Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I just wanted to make a post about Will Hill's awesome YA book DEPARTMENT 19 which I reviewed a few weeks back. Well the book (already out in the UK) is due to drop over on our North American shores in two days time.
So get out there, and grab a copy of this amazing and addictive book.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
If you guys think we need anything here on the site, please don't hesitate to leave us your feedback folks!
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Every now and again a comic comes along and kind of stuns everyone silly. The kind of comic that's art stops you in your tracks and makes you go "Whoa. that is impressive!", and then you read up on what it is about and you think to yourself "Well shit, I HAVE to read that."
Wanna read the synopsis?
Mid-21st century America doesn't have much to offer Dana Stevens, but there's plenty for her to live for inside Warriors of Jarvath, the world's most popular full-immersion online game. In the real world, she's a tamale delivery girl who still lives with her mom, but inside the game she's an elite assassin. When she gets the drop on King Heremoth, a celebrity non-player character, she thinks she's finally got a shot at fame. But when she slays Queen Fendra, the King's reaction is disconcertingly realistic. Something's amiss in Jarvath, and the effects may reverberate well beyond the boundaries of the game.
Well, that's what happened to me (and the buzz is building) with Nate Simpson's series NONPLAYER, the first issue of which comes out on April 6th. From sweeping gorgeously illustrated vistas for the "within game" stuff, to the urban landscapes of the "real world" stuff the art on this dude's book is absolutely breathtaking. Like stop the presses we have a new contender for my top fave artist spot (currently held by Joshua Middleton)...like I could sit and stare at these panels all day. Don't want to take MY word for it?
Okay, how about from one of the heavyweights in the comics world:
Yeah. That's right! What...another one? Okay.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Of the three Marvel projects coming to the screen this summer I'd still give the edge to THOR. But this trailer is still pretty damn tasty, despite what I think about a 90 pound weakling having the resonant bass voice of a larger man.
Anyway, I'm fairly certain you can tell where I'm going to be on July 22. (Just in case you were wondering)
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I think I may have been waiting for this news since I got a BluRay player last year.
LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY: EXTENDED EDITION BluRay set finally has a release date!
JUNE 28th 2011!
For me the Extended Edition is the ultimate version. The theatrical cuts were good, but the Extended Editions are superior in almost every way. This set is for the purist. The people who wants to see Jackson's masterpiece as he really intended. Not to mention in HighDef.
I am super excited and you can actually pre-order for $83! Woot!!
The trailer below is up at the FB site for the set. Check it out!
Monday, March 21, 2011
Author: Patricia Briggs
Page Count: 336 pages
Where I got it: A review copy sent to me from the fine folks at Ace Books (Penguin)
Friday, March 18, 2011
...and I REALLY dig this one!
I've only read up to BACKLASH (will be getting the next few for my Kindle soon), but I assume that is Ben and Vestara on the cover. These covers are nice, not too much, not too little. The tonal values in the colours chosen are just right.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Now let’s dig into something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. That would be classic WHO. Everyone who knows me is aware that my fave Doctor from my youth is definitely the 5th, Peter Davison’s Doctor. Young, crazy and dressed in a cricket outfit with celery accoutrement he was always the one I remembered watching (with the 4th and his Scarf and Jelly Babies second). Well, I’ve been feeling like I’ve not revisited old WHO for a long time. In fact I can’t recall the last time I saw a proper episode (that wasn’t the WHO TV movie that starred the 8th Doctor)…probably 1989 when the last few episodes of the original show aired. So I’ve been thinking a nostalgia return to shaky sets, bad music and costumes…but GREAT stories is due. Therefore I plan to buy one of two DVD’s of these episodes that have been slowly re-released over the last number of years. My first choice will be either of the following (one featuring the Doctor dealing with a maddened Davros and Daleks, and the other his swansong and arguably the greatest episode of classic WHO ever). When I do watch them you can be sure I’ll drop a post about them and what I think on a re-watch all these years later.
And now, find below a couple of those spoilerific pics, which feature…
Cybermats, as apparently the Cybermen are going to be all over the new series and I hope (crosses fingers) that like the Daleks redesign by Moffat & Co., that these will be some form of the oldschool Mondasian Cybermen and not RTD’s Cybus versions. No offense to the new ones but the classic ones are scarier. Anywho, have a look.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Ultimate Spider-man #155
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Chris Samnee
Peter Parker needs a job and J. Jonah Jameson wants to give him one. The only problem is Jameson knows that Peter is actually Spider-man. So begins one of the best Ultimate comics I have ever read.
This, this issue is what the ultimate universe is/was supposed to be all about. Rebooting familiar characters, freeing them from the shackles of continuity and adding depth to characters who are too often dismissed as two dimensional stereotypes.
