Sunday, December 15, 2019

A Sunday Comic Books Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Nov 21st
  • Three and a half StarfishAquaman #42 - Huh. A neat little tie-in to the boring and way too long Justice League story, in which Arthur, once again, explores his emotional well-being. I've read so many of these types of stories over the years, and this is probably one of the more interestingly framed versions. I'm not totally excited about it, but it isn't too bad. I just wish the crossover wasn't so long.
  • Three StarfishJustice League #12 - A very Aqua-centric issue, with Mera, Aquaman and Manta all getting lots of screen time. Sadly, the story is just boring me now, and I just want it to end. Oh, there's a bit of a turnaround here, but it's a few issues too late. I guess I've read too many Golden Age stories now to enjoy the severe decompression of modern comics.
  • Three and a half StarfishTeen Titans Go #31 - Origami... the dangerous art. I love it. The idea of paper beating rock in the Titans context is too amusing, remarkably stupid and wonderful. And hey, the second story had an Aquaman cameo, so all is well.
  • Three StarfishDoctor Strange #8 - He really is a piece of work, and it's nice to see someone tell him that to his face. I just feel sorry for Bats accidentally spilling the beans.
  • Four StarfishShuri #2 - As this has to fit into an existing canon of Shuri's adventures in the comics, there is a bit here that I don't quite understand. That said, what I did "get" I liked, and I want to see more of the ancestors and everything. Which may not happen right away, based on that wallop of a cliffhanger.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Newbery Winners: Smoky the Cow Horse and Gay-Neck, the Story of a Pigeon

Hi, Eric here, writing again one of my rare posts on this blog. My quest to read all of the books that have won the Newbery Medal continues with not one, but two books.

First is Smoky the Cow Horse by Will James, the 1927 winner. It's, well, the story of a horse. He's born somewhere out in the west on a large ranch, shows some spirit and is taken in and broken by a sympathetic cowboy, eventually is stolen and has many other adventures, including as a rodeo bronco, until he and the cowboy, his one true human friend, are reunited in Smoky's waning years. This one was hard to read, just because there is so much going on at every stage of Smoky's life, and James chronicles it all. He's very good at presenting things from a horse's point of view, however, especially one as spirited as Smoky. It turns out there's a good reason Smoky was such a challenge to read: James didn't write it or intend it as a children's book! Will James was a Western writer, not a children's writer, but somehow some librarian somewhere probably thought this was kjust the kind of book children need to read, and thus it got the Newbery.

The 1928 winner, Gay-Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji, is similar, in that it tells the life and adventures of an animal. But this is the story of a pigeon (as you may be able to guess from the title) living in India. Gay-Neck may be the character around whom the story revolves, but unlike Smoky this one is just as much about the unnamed Indian boy who hatches Gay-Neck and trains him to be a messenger bird. Like Smoky, a lot happens to Gay-Neck, and more than once (including a stint in the French trenches during World War I), he becomes so traumatized that he stops flying. But a visit to a lamasery in the Himalayas seems to put Gay-Neck, and his human friends, to right each time. This is a little slice-of-life look at turn-of-the-century India and what it takes to train a pigeon. And it is clearly aimed at a younger audience. I enjoyed this one, although towards the end Gay-Neck disappears from the story, which seems an odd way to end it.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

A Sunday Comic Books Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Nov 7th
  • Two and a half StarfishJustice League #11 - The art is good, but the story continues to disappoint me. Oh, there are some good twists and turns in this one, but I'm actually really tired of stories that go on too long with repeated failures on the part of the heroes that seem fabricated to extend the story instead of tell a rollicking good tale. And this one just doesn't have enough rollick for me. The art is lovely, but I wish the crossover had ended in this issue.
  • Two StarfishGreen Lantern #1 - Another good art, story weak, book for me. I love the art. But I've never been a fan of cosmic stories in DC or Marvel, and this just isn't my thing. At least it's better than the last GL book.
  • Three StarfishDoctor Strange #7 - I'm not really sure if I enjoyed it or not. I mean, it moved the story along and the ghost dog is keeping me from being completely bored, but it wasn't really fantastic. I guess I'll just keep reading and see if it gets more interesting.
  • Four StarfishThe Wrong Earth #3 - I wonder if Dragonflyman is worried about what his counterpart is up to, or if the culture shock has kept him from that particular horror yet. As usual, an extremely good issue with lots of stuff, including a back-up story featuring Stinger and three text pieces that were all decent.

