And Then I Read: LITTLE NEMO, RETURN TO SLUMBERLAND 2

NemoReturn2Image © Eric Shanower, Gabriel Rodriguez & IDW.

This issue the new Nemo finally gets to spend a lot of time in Slumberland at the court of King Morpheus, where’s he prepped as the new playmate for the King’s daughter, a role Nemo is not too happy about. Writer Eric Shanower has fun with the bureaucracy and silly customs of the court in this amusing sequence. Then Nemo and the princess tour the royal gardens and Flip, the irreverent rascal shows up and does his best to interfere, but Nemo, whose real first name is Jimmy, seems to like Flip better than the Princess, leading to more trouble for Slumberland. The art on this book is fantastic, full of wonderful architecture and amazing animals, people and plants, not to mention tons of delicate detail. Artist Gabriel Rodriguez does original Nemo creator Winsor McCay proud. The story is light and somewhat fluffy, but so were the stories in the original strip, so I suppose that’s fair enough. Since this comic offers a longer narrative format than a Sunday comic strip, a more involving story could make it even better, but it’s a fine read and a visual treat.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: JUSTICE LEAGUE 36

JL36Image © DC Comics, Inc.

With Ebola in the news last year, a storyline about a super-virus seems inevitable, but Geoff Johns adds a nice twist by tying it into DC history. It’s the “Amazo” virus, after the early silver age villain who could absorb the powers of any super-hero. In the case of the virus, it not only infects, it gives some kind of unpredictable super-power to the victims, which makes them much harder to deal with, as you can imagine. Half the League is down with the virus, leaving Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman to deal with it, and they need to find the original victim, “Patient Zero” to get moving on that. Lex Luthor is being as helpful as he can, which is only fair, since the virus came from his own labs during a break-in. Fine character writing from Johns and equally fine art by Jason Fabok.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: THE LAND OF MIST by A. Conan Doyle

LandofMistThis is the third Professor Challenger novel, written in 1926, thirteen and fourteen years after “The Lost World” and “The Poison Belt.” In fact, the Professor only plays a small part in it, though reporter Edward Malone once again narrates, and is sometimes accompanied by Challenger’s daughter, Enid. The two are romantically involved. Lord John Roxton also appears. The book is about spiritualism, a strong interest of the author in his later life, and seems to at times be a description of how Doyle was drawn into that interest with near-actual experiences (as described in the end notes), at times something of a tract with lectures to the reader, at times a novel with moments of melodrama and action. How much you might enjoy the book probably depends on how interesting you find the subject. I read a fair amount on it in my early twenties, so I found it worth reading, even if Doyle tends to stack the deck by making the mediums and spiritualists very sympathetic, and those opposed to them nasty and cruel. Probably the most exciting episode is the exploration of a house haunted by a very malevolent presence, which would do any horror writer proud. Challenger himself is on the side of the skeptics, and rejects everything Malone and Enid tell him until the end of the book when he finally agrees to attend a seance that has very surprising results.

In all, I enjoyed the book, though some of the lectures were a slog, and it’s not close to “The Lost World” in quality, though I think it better than “The Poison Belt.” I have two more Challenger short stories to read, written after this, to finish up. By the way, I found this book and the short stories as a free download on Amazon.

Mildly recommended.

And Then I Read: SUPERMAN 36

Superman36Image © DC Comics, Inc.

This book is really working for me by cutting down on complications and clutter and telling a dramatic (okay melodramatic, but this is comics) story about people, two of whom happen to be super. In addition to the title character, there’s Ulysses, with powers equal to Superman, who as a child was sent to another dimension by his scientist parents, is now back on Earth, and is offering to help his natal planet by taking six million Earth residents with him to a better place. There’s lots of giant alien ships right out of “Close Encounters” crossed with “Jack Kirby,” and all the moral dilemmas of people trying to decide if they should go. There’s confrontation with the alien pilots of the craft, and there’s a much bigger conflict between Superman and Ulysses when the former begins to suspect something else is really going on behind the seemingly benevolent Earth Exodus. The art is atmospheric, linear, moody, electrifying, and despite all the lines, much simpler than a lot of overly detailed comics art today. I love it. Love the writing, too. This comic rocks.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: AQUAMAN 36

Aquaman36Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Aquaman is exploring the history of Atlantis, delving into forgotten places and unearthing forbidden lore. He’s getting help from the Martian Manhunter, perhaps a little too much help, as J’onn gets taken over by powerful spirits from the past, and of course battles ensue. I am enjoying this storyline, though, nicely written by Jeff Parker, fine art by Pelletier and Parsons.

Recommended.