Long dismissed as a running gag in the Marvel 616 Jameson was reduced to being an over animated punchline, who’s only real value was to provide comic relief whenever Spider-man acted out. But in this issue Bendis has completed the rehabilitation of the character in a poignant way without ever betraying his core beliefs. Although Jameson feels compelled to help because of the heroism he witnessed during Ultimatum and being saved by Peter from the Chameleon twins, he still has lingering doubts from his time as the leader of the anti Spider-man lobby.
What follows is a traditional Bendisesque heavy dialogue piece that instantly managed to portray an unsympathetic character in a completely different light. Suddenly Jameson wasn’t a joke, he was a fully realized character whose motivations and behaviour made a lot of sense. He wasn’t a foil to be laughed at, he was a fully realized person.
I know the great Ultimate experiment seems to slowly coming to an end. Long past its heyday Ultimate Spider-man is the only title to exhibit any real staying power. And its issues like this that demonstrate just why that is. After 155 issues Ultimate Spider-man is far from stale, its a comic book clinic that shows off how the tights and fights genre can transcend its more self destructive aspects and still be entertaining and engaging.
Batman and Robin #21
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Patrick Gleason
Someone is killing the relatives of Arkham Asylum inmates. Dubbed the White Knight this misguided soul is drugging his victims and dressing them up as angels in the misguided hope that in death he can absolve them of their dark familial connections.
Tomasi has absolutely nailed the affectionate, biting humour of this Batman and Robin. Although very much a second tier Bat-book, freed, for now, from the overarching meta-continuity imposed by DC uber-writer Grant Morrison this is Batman (and Robin) done right. The book strips the B&R mythology down to its roots, solving crimes, kicking ass, hanging out with Alfred and friendly verbal sparring. It’s everything you want in a Batman, minus the constant whinging emo-angst of losing ones parents.
Walking Dead #82
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciller: Charlie Adlard
Rick’s band of merry men is in danger of being overrun by a herd of zombies who are pouring through a gap in the compound wall. Fighting a running battle, the group retreats into the deserted houses, powerless to stop the horde.
As much as I love this series, the formulaic nature of its ups and downs is starting to become increasingly unsatisfying. It’s like having the same great meal every day, eventually endless repetition will turn the juiciest steak into sawdust.
The problem is that the central narrative of THE WALKING DEAD has never achieved a stable status quo. Which is good, because a comic book that’s only fighting to maintain the status quo is one that’s apeing the worst qualities of the mainstream superhero set. On the other hand, this series has fallen into a predictable story arc whose tropes are becoming increasingly well worn.
Find shelter. Introduce new characters. Conflict. Zombies. Group splits up. And repeat.
In a world where the writer is trying to create a realistic vision of the zombie apocalypse, WD is increasingly bumping up against the restrictions of its medium. Every time the protagonists achieve some measure of safety Kirkman knocks over the table and starts the whole cycle over again. It’s a problem with any series that’s been around for as long as this one has. It becomes harder to keep things fresh as continuity starts to pile up on you.
Wonder Woman #608
Writer: Phil Hester
Penciller: Geraldo Borges
The Amazonian remnants continue to fight off the bloodthirsty minions of The Morrigan. Diana’s cohorts are slowly being picked off and the Amazon Princess is forced to fight for her life against dark incarnations of her former sisters.
The more I read this the more I like where this is going. This reboot-Diana embodies the best of the Wonder Woman mythology with the added bonus of getting to redefine the essentials of what the character is about. My only complaint is how this storyline comes complete with a magical get out of jail card. Hester is telegraphing a return to ‘normal’ so much that I’m hoping this whole thing is giant red herring and DC will show the cojones to see this reboot go a little longer. After all, if they can play around Batman, the company’s number one money maker, then surely they can take a flyer on Wondie. Are there really a horde of fans clamouring for the old Wonder Woman? Do they just fear change that much or can they only enjoy their superheroines when they’re scantily clad?
(As a completely selfish aside, I wish Hester was drawing this title instead of just writing it. After all, if Finch can write and draw his own Batman title then surely there’s room to let a fantastic artist like Hester have complete control of the book.)
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
Strung out and hopelessly addicted to painkillers, Louis Wu has just been drafted.
Nessus, the infamous puppeteer scout, needs Wu to help him figure out a way to save his planet(s), the Fleet of Worlds. The Fleet is searching for a new place to call home, racing ahead of a supernova explosion from the centre of the galaxy. The only problem is that directly in their path is a race of alien starfish called the Gw’oth, who have a good reason to distrust the Puppeteers.
Nessus is hoping the Gw’oth will let the Fleet pass unmolested, but he knows he can’t rely on their goodwill. Achilles, a murderously insane puppeteer, is fermenting trouble behind the scenes, using the Gw’oth as a convenient scapegoat in a bid to manoeuvre himself into leading the Puppeteer people.
A collision seems eminent as these two cultures get closer and closer to waging an all out war and Louis is powerless to do anything to prevent it.
BETRAYER OF WORLDS (BOW) is the latest entry in the influential Ringworld series. It serves as a direct prequel to RINGWORLD, which was first published in 1970. Although Niven and his works may not be as popular, or as well known, as some of his contemporaries it is important to note that his fingerprints are all over the modern face of science fiction. (You don’t get the uber-popular video game HALO without liberally borrowing a couple pages from Niven.)
Which is why BOW is so disappointing. I don’t think I’ve ever been as let down in the expansion of a fictional universe as I have been with this book. This isn’t meant as a commentary on the quality of the writing here, but rather a criticism of the way the writers have chosen to extricate themselves from some of the larger binding continuity issues.
With the success of the HALO franchise I can empathize with wanting to get new Ringworld books into print. There’s a natural resonance between the two properties and an opportunity for the Ringworld books to make a little bank.
But you can’t do a Ringworld story without Louis Wu and, if possible, a Puppeteer or two to boot. And that’s a problem, because Wu and company have already come to the natural end of the central Ringworld storyline and it would get increasingly complicated to spin that particular tale out any further. A prequel gives the writers a clean(ish) slate to work from and allows them to use characters that would otherwise be off-limits.
But the Gordian knot in this scenario is finding a reasonable explanation for why Wu has no memories of his pre-RINGWORLD adventuring when he’s clearly traversing half the known galaxy playing kingmaker. Niven and Lerner’s solution to this problem is to have Wu willingly erase his memory at the end of BOW. A solution as misguided as it is insulting.
Wiping Wu’s memory removes cause and effect from the novel and essentially turns BETRAYER into authorized fan fiction. And, like almost all fanfic, BOW falls prey to the medium’s many weaknesses. The authors are free to use Wu in any way they see fit, even if that way causes him to act against type, because his action will all be nullified in the end. And, if Wu’s actions don’t matter, if there are no consequences to his decisions, then why use the character at all?
It’s like being stuck in that episode of THE SIMPSONS where the gathered nerd fandom is attempting to pick apart the plotlines to XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS only to be told their efforts are wasted because, “A wizard did it.”
A memory wipe is sloppy and insulting and taints the rest of the series by relying more on fan nostalgia then adding anything significant to the shared history of the world.
In fact, I got the distinct impression the authors were more interested in playing around with the popular characters of the Ringworld universe, and demonstrating the depth and breadth of their knowledge of its inhabitants, then they were in crafting a story that develops and further explore this unique fictional playground.
Niven and Lerner introduce a host of interesting concepts and ideas, such as the hyper development of the Gw’oth or the intricacies of Puppeteer politics, only to chuck the finished product into the blast furnace and tell readers that ‘it didn’t really matter’.
If you just want to read about the Ringworld universe then I don’t think you’ll have too many problems with this book. It’s short, sweet and both writers do a perfectly acceptable job in creating something thats easy to read. If you’re looking for something that honours what came before and expands on its achievements, I'd give this a rethink.
Continuity is a fickle thing. It can be a crutch for the unimaginative or a boon to the inspired. And many good authors have bent themselves into a pretzel trying to tell a story ‘their way’ while remaining true to the original material, the best authors know how to use continuity to add flavour and dimension to their work without treating previous stories as obstacles to be overcome.
BETRAYER OF WORLD is a good idea, poorly executed. Pass.
The Doctor Who Experience opened in London a few weeks back and has been a fairly big draw I hear. If I lived in the UK, I would have already been there opening day. Filled with memorabilia, sets, costumes and fun, not to mention a huge store worth of merchandise and a replication of the inside of the TARDIS you can go into. This can only spell win across the board. I convinced my gf and friends to make a trip to Florida in April of 2010 to go to THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER in Orlando….how much effort could it take to do the same for the UK?
Friday, March 4, 2011
I attempted this a few weeks back when I finished my re-read of the ninth Tale Of The Malazan Book Of The Fallen DUST OF DREAMS, but it got entirely away from me and became a five page rambling mess, which I promptly deleted and wrote up something else instead. Well, since the tenth book is taking it’s time arriving from the UK (What in the five hells is wrong with the Canadian Postal Service when they get a package from amazon.co.uk?!), I’ve decided to try again, and this time I plan to break up the different plot threads in the book into sections as I think it might come across as more organized. Let’s give ‘er a shot. Still, this is less a review as a kind of synopsis/mish-mashed discussion and rumination.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Give these bands/artists a listen. If you, like me, were getting annoyed by the current status of music, perhaps these choices might help you see that there is light on the horizon.