Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s “Dr. Strange: The Oath”

Dr Strange The OathSo in addition to it being Star Wars Day, May the 4th was also Free Comic Book Day, a day designed to get folks out to their Local Comic Book Store (LCBS for the nerdier among us) and get free stuff.  The major publishers put out a few reprints, and the odd original work.  The LCBSes usually run all sorts of sales to catch the wallets of the patrons like bottom trawlers.  Every year I swear I’m not going in, because I hate crowds, and I always buy something I probably don’t need.  Every year I end up there anyway.

Finding this series was one of those fated moments.  I was only in the LCBS because my brother wanted to see what sales they had on their used video games.  After torturing him and his wallet by drawing his attention to two normally overpriced ATLUS titles, I headed over to the longboxes to avoid making a $40+ purchase myself.

Now, Dr. Strange is a character I’ve always been interested in, but never enough to seek out a title where he’s the head-liner.  I hadn’t even heard of this series before I saw it in the longbox that day.  What caught my eye under his name, though, was the name of one of my favourite writers working in comics today, Brian K. Vaughan.  I haven’t read his entire body of work yet, but I haven’t come across a title written by him that I haven’t enjoyed.  At $1 an issue, the trawlers had caught my wallet once again.

Writer Brian K. Vaughan and penciller Marcos Martin’s Dr. Strange:  The Oath is a 5 issue limited series from 2006, featuring Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme as he attempts to find a mystical cure for his cancer-ridden Apprentice/Butler/Manservant, Wong.  Along the way, they meet the Night Nurse, a young doctor who has made a name for herself by running an exclusive after hours clinic to patch up costumed vigilantes.  The trio track down a mysterious thief who has stolen Wong’s one chance for survival.

Continue reading

Review Grab Bag (4-19-13)

RGB 4-26-13

Time for another Review Grab Bag.  Continuing with last month’s theme of having absolutely no theme, we’ve got a classic animated feature from Disney, a classic 80s toy, a debatable modern sci-fi classic film, and a relatively middle road, forgettable graphic novel.

Continue reading

Review Grab Bag (3-28-13)

RGB 3-28-13

Time for another Review Grab Bag, full of stuff I just  don’t have 2000+ words to describe.  This month, we’ve got Envelope-pushing TV, Envelope-Pushing Streaming Video, an abomination of a toy from 1991, and a young adult novel about teens kidnapped by super-villains who are then forced to become super-villains. Now that’s variety, ladies and gentlemen.

Continue reading

S. G. Browne’s “Breathers”

Breathers by S. G. BrowneAndy Warner lost everything after his car crashed about 5 months ago. He lost his wife, his daughter, his friends, his home, his life. That’s about when his body reanimated.

Breathers tells a story about a world where zombies are real, sentient, and seen as a gross nuisance to those they’ve left behind. They have no purpose, no civil rights, and no means of making any kind of a new life for themselves. If a zombie decides to venture out in the world, they’re mocked and shunned by day, and actively hunted by frat boys by night.

So, Andy spends his days drinking his parents expensive wine and watching terrible daytime TV. He spends most of his nights the same way. Twice a week he meets with his Undead Anonymous support group. Things stay pretty well the same, until Andy meets a new friend, and decides to start encouraging social change.

Continue reading

Review Grab Bag (12-31-12)

RGB 12-31-12

Happy freakin’ New Year, everyone!  Let’s ring out the year with a Bag, a Grab Bag, shall we?  Since this month/year was supposed to be the end of it all, why not have a Grab Bag that focuses on life from other worlds?  We’ve got a movie, a series, a book with characters from a series, and a toy of a movie about…  it’s about aliens, man.

Continue reading

Phoning It In: Female Force #1: Betty White

I’ve been pretty busy tearing apart our bathroom this weekend, so I haven’t really had time to consume any media that I care to write about.  But since I’m still trying to get a hang of things here at WordPress, and I don’t want to go too long without posting something…  It must be time for another installment of Phoning It In… Where I post something I wrote somewhere else a long, long, time ago.  Today’s entry comes from Goodreads on July 6th, 2011.


Female Force: Betty WhiteFemale Force: Betty White by Patrick McCray

I’m a tremendous fan of comic books. My wife is a tremendous fan of Betty White. Obviously, the moment we discovered the existence of this gem, we needed to have it.


Continue reading

Review Grab Bag (12-3-12)

Maybe it’s been over a year, but welcome again to the Review Grab Bag…  the Review Free-For-All.  If it can be reviewed, it’s fair game… good, great, bad or steaming pile of shit.

Today we’ve got 2 books, a Wii game and a movie (that’s an adaptation of a book about comic books and games! Everything is connected, in the great Circle of Reviews.   Ing-wing-yamma Ing-we-yamma-bahna.

Continue reading

Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists

The SentimentalistsThe Sentimentalists by Johanna Shively Skibsrud

This review will be brief, I think.

