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Quatermass

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Dec 7, 2010
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Hmm. I can recommend a number of them. A lot of the books I have been reading lately have been part of a genre known as isekai. That's basically Japanese for 'another world'. The genre isn't unique to Japan, or we wouldn't have the likes of the John Carter or Narnia books, but it's one of the most popular genres in Japan.

That being said, isekai is very much an illustration of Sturgeon's Law, which is basically 90% of everything is crap. The only three isekai series that I would recommend to newcomers to the genre would be Overlord (not to be confused with the Rihanna Pratchett-penned video game series), Rising of the Shield Hero, and The Saga of Tanya the Evil. Those three are still pretty dark, though. The first one basically has the main character gradually becoming a villain, the second starts with the main character being framed for rape, and the third one...well, he's a sociopathic HR manager reincarnated as a child soldier in an AU of World War I by a petulant deity...and a girl.
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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Anyway, I'm starting this up again...

BOOK 99

Overlord volumes 12 and 13: The Paladin of the Sacred Kingdom by Kugane Maruyama.

It had been a while since I last read a new book in the Overlord light novel series. Admittedly, I was waiting for both volumes of the next story arc to come out, but even so, the wait was annoying. But would these latest volumes be worth the wait?

The Sacred Kingdom has withstood attacks from demihumans before, but now, an unprecedented attack on their kingdom has been unleashed by the mysterious demon Jaldabaoth. The Sacred Kingdom’s best paladin, Remedios Custodios, is feeling the strain, and is taking it out on her squire, the decent but thuggish-looking Neia Baraja. The last remnants of the leadership of the Sacred Kingdom have little choice but to beg Ainz Ooal Gown for aid, but would the price to pay be too much? Witnessing what she sees as kindness from Ainz Ooal Gown, Neia doesn’t think so…

Okay, so, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. Remedios Custodios is probably the most hateful character in this series who isn’t a villain, and her idiocy and self-righteousness irritates me no end. In addition, I’m not wholly convinced this story needed to be as long as it did, as it feels a touch padded. And I’m left wondering what exactly Ainz’s plan with the Sacred Kingdom and faking his demise had to do with anything.

That being said, it’s still quite a good story. Neia, while a little too naïve and trusting towards Ainz, is perhaps one of the better POV characters to come into the series lately, and even if you’re begging her not to trust Ainz, you can tell she’s had an effect on both Ainz and Shizu Delta. Indeed, her friendship with them is quite heartwarming. And honestly, while we’ve seen how Ainz acts from an outside viewpoint before, this is one of the better times when that happens.

Overall, while not as great as it could have been, these latest volumes of Overlord were still pretty damned good. Here’s hoping for more…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,813
83
2,850
BOOK 100

Dark Souls: The Age of Fire, by Ryan O’Sullivan.

It’s fitting that, not long after I finished the first Dark Souls game, I read a graphic novel based on the mythos. But how would this prequel to the games fare? Let’s find out…

Arkon the Silver Knight is lauded as the Dragonkiller. But this is a title bestowed upon him without justification, and he struggles to live up to the reputation Lord Gwyn foisted on him. But now, Seath the Scaleless’ Channelers abduct maidens with impunity, Izalith has become a bed of demons, New Londo has seen the birth of the Darkwraiths, and a mysterious curse of undeath has begun to afflict humans. Can Arkon live up to his reputation, or will he fail his liege and the people he serves as the Age of Fire draws to a close?

Part of the problem with this is that it’s mostly meant for Dark Souls fans. Indeed, the story is quite a bit on the thin side, and does contradict a few points of even the infamously vague lore and timeline of the game trilogy. It’s over too soon, and glosses over many events, when it could have been a more epic tale befitting the franchise.

That being said, the story is by no means a bad one, and even if it does contradict a number of points of the lore and timeline, it still has the authentic feel of the franchise. The art is wonderfully moody and often dark, and Arkon and Gravis are intriguing characters. Hell, we even have a cameo from Demon’s Souls character Garl Vinland, as well as elaboration on canon characters like Gwyn, Artorias and Seath.

Overall, this book, while not as good as it could have been, still manages to be a worthy story. A shame it isn’t more…


***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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BOOK 101

So I’m a Spider, So What? volume 2 by Okina Baba.

Having enjoyed the first volume of isekai novel series So I’m a Spider, So What?, I decided to try the second volume. But would it improve on the first volume? Let’s find out…

The Japanese schoolgirl reincarnated as a spider monster in a fantasy world continues her struggle to survive. But she’s growing stronger, little by little, and perhaps her biggest struggle might be with her growing confidence, for that may be sure to kill her. Meanwhile, her fellow reincarnations are beginning to come into conflict, with Shun being targeted by the envious Hugo, who wants to be top dog in this new life, no matter what the cost…

Once more, a major sticking point of this series seems to be a lack of plot, at least with the Kumoko side of things. It basically boils down to her trials and travails in getting stronger with a lot of repetition, using a ‘Gamer’-style storyline of stats that gets old after a while. It feels like a lot of padding being done to spin out this part of the story, and it’s to the major detriment of it.

Still, one of the saving graces of the books so far is Kumoko’s snarky and funny narration. Indeed, the humour is compounded when she gets the extra minds for analysis, adding more running commentary. In addition, while some fans of the series don’t like the sequences with the other reincarnations, I personally do, and Hugo’s plots against Shun adds a welcome complexity to that side of the plot. And that’s saying nothing of the foreshadowing, some of which I know are red herrings.

Overall, the second volume of So I’m a Spider, So What? was an entertaining one. Very thin on actual plot, which hampers its quality, but otherwise an enjoyable read…


***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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BOOK 102

Dark Souls: Winter’s Spite, by George Mann.


Having read the first Dark Souls graphic novel, I thought I should give another in the series a go. But how well would Winter’s Spite do? Let’s find out…

Andred of Ithvale is a warrior on a mission, seeking out his family sword, the Pyreblade. Having stumbled into a bitterly cold world, he battles his way to seek it out, guided by the mysterious Lady Parnethia. But even in a world of monstrous undead, is he actually a hero, or is he less righteous than he believes?

To be honest, this story didn’t really feel like it was set in the Dark Souls world. It felt more like an unrelated and a bit generic dark fantasy story with a few of the trappings of Dark Souls put on as window dressing. That, plus the rather thin plot with a twist that is only really foreshadowed in the final part and thus poorly realised, brings it down somewhat.

For all those faults, it’s still an enjoyable story that doesn’t overstay its welcome. The artwork is beautiful, and there’s plenty of interesting elements to the plot. I just wish there was more to it.

Winter’s Spite does not feel like a Dark Souls story, and it’s certainly not much of a story. But there’s enough in this dark fantasy story to retain my interest for a period…

***
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,813
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2,850
BOOK 103

So I’m a Spider, So What? volume 3 by Okina Baba.

I have been enjoying the isekai novel series So I’m a Spider, So What?, but unfortunately, while entertaining, it doesn’t have that much in the way of plot. But third time’s the charm, so they say, and this is the third volume. But would it make an improvement?

The Japanese schoolgirl reincarnated as a monster spider on another world is still struggling, but she then has a series of encounters with not only a group of human adventurers, but an unsettling encounter with a being known as an Administrator…and an even more disturbing phone conversation with a self-proclaimed evil god known only as ‘D’. And some years into the future, Shun must come to terms with being the chosen hero, even as the Demon Lord’s army goes on the rampage, and former acquaintance Hugo launches a coup d’etat, framing Shun and forcing him to go on the run…

Once more, the lack of plot is something of an issue, especially on the Kumoko side of things. Three volumes in, and her part of the story is only just beginning to pick up elements. I also think that some chapters, the conversations are a little too enigmatic, and to an annoying degree rather than an appropriate one.

However, the plot where Kumoko is concerned is beginning to at least move along, and we finally have some proper confirmation that Kumoko’s side of events take place several years in the past, setting up one hell of a big reveal, Westworld-style. In addition, her narration is always entertaining. And Shun’s side of the story is truly beginning to heat up, not only with Hugo’s coup, but also some questions about Ms Oka’s motives.

Overall, this volume is showing that the series is picking up. I’m looking forward to reading more of it…


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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2,850
BOOK 104

Attack on Titan: Colossal Edition volume 3, by Hajime Isayama.

Now, I return to Attack on Titan. While I have mixed feelings about this dark fantasy work with a military fiction bent, it’s overall an entertaining and compelling work. But would the next omnibus volume continue the trend?

Bertolt and Reiner have been exposed as Annie Leonhart’s partners-in-crime, the Colossal and Armoured Titans whose actions wreaked havoc upon the Walls. Driven to desperation, they abduct Eren and Ymir, but the latter is considering going along with them willingly. But even as the Survey Corps prepare to save them, they will soon learn that the enemy may not just be the Titans, but the government and nobles puppeteering the King. And their actions will soon lead to humanity turning on each other…

Aside from the aforementioned clichés of military fiction that I have noted in previous reviews, there’s a disturbing pro-military bent in these volumes. While the revolt that goes on is theoretically portrayed as morally ambiguous as possible, and certainly the government and nobility’s callous actions have been noted before, the government and nobility feel more like caricatures than real characters. Ymir’s defection also seems to come out of the blue to some degree.

That being said, it’s still the same enjoyable ride as before. Krista’s past and her true identity as Historia Reiss is quite a good addition, as is the debut of Kenny Ackerman. The moral ambiguity of the series helps smooth over some of the above objections I have to the events in these volumes, and there’s some interesting reasons as to why certain technologies haven’t been developed.

Overall, while with some disturbing pro-military elements and a few other factors, this omnibus volume of Attack on Titan was enjoyable. Now, to get more of the series…


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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BOOK 105

Doctor Who: Dalek, by Robert Shearman.

When Doctor Who began anew in 2005, there was considerable anticipation as to how the Daleks were portrayed. And the first Dalek story of the new series, Dalek, gained universal acclaim. But how would the novelisation of this story go?

The Doctor and Rose follow an alien distress call to a private museum of alien artifacts, only to be captured by its owner, the ruthless and egotistical Henry van Statten. The sociopathic billionaire has a single living specimen in his possession, one that he hopes the Doctor might goad into speaking. But the Doctor is horrified to learn that it is a Dalek, seemingly the sole survivor of the Time War, and it is now determined to break free. But even as the Dalek is unleashed and wreaks havoc, the Doctor is finding a very dark hatred burning within him. Those who fight monsters, after all, must take care not to become them…

If I had to pick some faults with this book, there’s perhaps two. Firstly, given that it’s a novelisation of a single 45 minute episode, there isn’t really much material to work with, and at times, it shows. Not only that, but I expected a little more from the Doctor and Rose’s point of view, but many of the viewpoints are of the other characters.

Admittedly, these are minor nitpicks at worse. Robert Shearman took his already superlative television story, and not only brought it up a level, but improved a few elements, including van Statten’s eventual fate. What’s more, he injects some of his trademark horror from his audio plays into the novel, particularly describing a Dalek’s psyche and perverse ‘childhood’, and his prose outside of these is excellent.

Overall, this novelisation of Dalek is a superlative adaptation of an already superlative story. If there was any example of how to do novelisations of Doctor Who, then this is it…

*****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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BOOK 106

Bloodborne: A Song of Crows, by Aleš Kot.

Having read one of the Bloodborne comics, I thought I’d give another a go. But how well would A Song of Crows, featuring Eileen the Crow, one of the iconic characters from the game, fare? Let’s find out…

Eileen the Crow is a Hunter of Hunters, sent to deal with the beasts created by the Bestial Scourge, even if it means killing her fellow Hunters who have succumbed to madness. But time and sanity are elusive qualities in Yharnam, and Eileen is haunted by an incident from her childhood, which had bled over into the present. Can Eileen uncover the truth?

Let’s face it, the story of this comic is crap. It’s a surreal horror story that is very thin on actual plot, instead relying on a story that is even more vague than is the norm for the lore of Soulsborne games in general. The plot is as confusing as the ending, and I’m sure it’d be even more so for those who aren’t familiar with Bloodborne. In other words, the story is incomprehensible garbage.

That being said, the artwork is beautiful, or at least as much as such an adjective can be applied to a horror story. In addition, we do get some intriguing insights into Eileen’s past, even if they’re ridiculously vague. And the symbolism on display, while obtuse and, you guessed it, vague, is often impressive.

Unfortunately, though, this Bloodborne comic was a massive disappointment, an experiment in surreal horror that failed miserably. A real shame, and a lot of wasted potential…

**
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
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Yikes. I'm surprised it got as high as two stars, then. It sounds like rubbish.

I haven't read "Bloodborne", myself, but this:

===============
Eileen the Crow is a Hunter of Hunters, sent to deal with the beasts created by the Bestial Scourge, even if it means killing her fellow Hunters who have succumbed to madness. But time and sanity are elusive qualities in Yharnam, and Eileen is haunted by an incident from her childhood, which had bled over into the present. Can Eileen uncover the truth?
===============

... this just made me roll my eyes so hard. :rolleyes: Please. "The Bestial Scourge", "succumb to madness", "time is an elusive quality", "haunted by an incident from childhood" ... "can so-and-so uncover the truth?"

Welcome to Cliché Bingo! =P

All right, if these tropes are used in a new and unexpected way, fine - maybe. But it sounds like rehashed garbage. =(
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,813
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2,850
The comics are based on a game, and while many of the elements are cliched, it's presented in a way that's fresh. The comics, though? About half of what I said is background from the game, but you wouldn't be able to discern it from reading the comic alone, that's how lacking in information it is. The story is so damn vague, that's honestly the best I could describe it. You can't even call the comic cliched, as the story is so hard to comprehend. It's more incomprehensible garbage than cliched garbage...

The actual blurb on the back of the book runs as follows...

HUNT THE HUNTERS.
The city of Yharnam is scourged by a horrific disease, spawning blood-lusting beasts that must be slain by hunters. Eileen the Crow stalks the city for those hunters who have themselves succumbed to the curse of the Old Blood. However, madness and malevolence are not unfamiliar to Eileen...
It's also worth pointing out that the story of the game, as is often the case with Soulsborne games, is itself very vague, told mostly through implication and descriptions on items. And even with them, you have to draw your own conclusions. VaatiVidya's lore videos that I keep posting in the Broken Drum are one interpretation of Soulsborne lore, but they're not necessarily the definitive one, assuming there is one. Still more enjoyable than the comics in many regards...
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,813
83
2,850
BOOK 107

Alita: Battle Angel- The Art and Making of the Film, by Abbie Bernstein.

Alita: Battle Angel was a rarity in that it was an adaptation of a manga (specifically Battle Angel Alita, or Gunnm in the original Japanese) done in the West that wasn’t mediocre at best. Having enjoyed that film, I was eager to read about the making of. But how would it do?

James Cameron’s dream was to adapt Battle Angel Alita for the big screen, but with the success of Avatar and his desire to produce sequels to that film, he handed the reins over to Robert Rodriguez. This book details the process of production of Alita: Battle Angel. From the trials and travails of realising the titular character on-screen, to designing the world of Iron City and its citizens, this book reveals what goes on in the creation of the film…

So, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. I’ve said it so often, it’s a cliché, but it’s true: books like this are style over substance, mostly about presentation than information. One part I’m certainly annoyed about is that James Cameron’s own development of Alita: Battle Angel isn’t gone into, at least in much depth.

Still, this book is pretty damn good for what it is. There’s a demonstration of how much thought surprisingly went into this film and its design, beyond cribbing from the original manga. The presentation is gorgeous, and what information there is is quite in-depth.

Overall, this was a pretty good making-of of an enjoyable film. Just wish there was a bit more to it…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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BOOK 108

Sword Art Online: Progressive volume 1 (manga) by Kiseki Himura, from the light novel by Reki Kawahara.

Sword Art Online is one of those polarising franchises, and the Progressive line of novels are one of the more controversial elements of the franchise. I decided, on a whim, to read a manga adaptation of the first Progressive novel. But how would it fare?

Asuna Yuuki had a privileged life, but in a brief moment of rebellion, she logged into Sword Art Online, a newly-released virtual reality game…only to be trapped inside. And in this game, death is a very real consequence. Despairing at her fate, Asuna begins trying to find a way out, or die trying. But after one near-fatal incident, she meets up with the mercenary information broker known as Argo, and the solo player known as Kirito. And perhaps a ray of hope has begun to shine into her despair…

The manga only adapts a small portion of the original novel, and unfortunately, that means there isn’t much plot adapted, which is to the detriment of this. The fact that we don’t see so much of Kirito, the main character of the franchise, is a bit annoying. So too are a couple of the cheap gags.

That being said, the story is actually quite different to the novel, partly because of the different viewpoint, and partly because of added scenes where Asuna and Argo interact. Indeed, this actually feels like a more polished version of what should have been the story of Sword Art Online: Progressive, and it feels fresher viewed from Asuna’s viewpoint. I’m certain that it’s this version that’s actually receiving an adaptation before long.

Marred by a lack of plot and cheap gags, this initial volume of the manga of Sword Art Online: Progressive is nonetheless a surprisingly fresh take on an already well-trodden story. I may actually continue with it…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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BOOK 109

So I’m a Spider, So What? volume 4 by Okina Baba.

