Sunday, January 07, 2018

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Book Review - Ambassador of Space

I wanted to like this book more, but really found it more confusing than fun. Originally published in 1975, maybe I've just seen so much that similar that this has lost the charm it once had. It seems that a Valerian & Laureline film will be released later this year, and the trailers look pretty cool. If it's successful I'm sure that the graphic novel series will be doing quite well.

In a distant time and space, 'spatio-temporal' agents Valerian, the clean cut hero, and Laureline, his beautiful assistant (and really the brains of the operation) move through time and space as the only humans in a very, alien environment. A mix of Barbarella and pulpish space opera, it's amusing and maybe in a better frame of mind I'd have enjoyed it more.

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Batgirl, Vol. 3: Death of the FamilyBatgirl, Vol. 3: Death of the Family by Gail Simone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third TPB to collect the Batgirl issues written by Gail Simone. When these were being published I had recently dropped almost all DC titles (New 52! My butt!!) and the "Court of Owls" storyline pushed me to drop the remaining Bat books. As good a writer as Simone is she was stuck in one of those situations where she had to put a halt to much of the story she had been writing so that Barbara Gordon and others could take part in the Court cross-over. Unfortunately, this makes this and the prior volume sometimes hard to follow, as part of the story was continued in the other Batman affiliated titles.

Once the Court arc is taken care of Simone is able to return to the storyline involving Barbara dealing with her guilt over her recovery and the return of The Joker. This is the phase where he was wearing his old face stapled onto his now disfigured one. I'm not blaming Simone for that stupidity, but it's still there and for me takes me out of most scenes where you see it in closeup.

Along with that Barbara must deal with the return of her mother, the somewhat strained relationship with her father the Commissioner and the escape of her serial killer brother, James.

Once everything is in place Simone does a great job of bringing everything together and moving along the lives of her characters. Generally a good read once things get straightened out.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Public (Emilio Estevez Movie) - Official Trailer

Certainly something to think about given the current situation in this country.  I've been a Librarian for over thirty years and admit to be conflicted.  It does look like a good film.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Dark Horse Number OnesDark Horse Number Ones by Various
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd probably give this a half star more, but as with all anthologies you have really good stuff and some that just doesn't do it for you. In this case more hits than misses, but I've been a big fan of Dark Horse for years. They and Image put out some of my favorite books, with DH taking the lead at the moment.

Of course, you can't go wrong with Hellboy or any title in the Mignola-verse. "Hellboy in Hell" is another outstanding entry in that series. I actually read the story by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba featuring their Umbrella Academy before, but it was still fun and I recommend the series about a group of children with powers abandoned by their parents and raised by a wealthy benefactor. The tales often go from when they were children to their current adult adventures.

Dean Ormston's Black Hammer is about a group of super-heroes who disappeared and now cannot return to their own era. They are also trying to keep their secrets from the citizens of the area, but events might not allow that for much longer. An interesting series that I plan on following. Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook is a nice horror tale of witchcraft and curses from the past. Dept. H is a murder mystery in the future that takes place in an undersea research station. This is by Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt and I've already been buying this series. If you might be interested in a straight story of militias and survivalists, with family dynamics complicating an already tense situation than Brigg's Land by Brian Wood and Mark Chater might be something you like. No costumes or curses, except the four-letter ones, in sight.

As I said, there are always stories in an anthology that don't click for you, but your opinion might be different from mine.

I didn't care for Lady Killer by Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich. A housewife, who is secretly an assassin has a dark comedy feel, but I didn't like it much. I think the fact that there is some more than flirtatious chemistry going on between the main character I find distasteful. Guess I'm old fashion. It does seem to have a following. Kurtis Wiebe and Mindy Lee's Bounty is about a pair of female bounty hunters in outer space. Aliens, robots and folks with strange powers. Fun and nothing original enough in this sample issue to get me to pick it up.

The best thing about this TPB is that it's only six bucks for eight #1 issues from a wide-range of creators in a number of different genres. I just with I could have given it that extra star.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Killing Trail (Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #1)Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this first book in the series we are introduced to Police officer Mattie Cobb and her new partner, K-9 police dog Robo. Mattie and Robo have only recently finished their training and are assigned as the first members of the new K-9 division of the Timber Creek, Colorado Police Dept.

When a young girl goes missing and Robo discovers her body, Mattie and her partner begin an investigation into the murder and possible drug dealing in the small town. Both Mattie and Robo are getting to know each other, and are just beginning to form a bond when things begin to escalate, when a second body is found, that of the major suspect in the girl's killing. The investigation may lead back to Mattie's past and possibly a fellow officer.

Officer Cobb, Robo and a newly divorced veterinarian are great characters. A solid beginning to the series.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Stardust App and Netflix addiction

A few months ago the Schmoes Know crew began promoting a new app, Stardust, on their podcasts.  It allows anyone who has an account to create a short video of twenty seconds in which they can give their thoughts on current or past films, reactions to trailers or review of a particular television series and individual episodes.  Fellow members can then Like the review. It sounded like fun, so I downloaded the app on my iPhone.

Now each morning and several times at night I'll log on and see what my fellow 'Dusters have to say.  They have made it easy to search either by the reviewer or by a film or TV show title, where you can get all the reviews previously loaded.  Initially, members would sometimes post a video in response, but recently Stardust has added a 'comment' feature that makes it easier and really does create a sense  of community. 

Each week members receive an e-mail and message in the app, recommending shows and films to which they would like members to pay attention.  These are usually new releases or popular series. There is also a weekly video where portions of member posts are shown to a larger audience.  A cool way to get more followers and find folks you might not have been aware of previously.

If this sort of thing interests you check it out. You can find me, if you want, at @Stevec50.

As I may have mentioned previously, the Ladies were kind enough to set me up with Netflix, and it wasn't long before I began watching a number of films and TV shows I'd never had a chance to catch initially.  There are also programs, like Stranger Things, House of Cards and several series based on characters from Marvel Comics. 

I've tried five of the six Marvel shows so far, only The Defenders, which unites the individual characters remains to be seen.  The current shows I'm watching are Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist and The Punisher.  I find that I'm in agreement with my fellow 'Dusters and many other folks on social media regarding Daredevil. It's not bad, so much as lesser in quality when compared to the other shows, especially (IMHO) Luke Cage and The Punisher. All the series stay fairly close to the source, with only a few small references to the Marvel films or the bigger hitters in that universe.

The Ladies are having me watch House of Cards and I'm in the middle of Season Two.  Most folks seem to agree the show gets weaker after the third season, but I've got a way to go before I find out for myself. Of course, with the Kevin Spacey controversy it doesn't look like there will be anything beyond the current season. Unless Netflix decides to make some major changes, writing out his character in some fashion.  

I've go to admit that for me it's Stranger Things that make my subscription worth the money. I absolutely love the show (only in its second season) and really admire the acting of the mostly young cast.  Winona Ryder, as Joyce, the mother of one of the kids is amazing.  Easy to forget what a good actress she is.  The other main adult character being David Harbour as Chief Hopper.  Harbour can go from light comedic scenes to really being a bad ass, making both scenes believable.  Considering the horror and SF elements of the series, the fact that the writers allow for so much humor in some episodes helps to flesh out the characters.  

Sorry I went on for a bit, but it has been a while since I've done more than drop in a video or a review.  

I also want to wish everyone a very, Happy Thanksgiving!