  • Nov 14th
  • Four StarfishPlastic Man #6 - That's just such a Plastic Man way of solving the problem that I can hardly believe no one had already written it in exactly the same way. I mean, it just works for him. And he even managed to get his head out of his... um... posterior by the end of the book as well. Good stuff.
  • Four StarfishScooby Apocalypse #31 - Ouch. This whole book has been insane from the start, but now that Fred is sort of back, it's just kicked up a notch. Add in that we know who is talking to Scrappy now, and it's almost too much. I'm really eager to see how this whole story ends. At least Scooby is able to still be Scooby despite his improvement to his implants.
  • Three and a half StarfishFantastic Four #3 - Well, that was interesting. If the enemy cannot be defeated, delay it? I was amused by all the cameos in this one, particularly the "non-canon" ones. Overall, an excellent little issue with lots of fun stuff happening.
  • Four and a half StarfishCaptain Ginger #2 - This one ended too soon for me. I wanted to keep reading. The structure of the ship and the feline societies on it are fascinating. I want to see how they are going to solve these problems. The Hashtag: Danger backup was ok, but even goofier than I like. The text pieces, two stories and an interview, were also great. Another solid package.
  • Four and a half StarfishRipley's Believe It or Not! # - Of the five main stories this issue presents, I was familiar with four of them. So, again, this wasn't all new to me. On the other hand, the presentation is SO good, and the stories so compelling, that I didn't mind reading again about some of those odd tales. This is a great book for anyone interested in the strange, and would be a lovely introduction to the world of Fortean phenomena. I recommend giving it to every child in your life.
  • Three and a half StarfishDr Horrible: Best Friends Forever one-shot - Wow, whew. Ok, that was not entirely what I was expecting. On the other hand, it was funny and touching and worked well for what it was worth. You don't even have to be particularly familiar with the original Dr. Horrible to understand it, although it helps.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

A Sunday Comic Books Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Oct 24th
  • Three and a half StarfishTitans #28 - A Drowned Earth tie-in, with Garth as a main character. The Heroes in Crisis storyline feeds into this one as well, since Titans apparently died in that (hard for me to take any superhero death seriously, sorry). It took me WAY too long to figure out who Steel was, otherwise it was a mostly ok story with some good moments. It showed Garth's powers and referenced the Titans as they were, so I thought it was decent.
  • Three and a half StarfishBatman Beyond #25 - This is a perfect jump-on issue, with lots of backstory and explanation of what has been happening in this version of the DCU to get to this tale. A little bit of classic Batman along with the new, and lots of references to the past. A good one to pick up if you just want to know what Batman Beyond is about.
  • Three and a half StarfishScooby-Doo Team-Up #43 - Thanks to watching the Doom Patrol show, I knew what was happening when the Mystery Machine ended up on Danny the Street. It also gave me a good idea of what was happening throughout the rest of the book. I'm not sure if this is the strangest team-up these guys have done, but it's definitely odd.
  • Three and a half StarfishMystery Science Theater 3000 #2 - Um. Wow. Ok. That was remarkably confusing and a whole lotta fun. I'm not entirely sure what I was reading there, but by the end I was just enjoying the ride and ignoring the plot, such as it is. I suspect fans of MST3K would enjoy this, as would fans of old comic books.
  • Four and a half StarfishBeasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #3 - Oh, I had a feeling about that dog. I didn't have the advantage the Wise Dogs had, though, of being able to smell him as well. Still, I had a distinct feeling, no doubt based on subtle clues the artist and writer provided, that they were walking into a trap. And it turns out they knew it, too. So how is this going to play out? I can hardly wait for the next issue.
  • Five StarfishUsagi Yojimbo: The Hidden #7 - And Sakai nails the landing. This final issue was mostly one big battle over a book, but OH what a battle. And what an outcome! I never suspected, not even for a moment, that final revelation. Of course, if anyone could have pulled it off, it would have been Ishida. Wow. Fantastic. Get this series.

  • Oct 31st
  • Two StarfishJustice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1 - I want to like this. It's a crossover featuring Mera! But, it's really not that great. The art is weak and the plot is depressing. There's just not a lot here for me to enjoy beyond Aquaman and Mera. There's even a timing conflict with Titans. I'm tired of stories that are about world-threatening horrors. I just want GOOD stories.
  • Three StarfishHeroes in Crisis #2 - Yeah, so when I read the first issue I didn't register who had died. And I'm still not sure who was supposed to have perished. And some big part of me rejects this entire storyline, because the heroes/villains supposedly killed off will no doubt be back soon enough. So I'm just not sure how to react to this thing. I just find myself sighing and hoping it leads to some interesting story, because so far I'm not impressed. Um, is it mean of me to say Lagoon Boy's death is no big loss to the DCU?
  • Three and a half StarfishGreen Lantern/Huckleberry Hound Special #1 - I really don't know what kind of story I was expecting with a crossover like this, but it was NOT this story. This was excellent. Huckleberry Hound was less a character than a sounding board, but it made for a good story anyway. I don't really know that much about John Stewart's Green Lantern, so I don't know how much of this is canon in the current DCU, but it worked as a story and it worked for the character. Good stuff. I did not read the back-up story.
  • Four StarfishArchie Meets Batman '66 #4 - This is a stark contrast to the dreary Archie 1941 that I'm also reading. But then, anything involving Batman '66 has always been great, particularly when Jeff Parker is writing it. This issue gets Batman/Bruce Wayne into Riverdale and also shows off how resilient Jughead, of all people, actually is. And no, that's not the Bat-signal. I never thought I'd see a Jughead signal.
  • Four StarfishStranger Things #2 - Oh man. When I watched the first season, I wondered how Will had survived there. This comic series gives some answers, and shows how it looked from Will's side. It's terrifying. I really need to go watch the second and third seasons some time, too.
  • Three and a half StarfishEdgar Allan Poe's Snifter of Terror #1 - I am not a big horror fan - at least not of gory or gross horror. Thus, the first story in this book really does absolutely nothing for me. The second story made me squee, though, using certain iconic characters the way it did. Now, full disclosure, I planned to only order The Wrong Earth and Captain Ginger from Ahoy Comics, because they were the two that appealed to me. This book got added to my list only because they accepted a story from me, and it was due to be printed in an issue of this title. So I figured I had better read the whole series. Despite not really enjoying the, um, atmosphere of the first story, I'm glad I got it. It may not be completely my cuppa, but it's certainly not bad.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

A Sunday Comic Books Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Oct 10th
  • Three and a half StarfishPlastic Man #5 - Greatest cover ever. And the first page summary confirms what I thought I knew about the previous issues. Of course, that's all turned upside-over on the next page, but what do you expect from Plastic Man. This is a fun issue that sort of pushes a reset button. Now how can this all get wrapped up in one final issue?
  • Three and a half StarfishScooby Apocalypse #30 - Of all the changes in characters, the one that I can't abide is Scooby becoming eloquent? Ok, right, that's just strange beyond any normal level of strangeness. As for Daphne, this doesn't look good for her. And what is going on with Scrappy? Who has he been obeying all this time?
  • Four and a half StarfishThe Wrong Earth #2 - Wow. This is way better than I was expecting for a second issue. I honestly expected the hero to wonder what happened, not to figure it out immediately and then work out how to deal with it - but it makes perfect sense. This is a very smart hero in both universes. The pathos of Dragonfly while talking to Stinger was great. And Dragonflyman showed he's more sinister than he lets on. Three good single-page text tales, a fun little back-up comic... almost too much to handle. Well worth checking out.
  • Three and a half StarfishSpongeBob Comics #85 - A typical issue. I liked the opening story, in which Sandy solves a problem she couldn't have known existed. Otherwise, just the usual fun.

  • Oct 17th
  • Two and a half StarfishJustice League #10 - Ah. An Aquaman-heavy issue. I'm still not in the least bit interested in the overall arc, but there's a handful of interesting bits in this, including the history of Arion. The art is very nice. Of course, it's the start of another crossover, which is annoying, but that's what you get if you read comic books.
  • Four and a half StarfishAquaman #41 - Following on directly from the Justice League story, this is all about Mera handling her second big crisis as Queen (if you count the Suicide Squad and their nuke as the first). There's a lot of set-up in here, but it's done as the story progresses, which makes it nicely readable. Mera comes across as determined, smart, and strong. Right up until the final pages, at which point I'm questioning her judgement. I'm not sure about this crossover, but I'm interested in what happens to Mera.
  • One StarfishGreen Lanterns #57 - Oh thank goodness. It ended.
  • Four StarfishShuri #1 - I literally know NOTHING about Black Panther beyond the movie. It's not a character I ever found interesting. But after seeing the movie, Shuri was someone I wanted to know better. And so we ordered this series. Bonus was the author, whose other work I like. So, it's a solid little first issue with enough context given in the usual Marvel ways that I understood what was happening. I do wonder about the situation with T'Challa and his buddy, though. This ought to be a fun ride.
  • Three StarfishArchie 1941 #2 - I want to like this, but it's moving WAY too slow for my tastes. I mean, it's only five issues and Archie finally bothers to enlist at the END of the second issue? I'm just not sure what to think.
  • Four StarfishCaptain Ginger #1 - I didn't know what to expect with this, except cats. In space. And that's what I got. Lots of cats in space, dealing with the death of their feeders and in a war with a mysterious species. It's a strange story and definitely caught my imagination. Like all Ahoy comics, it's a bulging package, with text tales and interviews and extras. Definitely worth checking out if you like cats and/or space adventure.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Sunday Comic Books Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Sep 26th
  • Three StarfishHeroes in Crisis #1 - Interesting way to tell the story. I was getting annoyed at it, then Harley said a few words, and suddenly I had to go back and reread. Which one is the villain? Ok, I'm not thrilled with it, but I am intrigued.
  • Three and a half StarfishBatman Beyond #24 - There is quite a large cast in this book now, with all the years of the show and the comic. So I forgot who Mel was until she showed up in costume. Interestingly, Jack isn't wrong about Batman. A satisfactory end to this story.
  • Four StarfishArchie Meets Batman '66 #3 - This is incredibly fun, and actually shows Jughead using some initiative. Admittedly, he had some serious motive, but still, I don't generally see him taking action. I enjoyed the abbreviated Batman tale, too. Amusing way to avoid having to write all those literary clues. This is still very good.
  • Three and a half StarfishScooby-Doo Team-Up #42 - The writers were really monkeying around in this issue. It was rather disjointed, but still managed to be more fun than a barrel of gorillas. I had the solution figured out early, but only because I've read a few Congo Bill stories and had a suspicion. Totally goofy fun.
  • Three and a half StarfishFantastic Four #1 - A nice introduction, showing two members of the FF trying to get on with life after the rest of the team has vanished. I don't know how or when they vanished, but everything was given enough context to work despite my lack of Marvel lore. I actually kind of got chills on the final splash page of the main story. The back-up story was a bit Doom-y, and ended too abruptly. Funny one-pager in the back. Not a bad issue.
  • Four StarfishStranger Things #1 - This story tells what Will went through on his side of the universe during the first season, and it actually is a really good start. The cliffhanger is particularly strong.
  • Four and a half StarfishBeasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #2 - Wow, a human who can communicate with them! The only one we'd seen wasn't exactly able to pass as normal. Thrilling stuff. A bit gross, but still thrilling.

  • Oct 3rd
  • One StarfishJustice League #9 - A slightly interesting bit with Wonder Woman and Aquaman, but overall, still more blah.
  • Half StarfishGreen Lanterns #56 - Really? Two guys without their rings, one up from his deathbed? This is just awful.
  • Three and a half StarfishFantastic Four #2 - It's like the Bat-signal, only a teleporter across the multiverse. I'm not entirely sure what this group of teenagers is, although the book makes it clear what they've been up to. As for defeating their enemy - I'm not sure that's possible if she really is what she claims to be. Fun stuff.
  • Three StarfishDoctor Strange #6 - Well, that mystery got solved quickly and kind of boringly. Still, the story has moved on to another level, and it has possibilities. And as long as the ghost dog is around, the book is improved by an order of magnitude.
  • Four and a half StarfishRipley's Believe It or Not! #1 - This is basically the cartoon with much longer stories told in a nice narrative. Being a Fortean, I was already familiar with all the tales in this book, but the presentation was nice enough that I didn't mind at all. It's a good package for a single issue, and probably would make an excellent gift for a child with a yearning for the bizarre. I wish I'd had it as a child.