And Then I Read: THE FLASH 29

flash29cover

Image © DC Comics, Inc.

There are stories of possession and obsession going on in this comic. A vengeful spirit is possessing innocent people, obsessed with destroying the bloodline of a founding family of Key City that led to his own death, and Barry Allen is obsessed with finding the true murderer of his own mother, sure that his father, in jail for the crime, is not guilty. Meanwhile, Deadman is trying to help him, if he can just keep up, possessing people along the way to gain information. I find the cover deceptive, as Allen’s mother is long dead already, but otherwise this is a good issue with fine writing by Brian Buccellato and excellent art by Agustin Padilla.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: AQUAMAN 29

Aquaman29

Image © DC Comics, Inc.

There are lots of clues as to who the big guy is on the cover. The story title might also help, “Olympian.” I guess I wasn’t really trying too hard, I didn’t figure it out until the last page.

Arthur Curry has lost his trident, and the person who has it is going to use it to unlock a long-barred gateway and unleash horrible creatures. They are pretty horrible, actually, good job there on the art and writing. While Aquaman tries to sort that out, Mera is attempting to deal with politics in Atlantis, and meeting lots of resentment. Most of the issue focuses on Aquaman fighting monsters, though, not a bad place to focus. Nice job by everyone involved.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: GREEN LANTERN 29

GL29

Image © DC Comics, Inc.

While these are desperate times for the Green Lantern Corps, this issue does not feel panicked. Instead we get a breather from some of the impending action for some calmer stories. Hal Jordan visits Earth, then back on Mogo forms a privy council of fellow Corps members, having finally realized he needs help leading the group. Walker debates with Mogo, a secret stash is found,  and finally action is accomplished in an unexpected attack by Hal and company on an enemy world. Nicely written by Robert Venditti. The art is by two pencillers, Billy Tan and Martin Coccolo. Tan’s work looks good, the other not so much, with some rather ugly faces and poses. One has to begin somewhere, I suppose. Overall, not a bad issue.

Recommended.

Rereading: THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

AdvSherlockHolmes

I’m rereading all the Holmes stories on my phone when I have the odd moment, and have completed the four novels and now this first short story collection. Having read them more than 25 years ago, there are many stories that I remember only parts of and some I don’t recall at all, which makes for fun reading.

The collection begins with “A Scandal in Bohemia,” where Holmes’ opponent is Irene Adler, the one woman who seems as clever as the master detective himself. Holmes expresses much admiration for Adler, but there is no romantic interest suggested at all, despite that being an often-used plot idea for Holmes on the screen. We do see Holmes being a good sport about being bested, which tells us of his character.

“The Adventure of the Red-headed League” is a story of an elaborate swindle that is well told. One I remembered pretty well.

“A Case of Identity” uses an idea often used since, and the mystery is not hard to guess.

“The Boscombe Valley Mystery” shares some elements with two of the Holmes novels, and is notable for allowing the criminal to go unreported by Holmes and Watson, for reasons the story explains.

“The Five Orange Pips” uses as a source of villainy an organization that must have been strange and exotic, and mostly unknown at the time in England: the Ku Klux Klan. Today they are widely known, so some of the mystery is removed, but it’s still a good story.

“The Man with the Twisted Lip” is the kind of turnabout that Doyle did so well. Clearly he saw role-playing as a useful story device. Can’t say much more without spoiling it, but it’s clever indeed.

“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” is entertaining but full of odd coincidences without which the plot would not work. Far fetched ones.

“The Adventure of the Speckled Band” is one I remembered pretty well, though the build-up to the near-fatal encounter with the murderous device is very well done.

“The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb” is another far-fetched criminal scheme with an innocent drawn into it. I didn’t remember it at all, so enjoyed reading this one a lot.

“The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor” is, like “A Case of Identity” a social mystery that seems very Victorian and old-fashioned today, and is not too hard to guess.

“The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet” is a complex mystery that I enjoyed reading. Holmes is really on his game. One of several stories in this collection where the criminal is not caught.

“The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” has been well filmed, but I still found lots in the story I didn’t remember. This one is full of action, suspense and mystery, almost a mini-novel.

Of course this and all the Holmes stories are highly recommended.

Asbury Park Comic Con with Friends

WilliamsBeach

Images © Todd Klein.

About a year ago Asbury Park Comic Con organizer Cliff Galbraith invited me to be a guest at this year’s con, which I was happy to agree to, as I’d attended the 2013 con and enjoyed it. Cliff asked if there were any other pros I might want to invite. I suggested John Workman and Dave Hunt, who had also attended in 2013, and then I thought of J.H. Williams III and his wife Wendy. Jim, Wendy and I have been friends and workmates since the late 1990s. I talk often to Jim on the phone, but we’ve only met in person at the San Diego Comicon, where we enjoyed each other’s company. I floated the idea to Jim and Wendy that they might consider coming to the Asbury Park con and visit Ellen and I on the same trip, thinking they probably wouldn’t have time, but to my surprise they agreed.  Last Tuesday evening I picked them up at the Philadelphia airport, and we spent several days together at our house, and doing short trips, like one to the beach in Sea Isle City, where Wendy collected some shells. Continue reading