ALL NEW X-MEN VOL 2 HERE TO STAY – Collecting issues 6 to 10 of the series this is an interesting and fun premise for a miniseries, namely have the X-men of the past interact with the present. However for a series, it is a gimmick, an in-joke, that runs the risk of staying around too long, and outliving its sell by date. For the moment Marquez and Immonen art keeps it interesting, but already the premise is getting to feel belabored.
UNCANNY X-MEN VOL 1 REVOLUTION – Collecting issues 1 to 5 of the series the pluses are a strong, witty and fun script by Brian Michael Bendis, and some gorgeous art by Chris Bacchalo. The weaknesses are the layouts can be lost under muddy finishing/coloring, and a tendency, unsatisfying tendency, to end the very slight collections on a cliffhanger. It is a weakness that both volumes share.
Add to that the outrageous price of $24.99 for only 5 issues ($5 an issue!!!), a hundred thirty plus pages of story and the absence of a complete, standalone story becomes even more insulting.
It is a very petty and miserly and obscene ‘bleed your audience’ policy that Marvel has undertaken here, that does not deserve to be rewarded by purchasing these overpriced volumes. That said, I do feel the writing in these volumes is fun and entertaining and action-packed and worthy of a read if not a buy.
Just be aware that the cliffhanger ending, appropriate for a $3 monthly serialized comic, is wholly inappropriate for an overpriced $25 collected edition ; that you should be able to enjoy on its own without waiting months for the next volume.
GRADE : B-. Until the ending I was enjoying both volumes, but without an ending the volumes are very much like a great parallel bar routine where the athlete fails to stick the landing. Pretty, but ultimately disappointing and forgettable.
And add that exorbitant price point of $25 for 5 issues of material (and yes I realize the trade can be had for a little bit cheaper, but that is still overpriced as well) and it becomes a case of look, do not buy.
Borrow or rent these puppies for a quick read, then move onto something else, that you would not have any problems paying retail for; something you would not mind proudly adding to your bookshelf such as BATWOMAN VOL 1 HYDROLOGY. A book that I have also recently read.
DC publishing (the other big comic book company besides Marvel) has their own problems, however producing satisfying collections is generally not one of them.
DC hardcover collections, offer an issue more and two dollars less retail, and offer a contained story, something that Marvel’s new publishing initiative MARVEL NOW may want to take note of.
Marvel writers generally are currently doing good work (far better than their esteemed competition that with few exceptions is self-destructing due to editorial hubris), so to have that sabotaged by ghetto collections… possibly not the route Marvel wants to go.
To try the books and decide for yourself or to hunt them down for less than retail use the below links and this blog earns a couple pennies. If I’ve helped turn you on to something you would have otherwise missed (BATWOMAN HYDROLOGY is a must have for any art lover’s collection. It is exquisite), then please use the links below. Thanks:
BOOK OF THE DAY: John Varley’s THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION
I’ve been off the science fiction kick for a while, with much of what passes for sci-fi today just not interesting me. But thankfully there’s a lot of brilliant scifi from yesteryear waiting to be discovered.
Enter John Varley’s 1978 short story collection… THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION. I’m still in process, but so far the first story alone, THE PHANTOM OF KANSAS is worth the price of the book all by itself.
The story is just so imaginative, particularly if you consider when it was done, and yet you sense far closer to where we may be going as a society than is comfortable. He jams so many mind-blowing concepts into a story, with throwaway ease.
So hunt up the collection and give it a read. I think it will make a fan of those people who do not care for sci-fi.
“Many, many years ago a man told me that to deny my dream was to sell my soul. I was young and did not know that the words were finding their own particular place within me so they would be mine forever, but I do remember blinking my eyes and nodding my head as if the very motion was forcing the truth in what he said deeper within me.”
—OF WHALES AND DREAMS by Hubert Selby
SONG OF THE SILENT SNOW is a 1986 short story collection by Hubert Selby, the author of LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN, a few stories in and I find the collection both bittersweet and endearing, with a lovely use of language and longing. Recommended.
So I almost returned Graham Masterton’s short story collection FESTIVAL OF FEAR to the library, relatively unread. The reason being the first story, PRESS, was just not grabbing me.
It felt very opaque, I couldn’t get into it. A short story, the first couple pages I just found incredibly un-engaging, and found myself rereading them to try to get into the story.
So I was all set to just call it a day, as I have no shortage of books on my towering ‘to-read’ pile, awaiting my attention; so there’s very little reason to force myself to plow through a book that is not grabbing me. However, for whatever reason when I went to take the book back, it ended up coming back home with me.
I think the Library (greatest human invention) was closed. So getting back home, I finally gave that first story a full reading, managing to finish it this time, and it, PRESS, wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, ending with one of those ‘O’Henry’ type puns. However, while not great, it was… good. And I do appreciate a good pun.
