And Then I Read: HAWKMOON: THE RUNESTAFF by Michael Moorcock

HawkmoonRunestaff

Image © Michael Moorcock.

I’ve now completed the quartet of books I’ve been reading over the last few months, all on my iPad or phone, featuring swordsmen Hawkmoon and D’Averc, warlord Count Brass, Hawkmoon’s lady love Yisselda, and on the opposing side the very evil version of the British Empire, Granbretan, its King Huon, Baron Meliadus, and Lady Flana, among many other characters.

It’s a very rigidly plot-driven story. So much so that when, in the beginning of this book, Hawkmoon tries to change the “fate” decreed for him by the ever manipulative Runestaff, he is driven back to the correct plot course by a huge storm. The Runestaff itself proves to be unimpressive, though it apparently controls everyone in the story to some degree. I’d call it a stand-in for the author himself. There’s lots of fighting, treachery, sorcery, scheming, betrayal, slaughter, and treachery, as well as a fair amount of bravery, cleverness, luck and skill on both sides. The final battle in the streets of Londra (London) is epic, but I found I wasn’t much moved by it, or by the fates of some characters I’d been following through four books. It all seemed too planned, too regulated by the dictates of the plot. Moorcock crafted a story here which kept me turning the pages, and offered many interesting characters, but after the first book most of the emotional involvement seemed to fade. Yes, it’s inventive in some ways, but too predictable in others. I was rarely surprised after the first book of the quartet.

I will probably try other Moorcock fantasy novels in the future, but I can only mildly recommend this group.

And Then I Read: SUPERMAN 33

Superman33

Image © DC Comics, Inc.

This title is reminding me what I like about the writing of Geoff Johns. It’s when he has a free hand to re-imagine characters I’ve known for years, without distractions like super-teams, crossover events and world-ending disasters. His vision of Superman and surrounding cast is charming, clever and engaging. Further, we get to see Superman’s world through the fresh eyes of Ulysses, a new super-character who has just returned to Earth after a long exile. It’s fine writing and great reading. As for the art, I’ve now fully adjusted to the style of Romita and Janson, and it no longer distracts me at all from the story. I like it. I can’t say it’s my favorite version of the characters by any means, but it works fine for me.

Oh, and I wonder if it’s a coincidence that this version of Superman’s logo is very much like the one used on the first Superman movie? Perhaps not.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: G.I. ZOMBIE 1

GIZombie1

Images © DC Comics, Inc.

I’m not generally a fan of war comics or zombie stories, but I had to check this one out. First, the book’s logo appealed to me. STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES had a decades-long run at DC beginning in 1952.

GICombat1

G.I. COMBAT, which the main logo parodies, also began in 1952 from Quality Comics, then from DC after they bought the title in 1957. I appreciate the nods to the past, and the twist that makes it work for today’s audience, even if the cover scene never appears within.

Inside I found what is not really a war story, at least not yet. It is a zombie story, though it takes a while for that to become clear. What we do see is a feisty young woman bravely taking on some dangerous-looking bikers in a seedy bar, gradually winning their trust, and taking part in a vicious interrogation of a federal agent. Beyond vicious, really. When the information they want isn’t forthcoming, she even offers to dispose of the evidence. It’s a nice piece of writing, and Scott Hampton’s art is a delight to see, as always, even if the occasional gore doesn’t appeal to me. If you’re looking for something different, give this a try.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: B.P.R.D. LAKE OF FIRE

BPRDLakeFire

Image © Mike Mignola.

It says something about the staying power of the overall Hellboy franchise that this is the eighth trade paperback collection just in the “Hell On Earth” storyline of B.P.R.D.  There are other storylines in the series, and all are spinoffs of HELLBOY itself.

With a title like “Lake of Fire,” you might expect to see fire-starter Liz Sherman, and you’d be right. She’s faced a long crisis of confidence, but seems to have turned the corner on that, and just in time, as it turns out. We also catch up with events at headquarters, and witness a chilling cult conclave at the Salton Sea site of monster activity, both hellish and human monsters, that is. Great stuff, nice art by Tyler Crook, excellent coloring by Dave Stewart, and dandy lettering by Clem Robins.

Recommended.