I can’t think of any way to discuss the book without revealing the “ending”, so I’m not even going to try. I also didn’t enjoy the book at all. There was a minute there where I thought I would. It didn’t pan out. I don’t think I’m going to be very nice about it.

I read The Sentimentalists because my darling Mother-in-Law essentially asked me to.  I don’t remember the exact words, but she did say “I’d be interested in getting a male perspective” or some other bullshit like that.

In other words:  It’s all her fault.

As near as I can tell, The Sentimentalists is the story of Napoleon Haskell, told through the eyes of his daughter Honey. For the first 80 or so pages… nothing happens. There’s a bunch of wordy, yet vague, descriptions of how Honey’s family was never really close, and that her father was a drunk vet, full of empty promises. One of these promises was to finish a boat. Spoiler: He doesn’t finish the fucking boat. Instead he disappoints his family, runs off to live in an unfinished shack, until one day his daughters scoot him across the border to live with the father of his buddy who died in the war.

Yes. I’m oversimplifying things. I’m doing this because I wasn’t fucking interested.

I was interested at one point. When Napoleon finally opens up to his daughter about the war, the book goes from long drawn out descriptions of minutia to becoming an interesting tale of a random soldier in the Vietnam War. Napoleon goes on to tell a tale, that is sad, engaging and intriguing. He’s not clear on the details, because he’s clearly done everything he can to forget them. This happens about page 150 of  217, and actually made me excited to finish that final quarter.

In the end, I didn’t enjoy this book. That final quarter? It doesn’t fill in any details. Instead, it includes a transcript from an inquiry on the incident Napoleon witnesses. That transcript doesn’t corroborate with what Napoleon tells his daughter at all. I think this was supposed to show us that, despite what his platoon thought, Napoleon had tried not to blatantly accuse his fellow soldiers of anything.

Instead, what it shows us is that the author is trying to leave us with an open to interpretation ending. Maybe we’re supposed to come away feeling that we’ll never really know the truth of anything in our parent’s lives? Maybe we’re supposed to think that we can’t ever really learn from them how to avoid making mistakes? I don’t know. Whatever she was trying to do, it didn’t give two shits.

The book ends letting us know that someone did eventually finish building that goddamn boat and now it’s on it’s way up the Northumberland Strait. Yippie!  It’s one of the things these characters are sentimental about. I think it’s one of those take-pleasure-in-small-consolations moments. Whatever. By the end, when I realized that I wasn’t ever going to get any kind of resolution about what happened to Napoleon or his friend, I really, really, really didn’t care about any of these characters.

This book won “The Giller Prize” for something or other.  It’s a Canadian literature award of some type.  If this is the best we can do, I think we should all throw our fucking pens in the Bay of Fundy and give the fuck up.

This wasn’t very brief, was it?  Oh well.  I guess I lied.  You’ll get over it.


Gregory Maguire’s Wicked

This review was originally posted, for the most part, at Goodreads.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

“When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked?

Gregory Maguire has created a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again.” – Goodreads blurb.

 Wicked is essentially the story of Elphaba, better known as “The Wicked Witch of the West”.  It follows her from birth to death.  It shows us her origins, and then attempts to show us her side of one of the world’s most famous stories.  Wicked has earned a great notoriety of its own.  In addition to being a successful novel, it’s a very successful Broadway musical.  Of course, like everything else, it’s also being looked at to be turned into a movie.

It’s not very often that my wife and I are both interested in reading the same book. This was one of the few times I can think of. Neither of us had heard of it before, and we spotted it on a shelf in a local thrift store.  We both saw it at the same time, and reached for it.  Reading the back cover, the premise excited us, as it has so many others.

For me, however, it failed to deliver. It came out of the gate strong. Sometimes brilliant, but sometimes preachy, I found myself mostly enjoying Elphaba’s birth and early years. But as her entrance to college started a downward spiral of less brilliance and greater preaching, I found myself enjoying the book less and less. By the end, the author seemed to be trying too hard to say too much and I lost almost all interest in Elphaba’s origins.

Added to the preaching was the fact that many things happened that seemed to be left unresolved or unexplained. Now, I don’t mean that in a “I’ll leave this for the sequel” kind of way. In attempting to ground the land of Oz to reality, you really need to go into greater details regarding the hows and whys of the Wicked Witch’s strange appearance. You should probably not explain the fantastic details of your main characters oddball traits to your reader with, effectively, the equivalent of, “I dunno… maybe her mother screwed some pixies or something?” This problem is compounded by the fact that this is supposed to be an origin story, and recurs throughout the novel.

I can see why some have greatly enjoyed the novel. Maguire’s “adult” look at the world of Oz is an interesting take. The idea that this world that we all know of as beautiful and majestic, inhabited with wonderful creatures, is actually filled with as many horrors and horrible beings as our own is quite interesting. And most of the messages Maguire tries to get across (equal/human rights, moral ambiguity, the evils of tyranny and the abuse of power, etc.) are things that many enjoy reading about.

Once it was done, though, I was glad to be through with it. I have to say that “It’s Okay.”  Thus: