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The Shadow: Year One Omnibus

Title: The Shadow: Year One Omnibus
Author: Matt Wagner
Publish Date: 2014 by Dynamite Entertainment
Genre: Superhero
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionThe Shadow has enjoyed nearly a century of enduring popularity as the first and greatest hero from the golden age of pulp magazines. Here, for the first time, is unveiled the origin story of how the Master of Men returned to America following his many adventures abroad in the aftermath of World War I. How did Lamont Cranston launch his legendary crusade against crime, assemble his vast network of covert operatives, and meet his lover and companion, Margo Lane? A treat for longtime Shadow fans and a perfect introduction to the character for a whole new generation of readers. Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men? The Shadow Knows!

Collects the complete ten-issue storyline (#1-10) from The Shadow: Year One, including a pin-up gallery of over 50 comic book covers (by top-tier artistic talent including Alex Ross, Matt Wagner, Chris Samnee, Wilfredo Torres, Howard Chaykin, and more), plus hand-drawn sketch covers.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

I love the Shadow. I read many of the novels and comics as a kid. When it was rebooted in the late 80s as a comic series, I was there. Sadly, it didn’t last long, nor did another revival a few years after that one. I knew that Dynamite had started another series in 2011, but it was only twenty-four issues. They also put the Shadow in a series called Masks, pairing the Shadow with some of his contemporaries.

The Shadow: Year One is a compilation of a new series, again by Dynamite. I should probably step back and explain Year One.

A lot of comic book publishers are taking their known characters and doing a new look at them, called Year One. Most of the time, if you reboot or start a new Batman, Superman, X-Men, or other known series, the author will just jump into their story, assuming the reader knows how these heroes got started. Or if they do an origin, it’s usually a quick version of it.

Take Batman. His parents are killed in front of him and he vows to get revenge on all criminals who make people fear them. Bruce Wayne then disappears for a dozen years or more before coming back as the Batman. And we start when they are established and look in on their current story.

Year Ones ask the question, how easy was it for them to turn into the superhero we know? Where did Bruce go to learn to fight? How did he arrive back in the city? How did he earn the support of Commission Gordon? (Batman Begins pulled heavily from Batman Year One, if these questions sound like it answered them.)

This is no exception. The comic is written from Margo Lane’s standpoint, which serves to keep The Shadow shrouded a bit of mystery. The city is dealing with a masked figure gunning down criminals. It’s just the Shadow, though, not his usual group of agents, including Margo Lane herself.

I found this to be quite wonderful! I think that’s why I like trades now where they do tell an entire story, rather than getting individual issues. We see Lamont Cranston arriving back in New York, acting the playboy. We find out why he has come to NY and who he is fighting. We learn a bit about his powers and eventually who he is, which thrilled me! We also see him save Margo and then make her one of his agents. We see one of his early disguises at the police HQ when he needs to learn information on what the police know. And we see the start of his organization. By the end, it’s not done, but it’s a start. And the ideas of many of the Shadow stories before it are woven into it well, surprising even me a few times. I also liked the evolution that will happen between what he uses now and what his organization will use.

If I have any complaint, it’s two-fold. There is a lot of 30s slang that was tough to follow. It also took a bit to learn the characters because the art wasn’t as crisp or clean as I would have preferred to distinguish the many characters. I also think they needed a bit more foreshadowing of several things. However, still a great story and a solid four from me.

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The Joker: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder

Title: The Joker: Death of the Family
Author: Scott Snyder
Series: Batman Vol. 2
Publish Date: October 22, 2013 by DC Comics
Genre: Superhero
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: After having his face sliced off one year ago, The Joker makes his horrifying return in this new epic that features Batman’s entire network of partners in crimefighting, including Batgirl, Catwoman, Nightwing, Robin, the Teen Titans and more. While The Joker threatens the very existence of Gotham City, these heroes –and villains–must find a way to survive.

