Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Sunday Review

This week's movie was How to Train Your Dragon 2. I loved the first film, enough to get the DVD. I found this one to be fairly good except for major stumbling on the plot. The characters are great, the animation is wonderful, but the plot definitely needed some serious work. I never got a sense of how bad the bad guy was... menacing, but he just didn't scare me. The other new main character was also great, but needed a little more action in the second half of the movie. There is also what should have been a serious and painful reconciliation that never actually happened (a single dance does not a reconciliation make). Overall, not as perfect as the first movie, but surprisingly managed to meet expectations despite that.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • May 21st
  • Forever Evil #7 - It wasn't really worth the wait, was it? I mean, it was good, but it would have been better if it had actually shipped on time and we didn't already have books showing the aftermath.
  • Justice League #30 - Lex is way too smart to end up in the League, and yet here he is. I like "Shazam's" reactions to everything.
  • Justice League of America #14 - So this is why there's a Justice League in Canada, eh? Again, it would have been nice if this had been on time. The whole Justice League United would have made a little more sense.
  • Trinity of Sin: Pandora #11 - I'm getting rather tired of this book. Good thing it's ending soon.
  • Sinestro #2 - At least Soranik is ok. Sort of.
  • Green Lantern: New Guardians #31 - A whole bunch of Kyle thinking and doing stupid stuff. Ok.
  • Batman Beyond Universe #10 - Lots of revelations in this one. Lord Batman's suit looks fairly cool. And now we know where Zod comes from, I guess.
  • Batman '66 #11 - The introduction of Harley Quinn to the Batman '66 universe? And nicely done, as well.
  • Scribblenauts Unmasked #5 - This one is great just for the sight of Aquaman and several other heroes in the back seat of the space cab. This series is trying to hit every bit of the DC Universe.
  • Powers: Bureau #10 - So Walker and Pilgrim get questioned, and things happen, and this series only has a handful of issues to go, I think, before it stops officially and I drop it for good.
  • Grimm Fairy Tales: Warlord of Oz #1 - The lion travels to the Emerald City to consult with the Scarecrow about his missing people while Dorothy is having nightmares back in Kansas. Impressive enough start, I guess. I'm curious to see where this is going.
  • FCBD
  • FCBD: Top Shelf Kids Club - I'm not sure what to think of Maddy Kettle, but I really enjoyed the taste of Monster on the Hill. The ending surprised me quite a bit.
  • FCBD: Walt Disney Scrooge and Donald Duck - A couple of good duck stories, reminds me of being a kid and reading comics in the attic of a friend's house once. Anyway, I'd love to read more, these were generally clever and interesting.
  • FCBD: Guardians of the Galaxy - I know just enough about Marvel to be a little concerned by that new team member. As for the rest, that alternate Spider-Man was fun.
  • FCBD: Rocket Raccoon - Um. Ok. The silly side of Marvel, I guess. Not my thing, but I don't begrudge anyone who enjoys it.
  • FCBD: Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man Flipbook - Lots of origin stories in this one. I like these... not quite enough to buy them, but I like them.
  • FCBD: Entropy - Three fairly freaky stories, the last one very intense. I may end up taking a second look at this company.
  • FCBD: The Adventures of Jellaby - Cute and fun. The first story had a mood set by the coloring. I wasn't expecting that level of oddness from it. I wasn't entirely sure if it was horror or something else. Nicely done.
  • FCBD: The Smurfs - The notes at the bottom of each page of the Smurfs story were very interesting. I found Annoying Orange to be boring, and the other two were ok but nothing special.
  • FCBD: Courtney Crumrin - I think I want to read more of this book, based on what I read here. This was interesting, and not at all sanitized for children, although it wouldn't be completely obvious what was happening for a child reader. Kind of chilling, actually.

My mystery book this week was The Alpine Traitor by Mary Daheim. Tom's children want to buy the newspaper, but Emma is unwilling and horrified by their actions. This one was a mess, frankly. I never quite worked out who the players in the Cavanaugh gang all were. There were shocking moments, yes, but it was terribly confusing overall. This is one that actually might benefit from a reread, just to get all the facts straight. On the other hand, it was very good to see Emma coming to grips with her own motherhood and how she feels about her lover's children. So the soap opera aspects aren't bad, but the mystery is a little difficult. If you want to start the Alpine series, I strongly recommend starting at the first book, The Alpine Advocate.

Fortean Times #314
Fortean Times #314 (June 2014). I almost groaned when I saw this cover with Phoenix Jones, well-known real-life superhero of Seattle, front and center. He's been in the news quite a bit, and although his original intentions were certainly good, he sometimes seems like a publicity hound and not a person looking to help. That said, the cover article was nicely balanced and explored the motivations for becoming a superhero rather than either just poking fun at them or applauding them. I found it fascinating to see the extent of the movement, as well. I'd heard that it had spread, but I didn't realize just how widespread it really is.

There is an extensive obituary for Steve Moore, who clearly had a strong impact on the Fortean scene as well as the comic book world. Moore's final article for the Fortean Times is printed, covering an incident involving witch-finders in the Han Dynasty of China and the reign of terror they caused. There's a sidebar about the methods used to murder people with magic in China.

Another article covers the rapid rate of canonisation in the Catholic church. The Random Dictionary is about little people in all their mythical forms. The First Forteans continues its retrospective of Eric Frank Russell.

Strangedays has the usual mix, including a fish hitting a plane, fairy photographs, see-through shrimp, cats who dial the police, and hidden talents revealed by bumps to the head. Other bits include a piece on a comic book exhibition and some Fortean Follow-ups. Science talks about continuing efforts to make cold fusion work. Archaeology has pieces on Petra, ancient cheese and an ancient magic wand. Classical Corner is... um... er... it's about people having sex who get stuck together, and there's another article in Strangedays on the same subject.

Right... let's move on to Ghostwatch, which continues a look into weather-related hauntings, or more precisely, a look at psychic attempts to control weather. Not as interesting as I hoped it would be. Alien Zoo spots a black flamingo and a white marlin, along with mystery cats of Peru. Simulacra Corner has stone faces. The Illustrated Police News has a bit on an animal hoarder living in Thomas Carlyle's house. Phenomenomix is about P.L. Travers.

The Forum has an article about being able to light up an unconnected light bulb on a particular bridge in Nebraska. Another article asks about human sacrifice and bridges. Yikes. There is also a piece on the Southwark Gateway Needle, which is a stone spike sculpture at the southern end of London Bridge, and what it means.

Reviews are solid, though I don't care how high a rating a book on taxidermy gets, I'm still not interested. I'd like the two books that scored nines... The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton and Silbury Hill... but I think one of those is far more likely to end up in my to-read pile than the other. A book about Doctor Who (New Dimensions of Doctor Who edited by Matt Hills) got a really low score of only one, which is pretty rare to see.

Letters were good as well, and continuing with the comic book theme, there's notice that The Punisher sometimes uses "Charles Fort" as an alias. I love the corrective nature of the letter columns. People write in about subjects they know, and tend to clarify articles from previous issues. It makes for very good reading some times, and soap opera-y reading at other times as letter column wars (generally short and well-written, if not good-natured) sometimes spring up. And lastly, actor Paul Giamatti gives his "it happened to me" story of visiting a haunted house. Another issue worth reading.