Cover art by Michael Mariano and Rick Turner
These might be the last fantasy books by Jane Louise Curry I hadn’t read, and I’m a little sad about that, I’ve enjoyed many of her books. While separate stories, they’re closely connected and best read together.
The viewpoint characters are small men and women of the Tiddi people, a wandering group who cover a regular yearly circuit through part of the land of Astarlind. Several young Tiddi get swept up in unexpected serious trouble with Men, wolves, ice giants, magicians, and a large cast of people and (sometimes) talking animals. Magic stones from ancient times have surfaced, and an hidden evil presence is seeking them, sending his goblins and other dire creatures to find them. Runner, Fith and Cat, the young Tiddi, become part of a mission to destroy an evil outpost in a northern ice-bound land in the first book, and another mission to uncover the hidden evil and missing magic stones in the second.
These books are highly derivative of Tolkien, which is good in some ways, bad in others. For one thing there’s a deep back story giving events resonance, but Curry does not explain it as well as Tolkien, probably because there isn’t room. Second, some characters keep reminding the reader of Tolkien’s: the Tiddi of Hobbits, Lek the conjuror of Gandalf, and so on, but they aren’t as memorable or well-rounded in my opinion. Yet, there is an epic feel to the books that I liked, and lots of imaginative ideas.
Both books are full of exciting adventures and good characters who traverse an interesting and diverse land, and I did enjoy reading them, but I wouldn’t put them among Curry’s best work. Still, recommended.
Image © Robert A. Heinlein
Three things that make the writing of Robert A. Heinlein tops in my book are the ideas, the author’s voice (narration) and the dialogue. This adaptation tries hard to make a comic out of the novel, but it feels incomplete because the author’s voice is largely missing. The ideas are there, at least some of them, same for the dialogue, but the few captions can’t begin to represent what reading Heinlein is like, and there the effort falls short. As it is, we have lots of talking heads, and not much action, though the story itself is quite interesting. A slave boy on a distant planet is gradually finding out he’s much more than that through a series of revelations. We follow his rise through a clan of space-faring traders, then his entrance into the Hegemonic Guard, a sort of space Navy, and his realization he needs to follow his own story to Earth. I enjoyed touching base with the characters, the pencil art by pro Steve Erwin is fine, though the digital “inks” are rough in spots. It’s an honest attempt, and worth a look if you’re a Heinlein fan, but not nearly as satisfying as the novel.
Image © 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.
Image © 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.
Image © 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.