And Then I Read: THE GIRL IN THE TOWER by Katherine Arden

The second book of the Winternight Trilogy takes the story from the forests and small villages of mediaeval Russia (then known as The Rus’) to the large city of Moscow. Large for the time, but still a relatively small city behind walls to keep out enemies and ruled by Grand Prince Dmitrii. His wife is Olga, one of the family followed in the first book. Her brother Sasha is now a monk, but one that wears a sword and fights alongside his friend and cousin Dmitrii against raiders who are pillaging small villages in the area. Meanwhile, their sister Vasya, the one with arcane powers both innate and given to her by Morosko, the Frost King, is determined to see the world beyond her small village. She rides out on her magic talking horse, Solovey, and for a while they have adventures and narrow escapes from capture, and avoid starving and freezing with Morosko’s help. At length Vasya, disguised as a boy, joins forces with Dmitrii and her brother Sasha, helping to fight the barbarian raiders. When they all arrive back in Moscow, Vasya’s adventure becomes much more complicated and perilous, especially when her true identity is found out. Soon Vasya is surrounded by enemies: her old foe the priest Konstantin, a wily sorcerer and a Tatar warlord, while her family seems set against her. Worst of all, Morosko has little power to help her in Moscow.

This was a good read. At times I thought Vasya seemed fussy and spoiled, unable to make the wisest choices and putting those close to her in danger, but that works itself out as the story moves on to an epic conclusion. I will be reading the third book soon. Recommended.

And Then I Read: THE DREAMING #15

Image © DC Comics. Written by Simon Spurrier, art by Bilquis Evely, colors by Mat Lopes, letters by Simon Bowland, cover by Yanick Paquette & Nathan Fairbairn

And so, the Vertigo label is gone from this and I suppose any other new issues at DC to be replaced by “Black Label.” Isn’t that scotch whiskey?

As one might expect, things are not going well for some of The Dreaming’s key figures. Cain is missing, and Abel finds himself unable to go on without the routines of the past. The new ruler of The Dreaming, Wan, the mothlike creature reportedly made of computer code, seems to be losing control. Matthew the raven, the eyes of Wan, is seeing things that disturb him, such as Merv Pumpkinhead playing an odd kind of golf. Perhaps most disturbed is Lucien the librarian when he finds out his library has been digitized. Back on Earth, things are equally askew.

A new storyline falls into play. I’m liking it so far. Recommended.

Incoming: SNOW, GLASS, APPLES by Neil Gaiman & Colleen Doran

This has been out for a while, but I just got my letterer copies from Dark Horse. I loved working on this book, the art by Colleen is amazingly wonderful, and her adaptation of Neil’s story is excellent. This is my first time seeing many of the pages in color, and the colors look fine, but I like the line art even more.

Continue reading

And Then I Read: BLACK HAMMER 3 FOR $1

Well, only one third of this is new to me, and that’s what I’m reviewing here. This new Black Hammer starter set contains BLACK HAMMER #1, which I lettered, and THE QUANTUM AGE #1, which I’ve already read and reviewed. The third book is SHERLOCK FRANKENSTEIN AND THE LEGION OF EVIL #1, written, as they all are, by Jeff Lemire, nearly everything else in the story is by David Rubin.

SHERLOCK features and is narrated by Lucy Weber, the daughter of the original Black Hammer, still in Spiral City and trying to find out what happened to her father and the other heroes who disappeared in the cosmic battle with Anti-God, some years before. So far she’s found her father’s secret base, the Hall of Hammer, and has decided to try to find some of his most notorious opponents as a way to help track him down. Number one on that list is Sherlock Frankenstein. (Hard to think of a more memorable name than that!)

Lucy’s search leads to the Spiral Asylum for the Criminally Insane (an Arkham analog), whose warden was a winged hero during World War Two. With the assistance of guard officer Lopez, also a former superhero, Lucy visits the ominous armored creature known as Mectoplasm, a one-time henchman of Sherlock Frankenstein. What Mectoplasm tells Lucy fills out the rest of the issue, and sets up the rest of the series.

Nicely done, but of course, one is left wanting more, as is the point. Recommended.

Pulled From My Files #99: A DC check stub from 1977

This and all images © DC Comics.

Something different this time, one of many DC Comics check stubs I saved from my years of freelance work for the company beginning in July, 1977. This one is not the earliest, but it’s the earliest one I could find today. There were two kinds of freelance checks at the time, regular freelance work like lettering and coloring had wider stubs, the width of a check, and those have no date on the stub, so it’s harder to find an “early” example. This short stub that tore off the side of a check was for other kinds of work, generally classified as special projects. It’s for work that didn’t fit into the general income flow of producing monthly comic books.

Continue reading