book review: annihilator

I liked Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving’s Annihilator, but I don’t mind stories about writers trying to write something good. In this comic, Ray Spass is an asshole screenwriter working on a dark space opera when the main character Max Nomax comes to him to find out what happened in Nomax’s life. There’s a data bullet lodged in the annihilator’s brain which corresponds to the inoperable brain tumour in Spass’. It doesn’t quite get to the level of Morrisony weirdness that it could, which is a bit disappointing and it’s kind of (extremely) wanky but it’s pretty.

book review: the sixth gun (vol. 1 & 2)

My librarian friend Jamie picked up the first two volumes of The Sixth Gun on a whim recently and recommended I read them. Very glad I did. They’re set just after the American Civil War and the titular guns are basically forged in hell demon weapons that are bound to their wielders.

In Cold Dead Fingers we meet Drake, our badass antihero who’s been hired to look for the guns. The last owner of one of them (the one that let the wielder see the future) had been killed and hidden on sacred ground, but his old posse (with guns that spout hellfire, or plague, or grant eternal youth, or summon golem armies from the people they kill) kill all the priests and dig him out. The future-glimpsing gun gets bonded to the daughter of a preacher who’d been hiding it. Lots of crazy action happens, culminating in Drake being bound to the other four guns.

The second volume, Crossroads, has Drake down in the swamplands looking for information about the guns and what to do with them. There we discover what a magnet for trouble weapons forged by the devil are and how vodoun spirits would also like to get their (metaphorical) hands on such things. More crazy action happens.

These books have an excellent melding of crazy action, magickal weirdness and characters you care about. Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt (both of which do sound like fake names) are telling a pulpy tale that’s worth following, especially if you’re a fan of the Weird West (and stuff like Deadlands) like I am.

book review: batman and the monster men

Batman and the Monster Men is Matt Wagner’s story of a young Batman and his first case with Doctor Strange. It’s kind of a follow-up to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, and Batman is still kind of figuring out his role. It’s a similar kind of story arc to the Christopher Nolan Batman movies. He has a girlfriend and has been fighting Sal Maroni’s gangsters, not full on supervillains, but Dr. Strange is doing genetic experimentation and creating huge troll-like creatures to deal with the loan sharks he’s been borrowing from.

It’s a decent book, and you can tell it’s by the same guy writing Sandman Mystery Theatre. Very noirish, but the art in this is much better. It’s probably a bit more pulp than noir (especially with that title) but a good Batman story that doesn’t shake anything up too terribly.

book review: triplanetary

Oh how I hated this book. I get that EE Doc Smith was writing Triplanetary in a different time. It was the 1930s. This is pulp science fiction. The heroes are supposed to be square jawed and the women should be plucky but dependent. I knew that’s how this kind of science fiction was back then, but actually reading it was intensely aggravating.

There isn’t a true human emotion in the entire story, just resolute action without thought and “scientific” reveals that come out of nowhere and casual genocide. Seriously, at one point the hero escapes from a zoo-cage-ish kind of prison and then proceeds to murder everyone in the city with poison gas. Everyone! And he had an antidote but only used it for the human who got caught up in the gas as well. At the end of the book the humans and aliens can still be friends despite the millions of lives lost because they killed millions of humans too. And they all laughed and had a beer because everyone was a good ol’ sort anyway (and the woman commented on how the aliens were still kind of gross).

It was aggressively stupid and ham-handed and I hated the whole thing. I get that books like this are ancestors to books I like, but I need someone to recommend me better 1930s pulp sci fi if I’m going to develop an appreciation for it.