Friday, 3 July 2015

Book notes #7

Notes and ratings from TQF50 and TQF51 for books I didn’t review for TQF. Credits from Goodreads; apologies to anyone miscredited or missing.

Half a King (Audible), by Joe Abercrombie. Deposed boy king tries to survive on his wits. Good, especially in the way it reflects on whether fighting his way back to power benefits the country or just him. [I did finish my review of this eventually: here it is.] ***

Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City (DC Comics), by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. Ropey comic about the Joker’s girlfriend. Trying to be Deadpool or Hitman with added cheesecake, and doesn’t work. At the time of writing it’s only 50p or so on Kindle. I wouldn’t pay much more than that for it. **

Hellblazer: City of Demons (Vertigo), by Si Spencer and Sean Murphy. Very good miniseries about John Constantine’s half-demon blood being used to infect people in London. Excellent artwork. Would have loved a full run in this style. ****

Hellboy in Hell, Vol. 1: The Descent (Dark Horse Books), by Mike Mignola. Hellboy has been killed and gone to hell, where he wanders around and meets various demons, including (maybe) his dad. Gorgeous art, but it’s just the beginning of a story. ***

Hellboy, Vol. 2: Wake the Devil (Dark Horse Books) by Mike Mignola, James Sinclair and Pat Brosseau. Rasputin’s ghost gathers his followers to resurrect the vampire Giurescu, servant of Hecate, and in battling them all Hellboy finds out more about himself and the destiny others have in mind for him. Wonderful art and a great story. ****

How to Write Everything (Oberon Books), by David Quantick. Okay, with some good advice, but a bit thin, given how much experience he has. For example he says he’s written ten thousand reviews but only talks about it for half a page (and not all the advice is admirable: “If you are are going to make a review up, make it look convincing”). On interviewing, I got a lot more out of Jason Arnopp’s How to Interview Doctor Who, Ozzy Osbourne and Everyone Else. ***

JLA, Vol. 1 (DC Comics) by Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, John Dell, Mark Millar, Oscar Jimenez, and many more. My favourite superhero comic of all time, I think. Grant Morrison gets such a great handle on all the big characters, while giving the outgoing cast an honourable, brave exit. Howard Porter’s artwork isn’t always anatomically perfect, but it’s always exciting, like a lightning bolt across the page. *****

Joe the Barbarian (Vertigo) by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. A boy with diabetes trying to survive a serious hypoglycaemic attack has visions of a fantasy world where his toys are alive and in great danger. This was pretty good, but I found it hard going. I love Dave Stewart’s colouring on the Hellboy books, but coupled with Sean Murphy’s art style it created panels that were really tough to figure out. We return to reality too often for the fantasy to take hold. Still, the cameos from toys looking a lot like Master Chief, the Transformers, GI Joe, etc were good fun, as were the authorised appearances from Batman, Superman, Robin and John Constantine. And how long has it been since Grant Morrison last wrote for the Zoids? ***

Lagoon (Hodder & Stoughton), by Nnedi Okorafor. Aliens land in the ocean off Lagos, and one of them comes out and takes human form. The city isn’t ready for them. Reviewed for Interzone #252. ****

Lobster Johnson, Vol. 1: Iron Prometheus (Dark Horse Books), by Mike Mignola, Jason Armstrong and Dave Stewart. A superhero fighting Nazi spies in a spin-off from Hellboy and the BPRD. ***

Lobster Johnson, Vol. 2: The Burning Hand (Dark Horse Books) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Tonci Zonjic, Dave Stewart and Scott Allie. Lobster Johnson and his team must protect a journalist; gangsters have recruited supernatural assistance. Terrific art and a great story. ****

Lobster Johnson, Vol. 3: Satan Smells a Rat (Dark Horse Books) by Mike Mignola, Tonci Zonjic and Scott Allie. A collection of smashing short stories with Lobster Johnson battling supernatural spies, gangsters and gods in the thirties. I love that his in-fight banter is simply a series of curt ejaculations. ****

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