07 January 2015

Reading Roundup Wrapup: December 2014

Pick of the month: Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale. I'd read this before, but not as an Absolute Edition, and Tim Sale's artwork is gorgeous at the overlarge scale, of course. But Loeb's writing holds up, too-- this is a tale about the early Batman in the best possible way, about the man who believes he can save the city is he does everything right. And Harvey Dent, and Jim Gordon, and all the rest. This is the eleventh of the "Batman's early years" tales I've read so far, and it is surely among the best.

All books read:
1. Doctor Who, Volume 4: Dead Man’s Hand by Tony Lee
2. Adverbs by Daniel Handler
3. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences by Michel Foucault
4. Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, Volume 1 by Scott & David Tipton
5. Batman: Rules of Engagement by Andy Diggle
6. Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity by Matt Wagner
7. Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale
8. Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, Volume 2 by Scott & David Tipton
9. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
10. Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, Volume 3 by Scott & David Tipton
11. Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Dark Journey by Elaine Cunningham
12. Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream by Aaron Allston
13. The Shape of Things to Come: The Ultimate Revolution by H. G. Wells
14. The New Doctor Who Adventures: Nightshade by Mark Gatiss
15. The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception by Michel Foucault
16. Star Wars Adventures: Boba Fett and the Ship of Fear by Jeremy Barlow

All books acquired:
1. Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Omnibus, Vol. 2 by Jonathan Hickman
2. Star Wars, Volume Four: A Shattered Hope by Brian Wood with Zack Whedon
3. Star Wars Manga: Black edited by Rob Tokar
4. Star Wars Manga: Silver edited by Rob Tokar
5. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
6. Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture: An Oral History by Preston Neal Jones
7. Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Volume 3 by Edmond Hamilton and Jerry Siegel
8. Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Volume 4 by Jerry Siegel, Edmond Hamilton, and Otto Binder
9. The New Doctor Who Adventures: Nightshade by Mark Gatiss
10. Doctor Who: The First Doctor: A Big Hand for the Doctor by Eoin Colfer
11. Doctor Who: The Second Doctor: The Nameless City by Michael Scott
12. Doctor Who: The Third Doctor: The Spear of Destiny by Marcus Sedgwick
13. Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor: The Roots of Evil by Philip Reeve
14. Doctor Who: The Fifth Doctor: Tip of the Tongue by Patrick Ness
15. Doctor Who: The Sixth Doctor: Something Borrowed by Richelle Mead
16. Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor: The Ripple Effect by Malorie Blackman
17. Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor: Spore by Alex Scarrow
18. Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor: The Beast of Babylon by Charlie Higson
19. Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage by Derek Landy
20. Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor: Nothing O’Clock by Neil Gaiman
21. Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Lights Out by Holly Black
22. Complete Short Story Omnibus by H. G. Wells
23. The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
24. Science: A Four Thousand Year History by Patricia Fara
25. Electronic Mediations, Volume 40: Summa Technologiae by Stanisław Lem
26. In The Dust of This Planet [Horror of Philosophy, vol 1] by Eugene Thacker
27. Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
28. Double Dutch by Sharon M. Draper
29. One for the Money by D. B. Borton
30. If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock
31. The Cruel Sea: Collected Comic Strips from the pages of Doctor Who Magazine by Gareth Roberts & Clayton Hickman, Mike Collins, Robert Shearman, Scott Gray, and Steven Moffat
32. Saga, Book One by Brian K. Vaughan
33. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book One: 1985-1987 by Bill Watterson
34. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book Two: 1987-1989 by Bill Watterson
35. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book Three: 1990-1992 by Bill Watterson
36. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book Four: 1992-1995 by Bill Watterson

Too many books!

Books remaining on "To be read" list: 594

14 December 2014

Reading Roundup Wrapup: November 2014

Oh gosh, am I even trying any more?

Pick of the month: Dubliners by James Joyce. This is my second or maybe third time reading this book; anyway, it's still brilliant. "The Dead" is one of the most perceptive recordings of human thought in literature, I reckon. I think the literature 1890s and 1900s contains my ideal mixture of realism and modernism.

