Saturday, March 16, 2019

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)All Systems Red by Martha Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Security Bots are made up of a combination of organic and robotic elements. Like other bots they can be programmed for a variety of skills, in this case to act as bodyguards/protectors for survey teams as they explore planets for minerals, fauna or other valuable items. Having been involved in an incident that caused it to kill a number of humans, this bot has been reprogrammed. At some point it was able to hack into its programming and become self aware. It has also decided to call itself Murderbot, and all it wants to do is to watch the entertainment serials it has downloaded between its necessary duties.

Contracted out by the corporation to provide security to a survey team working on a little known planet, Murderbot discovers that things are not as they should be. Technical glitches and gaps in the information the team has on the planet leads the team to discover why and who might be behind this. In order to perform his duties, it might become necessary for Murderbot to reveal his own secret. If he does, what will be the reaction and will he simply be deactivated and reprogrammed.

Wells introduces a fascinating new SF character and we see the story unfold from his perspective. I'm looking forward to reading the further adventure of the character and where he goes from this point on.

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Monday, March 11, 2019

My Comic picks for 3/6/19

Deadly Class, Volume 1: Reagan YouthDeadly Class, Volume 1: Reagan Youth by Rick Remender
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rick Remender, has been writing for Marvel and other American publishers for years. His creation Deadly Class is now an on-going TV series on the SyFy channel. This first TPB collection was adapted into the first season of the TV show, with some minor in the timeline and the appearance of some characters. I heard of this book but didn't pick it up until I was already a fan of the show.

Marcus is an orphan, whose parents were killed during the suicide of a released mental patient. Marcus has decided that this was caused by the Federal government cutting funding to institutions which lead to this tragedy, so decides that Ronald Reagan is to blame. His goal is to kill the then President. Wrongly believed to have caused the death of a number of children in a fire that destroyed the orphanage, Marcus is living on the streets and trying to keep away from the police. One night while escaping he finds himself rescued by other teens that he discovers are students of Kings Dominion, a secret high school that trains the children of elite families to become assassins. As he begins his studies he finds himself becoming friends, something he has never had before, with other students who are also seen as outcasts (called Rats). Eventually it becomes clear that neither Marcus or his fellow students can every truly escape their pasts, nor the hidden agendas of their families and the school administration.

The book ends at a point about mid-season in the TV series, so you'd have to decide if you want to continue from here as some plot elements in the show are given away in the graphic novel. I'm a fan of both and look forward to the show and future collections of the series.

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Comics Review - Murder Falcon #1-4 from Image.

Murder Falcon, Volume 1Murder Falcon, Volume 1 by Daniel Warren Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first heard about this book in Comic Shop News prior to the initial release. While this is the TPB collection, I read the title as it was released monthly. Johnson created, wrote & drew this book with the assistance of Mike Spicer. Really love the art and the look of the creatures that Jake and Murf (the nickname Jake has given his partner) fight.

Creatures of chaos have invaded the Earth and Murder Falcon has come here to fight them. He receives his power from the energy of the metal music that Jake plays on hit guitar. Jake himself, had gone through a personal tragedy (which we learn about slowly through the first four issues) and had given up on the idea of being a member of a metal trio just getting ready to hit is big. We get Jake's backstory, as well as MF's in bits and pieces, along with meeting the two other members of the band. Each group member has the power, through their instruments, of calling forth a creature to aid them in their battles.

I admit my knowledge of metal is limited, so only a few of the real groups and musicians mentioned in the book (and letters page) are familiar to me. One thing it has done is to be me searching YouTube for videos and the music of some of these folks. That's certainly not a bad thing.

Even if you aren't a fan of the music, the story and art are interesting enough to carry you along. I recommend you give it a try. I'm looking forward to see where the band goes from here. Hey, they even have cowbell now!

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Review - Stranger Things: The Other Side

Stranger Things: The Other Side (Graphic Novel Volume 1)Stranger Things: The Other Side by Jody Houser
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dark Horse brings us a graphic novel, written by Jody Houser, that takes us back to the first season of the show. What was Will Byers doing in the Upside Down, while his family and friends searched for him?

Nice art by Stefano Martino, shows how Will was able to survive as well as some flashbacks to the gang playing Dungeons & Dragons. How did those times help Will and shape his understanding of the events happening around him.

This is really aimed at folks who are already familiar with the show and its characters. Not a good jumping on point for anyone new to the show, but rather a little bonus for those of us waiting for the next season.

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Review of Marvel Tales #1 - Featuring Venom

Marvel Tales: Venom (2019) #1 (Marvel Tales (2019-))Marvel Tales: Venom (2019) #1 (Marvel Tales by David Michelinie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Marvel Tales, beginning in the '60s, was a reprint title sometimes focusing on Spider-Man. It ran until it was cancelled in '94 with #291. Marvel has brought it back, again as a reprint title, initially featuring important issues of particular characters. The first one contained three issues of the Fantastic Four from various eras of that title. Each issue begins with an essay by former Assistant Editor and writer, Ralph Macchio discussing the history of the character featured.

This one focuses on the anti-hero Venom, currently one of Marvel's most popular characters. The first issue is actually about Peter Parker, when he was still wearing the black costume, prior to it being separated from him. This is Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #119 and showcases Black Cat (the thief who was in love with Peter) and the X-Men villain, Sabretooth.

Next is The Amazing Spider-Man #316, with art by Todd McFarlane (prior to his split to co-found Image). Venom is now bonded with Eddie Brock, who is seeking Spider-Man. Unfortunately, Black Cat again ends up getting in the way of the symbiote.

Finally, we have the first part of a Carnage story from TAS-M #361. Peter has tricked Eddie Brock into thinking he has killed Spider-Man, so he and Venom are not living on a small Caribbean island. Meanwhile, a portion of the symbiote attached itself to serial killer, Cletus Kasady, who is now calling himself Carnage. With increased power, Kasady has escaped prison but continues to kill randomly as Spider-Man and the police seek to stop him.

Not great stories, but if you are a fan of Spider-Man or the symbiote (in its various incarnations) this is a nice way to check in on its history.

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