Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Itty Bitty Hellboy

 By now, anyone reading this blog must know that I'm a total mark for all things HELLBOY.

 But does that include ITTY BITTY HELLBOY....?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Moon On The Water, by Mort Castle

 NEW MOON ON THE WATER was my first real exposure to the work of Mort Castle (I had previously read one of two of his short stories in an anthology.), but it most certainly will not be my last. One of the joys of reading is discovering a "new" author. Castle is far from new, but that only means that, now that I've found him, there's a large catalogue of his work that is out there waiting for me.


 Image Comics delivers an adaptation of Darren Aronofsky's bizarro Biblical epic that leaves the film in the dust.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Blu-Ray Review: William Friedkin's Sorcerer

I first encountered William Friedkin's brilliant 1977 film SORCERER on some obscure cable channel in the late '90's, and I was blown away by it. I couldn't believe that such an amazing film had slipped by me for so long. But I wasn't alone....SORCERER is, in a way, a modern-day "lost film"....Friedkin's story of a disparate group of exiles transporting unstable cases of nitroglycerine through 218 miles of hellish South American jungle had the misfortune of opening against STAR WARS, as well as having a confusing title and no real bankable stars. It quickly vanished from theaters, and has essentially been lost to filmgoers ever since, aside from the occasional lousy print showing up on cable, and an abominable DVD release that featured an ugly pan-and-scan transfer. SORCERER's day has finally come, though, in the form of a beautifully restored new Blu-Ray release.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

100 Bullets: Brother Lono

I stopped reading 100 Bullets sometime around issue #50....It was one of those complex books that was just too much for me to keep up with in floppy format. I have a huge backlog of comics, so reading an issue every few months was not conducive to keeping up with such a sprawling cast of characters and such a fiendishly twisting narrative. I've always meant to give the entire series another chance, but I just can't bring myself to either dig out all of my scattered back issues or buy a whole set of twelve or thirteen trades. Maybe some day, if DC ever does a nice giant omnibus edition, hint hint.

 But for now, I'll have to content myself with Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso's kinda/sorta sequel/follow-up, 100 BULLETS: BROTHER LONO. Collecting all eight issues of the mini-series of the same name, this is a wonderfully isolated, stand-alone story of blood and revenge among the Mexican drug cartels, with sexy nuns, brutal torture, pickled fetuses, and more gore and nastiness than you can shake a stick at. As I said, I never finished the back half of the 100 BULLETS saga, but I remember Lono as a mean piece of work, and Azzarello manages to make this book stand on it's own, with no prior knowledge of the character's previous appearances needed. He makes the necessary connections that older readers will appreciate, but he also makes new readers get a sense of Lono's history without them feeling like they've missed a ton of backstory. It's a fine line to walk, but Azzarello manages it beautifully....I came in basically  a blank slate, and I never felt lost or confused.

 Eduardo Risso's art has never looked better, especially with Patricia Mulvihill's gorgeous colors. I remember 100 BULLETS as being monochromatic and washed-out looking, but that is far from the case here. This is a gorgeous book, and the $17.00 cover price is a steal, especially considering that it can be had for up to 50% off that price online. Crime and Noir fans will eat this up. Highly recommended.

 DC Comics provided a review copy.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Batman: Knightfall, Volume Two- Knightquest

 In which the dark streets of Gotham City are patrolled by a homicidal, suicidal, genocidal maniac....

Crooked House, by Joe McKinney

  I'm a sucker for a good haunted house story, and Joe McKinney's CROOKED HOUSE is more than good, although it leans a bit closer to psychological thriller territory than your traditional ghost story would.

 McKinney's story finds Dr. Robert Bell, an emotionally troubled man on the brink of financial and mental collapse, being given a lifeline by an old friend: An offer of a job at a prestigious University, complete with a practically rent-free house to live in. More than a house, in fact...Crook House is, in fact, a mansion. Willed to the University by a wealthy Alumnus, Crook House now welcomes Dr. Bell, his wife Sarah, and their eleven year-old Daughter, Angela. (Upon seeing the massive, odd conglomeration that is Crook House, Bell wonders aloud if he's being given such a great deal because it's haunted....Well, of course it is!)

 McKinney eschews the traditional haunted house scares in favor of a tightly focused psychological portrait of a man who, due to various marital and job-related stresses, finds himself vulnerable to the forces that inhabit his new home. Make no mistake, there's no shortage of spooky moments on display, but McKinney wisely chooses to have them happen on the periphery of the story, allowing readers to experience the same kind of chilling "What just happened...?" encounters that the characters are having themselves.

 CROOKED HOUSE is a short, masterfully executed piece of horror fiction, and one of the best ghost stories I've read in a good long while. Highly recommended.

 Dark Regions Press provided a review copy.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell

 DC gets back in the original graphic novel game with BLACK CANARY AND ZATANNA: BLOODSPELL.....

Aquaman, Volume 4: Death of a King

Geoff Johns wraps up his heretofore stellar run on AQUAMAN, and, as usual, overstays his welcome by just a bit.

Green Lantern, Volume 4: Dark Days

 GREEN LANTERN gets a fresh start with writer Robert Venditti and artist Billy Tan...Can they make the Emerald Knight shine bright once more....?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Batgirl, Volume 4: Wanted

I've been fairly critical of Gail Simone's "New 52" BATGIRL reboot.....Is the fourth time the charm...?

I Don't Know What You Know Me From *Confessions of a Co-Star, by Judy Greer

 Judy Greer is one of those Hollywood faces that you see in a movie or TV show, and immediately think "Who is that girl..? She's in EVERYTHING...." She's been in more TV shows, movies, and commercials than even she can remember. Personally, I've always thought she was cute, so when I saw she had a book out, I figured "Why not?"

 I was expecting more of a humorous autobiography, but I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW ME FROM *CONFESSIONS OF A CO-STAR is attempting to follow in the successful footsteps of Tina Fey and Chelsea Handler, and it's comprised of short "Essays" that cover various subjects and eras from Judy's life and career.

 I'm not sure what the finished product will look like, since I have two separate advance review copies, a paperback and a digital edition, and the chapters are in slightly different order, so the book still seems to be in flux. The early chapters are a fairly linear timeline of Judy's life, but after that things get slightly choppy as the essays jump around, so you don't get a real feel for when the events she's describing are happening.

 Judy seems to be a nice girl, so don't expect a lot (Read: any) dirt about co-stars or jobs that she's had. The question that you need to ask yourself in regards to buying this book, or ANY book that's comprised of the wit and wisdom of fill-in-the-blank, is this: Does this person have anything to say that I need to know, or anything to say that is amusing enough that I need to spend twenty bucks on it? In this case, the answer is no. I found Judy's stories to be cute and fun, and I laughed a few times, but I was also really looking forward to the book ending, because it was not really anything that I needed to read.

 I also found it endlessly amusing when I read about how she worries about feeding her family healthy food, yet she smokes. I'm also easily annoyed, so I found it weird at first how she continually refers to her husband as "Dean Johnsen" over and over again. Then it stopped being weird and started to annoy me. I was also annoyed by her constant reference to "Dean Johnsen's" kids as her "stepkids"...I get it. They're NOT YOURS, I get it, I get it. I'm a stepfather myself, and this sentence is the first time I've ever used "Step" in regards to my relationship with my daughter. Yeah, she was here before I met my wife, but I consider her to be my kid, and I would never say otherwise. That's just a pet peeve of mine. Like I said, I'm easily annoyed.

 I had a decent time reading this book, but I honestly couldn't say that anyone needs to spend money on it.

 Doubleday provided a review copy.