All books read:
1. Doctor Who, Volume 2: The Eye of Ashaya by Andy Diggle and Joshua Hale Fialkov with Richard Dinnick
2. Dubliners by James Joyce
3. Doctor Who, Volume 3: Sky Jacks! by Andy Diggle & Eddie Robson with Len Wein
4. Hyperion by Dan Simmons
5. Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis
6. Batman: The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker
7. Justine by Lawrence Durrell
8. Batman: Shaman by Dennis O’Neil
9. Batman: The Ring, the Arrow and the Bat by Dennis O’Neil
10. Batman: Venom by Dennis O’Neil
11. The New Adventures: The Joy Device by Justin Richards
12. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #2: The Siege by Peter David

All books acquired:
1. The Annotated Sandman, Volume Three: The Sandman #40-56 by Neil Gaiman, edited by Leslie S. Klinger
2. Miracleman, Book Two: The Red King Syndrome by The Original Writer with Cat Yronwode
3. Alias Omnibus by Brian Michael Bendis
4. Star Wars, Volume Three: Rebel Girl by Brian Wood
5. Star Wars: Rebel Heist by Matt Kindt
6. Star Wars: Legacy, Volume II, Book 3: Wanted: Ania Solo by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman
7. Star Wars: Legacy, Volume II, Book 4: Empire of One by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman
8. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Books remaining on "To be read" list: 565

09 November 2014

Reading Roundup Wrapup: October 2014

Pick of the month: Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones. I'm not a big Hensonite in the way that some of my generation are; of course, I grew up watching Sesame Street, but I never saw The Muppet Show until I was an adult, just a few of the films. But reading this book gave me a huge appreciation for a man who was obviously quite talented, and now I want to see all those things he did that I never saw, and rewatch the ones that I have seen. I was surprised how emotional I was reading about his memorial service.

All books read:
1. The Professor Challenger Adventures, Volume II: When the World Screamed & Other Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
2. Dark Moon Rising: Batman and the Mad Monk by Matt Wagner
3. Doctor Who II, Volume 4: As Time Goes By by Joshua Hale Fialkov
4. The Brontës Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson
5. Afterimage by Helen Humphreys
6. Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimiliation² by Scott & David Tipton with Tony Lee
7. Batman: Prey by Doug Moench
8. The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
9. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
10. Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones
11. Doctor Who, Volume I: The Hypothetical Gentleman by Andy Diggle and Brandon Seifert

All books acquired:
1. Star Wars: Dark Times, Volume Seven: A Spark Remains by Randy Stradley
2. Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi, Book Three: Force War by John Ostrander & Jan Duursema
3. The Star Wars: Based on the Rough-Draft Screenplay by George Lucas by J. W. Rinzler
4. Wait Wait...I'm Not Done Yet! by Carl Kasell
5. The New Adventures: The Joy Device by Justin Richards

Books remaining on "To be read" list: 559

01 October 2014

Reading Roundup Wrapup: September 2014

Pick of the month: A Passage to India by E. M. Forster. A lot of the books I read this month are quite likable-- Arrowsmith, The Third Man, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.-- but I've read them before. A Passage to India, though, I have not, and I really liked it. A strong depth of character, an interesting examination of a complicated issue. It's my first Forster novel, but I expect it won't be the last.

All books read:
1. Dinosaur Summer by Greg Bear
2. The New Adventures: Return to the Fractured Planet by Dave Stone
3. The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel
4. Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
5. Infinite Crisis by Greg Cox
6. The Third Man by Graham Greene
7. Batman: Year One: Deluxe Edition by Frank Miller
8. Dark Moon Rising: Batman and the Monster Men by Matt Wagner
9. Doctor Who: When Worlds Collide by Tony Lee
10. A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
11. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
12. Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Wild Space by Karen Miller
13. Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Volume 13 by Paul Levitz with Jim Shooter and Gerry Conway
14. Doctor Who, Volume 3: It Came From Outer Space by Tony Lee with Joshua Hale Fialkov, Matthew Dow Smith, and Dan McDaid
15. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