Collecting: Detective Comics 16-17, Catwoman 13-14, Batgirl 14-16, Red Hood and the Outlaws 15-16, Teen Titans 15, Nightwing 15-16, Batman and Robin 15-17, Batman 13, 17; & material from Detective Comics 15, Suicide Squad 14-15, Batgirl 13, Red Hood and the Outlaws 13-14, Teen Titans14, 16; Nightwing 14, & Batman 14.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

I don’t follow comics that closely, despite all of my comic reviews. As such, I don’t know why DC did a reboot back in 2010 called the New 52, ending all lines and restarting 52 of them. And DC did it again with another reboot and followed that by going back to the previous lines and comic numbers! I can’t answer any of that, sadly, or know if there is an answer why. What I do know is that when they did the New 52, they waited a whole year before bringing back the most well-known villain:

The Joker

Right off the bat (heh, no pun intended), when I look at the list above of how many comics this contains such that I didn’t have to get all of those titles on my own, I’m very happy for this trade. Further, it puts them in a chronological order of sorts, rather than all titles from the same line together. If they had done that, we would have gotten the finale after the fourth issue and the rest would have been backstory, rather than the gripping story they wove.

The Joker’s back and he’s crazier than ever. We are shown that this time, not told. He kills. He maims. He tortures. And that’s just to his friends, much less the good guys. This is a story of the Joker making Batman pure by getting rid of all of the baggage that holds him back. And that’s the Batman’s “family” of Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin(s), and Catwoman. They all have to go if Batman is to be the pure good guy to Joker’s bad. And the Joker just wants to have fun.

****SPOILER TO FOLLOW THIS DISCLAIMER****

I’m really torn about whether to say this spoiler or not. A story should stand on its own even if it’s spoiled or it might not have had much story. At the same time, some might not want to know anything other than this:

I enjoyed it. It’s a good story. I will quibble below but enjoyed the read and felt what they did with Joker was well done.

Now, if you want no spoilers, don’t read further.

spoiler

space

*****YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*****

Sadly, and here’s the spoiler, it doesn’t work.

At the end of it all, the writers couldn’t mess with the continuity of the other titles, so none of the family was hurt. There are slight hints that there is a fracture between them, but I don’t doubt it will be resolved a few issues later in all their own titles. None of the main characters die. Oh, the Joker still kills some known secondary characters, but Nightwing, Batgirl, Catwomen, and Robin are all okay.

For that reason, DC’s title is misleading. They wanted it to conjure images of Death In The
Family, when Joker killed then-Robin, Jason Todd. I think this does Joker a disservice. I think by hyping him up and then having him not do it weakens the character. This Joker would have killed them or done something to them, not let them all live.

The thing is, I still give this a solid four, even with my disappointment in the ending. The ride we go on to get there is fascinating. The Joker does kill several secondary characters from several titles and, as I said, he might fracture the relationship between Bruce and the others, but it will soon be status quo. What he does in the meantime, though, entertains in the most macabre way. I think Harley has it the worst. The psychology of her story is good, as well as the psychology of the Joker. I just think it’s too bad they couldn’t have done something a bit more permanent.

A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

The author of the beloved Iron Druid Chronicles delivers a high fantasy series rich in magic, history, and culture.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

A plague of giantsTitle: A Plague of Giants
Author: Kevin Hearne
Series: Seven Kennings 01
Publish Date: October 17, 2017, Del Rey
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Provided by publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionFrom the author of The Iron Druid Chronicles, a thrilling novel that kicks off a fantasy series with an entirely new mythology–complete with shape-shifting bards, fire-wielding giants, and children who can speak to astonishing beasts.

MOTHER AND WARRIOR
Tallynd is a soldier who has already survived her toughest battle: losing her husband. But now she finds herself on the front lines of an invasion of giants, intent on wiping out the entire kingdom, including Tallynd’s two sons–all that she has left. The stakes have never been higher. If Tallynd fails, her boys may never become men.

SCHOLAR AND SPY
Dervan is an historian who longs for a simple, quiet life. But he’s drawn into intrigue when he’s hired to record the tales of a mysterious bard who may be a spy or even an assassin for a rival kingdom. As the bard shares his fantastical stories, Dervan makes a shocking discovery: He may have a connection to the tales, one that will bring his own secrets to light.

REBEL AND HERO
Abhi’s family have always been hunters, but Abhi wants to choose a different life for himself. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery, Abhi soon learns that his destiny is far greater than he imagined: a powerful new magic thrust upon him may hold the key to defeating the giants once and for all–if it doesn’t destroy him first. Set in a magical world of terror and wonder, this novel is a deeply felt epic of courage and war, in which the fates of these characters intertwine–and where ordinary people become heroes, and their lives become legend.


