Saturday, May 15, 2010

Alex Unplugged

So, after a week without electricity, Exfanding HQ is finally back up and running again and ready to thwart off all super villain attacks. Unless, of course, they use a wind attack. Because then, we’d be in some trouble.

I would so not be able to defeat the Weather Wizard.

Anyroguesgallery, cleanup begins this weekend, and so, too, does the whole catching up on a week’s worth of news online. I’ve been pretty much unplugged from the Internet since Saturday, which, in Internet Years, is like a decade.

I mean, sure, I’ll pop on every now and then at the office to make sure the world is still here--and, for the most part, it is--but it’s been a pretty busy week and time hasn’t allowed for nearly enough Web surfing.

Especially for a comics dork.

So I honestly have no idea how the Internet has reacted to this past week’s big, event-y comics. Like Marvel’s Siege, issue four, and DC’s Return of Bruce Wayne, issue one.

I’m willing to bet that it’s been a mixed bag, though. I plan on reading both titles later today, so I’ll probably post a little review in the coming week. Today, though, I plan on a mash-up of a post with some quick review-ish thingies of books, Web sites, and other ephemera that I’ve read while without power. (Is “other ephemera” redundant?)

We’ll call this brand new (and, hopefully, one time) segment, Alex Unplugged: Reviews in the Dark. Which sounds dirty. But whatever. You go a week without electricity then come up with something better. Like Alex Unplugged: Books to Read in the Dark.

Nah. Still doesn’t work. And it’s still dirty.

Alex Unplugged:

Not-so-Boring Books for the Very Bored Fanboy.

Electric Boogaloo.

Wherein Our Hero Reviews Several Comic Books.

Die Harder.

Reviews from (the Opposite of) Electric Ladyland.

When Harry Met Sally.

Okay. It’s official. We’re going with Alex Unplugged: Books to Read in the Dark. Now that that nonsense is behind us, let’s get to the reviews!

First up, we have volume one of Grant Morrison’s excellent, trippy, fun, and disturbing love letter to Bruce Wayne, Batman and Robin. Featuring art by Frank Quietly and, in the second story arc, Phillip Tan, this collection is worth checking out, even if you’re a Bruce Wayne diehard.
Starring the new Batman and Robin (or, if you’d prefer, “Batman” and “Robin”), Morrison’s latest foray into the world of the Dark Knight is everything you’d expect from the writer. Somehow, Morrison makes postmodern storytelling seem…classical in nature. Dick Grayson and Damian (Bruce Wayne's son) reluctantly team up to become the new Dynamic Duo of Gotham.
And the Frank Quietly art in the first arc (sadly, only three issues) is…hmm. What’s the word? Fantastic. No. Amazing. Nah. Un-flippin’-believable. Getting warmer. Stunning. Yeah, that’s the one. We’ll go with stunning.

Postmodern stories told with a Silver Age twist. Or is that, Silver Age stories told with a postmodern twist? Either way, this collection does right by comics, let me tell you. If you've been to a Borders or Barnes & Noble in the last month or so, you probably noticed this hardcover collection on one of those front tables. Morrison's name attracts mainstream fans, and this is certainly a good book for DC to lead with in bookshops.

And, like most of Morrison's work (I think, anyway) Batman and Robin reads better in trade. Give it a flip through the next time you come across it.

Next up, we have Ray Bradbury's The October Country. I broke out this classic collection of short stories this week, and read through a couple favorites. Among them, the haunting Scythe, a story that stays with you long after you've finished reading.
If you've never before tried Bradbury's work, I'd suggest starting here. Personally, I love short stories, and I love it even more when a favorite author releases a collection of them. I'm fairly new to Bradbury's work, and October Country and The Halloween Tree have recently become favorites of mine.

I never realized how revolutionary Bradbury's style is, and I just never appreciated how influential his works are to so many writers of the past several decades. In these shorts, I see the impact Bradbury had on so many of my favorite writers, and for me to have gone so long without reading the bulk of his work was a crime.

Consider it rectified, though.

And finally, I wanted to mention that I came across one of the absolute best blogs about writing that I've ever seen. Patrick Rothfuss, author of the new fantasy classic, The Name of the Wind (buy it, read it, love it) has a blog. And in the blog, he writes about writing. And being a struggling author. And being a published author. And being a New York Times bestselling author.

If you're at all interested in the mechanics of the craft, in the behind the scene meetings with agents and the relationship with editors, then do yourself a favor and read through Pat's blog from start to finish. There are only a couple years' worth of posts, and the whole thing reads like an incredibly personal, emotional, hilarious autobiography.

From living off whatever he could afford to being the guest of honor at conventions around the globe, from being a fanboy to meeting and speaking with Neil Gaiman, Pat's blog is a fascinating look at the life of a prominent author. Access like this is only possible because of the Internet, and man, am I glad I came across the site.

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Okay, folks. That's enough for today. Enjoy the weekend, everyone!


Scott said...

I have to say that Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis is one of the worst covers I've seen in years. Not only does it look like Cyclops is riding piggy-back on Beast's shoulders, but those depictions Storm and the White Queen are among the most grossly "comic" depictions of women I've seen, ever... and I own all of Gen 13.

Scott said...

I feel guilty for saying this, seeing as how it's a Warren Ellis book, but the writing is also pretty bad. Lots of tries at humor and one-liners, but it just doesn't fit the characters for me. It seems more like he wants to tell a story and the X-Men are the dolls he was given to tell that story with...

AJG said...

I picked the book up because it was Warren Ellis. When I saw the cover in the store, I had the same reaction.

Kaare Andrews--the artist--did an incredible series called Spider-Man: Reign a few years back for Marvel, and I was surprised to see his recent style change so dramatically from that book.