All books acquired:
1. Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Wild Space by Karen Miller
2. Star Wars: Legacy, Volume II, Book I: Prisoner of the Floating World by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman
3. Star Wars: Legacy, Volume II, Book 2: Outcasts of the Broken Ring by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman
4. Star Wars: Ewoks: Shadows of Endor by Zack Giallongo
5. The Professor Challenger Adventures, Volume II: When the World Screamed & Other Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
6. On The Government of the Living: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1979-1980 by Michel Foucault

All books remaining on "To be read" list: 553

If I still have faithful readers, rest assured I will be back on track soon-ish. I still need to do my 2013-14 year-end wrapup!

15 September 2014

Review: In the Days of the Comet by H. G. Wells

Trade paperback, 221 pages
Published 2001 (originally 1906)
Acquired October 2013
Read August 2014
In the Days of the Comet
by H. G. Wells

This H. G. Wells novel is hard to like, though he carries it out with his usual attention to detail. We get a protagonist who doesn't see what's important, our man William who scrabbled along. What makes this work as well as it does is its retrospective tone: the world of today seems very strange when viewed from the future, and Wells emphasizes this with the kind of explanations our narrator has to provide. But then a magic gas makes everyone act perfectly rationally from then on, and a new society free of the problems of the old one is born. (There's sort of a subgenre of apocalypses caused by strange gases at the turn of the century: In the Days of the Comet is preceded by M. P. Shiel's The Purple Cloud, and followed by Arthur Conan Doyle's The Poison Belt. I don't know if there are others.) In terms of providing practical solutions, there's not a lot going on, but I think this book is more about suggesting a way of thinking and seeing that would do all of us some good. Or so Wells thinks; anyone who has read a lot of Wells will be unsurprised to learn that according to the book, free love is the way to go.

12 September 2014

Review: The Ripper by Tony Lee et al.

Comic PDF eBook, 90 pages
Published 2011 (contents: 2011)
Acquired May 2014
Read August 2014
Doctor Who: The Ripper

Written by Tony Lee
Art by Andrew Currie, Richard Piers Rayner, Horacio Domingues, and Tim Hamilton
Colors by Charlie Kirchoff and Phil Elliott
Lettering by Shawn Lee and Neil Uyetake

Rory is added to the mix in this next installment of IDW's Doctor Who comics, which sees the ubiquitous Tony Lee back on writing duties. The first story here, the one issue "Spam Filtered" (art by Andrew Currie) is good fun, as the TARDIS is overrun by banner ads and spam e-mails when Rory links his smartphone into its systems. Lee captures the voices of the main cast perfectly, and the story is the kind of delightful thing that really shows off what Doctor Who can be in the comic book medium.

Less successful is "Ripper's Curse" (art by Richard Piers Rayner, Horacio Domingues, and Tim Hamilton), which just never engages; it's all a bit too rote. I did like the bit where the Doctor and Rory figure out where the Ripper's next victim is by hopping forward and asking a tour guide, but Doctor Who already has too many boring takes on Jack the Ripper, and this is just one more; I've never gotten the fascination.

10 September 2014

Review: Doctor Who: A Fairytale Life by Matt Sturges, Kelly Yates, & Brian Shearer

Comic trade paperback, 103 pages
Published 2013 (contents: 2011)
Acquired November 2013
Read August 2014
Doctor Who: A Fairytale Life

Written by Matt Struges
Pencils by Kelly Yates & Brian Shearer
Inks by Brian Shearer, Steve Bird, & Rick Ketcham
Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters by Shawn Lee & Neil Uyetake

This is kind of a neat idea-- the Doctor taking Amy to a fairytale world-- but it doesn't do enough with it to justify the four issues the story takes to tell. Despite the title, there's not much of Grimm-esque fairytale tropes in use here; rather, the story uses some very generic fantasy trappings, feeling more like we're looking at fairytales via Tolkien via Saturday morning cartoons. So the crashing of Doctor Who into fairytale tropes is maybe not as exciting as it could be. Still, Sturges really captures the voice of the eleventh Doctor in particular, and Amy, and the art by Yates and Shearer is clean and economic-- I hope they turn up on the main IDW title at some point.

08 September 2014

Review: Doctor Who: Final Sacrifice by Tony Lee, Matthew Dow Smith, et al.

Comic PDF eBook, 138 pages
Published 2011 (contents: 2010)
Acquired May 2014
Read July 2014
Doctor Who, Volume 3: Final Sacrifice

Story by Tony Lee, Jonathan L. Davis, Matthew Dow Smith, and Al Davison
Art by Matthew Dow Smith, Kelly Yates, and Al Davison
Colors by Charlie Kirchoff, Phil Elliott, and Al Davison
Lettering by Robbie Robbins & Neil Uyetake

I guess if you cared about Lee's original companions, you'd care about this book, but I don't and I don't. The situation here is contrived by a seemingly-omnipotent and poorly-motivated enemy, solely to teach the Doctor some kind of lesson that I don't really understand the purpose of. The end piles on crazy revelation after crazy revelation. Plus Torchwood is in this, which I guess is good for you if you like "The Time Machination" (I didn't) or if you thought what this story needed were a group of pointless characters to stand around.

There are some short stories in the back, which are decent: some are better in concept than execution, but I like the art in all three (and in the main story, too, actually; Matthew Dow Smith is great at capturing likeness but keeping it stylized). There's a lovely moment where the tenth Doctor dreams of the eleventh.

05 September 2014

Review: The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

Trade paperback, 129 pages
Published 2001 (originally 1890)
Acquired July 2014
Read August 2014
The Sign of Four
by Arthur Conan Doyle

Though it has its inescapably Sherlockian moments (the Baker Street Irregulars, Holmes's various disguises, and so on), this is definitely duller than most of the short stories I've read, nor is it even as strong as A Study in Scarlet. Doyle will go on to perfect the formula, but he's not quite there yet, and the "romance" feels completely tacked on. I hate those chapters which are just characters explaining backstory to each other.

03 September 2014

Review: Zenith Lives!: Tales of M.Zenith, the Albino edited by Stuart Douglas

Trade paperback, 161 pages
Published 2012

Acquired May 2012
Read August 2014
The Obverse Quarterly, Book Four: Zenith Lives!: Tales of M.Zenith, the Albino
edited by Stuart Douglas

The last volume of the first year of Obverse Quarterly gives us a selection of stories about Monsieur Zenith, a supervillain who is apparently the archnemesis of Sexton Blake, a detective character I'd never heard of before, but was apparently continuously published from 1893 to 1978. Unfortunately, whatever appeal exists in the character of Monsieur Zenith is not really brought out by this collection, which mostly seems to depend on one's preexisting interest, I think.

"The Blood of Our Land" by Mark Hodder is the best of these, showing Zenith executing a heist that gets very complicated, very quickly-- though there are time it's a little rough, it displays why one might be interested in Zenith and his exploits. Michael Moorcock's "Curaré" is all right, but it's not really a Zenith story and more a story in which Zenith happens to appear; the focus is on the improbably named Seaton Begg and his delightful associate Yvette.

Weirdly, there are two stories that most serve to introduce a new nemesis for Zenith, George Mann's "The Albino's Shadow" and Stuart Douglas's "Zenith's End!" both end with Zenith getting a new lease on life by having a new good guy to fight. This makes neither particularly interesting as standalone pieces, especially as Mann's is a very weak story: basically Zenith threatens the Prime Minister, the protagonist asks people about him, the protagonist follows Zenith's henchman, Zenith decides that such skills will make him a delightful opponent. Skills? What skills?

There's also Paul Magrs's "All the Many Rooms," which again is not a Zenith story, but just a story Zenith is in, but even worse, is a complete jumble and total nonsense.