The second story, THE BURGERS OF CALAIS, was even better, far more insidious and smart, but likewise ended with an almost groan inducing pun, one so old it should creak. But rather than put me off, the seemingly irreverent, tongue-in-cheek nature of the writing… I felt growing on me. And coming as it did right before my bout with food poisoning, the story now seems particularly apt.
So two stories in, FESTIVAL OF FEAR is today’s book of the day. I’ll keep you gals and gorillas apprised as I work my way through the rest. But for right now it is recommended!
(The squeamish should avoid the following! You have been warned!)
Regarding the food poisoning, since I said I would mention it, here’s the 2cent version.
To be brief, a hole in the wall pizzeria, 2 slices of cheese pizza, the usual shady/sundry counter types who you are trusting to be clean enough to actually touch/prepare food, and someone who obviously wasn’t clean enough. My body is pretty much well tuned, so to be not too involved, I’m regular and efficient as a swiss clock.
Uhhh, I’ll never look at Swiss clocks the same way again. 🙂
Meaning I’m in and out with precision (how did we get on this subject?). The trains must Roll!!!!
So I don’t get the idea of people who spend enough time in the bathroom that they have time to read.
What the heck is that about?! If you’re on the toilet that long, you need to get yourself checked.
Plus I think any paper in your bathroom should only be for flushing, otherwise it’s nothing but a germ collector going from hand to hand. Could there be anything more disgusting than reading material sitting in a bathroom, use after use, bowel movement after bowel movement, flush after flush?
Answer: No there’s nothing more disgusting. 🙂
You want to read that’s what a bloody library, or your bedroom, or a living room couch is for. Reading material should not be in the bloody bathroom!
🙂 (Yes, I am evil)
Anyhow all that to say, when something disagrees with me I notice, and there is no guesswork involved. I think a lot of people don’t listen to their bodies, and they accept as normal, reactions that are screaming to them… huge warnings in large brightly lit neon letters.
So yeah, needless to say that pizzeria joins a list of blacklisted places. a full list of which I’ll be happy to provide. Heh, heh heh!
‘You’re right, Velma. It’s weird, but it’s not unusual for hamburger meat to be contaminated. In fact it’s more usual than unusual, which is why I never eat hamburgers.
‘I don’t know if I want to hear this, John.’
‘You should Velma. See — they used to have federal inspectors in every slaughterhouse, but the Reagan administration wanted to save money, so they allowed the meat-packing industry to take care of its own hygiene procedures. Streamlined Inspection System for Cattle, that’s what they call it — SIS-C.’
‘I never heard of that, John.’
‘Well, Velma, as an ordinary citizen you probably wouldn’t have. But the upshot was that when they had no USDA inspectors breathing down their necks, most of the slaughterhouses doubled their line speed, and that meant there was much more risk of contamination. I mean you can imagine a dead cow hanging up by its heels and a guy cutting its stomach open, and then heaving out its intestines by hand, which they still do, that’s a very skilled job, and if a gutter makes one mistake — floop! — everything goes everywhere, blood, guts, dirt, manure, and that happens to one in five cattle. Twenty percent.’
‘Oh, my God.’
‘Oh, it’s worse than that, Velma. These days, with SIS-C, meat-packers can get away with processing far more diseased cattle. I’ve seen cows coming into the slaughterhouse with abscesses and tapeworms and measles. The beef scraps they ship out for hamburgers are all mixed up with manure, hair, insects, metal filings, urine and vomit.’
‘You’re making me feel nauseous, John. I had a hamburger for supper last night.’
‘Make it your last, Velma. It’s not just the contamination, it’s the quality of the beef they use. Most of the cattle they slaughter for hamburgers are old dairy cattle, because they’re cheap and their meat isn’t too fatty. But they’re full of antibiotics and they’re often infected with E.coli and salmonella. You take just one hamburger, that’s not the meat from a single animal, that’s mixed up meet from dozens or even hundreds of different cows, and it only takes one diseased cow to contaminate thirty-two thousand pounds of ground beef.’
‘That’s like a horror story, John.’
‘You’re too right, Velma.’
—-THE BURGERS OF CALAIS by Graham Masterton
“I tell you, that was a crazy week. Like I say, I don’t know why the color red bothered my dad so much;
maybe there’s a story in that too, but all I know is that my dad started climbing the walls.
It took everything he had to open the front door in the morning and go to work, because the morning sunlight would lie on the walls of that red house and make it look like a four-alarm fire. And in the evening, the setting sunset lit it aflame from another direction. People started driving along Accardo Street–tourists, yet!–just to take a look at the gaudy thing!
Dad double-locked the doors and pulled the shades as if he thought the red house might rip itself off its foundations at night and come rattling across the street after him. Dad said he couldn’t breathe when he looked at that house, the awful red color stole the breath right out of his lungs, and he started going to bed early at night with the radio tuned to a baseball game and blaring right beside his head.
But in the dark, when there was no more noise from the room where my mom and dad slept in their separate beds, I sometimes unlocked the front door and went out on the porch to stand in the steamy night. I wouldn’t dare tell my mom or dad, but… I liked the red house. I mean, it looked like an island of life in a gray sea.
For a hundred years there had been only gray houses on Accardo Street, all of them exactly the same, not a nail or a joint different. And now this.
I didn’t know why, but I was about to find out in a big way.
… I heard my mom and dad talking out there. His voice was loud, but I couldn’t make out what he was
saying; then, gradually, his voice settled down. I lay on my bed and stared at a crack in the ceiling that I’d
seen a million times. And I wondered why I’d never tried to patch it up in all those years. I wasn’t a kid
anymore; I was right on the edge of being a man. No, I hadn’t patched that crack because I was waiting for
somebody else to do it, and it was never going to get done that way.”
—The Red House by Robert McCammon-from his excellent collection BLUE WORLD. I highly recommend the audio book:Something Passed by: Stories from Blue World
WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.
Robert S. Duncanson, 19th century Black romantic painter (The Sigma Pi Phi series)
Parks, James Dallas.
ROBERT S. DUNCANSON: 19th Century Black Romantic Painter.
Washington, DC: Associated Publishers, Inc., A Division of the Association For The Study of Afro-American Life and History, Inc., 1980.
x, 60 pp., 25 b&w illus., chronol., catalogue of works. Appendices include letters from Duncanson and note from Mrs. Ruth E. Showes, “A Relative”; letter concerning Duncanson’s illness from his wife Phoebe. 8vo (24 cm.), cloth.
When the Death-Bat Flies: The Detective Stories of Norvell Page- Best known for his Spider pulp stories, scribe Norvell Page was a master mystery writer as well. This 800-page book collects over 30 of Page’s detective stories from the pages of DETECTIVE TALES, THE SPIDER, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY and STRANGE DETECTIVE MYSTERIES, most of which have never been reprinted before. Includes an all-new introduction by Will Murray.
Three short thrillers that offer variations on the theme of the innocent person caught up in murderous events. Dead Dolls Don t Talk (1959) allows a juror to find out what it s like to be on the other side of the law. Hunt the Killer (1951) is the story of a man just out from prison who is newly framed for a killing he didn t commit. And Too Hot to Hold (1959) is a case of mistaken identity that escalates when greed takes the place of common sense.
“Reading Page is like grabbing a live electrical wire. . . . Once you take hold, you can’t let go until the story comes to an end. Page paced his stories at one speed only-runaway locomotive.
“When it comes to writing grab-your-throat and hurtle-you-along at a hundred miles an hour fiction, there’s nobody better.”
—Robert Weinberg, from his introduction
From the author of The Spider, here are seven tales of weird mystery and strange crime. Follow Ken Carter as he unravels seven strange cases.
Bonus: Also included is a 1935 article by Norvell Page explaining his approach to writing.
With an introduction by Robert Weinberg.
Cover art by Walter M. Baumhofer.
City of Corpses
Statues of Horror
The Devil’s Hoof
The Sinister Embrace
“How I Write” by Norvell Page
In steamy Shreveport, Louisiana, two musical legends-in-the-making come together: a whiskey-soaked country singer named Hank Williams and blues artist Muddy Waters. What they’ve got in common over several hectic days of drinking, singing and whoring is an interest in staying alive despite local mobsters, bent cops, and a truckload of Ku Klux Klansmen. Then there’s the bankrobber’s daughter.
The Spider VS. The Empire State: The Complete Black Police Trilogy [Paperback]
Norvell Page – THEY SAID IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE. THEN THEY SAID ONE MAN COULDN’T STOP IT! Richard Wentworth spent his vigilante career as The Spider always in the shadows. Now evil acted in broad daylight. The Party of Justice swept into office, rewriting the laws of New York state overnight to benefit their criminal backers and make slaves of its people. This American Reichstag gave itself sweeping powers and raised a private army to exert its malevolent will. How could The Spider hope to stop a criminal conspiracy as big as the state itself? This time The Master of Men would go beyond taking the lives of evildoers… by bringing Hope to the tyrannized citizens of the Empire State! The “Black Police Trilogy” is author Norvell Page’s classic pulp fiction Nazi allegory from 1938. Originally published in three consecutive months of The Spider Magazine, the novels “The City That Paid To Die”, “The Spider at Bay”, and “Scourge of the Black Legions” are collected in book form for the first time! The Spider VS. The Empire State: The Complete Black Police Trilogy
The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!
If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.
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