Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Sunday Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Mar 11th
  • Justice League United #10 - So, all's well that ends well, which means this one wasn't a complete victory, right?
  • Green Lantern Corps #40 - Well, I like the kid, but the whole "hope saves the day" idea is a little... old. Still not my cup of tea.
  • World's Finest #32 - And we find out how Lois of Earth 2 died. The first time, at least. There's some strange bits here, like the sword forged by Batman and Wonder Woman.
  • Arrow: Season 2.5 #6 - Brutal and a tough reminder of current events. I just sort of wish this would catch up to the current tv series.
  • Smallville Continuity #4 - So it ends... and there's even an underwater base... but no sign of Aquaman? Sheesh.
  • Astro City #21 - Wow. Again, this book just pulls you in and pummels your emotions until you sometimes aren't sure what to do next. I'm a little worried by the final page, but the rest made me oddly happy.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #10 - Without the opening page recaps, I'd be completely lost with this book. Fortunately, this issue actually got me back on track with what's happening and made sense in and of itself, partly due to the recap. Nice. And I'm even curious about what comes next again.
  • Spongebob Comics #42 - This is actually a pretty good issue... and not just because of the Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy appearances. No, it's cool because it really is an interactive comic, complete with foldee pages. Pretty neat, and thanks to the magic of scans, I didn't have to fold to get the results of the folded stories... ahem. Anyway, a fun issue.

Fortean Times #324
Fortean Times #324 (February 2015). Although it's a nice enough cover, it certainly doesn't jump out at me like some have in the past. I'd never heard of Nicholas Roerich before, so the cover story was pretty fascinating. The ties with the US government and the little bits of history involved are quite eye-opening. You sometimes forget how much history is going on at any given time and how many people are potentially involved in making that history.

The article on conspiracy theories, and why we all believe in conspiracy theories and why we shouldn't be ashamed to believe in conspiracy theories because some of them do, indeed, turn out to be correct, is a rough read. It could have made its point a little more quickly and there's a definite sense that the author may understand he's preaching to the choir by writing in Fortean Times. Still, it's a point that people ought to accept... conspiracies exist, some theories about them are real, and in general we shouldn't be mocking conspiracy theorists... although I'll mock away if the facts aren't there to support their theories, which is the case in far too many of them. The editorial page also goes into the view of conspiracy theories, as does the Random Dictionary.

An interesting poltergeist tale is the final main article of this issue, and I find it even more interesting because I know a little about dairy farming and can only empathize with the poor farmer. From the evidence, it's one of those cases that we may never be able to figure out due to the passage of time and the weird facts.

There is also an interview with writer/director Neil Jordan, who made Interview with a Vampire 20 years ago. There's a good bit on his story preferences and how fairy tales work as archetypal stories.

Strangedays starts with spontaneous human combustion of a very young child... two, actually. This is a case I'd hope science could solve. The fact that it hasn't is very disturbing in either normal or paranormal implications. The Conspirasphere is about signs of the apocalypse, as seen by the return of Annunaki. Um, ok. More Strangedays stories include bits on how much water is in earth's crust, things living inside people that ought not to be there, the sudden rise of djinn in the world, and whether or not Muslims first discovered America, as indicated by Christopher Columbus' journal in which he wrote about mountains: "...and one of them has another little hill on its summit, like a graceful mosque." Um... yeah. Despite the fact that I think a lot of different groups "discovered" America long before Columbus, that particular passage is only proof that people don't get comparisons. There are some Fortean Follow-ups, including the amazing tale of the Christ of Borja, which was clumsily "restored" by an 83-year-old widow... what's amazing is what happened to the economically depressed town after word of her effort got out. In short, she's kind of being considered the savior of the town now for bringing in so many tourists. That's just an awesome story all around.

Science is about the Dunning-Kruger Effect... that the stupider you are, the more likely you are to believe you are smarter than people around you. That's a vast simplification, of course. I, personally, am all too aware of how much I don't know. Does that mean I'm smart? Archaeology is about ancient tattoos (complete with a disturbing photo) and a ceremonial knife used as a doorstop. Classical Corner is about offensive cartoons in the ancient world, usually as described by disgusted ancient historians, but with one reproduction. Ghostwatch continues its look into WWI paranormal experiences with more anecdotes, some really cool. I like the story of the mother who noticed another man when her son came home on unexpected leave. Chills!

Alien Zoo looks back at the record-breaking Janus cat (two-faced cat) who lived to the ripe old age of 15 years despite the odds being totally against him. There's also a bit about glowing larvae discovered by a hiker in a place where the little bugs out not to have been. And the last piece is about the yeti hairs determined to be from polar bears... modern polar bears. In the Himalayas? Hrm. Misplaced animals indeed. So, they aren't yeti, but there's still a mystery to be solved.

Fairies, Folklore and Forteana is about changelings and the very real murders of children that the fear of changlings sometimes led to... in private and sometimes in public with the consent and help of neighbors. Flaying Saucery is back in the UFO files this month with smackdowns on various UFO stories, and the casebook offers a reasonable request for UFOlogists to conduct a study that compares tales of alien worlds from abductees with what we know about exo-planets at the moment. The Random Dictionary, while it digresses into a discussion of conspiracy theory, starts with a study of what it means to be Fortean. The first two pages are a pretty good read for anyone who wants to understand the Fortean viewpoint. Illustrated Police News is about a murder/accidental manslaughter of a fortune teller. Unlike many of those stories from 1899 or so, this one has a resolution. Phenomenomix continues to look at the life of Jung.

The Forum starts with a look into Rendlesham Forest, not for flying saucers but for flying rocks. That fall on hikers. And tend to be blazing hot. There's another article about Rendlesham in the reviews section, about a new movie coming out on the subject. Again, the movie doesn't focus solely on the flying saucer stories, but takes a different approach. I'd be interested in seeing it, but I doubt it'll get to my neck of the woods any time soon. Another Forum article is about transcriptions of Charles Fort's notes, nearly lost when the new owners were ready to box 'em up and toss them. Fortunately, they've been saved and will likely be published in some form, possibly online at the WISE wiki.

The reviews finally get somewhat back to what I expect from this magazine... some good scathing comments on works that probably need a little criticism. Not much that is truly nasty, although the ripping on the Steampunk analysis book seems likely to be spot-on (you can't write really good essays about a subject if you don't explore all of the sources, and it seems much was left out). The review of the Egyptologist book was also a fun read. There's also a couple of books in the "Also Received" section that got slammed. As a writer, I value the negative reviews that remind me how easy it is to make mistakes (and I admit I also have a mean streak that is clearly delighted by the ability of the reviewers to point out obvious mistakes in such a delightfully snarky way).

There's a movie review of "It Follows" which I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to see. I've already heard that it's very creepy from a co-worker, so I'll take this positive review as I sign that it's not for me. The letters are great, though a couple are befuddling. There's one about Doctor Who that just... I just don't know how to react to the letter. Then there's a letter about the comics code and the overall mental state of people in that time. Again, I'm not sure what to think of it. All-in-all, yet another great issue of one of the best magazines currently produced.