Book Review: More Than Comics by Elizabeth Briggs

  I have to be honest. I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance before. I just always knew they were all cheesy and fake. Basically, as not-real as they can be, but exactly what women are supposed to want. Kind of like the airbrushed models in Playboy aren’t real but are exactly what men are supposed to want. 

But this book was about comics, so, you know, I had to take the plunge. 

And holy crap – from the Hector and Tara’s first meeting at San Diego Comic-Con (they collaborated on a comic long distance), I was hooked. Elizabeth Briggs’s writing really nails it…after the first chapter I didn’t want to put it down. That was yesterday. 

And – I finished it today. Sure, the book wasn’t that long; but still, I must have enjoyed it. Ms. Briggs does a great job capturing character and dialogue – making them just real enough to be believable, and unreal enough to be step lightly over the line into fantasy. And I realize this was probably tame compared to some of the stuff that’s out there, but the *ahem* steamy stuff was well-written, too. 

Now I have to try to resist getting caught up in the prequels and sequels of this series that involve Tara and Hector’s other friends. 

I’d recommend this to anyone who likes romance and comics. Or just romance. Or just comics. I thought it was worth reading. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Victory Editing for a copy in return for an honest review.

Book Review: DC Super Heroes Origami by John Montroll

  I don’t know if many of these were adapted from existing origami but either way they’re creative and awesome. There are tons of origami creations to make based on your favorite DC heroes. Of course, the trinity is favored here (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman), but the rest of the Justice League make an appearance (Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Atom, Flash, Martian Manhunter…)

Some of them seem to be silly and filler material (Clark Kent’s glasses, Wonder Woman’s boots) but I was at least glad to see the entire section for Wonder Woman. 

And I really wanted to make a batarang. My son really wanted the Flash symbol. 

To give a fair review, I thought I should attempt some of these. That’s when I figured out 2 things: (1) some of these are pretty stinking complicated and (2) the basic folding descriptions at the beginning aren’t in this ARC. (All of the instructions for each project are here, but they are more difficult without the basics instructions for the types of folds; e.g., a “squash fold”.) 

Overall, this is a pretty cool book, and I’ll likely buy a copy, so I get the full intro, as well as all the paper included to actually make all of the projects.

Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Short Story Review: Lois Lane: Cloudy with a Chance of Destruction by Gwenda Bond

I love new takes on old comic book heroes. 

And in a twist, this is a new take on Lois Lane, not Superman. I hope her upcoming book gives her the credit she deserves, and not just as a prop for Superman. But if this short story (released as a teaser for the book) is any indication, it will. When the short story is well-written and suspenseful, there’s a good chance the book will be, too. 

And bonus points for not ending how I thought it was going to. (I can’t tell you that – it will spoil the story!)

What do I think about teenage Lois Lane knowing teenage Clark Kent, being such a change from the comics? This story handled it well, and creatively, and I’m looking forward to more of that backstory in the book. 

But again, not too much of it. This story’s supposed to be about Lois. 

Thanks to Netgallery and Capstone for a copy of this story in return for an honest review.

(Comic) Book Review: Ghosts and Gals of Fiction House by Matt Baker

Risqué? Maybe a little; but not by today’s standards.

But are they sexist?

It’s interesting that in so many of these sexy girl comics, the heroine is the strong character. She’s not waiting for a man to save her. She’s not here simply for men. Do they pass the Bechdel test? I don’t know. More on that later.

Famed indie comic author Trina Robbins noted “most of [Fiction House’s] stories either starred or featured strong, beautiful, competent heroines. They were war nurses, aviatrixes, girl detectives, counterspies, and animal-skin-clad jungle queens, and they were in command.”

Ghosts and Girls gives the interesting history of Fiction House comics. It even has a pulpy vibe to the writing. It describes how Fiction House set the pace for horror comics but newer publishing houses like EC seemed to be the ones that started the genre.

It’s interesting how many big comic names contributed to these before creating the superheroes they were known for – like Jack Kirby or Bob Kane.

But then, for me, the confusion started. About 10% of this book is essay – describing some of the interesting history noted above. In this section, it would have been good if the covers shown could have related to the text. For example, when he talks about Bob Hebberd’s googley eyes, it would have been good to see an example rather than Jumbo Comics #164, which isn’t even mentioned in the text.

