Friday, August 29, 2014

Ghost Heart by Weston Ochse & Yvonne Navarro

 A young boy embarks on a heroic quest to save his parents crumbling marriage in GHOST HEART, the new Young Adult novel by Weston Ochse and Yvonne Navarro.

 Ochse and Navarro are best known as horror authors, but they've teamed up to deliver a surprisingly heartfelt coming-of-age tale, complete with a young protagonist who leaves home a little boy, and comes back a young man.

 Matt Cady is having a rough time: His parents are headed for a divorce, and his best friend, Regina Running Deer, is planning to run away from her own broken home to join her shady cousin and his motorcycle gang on the road. When Regina finally makes her move, Matt gets the brilliant idea to run away with her, hoping that his disappearance, and subsequent miraculous return, will bring his parents closer together and save their marriage.

 Aside from Regina, Matt has a couple of unusual traveling companions: Jacket and Raisin, a pair of spirit guardians, who have been watching over Matt and Regina, respectively, for years. Regina has outgrown her guardian Raisin, but he still follows her, unseen and unheard, hoping to break through to her and get her off of the path her life is taking. When Matt and Regina finally hook up with Regina's shifty cousin Ali Baba, things take a turn for the worse, and Matt is left alone with Jacket, and soon finds himself confronted with an enigmatic witch, vampire kitties, a ravenous phantom, and the ghosts of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.

 While Ochse and Navarro have crafted a fast-paced narrative, the book ultimately feels a bit hollow because the stakes of the quest are so low. There's no life-or-death imperative.....if Matt fails, the worst that can happen is that his parents will split up. There's a lot of bizarre story detours, with witches, brutal bikers, ghosts and phantoms, but it all feels like padding and wheel-spinning, designed to beef up the page count. The dual threat of The Phantom and Ali Baba and the 40 thieves are built up throughout the novel, and ultimately fizzle away inconsequentially. Ochse and Navarro do nail one key aspect of the novel, however, in the quiet scenes between Matt and his ghostly mentor, Jacket. Their relationship rings true, and tugs at the heartstrings.

 GHOST HEART is a quick, light holds the reader's attention, and the tender relationship between Matt and Jacket is enough to cover up the novel's narrative flaws, but this is ultimately a slight little book, that will likely be forgotten soon after turning the last page.

 The publisher provided a review copy.

Alex + Ada, Volume 1

 This is the kind of book that would seem to be doomed in a Super-Hero dominated marketplace, and that would be a true shame.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Crow: Pestilence

 IDW's latest tale of James O'Barr's THE CROW mythos is, by far, the most-supernaturally-tinged iteration yet. It's also the most blood-drenched.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Sandman, Volume 9: The Kindly Ones

 And so we reach the end of our journey with Morpheus, Lord of Dreams. THE SANDMAN, VOLUME 9: THE KINDLY ONES brings down the curtain on Neil Gaiman's legendary creation, and it's all over but the crying. (Which we'll see in VOLUME 10: THE WAKE....)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Sandman, Volume 7: Brief Lives

 It's interesting how time, and perspective, can change one's opinion about art and entertainment. THE SANDMAN, VOLUME 7: BRIEF LIVES has always been a favorite story arc of mine, and Gaiman's impish creation, Delirium, a favorite character. 22 years later, I found the story to be overly wordy and meandering, and the Delirium character often tried my patience to the limit.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Monster & Madman

Steve Niles is forever a mystery to me. The man had one (ONE!) great idea (30 DAYS OF NIGHT), which was thoroughly destroyed by terrible execution, yet he continues to hack out awful work, regurgitating other (Better) stories, and he is hailed as a "Modern Master of Horror" by critics and fans alike. I find Niles' work to verge on retarded, and his latest, MADMAN & MONSTER, is no exception.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Movie Review: Guardians of The Galaxy

Aside from the first IRON MAN, and THE AVENGERS, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY has been my most anticipated Marvel Studios movie. It's a bold, audacious move by Marvel to release a huge Summer action movie that stars a group of characters that almost no one outside of comic fandom has ever heard of...I can almost picture Marvel thumbing their nose at the Hollywood establishment and saying "We're big enough and rich enough to do whatever we want now!" So they went and made one of the most outright FUN movies I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.