Percy Procrastinator says…

I was very nervous about reading this series. The reason is quite simple—authors that I like for one series rarely catch me with their other series. Butcher’s Codex Alera and Cinder Spires didn’t thrill me as much as the Dresden Files, and Armstrong’s Cainsville series didn’t quite live up to the Women of the Otherworld series for me. While there are a few exceptions to this, this seems to be the general rule in my experience.

Kevin Hearne defied my expectations. This was an excellent start to what I hope is a gripping series, as gripping as his Iron Druid Chronicles.

Hearne manages to weave a tale of six peoples in six kingdoms that pulled me into their story. Each one has its own kenning, or magic, they practice. The titular giants make up the only nonhuman group, but the diversity of the humans astounds. Not so much in speech, as the story is recounted by a bard to a group of refugees, but in culture and appearance, each kingdom comes alive. When the bard mentions the Canopy, I knew he spoke about Forn. The best stone workers hail from Rael, while water kennings are from Brynlon. Only Ghurana Nent, or Nentians, stand alone with no kenning.

The title quickly comes into play as the giants of Hathrir, with their fire kenning, come to invade Ghurana Nent while at the same time, the other side of the continent sees Brynlon and Rael invaded by Bone Giants. Both deal with giants but in very different ways.

We learn about all of this from the bard Fintan as he entertains refugees of Byrnlon with what happened during all the “plagues.” Fintan gathered journals from people close to the events and shares with everyone. He then weaves a tale, switching back and forth from character to character. This allows us to learn about each people and their kenning and also how each invasion progresses.

I was hooked after fifty pages. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Would one giant invasion succeed while another failed? Would Abbi take up the spear to honor his family? Will Tallynd keep pushing herself beyond her limits? I wanted to know!

I did get this book as a physical book, and I appreciated that a lot due to the map in the front cover and the cast of characters in the first pages until I got to know them all. While I could have read it on an ebook, I think having those things available did help.

If I have any complaint about this book, it’s where it ended. Not everything was wrapped up, and I expected that, so that was fine. I do think that a few smaller things could have been explained in only four or five more pages, and that would have been more satisfying. That is not going to stop me from giving this a five-star rating! If you are a fan of Hearne, run out and get this now!

[Editor’s note – please don’t run as we would hate for you to fall and get injured.]

Luna_Lovebooks_100

Luna Lovebooks says…

I must admit when I saw the cover, even after reading the synopsis, my mind went straight to Vikings. I am not sure why. But what I got instead was one wild ride and a great start to a series with myths all its own.

The story is told from multiple points of view. All these views contribute to the overall story of how the giants came to the different lands. To be honest there are almost too many points of view. While each is distinct, I still found myself wondering who was who and what magic they could possess.

It took me a while to get intrigued and drawn in. I am not sure if this is because there were so much world building going on or the fact that I struggled to keep everyone straight, even with a little guide at the beginning as to who was who. Each character has his/her own nation, customs, language, and magic or kenning.

badge3v4I think I will have to rate A Plague of Giants at 3.5. The beginning didn’t flow well since there were so many characters but once I got used to the way the story was progressing it smoothed out. I haven’t decided if I want to continue the series yet but I hope my fellow readers will give it a try for themselves.

Other recommendations…

Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series, Raymond Feist’s Riftwar Saga, Feist and Wurts’s Empire TrilogyThe Glass Spare series by Lauren DeStefano, Swords & Fire series by Melissa Caruso

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 0: Don’t Call It A Team-Up

Sadly, I cannot rate this very high. Maybe after I read more in the series, it will be higher than a two, but unto itself, I can’t go higher.

Title: Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 0: Don’t Call It A Team-Up
Author: Joe Kelly, Fabian Nicieza, Daniel Way, Kevin Shinick, Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan, Christopher Hastings, Scott Aukerman , Pete Woods (Illustrator), Patrick Zircher (Illustrator), Eric Canete (Illustrator), Carlo G. Barberi (Illustrator), Aaron Kuder (Illustrator), Mike Hawthorne (Illustrator), Jacopo Camagni (Illustrator), Skottie Young (Illustrator), Ed McGuinness (Illustrator), Reilly Brown (Illustrator)
Series: Spider-Man/Deadpool, Book 00
Publish Date: May 24th 2016 by Marvel
Genre: Superhero
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Two great tastes that taste great together! As Spidey and Deadpool fast-talk their way into an ongoing buddy book at last, grab the full story of their unlikely bromance. Through the magic of comics, Wade Wilson steps into the swinging shoes of a young Peter Parker! Then, the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler and the anti-social there-goes-the-neighborhood merc trade blows and “yo mama” quips. If friendship blossoms during encounters with Hit-Monkey and the Hypno-Hustler, will that jerk Otto Octavius ruin everything by being all Superior?

