Category Archives: Words

Powers: Secret Identity

71c4PfYYnGLA thing you may or may not know is that there is a TV show based on the Powers series of comics. It is available to Playstation Network users, which gives you an idea of just how variegated (or perhaps I should say splintered) the streaming landscape looks these days. But hey, people are making enough money to get more and more niche-interest programming created, and that’s fine by me. I’ve only watched one episode so far? But that’s what summer is for.

Anyway, that has almost nothing whatever to do with Secret Identity, which is so far ahead of where they could have gotten in one season that I may as well assume it will never actually be filmed. (Also unlikely to ever be filmed: the literal monkey vagina from a few books ago.) This? This is the book where things get weird. And I say that in full knowledge of my parenthetical above. It starts with yet another superhero team imploding, and ends with Christian Walker’s and Deena Pilgrim’s deep dark secrets all but exposed, just in time for a cliffhanger about how they will deal with the fallout.

That’s not the weird part. Here‘s the weird part.

Along the way, Walker maybe learns something important about his shadow-shrouded past and confronts[1] the multi-pronged cock of Satan. You know, like you do sometimes.

[1] I swear I am not making it up, and I think it’s possible nobody has ever said this phrase on the internet before.

Reaper Man

51qK2OscKWLThe odds that you are a) reading this and b) do not know that Sir Terry Pratchett died last month or b’) why that is tragic and relevant are astronomically low. I’d have read the next Discworld book soon regardless, but I read it sooner still because of the tribute factor that seemed necessary. And then I’ve sat on it for a week or more, because… well, this is not a because that can be finished in the back half of a sentence.

I guess the first thing to be aware of is that Reaper Man is about Death. “I know, I know,” the hypothetical you who is reading this review without being aware of the intersection of facts above is thinking, “of course it is, it says so right there in the name that it’s about death.” Well, by coincidence you’re right, and that’s relevant too, but I mean to say that it’s about the personification of the force of death in the universe, who is about to be forcibly retired by whatever it is that audits the universe, for the crime of being a personification instead of an impersonal force as would be good and proper. So, he decides to take a vacation while he still has the accumulated time off to do that, and then everything stops dying, with probably less predictable results than you’d think.

It’s possible that you’ve already spotted what happened to me over this book, but us nodding knowingly at each other across the miles of fibers and routers is not really the stuff of which a good review is made, so I’ll pretend you have not and continue. You see, I’m reading this book, by an author I like and I know many of my friends love, who has recently died, and the book is about death. About not wanting to die, or about living beyond your term and trying to decide how good or bad that news is, about the impact of death on the world, about the impact of no death on the world.

So, you know what happened, right? I was disappointingly, but also inevitably, underwhelmed. How could I not have been?! Perfect storm, right? But it wasn’t just that. See, the book has three completely unrelated stories in it. There’s the Death on holiday thing I already mentioned, and a wizard who has lived on past his appointed time, and a threat to Ankh Morpork (the biggest city on Discworld) that the other wizards must band together to fight. And okay, I technically lied. All of these events are caused and/or affected by each other. But from a story viewpoint, no. They are not intertwined, they barely come together, and the city threat / wizard fight story that does the most to bring them together at all is by far the worst.

Basically, what I figure is, he had two really good story ideas (and they are, both of them, quite good!) that he figured were each too short to hold a book, but since they were related they could be tied together… and then he came up with nothing much of a much at all for how to accomplish that. But some editor incorrectly thought the joining story was funny and/or relevant, and here we are, with the worst tribute review in history.

Sigh.

Hack/Slash: Marry, F*ck, Kill

51Pv51LcgJLAs usual with an 11th volume of a series, it’s hard to not end up deep in spoiler territory. So, instead, a series of mostly unconnected thoughts.

1) It has been a long time since I’ve read one of these, so I guess I’m not surprised I couldn’t remember exactly where things had left off. What I guess is important to “know” is that the long-running arc with the (let’s say) Black Lamp Society had finally been wrapped up. Taking it a step further than that: by the end of this book, all but one dangling plot thread had been wrapped up, and only one new dangling thread had been created. It’s almost like the series is angling toward an ending of some kind?

2) The book is split into two arcs, of which the second arc is both the better and the more important. The first arc either highlights that the artist only knows how to draw one type of chick, or else it is meant to clumsily indicate that Cassie Hack[1] is lots of different characters in lots of different dimensions, depending on how she was raised, I guess? Including an oversexed lady in even skimpier clothing who likes to take over by blowing things up and the warden of an interdimensional women’s prison, for the incarceration of the kind of oversexed lady in extremely skimpy clothing who would choose to take over by blowing things up.

3) I’m glad the next book promises to be a lot more about Vlad[2], what with almost everything else being wrapped up and all, because I didn’t even remember that there was something wrong with him (spoiler alert: there is), but I was very disappointed that he was sidelined almost the whole book. Though I can definitely see why it was structurally necessary to get to the end point they got to.