But then, the hardest thing to figure out about this book is the structure. It appears to be a couple of essays on Fiction House followed by examples of some of the comics. (And I’m assuming that the covers following the section on Maurice Whitman, though it should be more explicit, at least in the captions.) The next 10% is these example covers.

And then, more than 75% of this almost-200-page-book is actual comics.

I’ve never really read any of these old horror books. They’re pulpy and fun.

Ye gods! Bullets won’t stop the thing! It’s a ghost beast!

Though sometimes a bit confusing; the grammar isn’t the best and there’s often a lot going on – who killed whom and when?

And to be honest, after reading several of these stories they get a bit tedious. Why? Because, they’re all about Drew Murdoch, Ghost Hunter. Maybe this book should have been called “Ghosts and Drew Murdoch of Fiction House.”

Are the several comics shown here the best examples of Fiction House fare? A random sampling? An intro to each one might have been good. And maybe a closing the book ends with the last page of the last comic.

Unfortunately, none of the comics were good examples of what the essays were talking about. The closest we get to strong women is the Cleopatra story where she curses those that have defiled her grave. Other than that, it’s just a bunch of ghost stories being investigated by our intrepid ghost expert Drew Murdoch.

This book would have been much, much more interesting if the essays had tied to the comics somehow – and if the text was more explicit about it.

Thanks to NetGalley, Diamond Distributors, and IDW Publishing for providing a copy for an honest review.

Superhero Book Review: The Superyogi Scenario

  4/5 Stars 

I just finished The Superyogi Scenario by James Connor. 

Yogis developing superpowers was quite an interesting (and creative) idea. And it’s an easy and enjoyable read. Good action. And I liked the character motivations. They felt real. Nothing is easily black and white, and I wanted to sympathize with the villain to a certain extent. 

I realize that this is supposed to be a new breed of Western yogis, but they do seem awfully white. And the first 3 we meet are all blonde and pretty (one man, two women). At least, though, he attempts to explain it with the idea of western yogis being propelled by past lives. Some of it, also, is a bit cliche, like: “…her sinister plan.” 

Also, it seemed a bit ironic that Eric kept talking about losing your sense of self to “gain yogic superpowers”. If you’re focussed on gaining superpowers, would it be hard to lose your sense of self? 

But I really liked how the philosophy fit in to the story. I love how the whole point of our lives is (or should be) to end suffering. That does seem to be a common thread through all the religions (even if a lot of supposed disciples don’t practice it). 

And what he says about wisdom is huge – about the throwing off of the self…

…we can use any ancient spiritual text – whether Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Taoist, or Confucian – whatever you are attracted to…All the prophets were trying to take people to the sane realizations using different words and different techniques. All of them lead toward the same place. 

I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good superhero story, especially if they’d be interested in a bit of infusion of philosophy, morality, and even theology. 

Superhero Book Review: Superpowered by Schannep

book24/5 stars

I loved, loved, loved Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a kid. (If you’re lost in this review because you don’t know what they are, you should be ashamed of yourself. Google them now.) I still have several of them, and even have copies of many of the clones. The TSR Endless Quest books, being of course my favorite. I mean, cmon – Dungeons and Dragons that you can play by yourself?

So this was a fun throwback to that time. And with superpowers! (As you can probably tell by the name of the book.) I remember keeping my finger at the last choice in case I made the wrong one (and in this way checking out all the storylines) – but being an ebook, this one does it for you! You can just go back to the last choice if you die – or there’s a handy index at the back that allows you to click directly to any section – if you remember the name.

This was a lot of fun. I don’t know how much of my enjoyment was based on nostalgia, but either way I really liked it.

Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation by Matt Myklusch (Book Review)

(Note: This book was published a year later under the name The Accidental Hero. I guess that’s why I was able to pick up the hardcover of Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation for $3.)

I think I would have enjoyed this book better had it been written for a slightly older audience. I guess the book is about a 12-year-old boy, and that seems to be the target audience (or slightly younger). But it’s a YA book, and it’s 500 pages!

That being said, it was a fairly quick read (especially for it’s length) and it was fun.

Young Jack Blank hates his life – he doesn’t know who he is or where he comes from; and he’s not fond of the orphanage he has to make his home. But he’ll soon learn of the Imagine Nation – home to superheroes and aliens, robots and ninjas.

Definitely not your run-of-the mill superhero book. I think younger readers would like it – and if you’re into superhero-related fiction like I am, it might be an entertaining read.