Category Archives: Reviews

And Then I Read: WONDER WOMAN #6

ww6Image © DC Comics.

Diana has brought Steve Trevor back home to his world in an invisible plane (which conveniently crumbles after landing) and Steve’s superiors at the Naval Base in San Diego are trying to figure out who and what she is. The fact that she can’t speak English is a problem, among many. Diana takes their imprisonment and probing with patience and appealing innocence. To communicate with her, an expert, Dr. Minerva, is brought in, but she find’s Diana’s words hard to believe. The unusual event that happens her first night in the Naval lock-up changes things considerably.

I continue to enjoy this “Year One” story more than the alternate one taking place in the present, but both are good reads. An origin of sorts, though not set far in the past, this story has an upbeat feel, and Diana herself is a delight. Great work by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott enhanced by excellent colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr. Nice lettering by Jodi Wynne too.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: THE ALEXANDRITE by Rick Lenz

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The tagline “A Time Travel Noir” suggests the two genres that are combined in this novel, but the science fiction element is minimal. “Time travel” in this case is going back to a specific time through mystical/mental means, much like Richard Matheson’s film script “Somewhere In Time” based on his novel, “Bid Time Return.” There is no time machine per se, though the lead character does make the trip back more than once…sort of. That’s the complicated part.

Jack Cade is an out-of-work actor in 1996 California with a life that’s falling apart and a wife who wants out of their relationship. Someone leaves a very valuable ring with an Alexandrite stone to him anonymously, and that begins Jack’s investigation and strange journey. Before long he’s being hypnotized and sent back in time to Hollywood in the 1950s, specifically into the life and body of Richard Blake, a mineralogist. Blake has a wife, Margaret who drinks too much and seems hostile, and living in their house is her sister Lily, who would today be on the better-functioning end of the autism scale. Jack has stepped into an emotional minefield, and it takes him a while to figure out why and what his true peril is. Meanwhile, Jack has a chance to explore the Hollywood he’s long been fascinated with, and before long he has a chance to meet and even act with Marilyn Monroe, fulfilling his fantasy. That doesn’t go as expected, and soon Richard/Jack’s life is spiraling out of control. An explosive event sends Jack back to 1996 where everything is changed, and mostly for the worse. But Jack has a plan to get back to the past and set things right if he can.

Writer Rick Lenz is a long-time actor who knows the worlds, characters and times he’s writing about. I found this book an excellent read, even if it did confuse me in places when the time-travel starts looping back on itself. Nevertheless, well worth your time and recommended.

And Then I Read: SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL #1

shade1Image © DC Comics.

This new Young Animal imprint title is based on the DC/Vertigo version of SHADE THE CHANGING MAN (as opposed to the original Steve Ditko series) which I lettered, so I was curious to read it. Some basic elements are familiar: the world of Meta where Rac Shade came from, and the “magic” coat he used to reach Earth, now called the Madness Coat. The rest is mostly new except for the overall trippy, psychedelic and paranoic feel of the series and visuals in general. On Earth, a long comatose girl, Megan, has just awakened unexpectedly, and is freaking out everyone in her hospital. Her mind has been taken over by Loma, a birdlike female from Meta, who has used Rac Shade’s forbidden coat to get to Earth and Megan’s brain. Later, when Megan gets home, she throws up the coat.

In flashbacks we learn about the Earth girl Megan, who was popular and rather mean. In the present, everyone is trying to deal with the revived Megan, including her old friends and boyfriend, not to mention her parents. We also see how Loma got the coat through bad behavior herself, and what’s going on back on Meta. Are Loma and Megan a good match or will her two personalities clash? Are all the trippy visuals in her head, or can others see them? What part of the bad karma is going to fall on Megan/Loma first? These are questions that will have me reading further.

Recommended.

Watching DOCTOR STRANGE

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I’ve been looking forward to this one, and I was not disappointed, even though they did NOT use the odd variation of my Doctor Strange logo that appeared with a lot of the publicity images in the actual film, but went instead with the ever boring Trajan font with a gold metallic Photoshop effect. It’s the one on many of the newest movie images. Sigh.

When I first discovered Marvel comics in the early 1960s, I loved the original Doctor Strange stories by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. I was already a fan of magic and fantasy, and this was the biggest use of it in comics at the time. Ditko’s visuals were mind-bending and wonderful in every way. Lee’s dialogue was corny, with some silly made-up magic words and names, but heartfelt all the same.

The movie, in my view, takes the best of the original ideas and builds on them in many ways, with respect, intelligence and even some humor. It puts the characters in a believable present without taking away what I liked about them in the comics. Yes, there are some obvious changes that some have found troubling—The Ancient One, Strange’s teacher being played by Tilda Swinton rather than an Asian actor being the main one I’ve heard about—but I thought she did an excellent job. Benedict Cumberbatch was superb in the title role. All the actors were great. The only role I found predictable and kind of one-note was that of the main villain Kaecilius, a former student of The Ancient One who has rebelled and stolen a spell to bring the Dreaded Dormammu and his dark world to Earth, or rather, Earth to it.

The effects and visual look of this movie are truly mind-boggling. Many had a sort of mad clockwork approach that I first remember seeing in some of the Harry Potter films, but taking that idea to artist M.C. Escher impossibilities and beyond. Even the little things like makeup that mimics very real scars was impressive.

Some of the Marvel films I’ve seen, like the first Avengers one, were too much all-out action and fighting. I thought this was a better balance of story and action, character moments and violence. Many times in the film I had feelings of “yes, that was done right.” Never did I feel bored. You can’t ask for more than that in a film of this type, I think.

Highly recommended.

And Then I Read: THE FLASH #3

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Image © DC Comics.

Writer Joshua Williamson has found an interesting way to change things up for this title. The bolt of lightning that somehow gave Barry Allen his powers is now hitting lots of people in Central City creating dozens of possible speedsters. Thing is, they don’t know how to handle the Speed Force which gives them power, or some of those who figure it out decide to use it for things like robbery. In a book where now almost anyone might have super-speed, Barry still stands out because he’s experienced and knows what he’s doing. Barry decides he likes the idea of teaching speed newbies, and begins working on that at S.T.A.R. labs, but of course complications develop. Good story and nice art by Carmine Di Giandomenico.

Recommended.