4) The title: I cannot find any specific thing that fits Marry, Fuck, Kill, but if I squint sideways at it, I can see where there’s sort of vaguely a game of that going on throughout the book, just barely enough so to justify someone trying to get titles moved via shock value.

[1] She, you’ll no doubt have forgotten by now, is the teenager on the road in fishnets and carrying a nailed-up bat with “Kiss It” burned into the non-naily portions who hunts supernatural slashers to make them be more specifically dead than they previously had been.
[2] Cassie’s green-skinned, monstrous companion who helps her out on the whole destroying mystical psychos task, mainly because she’s nice to him when everyone else thinks he’s one of those same kinds of monsters.

All-New Ultimates: No Gods, No Masters

51MeEMpGe1LBack when I ordered this book, and every time between then and when it arrived and I started reading it earlier this week, I thought the title was a reference to one of the first Ultimates books, Gods and Monsters, from nearly ten years ago now. But as of cracking the cover open, I have realized that the title of the book is actually No Gods, No Masters, which is a completely different title. Apparently it’s a reference to a political book about anarchism? I don’t see a particular parallel here, but maybe I would if I’d read the other book.

So, you know the street level gang war the teenaged Ultimates were fighting / trying to clean up last time? This is the conclusion to that storyline. Which means, yes more irrelevant third-or-lower tier “super” villains, yes more Roxxon intrigue. Also, some of the art was all scribbly and lame, but only some of it. Still, though, the character evolutions among some of our heroes has made the pair of books retroactively worth the price of admission after all.

Well, actually, that may not be true. Spoiler alert based on news reporting of happenings at Marvel. But, the thing is, most of these characters and in fact the Ultimate universe in general may be coming to an end when it collides somehow or other with the regular continuity. Can’t blame the current authors who have been pushing things forward that everything since Galactus has been basically a meaningless placeholder. But it’s damn disappointing nonetheless.

The Alloy of Law

51ewY4KqOmLI should have finished this book weeks ago, right? But at 75% through it (and, as I later discovered, right at the cutoff before the climax started, so at least my timing was good?), I lost my tablet in a tragic accident involving angular momentum and inertia; a few hours later, I learned that the touch screen of my Kindle Touch had ceased working, which made it unusable also even though it powered on nice as you please. Both devices have since been replaced, which is nice, and in the meantime I read a paper book, as you know.

If you wonder why I roll my eyes every time someone disparages my physical collection of dead trees, this is pretty much why right here. You can say I could have read things on my phone in the meantime, but…. nope. Too small, wrong proportions, just, no.

In the meantime, though, I’ll keep buying stupidly cheap daily deal ebooks because I am Amazon’s bitch, which in this case explains why I didn’t have a physical copy of The Alloy of Law in the first place. Obviously I like Sanderson and would have bought a Mistborn sequel, right? Just, the ebook found me first, so.

As far as the book? It was interesting having the same experience as the characters, where history had faded to legend, and most of the details were probably wrong. See, the book is set hundreds of years after the Mistborn trilogy concluded, and while it has not been hundreds of years for me personally, I could hardly remember more than the broadest strokes of what went down, and the characters here thinking over the way the world used to be, it was just wrong enough for me to know they had things wrong without knowing what was right instead. I don’t know how to have that kind of experience except by sheer luck, but it made the book an extra bit cooler, no doubt.

Anyway: it’s a Mistborn book, right? People can use allomancy to take certain metals and give themselves cool powers, same as always. But now there are guns and trains and… it’s not steampunk, right? There’s no steam-based science, mainly. Magic, sure, and a Victorian period setting, but those do not steampunk make. If you’re allergic and that’s what was keeping you away, don’t worry! If you’re allergic to a world evolving over time, that’s silly. If you didn’t like Mistborn the first time around? Well, this is not epic fantasy like that was, and it may help? But it is almost certainly the first book in a trilogy rather than fully standalone. So if you’re allergic to that, I got nothing.

Otherwise, enjoy! I did.

Dark Carnival

51VKHsxpjILI wish I read the Deathlands books a little more often than I do, although the truth of this matter is you could insert any ongoing series[1] I am reading and not yet caught up to live publication for, and that would still be a true statement. I have an embarrassment of reading wealth, I guess? Kind of.

But as much as I enjoy reading them, they’re getting harder and harder to review, because of how much continuity is piling up. I have read 14 of these over the past 7ish years (they are published quarterly, I think, so yes, this means I’m falling behind), and they’re so far not the least bit episodic. Old enemies come back, the cast changes over time, the past (both the written past and the characters’ pasts before the series opens) has consequences. All that, on top of post-apocalypse porn with a deep sci-fi bent and surprisingly[2] egalitarian gender parity, and yeah, of course I want to keep reading more.

