Category Archives: Reviews

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.

And Then I Read: JUSTICE LEAGUE 41

JL41Image © DC Comics.

As a rule I don’t like big crossover/war stories, but I have to admit I’m enjoying this one so far. I was pretty bored with the New Gods in a recent GREEN LANTERN crossover event. This one breathes life into the characters in a way I haven’t seen before. Geoff Johns really does it for me, no question. For instance, Darkseid confronting Mister Miracle sounds like it’s bound to be covering the same old ground that Kirby started with 40 years ago, but not so. This feels fresh, like the characters have woken up from a long sleep. There’s plenty of other action and intrigue this issue, some of it I don’t quite understand yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing more. The art by Jason Fabok is spectacular. I don’t see how he can keep this level of detail and excellence up without help, but he’s done it on this issue at least. Oh, and the Justice League themselves? Many great moments for them, too.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: ASTRO CITY 23

AC23Image © Juke Box Productions

In the 1950s and 60s, then DC Comics chief Irwin Donenfeld used to track all kinds of cover elements to see how they affected comics sales, and it was discovered that whenever a gorilla appeared on a cover, it sold more. For a while there were gorillas on lots of DC covers. I was never that interested in gorilla covers per se, but this one sure works for me!

And what a great character he is: Sticks, a drum-playing sentient, speaking gorilla has come to Astro City not, as one might think, to become a super-hero, but to find and join a band. Trouble is, in Astro City, one is likely to get sidetracked by super-heroes no matter what your intentions are…

Great writing and art, as usual, highly fun and recommended.

And Then I Read: GREEN LANTERN 41

GL41Image © DC Comics.

How to give this title a fresh approach? Writer Robert Venditti’s idea is to make Hal Jordan a free-ranging renegade, no longer with a power ring but instead a power gauntlet that is cruder but pretty effective. Have him out there on his own solving small problems rather than all-universe ones, and acting a bit like a less-mercenary Han Solo. So far it works pretty well for me. The art by Billy Tan and Mark Irwin looks good, and gives Hal a long-haired look that works for me, too.

Recommended.