Category Archives: Books/reading

Books I’m reading/have read…and my thoughts on them.

Review of a couple of freebies from SDCC

As many of you know, San Diego Comic Con is now a hot spot for freebies and exclusives. I’m a comic purest enough that I have no idea what special toy items were there…and I don’t really care. But man, the lines were long for some of them. Thousands of attendees lined up for the freebies in many of the major booths. I walked by the DC booth once to see a well-oiled freebie machine as con attendees were walking through at a steady pace receiving free DC swag from several staffers. Actually, a pretty impressive site.

Even though I wasn’t after any of that, I managed to grab a couple of free comics simply by walking by and having a copy offered to me. I gladly took them, of course. Free comics!

AfterworldTwo such free comics were Colonel Corps by DC Comics and Afterworld by Panini. I read both of them and though they may “look” similar in quality, they are far from it.

I read Afterworld first because it looked a bit cooler than a comic with multiple KFC Colonels. The cover featured a shirtless barbarian wielding a nasty axe preparing to take on a few soldiers. Even flipping through the book, the art is actually pretty good. I have no idea who any of the creators are: Stefano Vietti=script; Gianluca Gugliotta=art; Stefano Simeone=colors. All of the names other names (editors, etc) are Italian, so this may very well be a comic made in Italy and translated for the American market. That’s purely a guess, though.

Wait. Did I say “translated?” Silly me. In the 12 pages of art, there are only 254 words…and that includes the sound effects and “to be continued.” That averages to about 22 words per page.

And there’s the problem. I have no idea where the story takes place. I have no idea who the barbarian is. I have no idea why the soldiers are after him. I have no idea how he goes from defeating the soldiers to suddenly finding himself in a cage.

And then, when I learn the “story” is continued…I just don’t care.

At the end of page 7, we suddenly get some first person narrative of the main barbarian character who wonders how one of the enemy soldiers can be quick…or disappear. We, of course, never learn which it was. Like I said, I just don’t care.

KFC02Colonel Corps claims to be the 2nd issue…and it may very well be, but I’d never heard of it before. That said, even though this story was silly-goofy, I always knew who the characters were and where they were doing what they were doing: Evil Colonel Sunder stole the secret recipe and split it unto parts with alternate world good Colonels getting a single part. Good Colonel has to put together a team of Colonels (the Colonel Corps) and stop evil Colonel Sunder and get the missing parts of the recipe back). And this story had a multitude of characters, so of the two, I SHOULD be confused in this one.

But I wasn’t. Of course, it shouldn’t surprise me because it was written by Tony Bedard with art supplied by Tom Derenick (pencils) and Trevor Scott (inks). Derenick is a solid visual story-teller and Bedard knows what’s necessary in the text for the reader. It’s not over-written by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just nicely done!

As a side note, Colonel Corps also has a nice homage cover to the JLA #1 cover by Kevin Maguire.

Of the two freebies, Afterworld was a waste of dead trees while Colonel Corps was a fun read. And no, you can’t have my copy!

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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

MPHPCGraphicNovelCoverI can’t read any title that has “home for X children” in it and not think of Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Children. I get these kind of schools/stories have been around before the X-Men, but I always think they’ve swiped the idea from the X-Men comics.

That said, when I saw the graphic novel, I was drawn to the slightly manga-influenced art…and the fact that it was something different. I didn’t realize until I had it home that it was an adaptation of a novel. Had I known that, I probably wouldn’t have bought it, because…

…the graphic novel was terrible. Avoid it.

Okay, the “photographs” of the peculiar children were very cool…but you can probably find those online somewhere (just guessing, I have no idea if they were photoshopped specifically for the novel or what).

I’ve since heard the novel itself—the one without the pictures—is pretty good. It may very well be, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. And, keep in mind I’m going into this without having read the novel.

The story starts off with Jacob remembering stories of monsters told him by his grandfather. Then he finds his grandfather has just been attacked by something…and he dies. But before his does, his grandfather says all sorts of confusing stuff. So Jacob just writes it off as the ramblings of a crazy old man.

Until he thinks he’s starting to see monsters.

MGkidsThen he goes to some island near England with his dad, finds a home stuck in a timeloop, in a day from WW2 in the 1940s that just keeps repeating. Oh. And he develops a crush on his grandfather’s old girlfriend. And then a bunch of confusing stuff happens and then…oh, guess what? It’s CONTINUED?

Seriously?

I spend $20 and 400 pages for a continued story?

I’ve GOT to do better research before buying stuff like this.

The art is not terrible, but the story is very hard to follow. We rarely know where we are—the transitions are terrible and confusing. One thing that helps is that the modern day scenes are in black and white while the 1940s scenes are in color. Seems a bit backwards to me, but whatever.

Eh. If you’ve felt inclined to read this story, spend your money on the novel and not the graphic novel. From what I’ve been told, you might actually understand the novel.

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Smash…book 1?

I recently read the Smash: Trial by Fire graphic novel by Chris and Kyle Bolton (as far as I can tell, no relation to comic great John Bolton). There were a lot of elements that drew me to give it a whirl: It was published by Candlewick Press, a non-traditional comic publisher (they publish more prose than graphic novels); it was listed as a “graphic novel;” and it was an all ages book, something I’ve really found myself drawn to in this age of traditional comic publishers filling their pages with gratuitous violence, blood, boobs and language.

I wanted to like Smash, I really did.

And while it wasn’t terrible, I’m going to have a very hard time recommending it to you…at full price. If you can find a reduced $ copy, pick it up.

Why, Roland, don’t you recommend it?

I’m glad you asked, thanks. Here’s why:

First off, it was too dang slow. It took page after page after page after page after page…well, you get it…for ANYTHING to happen. There are certainly some interesting characters, but there’s a lot of nothing happening.

In a nutshell, Andrew, the story’s protagonist is a big fan of the local hero Defender. Defender dies in a battle with his archenemy Magus. When this happens, his superpower leaves his body and lands in Andrew. Nice and convenient, huh? Andrew wants to become Defender’s sidekick, not realizing Defender is dead. He jumps into action as a superhero and people start calling him Smash. Magus, however, wants the power (no explanation is ever made to explain how “superpowers” can jump from body to body?). So Magus tracks down Smash, captures him, and attempts to take his powers. But, because Andrew/Smash is a small boy, he slips out of the bonds and escapes and to be continued.

WHAT? I buy a 150 page graphic novel and it’s CONTINUED? Who the heck at Candlewick thought that was a good idea? Granted it’s called “book 1,” but that doesn’t mean it has to be CONTINUED. Lord of the Rings is three volumes, but each of those volumes have complete STORY ARC contained in the pages so that there is a feeling of completion when finishing one of the volumes. No “editor” is listed and that may very well be the problem—I dunno.

And it’s not that the content is terrible—it isn’t. It just needed some smart guidance: pick up the pace (lighten the really dark pages because some of the art is difficult to see when the color is too dark), and complete a STORY ARC, leaving it open to complete a larger story arc with additional volumes.

So, there you have it. I’m looking forward to reading Jimmy Palmiotti’s all ages GN Forager, soon! That, and it looks like I’ve got three—count’em: 3—new projects I’m preparing to pitch. I’m working on the blog entry for the first one even now! I look forward to your comments on it.

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