This one, leaving out all the piled up plot, centers around dire happenings in and around an operational amusement park in Florida that is conspicuously not DisneyWorld. Also, though, let me leave you this hilarious dispatch from the 22nd Century:

Doc returned to his own room and watched some vids of a television series that Boss Larry piped through. Ryan and Krysty tried to watch it, but it seemed a plot of such staggering complexity that they gave up on it.

“It wasn’t the giant and the dwarf,” Krysty said, lying back on the huge bed. “Nor the damned fine coffee and the cherry pie. It was the woman who was dead, then Japanese, then alive again.”

[1] I mean, not Anita Blake. Seriously. But otherwise, yes.
[2] Both for the genre and the publication date. And I’m not saying it’s perfect, it’s just a lot better than could have possibly been predicted, and objectively closer to the good side of the scale than the bad side.

Ghost Story

51PeXmFimqLThis has been a long time coming. Sure, I’m not yet caught up on the Dresden Files, but I no longer feel spoiled for them. So, hooray! That said, I have to figure out how to write this review without spoiling anyone else[1], which I’ll admit is easier said than done.

Ghost Story picks up after the perfectly named Changes, which I understand to be the midpoint of the series, and it focuses on one of the changes that occurred in Harry Dresden’s life over the course of that book. Arguably, the most minor change, certainly next to last. But still, it was a pretty big change, right? So, spoilers follow this paragraph / reside below the cut.

[1] Ha ha, joke’s on me, everyone has already read this book. Who am I fooling?

Continue reading

Fables: The Great Fables Crossover

71deB1atlsLThe thing that makes very little sense about The Great Fables Crossover is that it was categorized as a Fables rather than a Jack of Fables trade. From a character sense, there’s no denying that every character crossed back and forth freely between the serieses, but from a plot perspective, the threads of the ongoing Fables plot (which as you will no doubt not recall is the aftermath of victory against the Adversary) barely budge, whereas the threads of the ongoing Jack plot are finally completely wrapped up, leaving one to perhaps wonder why Jack still needs two more (three more?) volumes of his own.

Be that as it may, the stories are still pretty great and the stakes have never been higher. When you have a guy who can (and plans to!) end reality and start over with just a few strokes of his pen, well, I suppose it’s no wonder that a plot is getting wrapped up. You know, one way or another.

I feel ever so slightly bad that I’m being a bit cavalier as to the outcome of the endeavour, but there are two things to consider. First: granted how very meta characters based on literary concepts are in the first place, I think it’s fair to say that all of creation being wiped out and written anew is a possible outcome that could still allow for more stories to be told. Second, and far more relevant: I am staring at 17 subsequent Fables trades that I have not yet read on my shelf. It’s hard not to be cavalier under the literal weight of that metaphorical onslaught on my psyche.

Revival

51bE7-Wac9LI’ve been glaring at this screen metaphorically for a few days now, although literally for less than five minutes tops. But like, when you know the review is sitting there, unwritten, and you even know why, and it’s not a simple reason like a broken site or a boring reason like you’ve been too busy or too lazy, but instead it’s a really good reason like you know exactly what about the book you want to praise, but to do so would be a massive spoiler? That’s glare-worthy, is my point.

Because Stephen King’s latest book, Revival, does (successfully!) something I’ve never seen attempted before. But it does it at such a slow build that you’re most of the way through the story before you know what sub-genre the story is properly classified in. And I’m quite convinced that knowing in advance would kill the impact, because everything going on in the early days is a fantastic story in its own right[1], and if you’re waiting for the Big Thing, spinning your hand irritatedly and it keeps not happening, you’d end up hating the whole book, without any kind of justification.

So, y’know, it’s cool. Go read it, if you like Stephen King. If you don’t, you’re possibly wrong about that, but this is not the book I would use to convince you. Either way, first comment is a mood-destroying spoiler for the book in which I reveal the genre. So, that’s a warning about that.

[1] Family drama, religious drama, rock and roll, and carnies, for starters. King just gets small towns, and the 1950s/60s, and tragedy. Or else I’ve been tricked into thinking he has, since to be fair I’ve never really experienced any of those things myself. (Well, at least not on a brutal scale, in the latter case.)

The Walking Dead: A New Beginning

81muWBd8JoLI have been saying for years (that is, maybe four or five books ago?) that Kirkman is running out of scenarios and needs to go ahead and let this series find its ending. That whole period, though, has been devoted to the same extended storyline, which ended in pretty fine form last time. So this book, ironically named A New Beginning, is exactly what I’ve been waiting for: the chance to find out if I’ve been right or not.

And you know… I was prepared to be wrong. I really was. Months have passed, possibly short years, and the promised community is well on its way to being everything that was promised. This story could have been a coda. It could have, better, contained exactly the kind of bombshell change of status quo I no longer believed Kirkman capable of, via a plot twist I never saw coming. Instead… nope, it’s a new turn on the hamster wheel. I’ll keep reading the series, and I’ll keep being glad that the TV show has surpassed it, but I cannot really contain my disappointment, either.

He came so close to proving me wrong.