Sunday, July 06, 2014

A Sunday Review

My mystery book this week was The Alpine Uproar by Mary Daheim. After a man dies in a drunken brawl, Emma feels that something about the incident is not quite right. This one goes back to the strengths of the series and works through Alpine as a place, using it as the main character. The incidents aren't pretty, but it makes Alpine seem a lot more real as it goes on. Poor Vida. If you want to start the Alpine series, I strongly recommend starting at the first book, The Alpine Advocate.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • May 28th
  • Aquaman #31 - Aquaman seems to be less than a diplomat with Swamp Thing, but it's Mera who steals the show with her story in this one. That can't be a good position for her to be in.
  • Secret Origins #2 - Yet another version of the Batman origin. Fortunately, the Aquaman origin is there and fills in some small gaps left from the details in the series. Excellent! And Starfire's origin is ok, I suppose.
  • The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #18 - Well, that wasn't entirely what I was expecting to happen. And the revelation of just who that other gal is... well, interesting. I really am enjoying this version of Oz.
  • Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #5 - Things are beginning to come together, and that's good because I really need this story to hold together better if I'm going to understand it.
  • Peanuts V2 #18 - Fun stuff, as usual. This may not be all Schulz, but it's got some really good bits even so.
  • Twilight Zone #5 - Nice tie-in with the previous storyline, while also being very much its own story. Nice cliffhanger, as well.
  • FCBD - Final three books in this year's haul...
  • FCBD: The Tick - A pretty good main story in which Arthur shows off his talents quite nicely. Heh. And then a mildly funny back-up tale. Whee.
  • FCBD: Street Fighter - Some vaguely interesting fighter-based stories. Not really my thing, but they had decent artwork and the first one wasn't bad at all.
  • FCBD: 2000 AD Special - A very complete sampler of the 2000 AD universe that really does a good job of illustrating just how different some of the British sensibilities are from American in comic book storytelling and humor. I've become a fan of the Judge Dredd/Mega-City One stories, but because I don't seek them out, I suspect I mostly see cherry-picked collections/samples of the best of the best.

Fortean Times #315
Fortean Times #315 (June 2014). I love this type of cover... the woodcut design is just awesome and the break from the normal layout is very nice. I even like the colors they used. The cover story itself is a fairly typical poltergeist tale, although it lacks a major character if it is a polt. Fortunately, that issue is covered in a sidebar. I like the historical context provided, and the concept that the story has changed in focus as society itself has changed. All interesting ideas. Definitely a good read, well put-together with some decent research behind it.

Another main article is about Igor Bourtsev, a man who has spent his life looking for the Russian Snowman, including a lot of time under Soviet rule. Fascinating stuff about the Russian understanding of yeti and bigfoot, including what Russian researchers think of the Patterson-Gimlin bigfoot film (spoiler: they think it's real).

Another article covers the history of the Nandi Bear and what it might be/might have been. There's a very good theory as to why it hasn't been seen in recent years. There's also some evidence that one or more may have appeared in traveling menageries in the UK a couple hundred years ago. Really strange and intriguing stuff, but the author sort of rips up the conclusions of the guy who was kind enough to send him info about the animal collections, which ended the article on a sour note.

Strangedays starts with pets eaten by snakes. Eeww. (Inkwell wondered why I hugged him after reading that). The allergy round-up didn't surprise me. My mother had a run-in with strange allergies when I was still young that left an impression on me. The lucky escapes had some good tales, but some of them may well have been just that, tales. The special report on the vampire symposium was a good read. The bit about the Island of Poveglia was a nice touch of history. I was amused at all the dread, dead, ghosts in the story followed up by the locals talking about using the place as a swimming hole and playground. Heh. The Mystery Ring photos are cool, and a reasonable explanation put forth. Love the Fortean Follow-ups, although some of these seemed less follow-up than continuation on a theme.

Konspiracy Korner was a little more insane than usual, and terribly disturbing in implications whether the conspiracy in question is false (more likely) or true. Archaeology made me want to go out and get a metal detector. Or live in a place where hoarded gold coins might show up. I'd heard about the discovery of the Faberge Egg, but the Irish gold fish was a new one for me. Classical Corner was difficult to look at. I just don't like those spontaneous combustion photos. I would've preferred a more classic bit of art on the subject, personally.

Ghostwatch is about Gef the Talking Mongoose. Lots of little bits in there, some really intriguing. And some slightly depressing. The impact the story had on a horror writer also was interesting. Alien Zoo was fine, nothing incredibly shattering. I like how it is now known that whales are making the mystery "bio-duck" sound, but marine biologists still don't know why. Ask Aquaman! Mythconceptions taught me something about early radio sports coverage I didn't know, which is good. The First Forteans talks about Rupert Thomas Gould and his works that paralleled Fort's stuff, but was a little more rigorous in a scholarly sense. I suspect Gould's works might be easier to read than some of Fort's.

A new feature is called "Fairies, Folklore and Forteana" and appears to link stories from folklore to Fortean topics. The first one is a humdinger. It's about a "wool roller" that appears in early 19th century literature. Basically, a big ball of wool that just rolls along, sometimes buzzing, sometimes damaging the legs of a horse. In one case, containing a pixie. Very odd stuff. I like it. Blasts from the Past covers mediums who claimed to visit Mars or host visitors from Mars and what they described the Red Planet to really be like. Some crazy stuff there, including photos purported to be of Martian royalty. Illustrated Police News was about a mysterious disappearance (and reappearance) and Phenomenomix concludes its look at P.L. Travers and her beliefs.

The UFO Files were good, with Flyingsaucery taking on Rendlesham again, Clinton's attempts to discover what the government knows about UFOs while he was president and pareidolia that makes people think a lens flare on a web cam is a flying saucer. The UFO Casebook is about "reality blinks", where something happens and the human mind sort of skips a beat. An example used is two people who both saw a parked car move sideways a few feet, but nobody else noticed. Another example is a man and his cat both noticing a bit of dirt on the wall at the same time, despite the probability that the dirt was there for some time. There's some potential there for good stories.

The Forum starts with a piece on the Crystal Palace and a train car full of skeletons. It's an amazing story that is pretty much not possible, but it's still fun. The second forum article is about Vincent Price's roles in some adaptations of Poe's works, filmed by Roger Corman. The piece is in response to Corman's announced intention of remaking the films, but goes into great detail on Price's role in making the films classic. Neat stuff that I just hadn't heard of. The world is too big sometimes.

Reviews are good with the usual types of books, including a gigantic conspiracy theory in the first book. I thought the review of the Steed and Mrs Peel comic was disturbingly correct, even though I never watched much of the original Avengers. I'd love to read "Lost City of the Exodus" by Ahmed Osman, just to figure out his conclusions, but I'm not sure I'd be inclined to buy it in order to read it. Letters were great, with the usual amount of self-correcting and updates that I love to read about. There's even a defense of the Doctor Who book that was ripped to shreds in last month's reviews. All kinds of fun stuff in this one!