Category Archives: Reviews

And Then I Read: SURVIVORS’ CLUB #5

SurvivorsClub5FCCover illustration by Bill Sienkievicz.

This issue kicks things back to the larger story of a 1980s video game that has twisted the lives of a group of young people who played it back when, and is returning to mess with them again. Some have gone off the deep end, others are already strange enough in their own ways to apparently hold their own. The pair of sisters who are somehow more than human are creepy and fascinating as they interrogate one of the less lucky folks. Another escapes from a mental hospital to wreak havoc in a hospital. Meanwhile, two men in Portland who seem to have resurrected the hellish game are making their own plans, and somebody has a really nasty neck bite with something hidden in it. I don’t quite know what to make of this book, but it has me in its grip, even though I have no interest in video games. The characters, the writing and the art are all good reasons!

Recommended.

And Then I Read: THE LAST COMPANION Chapter One

LastCompanionImage © William Neal McPheeters.

Two friends and partners have traveled from the far future to a time that’s still well in the future for us, a time of war between robots and men. They’re on a mission to retrieve an item containing important knowledge. The setting is in the canyons of the American southwest. Ted, the man in the green shirt above, and Robear, the gun-toting intelligent bear, soon find themselves involved with a group of Native Americans who are the target of both robots and other humans. A red raven leads Ted and Robear to the woman named Raven and her friends, and the pair from the future agree to help them to a safe haven. Along the way, Ted and Raven become more than friends, and all face many dangers in the perilous war-torn canyon country.

My friend Neal McPheeters gave me an advance copy of his 64-page graphic novel to read, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I think you will, too. It combines elements of science fiction, western, action/adventure and other genres, but the characters and dialogue are what make it fun to read. It’s not yet published. In fact, it’s being Kickstarted. You can get in on the adventure HERE. Neal and I have known each other and occasionally worked together since the 1980s, and his latest project is one close to his heart, and well worth your support. And, hey, there’s a smart-ass talking bear with a gun!

And Then I Read: TUNNELS by Gordon & Williams

TunnelsCover illustration © David Wyatt.

The Burrows family (get it?) has a father and son who share a similar obsession: digging holes and tunnels. Dr. Burrows is the curator of a small museum, and always looking for artifacts and lost bits of history, while his fourteen-year-old son Will simply enjoys the process of digging into the earth. Will’s mother seems to be addicted to watching television and does little else, and his sister Rebecca, the most practical member of the family, is stuck with the cooking, cleaning and scheduling, which she’s not happy about. Will and his father make a dig into some remarkable ruins, but their progress seems to be constantly thwarted by someone or some group that keeps filling up their tunnels. Meanwhile, Dr. Burrows is on the trail of mysterious characters lurking in their neighborhood who might be connected to their findings.

One morning the family awakes to find that Dr. Burrows has disappeared from his own basement study. Will and his friend Chester begin to investigate, and Will is determined to find out what happened. They discover a hidden tunnel entrance in the room, but it’s again filled in. Undaunted, Will and Chester re-dig the tunnel until it opens out into an underground world they can barely believe. That’s only the beginning of their troubles. Soon, they’re caught and imprisoned in a secret underground city that has been cut off from the surface world for many decades. Most curious of all, some of the citizens there declare that Will is their long-lost relative!

I enjoyed this book in general, but there were two areas that I had problems with. First, the scope of the underground world beneath modern London is so vast and complex it strained belief. Fortunately the characters and story line otherwise were engaging enough to overcome that for me. It’s a long thrill ride through inventive creations and underground perils of all kinds, and in that way, a good read. The other problem is there’s no satisfying resolution at the end of the 472 pages, just unresolved problems that are “to be continued” in the next book. That’s okay for a 22 page comic, but I expect more from a novel, especially one this long. Because of that, I can only mildly recommend the book, but if it sounds appealing to you, and you’re willing to sign on for the entire series, go for it.

And Then I Read: JACKED #5

Jacked5Image © DC Comics.

Josh, the middle-aged man who tried to solve his problems with the wonder-pill called “Jacked” keeps getting in deeper with every issue. Now he’s hallucinating about being a super-hero. It’s true he does have drug-enhanced strength and resilience, but he hardly knows who he’s really up against, can’t tell the real attackers from the fantasy ones. Only his “sidekick,” the dangerous girl-next-door, knows what’s really going on, and who they have to kill to survive. Meanwhile, Josh is longing for his family, who are with his wife’s sister. Too bad he’s not the only person who knows that…

I enjoyed this issue more than the last one. The fantasy element makes it more entertaining and less depressing, though it’s hard to see how Josh’s life can turn around from the hole he’s dug himself.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: UNFOLLOW #6


Unfollow6FC

This issue of UNFOLLOW focuses on one character, the man who calls himself Deacon of the Lord. He’s currently wounded and in a hospital bed on the island of Ferrell, the billionaire whose fortune he and 137 others are due to inherit…or however many of them survive. There were 140 to start with.

Deacon is remembering earlier times when the Lord first spoke to him, and told him to take vengeance on some bikers who were mistreating a couple of teenagers they’d kidnapped. That didn’t go so well for him. Here on the island, he’s accosted by the masked man who has already shown he’s very violent, too. Deacon is in no position to protect himself. The doctor who helped Deacon is still here, though most of the 138 have left. Now he decides to flee by plane with Deacon. The masked man may have other ideas.

This storyline has turned more violent more quickly than I expected, but is still gripping and well written by Rob Williams and well illustrated by R. M. Guéra. The insight into Deacon is unexpected but fascinating.

Recommended.