Avengers title you mentioned below would have just brought to mind some short guy in a basement, chain smoking cigars and cranking out more fodder for the masses.

I've been trying to get into some series of popular characters I've mostly ignored. Aquaman and Captain Marvel both are on my Nook. There is a run on the former where something is killing the spirits behind the major rivers of the world. That hooked me for about 6-8 issues. Then the whole thing falls apart and just becomes another soap opera moment between him and Black Manta. It really turned me off.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 7:07 am 
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caryc wrote:
As for reading superhero comics after, I still have and do. It's just that when the writing gets lazy I'm less forgiving than I was before.

As well you should be! Most of the stuff out there is crap. I don't have a long attention span for the same old cape tropes, not unless they're done really well. That's why I tend to seek out good, tight, finite runs by a strong creative team. Bendis & Maleev on Daredevil*, for instance, is some of the best superhero comics you'll ever read. Or Ed Brubaker's run on Captain America, which was surprisingly excellent.

Otherwise, I get my cape fix from movies. Two hours of fun and you're done, and they're not (yet) endless soap opera sagas. These never-ending Marvel stories really wear thin after a while, especially when the execution is so bad.



*I really do give this my highest recommendation. It's a street level story that gets into truth, consequences, identity and more. Great extended character exploration that largely steers clear of the same ol', same ol'.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 7:34 pm 
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Terrific read.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:03 pm 
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Entertaining collection of hard-boiled revenge stories. A few clunkers, but most are compelling and thankfully brief.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:23 pm 
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I'm just about done with my brief foray into mainstream Marvel comics. I'd love to keep reading more, but this stuff just isn't very good. The latest ... Guardians made me want to read the series that inspired it, and I understand the seeds of that series began with this event, so I just finished reading:

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Annihilation: Conquest

This big follow-up to Marvel's cosmic epic, Annihilation, is structured like the first one. Three short miniseries (+ some issues of Nova) come together for the main series. A techno alien race called the Phalanx takes over the Kree empire and threatens the galaxy, so a whole bunch of Marvel's cosmic heroes get together to stop them. Here's how the series breaks down:

Annihilation: Conquest - Prologue -- a one-shot that sets the whole thing up. Star-Lord makes an ooops and the Kree are conquered in a single page. Not bad.

Annihilation: Conquest - Quasar -- A weepy female Quaser and her lover, Moondragon, have four issues of poorly colored adventures that add up to a big nothing, save for the final page of the mini: the return of Adam Warlock. Otherwise, this is four issues you can sleep through.

Annihilation: Conquest - Starlord
-- Kieth Giffen pens a very funny and exciting mini here that brings together a misfit squad of anti-heroes (including half of what will become the new Guardians) to put a stop to the Phalanx. This was terrific. The writing is sharp and funny, Timothy Green's art is OUTSTANDING and reminded me a lot of Moebius, and the coloring was all bright and vivid pastels and energy. Top notch stuff.

Annihilation: Conquest - Wraith -- Sheer drek. A new character that is just way too "look how cool and edgy" this guy is, he's an immortal Kree with super darkness powers and dark clothes and dark word balloons and he's totally dark, man. Muddy art and some absolute shit writing with cringe-inducing dialogue. Ugh.

Nova #4-7
-- Solid stuff. Nova gets involved with the crisis but things don't go as planned. Yada yada. Not really essential to the mini-series, to be honest.

and finally:

Annihilation: Conquest -- All the above series come together for this, a big not-as-cosmic-as-you-think war that also throws Ronan, Super Skrull and loads more into the mix. There is a surprise villain who really doesn't fit the setting. The High Evolutionary shows up, too. The art is kind of soft and rounded and mushy. There isn't a sharp edge anywhere here. It's made even worse by terrible coloring that makes everything look soft and rounded, too (not to mention a complete inability to have consistent light sources). Doing contouring with coloring is nice if you're good at it, but it doesn't work here. At ALL.

The story itself is fine. Some decent twists and turns, and unlike, say, Secret Invasion the action generally has an ebb and flow to it. Considering how fast the Kree were conquered the wrap-up seems to come a little easy, but that's not atypical. The stuff with Star-Lord and his team is, again, the real highlight. The stuff with new Quasar is, again, a low point. Thankfully Wraith doesn't play a big part in this.

Overall:

It was okay, but completely unessential unless you really love to read any cosmic stuff Marvel does.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:09 pm 
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After seeing the movie version of Guardians of the Galaxy, I read the 25 issues of the comic it was based on. Not sure if that was V2 or V3 or what, but it ended up with the "Cancerverse" story arc. Enjoyed it, though I'm not entirely sure what I should read next.

Also re-read the Avengers "Korvac" story, just because that jogged my memory. Not really as good as I remembered.

At the same time, I've been re-reading G.R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire novels, in the hopes that it'll somehow make him finish the next one faster, and something is clearer to me on re-reading that wasn't the first time I read them: the Starks are assholes. Ned and Robb aren't bad, but look at the rest:

Cat. Asshole to Jon Snow when she was alive, and since her resurrection, pretty much a revenge-demon.

Arya. Cold-blooded assassin and psycho-revenge-killer.

Sansa. Willingly going along with a conspiracy that she knows will probably involve the murder of her sickly cousin. Sickly annoying cousin, but still.

Bran. Routinely abuses his mentally-challenged servant, and seems to be aligned, with the whole "greenseer" thing, with the unnamed enemy put forth as an opposite to the fire-god.

Really, I didn't get it on the first read, and thus far in the TV show all the characters are more sympathetic, but they're not heroes in the books. They're anti-heroes at best. Davos is about the only really admirable character in the series.


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