book review: injection (vol. 1)

The first volume of a Warren Ellis-written comic is always interesting as he sets up a weird future filled with smart competent antisocial assholes saving the world from things worse than themselves. Injection is the first novel of just such a book.

Jordie Bellaire does the colour and Declan Shalvey does art and both are great. There’s an AI that’s mining myth to make the future weird and the border between our slightly in the future world and the otherspaces being created and invading are dramatic and beautiful.

Basically it’s a story about a thinktank that’s trying to make up for creating this future. There’s a deductive genius, a hacker, a spy, a magician and the Ahab/Nemo. Because it’s volume 1 it’s hard to get a sense of characters beyond their roles, but the reason I read Ellis stories is for the ideas and Injection has some neat ones around AI and magic as math. I liked it.

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book review: machine moon (descender vol. 2)

I like space operas. They are a very comfortable kind of fiction for me. Assembled families in space ships going around and having adventures is all I really want in life and is actually one of the things I’m saddest will never be a real thing I can do. Since I’ll never get to live in a spaceship I make do with making this kind of thing my favourite kind of RPG scenario and read comics that follow the path.

Dustin Nguyen and Jeff Lemire’s Descender is one of those stories. The main character is a companion robot who is the key to robot evolution and was missed when the majority of robots were exterminated after turning on humanity.

Machine Moon is the second volume in the series and it remains pretty good. Nguyen’s watercoloury art makes it feel more serious than it might otherwise. The dialogue is good and I like the characters and the big problems they’re facing. The main problem is just one of serialization; I’d like to read the whole story in one go but can’t.

This isn’t better than Saga, but I like it.

And I haven’t ever written about Saga on here? What? We talked a bit about it in an old episode of Librarians on the Radio if you’re interested.

book review: saint germaine – shadows fall

I was primed by my love of Greg Stolze and John Tynes’ RPG Unknown Armies to really like Gary Reed’s Saint Germaine comic. I mean a story about the great immortal wandering the earth, dying a thousand deaths, but always returning to witness more of humanity is bound to be kind of awesome. Well, no.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a story here. A writer is summoned to the immortal’s home to write his tale. He’s attacked by shadows of Lilith, the immortal’s companion. There are scenes from the Spanish Inquisition and Moscow, pre-Napoleon. The writer is consumed by shadows and used as a weapon against Lilith. That’s what I’ve got.

Maybe it would reward a more careful reading, but nothing about the art or the writing really drew me in to say, here’s something great. And with my preconceptions about the First and Last Man (and let me say again that Unknown Armies does really cool stuff with this bit of myth), this book needed to be great instead of meh.

book review: too far gone (walking dead vol 13) & the rise of the governor

I read Too Far Gone in trade paperback form instead of waiting for the larger hardbound book that The Walking Dead also gets collected in. I think I see the value in endings for stories. The Walking Dead is supposed to be an ongoing tale of survival in a world with zombies. The thing about a story set in that world is that everything seems to happen over and over again. It’s interesting because most stories don’t do that. This book is about trying to restart a semblance of society in a little walled-community when Rick’s crew is so PTSDed out it’s not funny.

And that’s the thing. At this point there’s not a lot of story arc going on any more, which is more realistic, but less satisfying to read. Rick is having leadership pushed on him again for coming into this community and changing it. It’s fine, just, it feels kind of the same. Again, I may be coming down with some sort of zombie fatigue.

I also tried reading Kirkman’s novel The Walking Dead: The Rise of the Governor, but it was not doing anything for me so I abandoned it after they left their gated community. I’d been hoping for more background on how the zombie apocalypse started, but the book only started as the internet and TV stations were going off the air.

book review: the walking dead (books 3, 4, 5 and 6)

I recently went through a binge of reading The Walking Dead, getting books three, four, five and six from the library.

There’s a lot of good stuff to these books. Books Three and Four deal with Woodbury and the Governor, who’s made a town subject to his will near the prison where our main characters had holed up. Book Five sends them out on the road looking for safety again after the prison is compromised, and in Six they find a new community to help.

I do like the character turnover Kirkman pushes through in these books. People die, including mothers and babies, and the characters get all fucked up because of it, even though there are more people in the world. I loved the flashback scenes where Shane was still talking about being rescued. The idea that someone somewhere will be able to help them is so alluring, but it just keeps getting dashed. It’s a great story, even as everyone is dealing with cannibals and murder and generally being scary people.

book review: the walking dead (book 2)

The second book of The Walking Dead is the one where the survivors find a prison and set up camp inside. We meet Michonne, who has a couple of pet zombies that she executes when she comes inside the gates. With her sword. ‘Cause she’s kind of awesome. But then she ruins a romantic relationship. Some people have sex. Some kill themselves. Others are eaten by zombies. A few people are shot. There’s an amputation. Rick goes and digs up Shane’s body and shoots it once he finds out that it’s not the zombies that infect people. As long as you die (without being headshot), you’ll come back.

I like reading this book in these larger collections than the trade paperbacks. And keeping a bit ahead of what’s happening in the TV show (since I see recaps and stuff all over the internet these days, not because I’m watching the show).

book review: pax romana

I loved the concept behind Jonathan Hickman’s Pax Romana, but the execution was kind of lacking.

The idea is that in the future a couple of scientists figure out a way to make time travel work, but their research has been paid for by the Vatican who use it to make history better. They send a team back to Constantine’s time to get the Holy Roman Empire set up correctly, with enough advanced technology and wealth and foreknowledge of the future and science to ensure some form of success.

It’s a great idea for a book, and the characters who are sent back in time are excellent, in theory. The way the book is done though, really distances you from any of the characters. That’s part of the point (the story is being told as a history lesson to a new emperor in a space ship) but it feels like they left out a lot of the bits that would make it an insanely cool story. You see characters doing very little. Each chapter has two page dialogue scenes that have a small picture of the people involved, and that’s where the majority of the interesting stuff happens. Everything else is interesting layouts and use of whitespace, but not a lot of storytelling.

Jonathan Hickman used infographics really well in The Nightly News, but by the time you get to the end of the book and see the cool timelines of how history went between the timescales of the story, I was disappointed that those events weren’t told as dense little one page comics instead of sentences on a line.

The story we got was good enough and the pages were laid out prettily, but everything was so sparse it became a little frustrating to look at everything left untold.