And Then I Read: AUTUMNLANDS 5

Autumn5Image © Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey

I love this book. The art and writing are both delicious. The threads are being gathered toward a major confrontation between Learoyd and the bison, with all kinds of sub-plots and surprising turnarounds. The leaders of the broken city are making grabs for power, the fox woman is scheming, Learoyd is making explosives, and over it all the narration by the idealistic dog boy is charming. I find myself looking forward to studying the pulp-magazine painted spreads on pages 2 and 3 each issue. My only problem is, with so many characters, I have a hard time remembering the names. A cast list with small headshots on the inside front cover would be helpful.

Recommended.

And Then I Read LEGENDERRY Trade Paperback

LegenderryTPImage © Dynamite Characters LLC

I had read the first two individuals of this series, and liked it but didn’t love it, so decided to give the first collection a try. I’m glad I did, it reads better this way. On the down side, LEGENDERRY is essentially an excuse to bring together a large number of licensed characters currently in the Dynamite roster, including The Green Hornet and Kato, Red Sonya, Vampirella, Zorro, The Phantom, Flash Gordon, The Six Million Dollar Man, Silver Star and Captain Victory, as well as many of their opponents. This is a very diverse lot from different centuries, story-wise, and writer Bill Willingham’s idea to get them on the same page was to set up a steampunk world and do steampunk versions of all the characters. It works better for some than others; Green Hornet seems a perfect fit, the Jack Kirby characters Silver Star and Captain Victory are perhaps the least at ease in this setting. But there are some fun interactions and lots of swashbuckling adventure, intrigue, villainy, heroics, and pulp magazine flavor that all goes together pretty well. The plot running through these seven issues is complex, and ultimately less interesting than the characters themselves. In all, I think it’s a good read in this format as long as you take it for what it is.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: BACK ISSUE #80

BI80Image © DC Comics and TwoMorrows.

The main attraction for me in this magazine is a lengthy article containing memories and remembrances of many of the New York offices of DC Comics, put together by Robert Greenberger. While there weren’t many surprises for me, as I’ve researched this topic myself, some of the anecdotes were new, and very entertaining. Offices covered range from 575 Lexington (the 1960s) through the most recent offices at 1700 Broadway, and comments/memories/stories come from a wide range of folks beginning with Roy Thomas and including Marv Wolfman, Bob Rozakis, Denny O’Neil, Michael Uslan, Al Milgrom, Jack C. Harris, Barbara Kesel, Mark Waid and many others. The article covers 20 pages, I thought I’d read it in an evening. Silly me! The type is tiny, and closely spaced, and even with photos, it took me several hours and several evenings. If you’re at all interested in DC history, you should have this issue. It makes a great companion to some of my own articles about the DC offices that can be found on my blog HERE.

Great work by everyone involved, especially Bob Greenberger! Highly recommended.

 

And Then I Read: THE KING IN THE WINDOW by Adam Gopnik

KingWindowCover illustration by Thomas Woodruff, jacket design by Christine Kettner.

Oliver Parker is 12, and living in Paris with his American parents, his father is on assignment there for his job. Sounds romantic, but Oliver is in a very tough French school struggling to keep up, and at home he’s babied by his parents, who still treat him like he’s five. All that changes one January night when Oliver is swept into a fantasy kingdom of Window Wraiths, who live in the windows of Paris, and are able to come forth in ghostly form at certain times. The Window Wraiths take Oliver by their secret ways to the palace of Versailles, and they turn out to be the spirits of former inhabitants and guests of that place who are in desperate need of a King to help them in their battle with another similar but evil group, of spirits who live in the mirrors of Paris. Before he realizes what he’s getting into, Oliver agrees to be their King, and is soon in all kinds of danger and trouble. Fortunately he finds some friends to help him: a cantankerous old lady, Mrs. Pearson, his American pal Charlie, and a mysterious but beautiful girl, Neige. Oliver’s adventures soon take him to many parts of Paris, the known and the unknown, as well as the dark world behind the mirrors where an evil overlord is plotting to take over our world and the entire universe.

The writing of the main characters in this book is quite good, especially in the beginning, as we get to know them. Paris itself is portrayed beautifully throughout. The fantasy elements are not handled as well, they don’t seem thoroughly planned. Just when Oliver and his friends seem in a hopeless situation, some new element is introduced to save the day. This gives the feeling that anything can happen, that there are no rules, and that makes it hard to suspend disbelief. When anything can happen, it’s hard to care or believe in the intended suspense of the plot. The villain is one-dimensional and never came to life for me, except near the end when he’s posing as a Silicon Valley genius undertaking a massive experiment in the Eiffel Tower. The plot is a roller-coaster ride where the riders never seem to get a good handle on which direction they’re going until the very end. And the basic idea of the Window Wraiths and Mirror Spirits isn’t portrayed in a logical way that I could accept, it seemed rather a stretch, and kept pulling me out of the story.

I can’t say I’m sorry I read this book, I liked some things about it, but I can only mildly recommend it. I’m sure a young reader would be less critical than I, and there are plenty of imaginative ideas and action-film dramatics. The book is published by Miramax Books, perhaps it was bought for screen-adaptation potential, but that’s just a guess.