COLLECTING: DEADPOOL (1997) 11, CABLE & DEADPOOL 24, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) 611, DEADPOOL (2008) 19-21, AVENGING SPIDER-MAN 12-13, DEADPOOL (2012) 10, DEADPOOL ANNUAL 2

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

This is a situation where there needs to be a reader’s guide. Many book series have published a prequel after the first several books are out. They can clarify things that the author intended but that the readers didn’t understand or know about. Or they can muddy the waters to readers who don’t know when to read it. For me, this is firmly the latter.

I don’t usually notice art in comics. If It’s a good story, the art is second. It’s only if the story isn’t going well that I notice the art.

I noticed the art.

It could have served to help tell the story, and that’s what they were trying to do, but it fell flat for me. I lost count of how many different styles were used. I think it attempts to patch a few things here and there to be tied to other stories. Again, maybe if I had already read other volumes, it would make sense. It doesn’t.

The story itself is disjointed. It feels more like an anthology that covers several gaps in an ongoing story than a cohesive story itself. We start in some action, but I never got the sense that there is tension about anything. I think that’s because, as with most series, the main characters have a feeling of not being able to be hurt. That’s certainly true here. After that, we move to a different point in the timeline, and things are different, and it takes a while to figure that out.

In the end, I found this too disjointed. Again, it reads as if it actually came out several years into an ongoing series and acts to glue various things that happened in that series better. If they had had some expository explaining where the story fit and what happened, or maybe even a warning that it should be read after a certain point, it might be better. Perhaps if I ever get to those, I will revisit this and see how it stacks up then. Until then, I can’t recommend it.

I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young

I could not believe how good this story was and how much I wanted more!

Title: I Hate Fairyland Vol. 1: Madly Ever After
Author: Skottie Young (Writer, Artist), Jean-François Beaulieu (Colourist), Nate Piekos (Letterer)
Series: I Hate Fairyland (Trade), Book 01
Publish Date: April 20, 2016, Image Comics
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: From superstar writer and artist Skottie Young (Rocket Raccoon, Wizard of OZ, Fortunately, The Milk), comes the first volume of an all-new series of adventure and mayhem.

An Adventure Time/Alice in Wonderland-style epic that smashes its cute little face against grown-up, Tank Girl/Deadpool-esque violent madness. Follow Gert, a forty-year-old woman stuck in a six-year-old’s body, who has been trapped in the magical world of Fairyland for nearly thirty years. Join her and her giant battle-axe on a delightfully blood-soaked journey to see who will survive the girl who HATES FAIRYLAND.

Collecting: I Hate Fairyland 1-5

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

Fairyland exists to pull girls into it to have a fun two- or three-day adventure, and then they get to go back home. What happens, though, when the girl can’t figure out what to do? That’s what we have here.

All Gertrude had to do was several quick quests in Fairyland, and then she could go home. Fairyland gave her a guide and set her on her way for a fun, magical adventure!

That was twenty-seven years ago. Apparently, Gertrude isn’t good at following directions. Or quests. Or a straight line.

It’s now twenty-seven years later, and she is still trapped in Fairyland. She can’t tell North from East, Up from Left, and can’t find the way back home. Fairyland is suffering as well. It is used to entertaining little girls for a day or two and doesn’t know what to do with Gertrude. The queen is doing what she can to get rid of Gertrude and restore peace to her realm.

Gertrude herself has aged mentally but not physically. And here is where it gets wonderfully wicked. Make no mistake about it, this is an adult book. There are adult themes in it and what could be some disturbing visuals. Not the language, though, because it’s Fairyland. No swearing allowed! That fun language alone is worth it. “Mother fluffer” abounds.

It was a great read! Fun story, fun visuals, and some hilarious dialog makes this a wonderful book! I can’t wait for the next one! Full five stars!

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