Rereading: THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

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I’m rereading all the Holmes stories on my phone when I have the odd moment, and have completed the four novels and now this first short story collection. Having read them more than 25 years ago, there are many stories that I remember only parts of and some I don’t recall at all, which makes for fun reading.

The collection begins with “A Scandal in Bohemia,” where Holmes’ opponent is Irene Adler, the one woman who seems as clever as the master detective himself. Holmes expresses much admiration for Adler, but there is no romantic interest suggested at all, despite that being an often-used plot idea for Holmes on the screen. We do see Holmes being a good sport about being bested, which tells us of his character.

“The Adventure of the Red-headed League” is a story of an elaborate swindle that is well told. One I remembered pretty well.

“A Case of Identity” uses an idea often used since, and the mystery is not hard to guess.

“The Boscombe Valley Mystery” shares some elements with two of the Holmes novels, and is notable for allowing the criminal to go unreported by Holmes and Watson, for reasons the story explains.

“The Five Orange Pips” uses as a source of villainy an organization that must have been strange and exotic, and mostly unknown at the time in England: the Ku Klux Klan. Today they are widely known, so some of the mystery is removed, but it’s still a good story.

“The Man with the Twisted Lip” is the kind of turnabout that Doyle did so well. Clearly he saw role-playing as a useful story device. Can’t say much more without spoiling it, but it’s clever indeed.

“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” is entertaining but full of odd coincidences without which the plot would not work. Far fetched ones.

“The Adventure of the Speckled Band” is one I remembered pretty well, though the build-up to the near-fatal encounter with the murderous device is very well done.

“The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb” is another far-fetched criminal scheme with an innocent drawn into it. I didn’t remember it at all, so enjoyed reading this one a lot.

“The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor” is, like “A Case of Identity” a social mystery that seems very Victorian and old-fashioned today, and is not too hard to guess.

“The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet” is a complex mystery that I enjoyed reading. Holmes is really on his game. One of several stories in this collection where the criminal is not caught.

“The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” has been well filmed, but I still found lots in the story I didn’t remember. This one is full of action, suspense and mystery, almost a mini-novel.

Of course this and all the Holmes stories are highly recommended.

Asbury Park Comic Con with Friends

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Images © Todd Klein.

About a year ago Asbury Park Comic Con organizer Cliff Galbraith invited me to be a guest at this year’s con, which I was happy to agree to, as I’d attended the 2013 con and enjoyed it. Cliff asked if there were any other pros I might want to invite. I suggested John Workman and Dave Hunt, who had also attended in 2013, and then I thought of J.H. Williams III and his wife Wendy. Jim, Wendy and I have been friends and workmates since the late 1990s. I talk often to Jim on the phone, but we’ve only met in person at the San Diego Comicon, where we enjoyed each other’s company. I floated the idea to Jim and Wendy that they might consider coming to the Asbury Park con and visit Ellen and I on the same trip, thinking they probably wouldn’t have time, but to my surprise they agreed.  Last Tuesday evening I picked them up at the Philadelphia airport, and we spent several days together at our house, and doing short trips, like one to the beach in Sea Isle City, where Wendy collected some shells. Continue reading

And Then I Read: SWAMP THING 29

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Image © DC Comics, Inc.

What a nice surprise for Alec Holland when The Sureen show up. They’re a cult that worships the avatar of The Green, and they present themselves as ready to help him in any way they can, including allowing him to occupy one of their human bodies for a time, something that appeals to Alec. But if something sounds too good to be true…  Meanwhile the other former avatars that he’s brought back from The Green with him are out making plans of their own that may or may not be in Swamp Thing’s best interests. Writer Charles Soule continues to entertain me on this book, and the art by Jesus Saiz is excellent.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: AQUAMAN 28

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Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Kind of nice to see Aquaman coming back to human level and dealing with sharks rather than immense monsters. As usual, he’s misunderstood by those he’s trying to help. And where might his trident be after he’s done here? A question that proves important in the issue. Meanwhile, Arthur Curry and Mera, back in the lighthouse on land, are invited to and attend his high school class reunion. Somewhat predictable (fish out of water), but fun. The reveal at issue’s end is going in an interesting direction. In all, I’m warming to the writing by Jeff Parker on this title, and the art by Pelletier and Parsons continues to be quite good.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: THE FLASH 28

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Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Writer Brian Buccellato is telling a story of ghosts and possession, and who better to guest-star than Deadman? But couldn’t they have used a better logo for the guy on the cover?

Used to be Deadman could only talk to living people when he was possessing one. That made conversation a little tricky at times. Seems no longer to be the case, as we have a long conversation between Flash and Deadman about the current serial murderer case Barry Allen is pursuing. Deadman gives him some good insights into what’s behind the murders, but not good enough to stop some very close to home. The art by Patrick Zircher is excellent.

Recommended.