So I’m a Spider, So What? is one of those series that got better over time. The third volume finally began revealing more of an actual overarching plot to the series. But would the fourth volume build on this?

In the past, the Japanese schoolgirl reincarnated as a spider monster has finally left the Great Elroe Labyrinth. But her trials are not over, for her monstrous spider mother has been trying to take control over her mind, and her attempt at retaliation only serves to draw the attention of the vicious Demon Lord Ariel, who pursues her, intending to kill her. And years later, Shun and his allies are still on the run from Hugo’s forces, intending to seek refuge in the elf village their teacher grew up in in this life. However, Ms Oka has been hiding things, and when they reach the village, they learn what that is…

The story is still suffering from a bit of a lack of plot, at least on the Kumoko side of things. Not as much as previous volumes, but it is a little annoying. I did get a bit bored of the back-and-forth sequences with Kumoko playing cat-and-mouse with Ariel and the Taratect Queen, not to mention the over-emphasis on the ‘Gamer’ elements.

That being said, the fact that the plot is not only partially revealed thanks to the revelations in the past volume, but thickening, is working in this series’ favour. Kumoko’s narration is, as always, entertaining, and the twist involving Ms Oka and the reincarnations at the elf village, as well as her father, is a welcome one. It brings the series up several notches.

Overall, this volume of So I’m a Spider, So What? was an enjoyable one. Not perfect, but certainly one of the better series out there…


****½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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BOOK 110

The Legend of Drizzt: Homeland, by Andrew Dabb, from the novel by RA Salvatore.

I have been aware of the character of Drizzt Do’urden for some time, partly due to the influence he has had on pop culture. It’s past time that I tried to see him for myself, in this graphic novel adaptation of the first (chronological) tale of Drizzt’s life. But would I be rewarded?

The Underdark, a vast realm of dark caverns deep beneath the surface. And in it, is the city of Menzoberranzan, home to the vicious Drow, evil cousins to the Elves. Treachery and civil war are the lot of the Drow, indulging in evil and vice at the behest of their capricious deity Lolth. Into this dark and despotic world is born Drizzt Do’urden, who possesses an unusual morality and honour unheard of amongst most of his kin. And in Drow society, such things are a weakness that Drizzt cannot afford to show…

This brief graphic novel adaptation doesn’t seem enough for what has to be a more labyrinthian work, given that the original novel was over 300 pages long. And certainly, the story itself in parts feels like a cliché, though given how old the original work is, about thirty years old now, that’s hardly surprising. It doesn’t feel quite as epic as it could have.

And yet, it’s still a fascinating introduction to Drizzt’s life. For all the Drow people’s emphasis on malevolence and backstabbing, it’s still an interesting culture with a number of interesting characters aside from Drizzt. And the artwork, while standard fantasy comic fare, nonetheless does well in conveying the story.

One day, I hope to read the original books. But this graphic novel was a promising introduction to the character of Drizzt Do’urden…


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,813
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BOOK 111

So I’m a Spider, So What? volume 5 by Okina Baba.

Now, I come to the fifth volume of So I’m a Spider, So What? But how well would this new volume of this entertaining isekai series turn out? Let’s find out…

In the past, the Japanese schoolgirl reincarnated as a spider monster has discovered a fellow incarnation, a young vampiress known as Sophia Keren. What’s more, saving Sophia and her parents from assassination attempts draws attention to the spider, with her triggering a war that may yet once again draw the attention of the Demon Lord Ariel. In the present, Shun and his friends struggle to defend the elf village from the Demon Lord’s army, but even as Hugo makes a comeback, backed by their former classmates, the revelation of who the mysterious Demon known as ‘White’ may be may prove to be the greatest shock of all…

After all the plot revelations of the previous volume, it feels like this one has receded a little in terms of quality. The plotline around Shun, ironically, has devolved in terms of plot quality, just being some character insights during the battle against the elf village. It’s getting harder to be invested in them either.

Still, the huge payoff, as to what character in the Shun timeline is really Kumoko, as well as her true identity as one of the students, is worth the wait. Indeed, Kumoko’s character arc has come, if not to a close, has come to the end of a particular episode. Plus, we see exactly how vile Potimas is, showing that he is an even greater villain than Ariel or her underlings.

Overall, while not as good as the previous volume, this volume of So I’m a Spider, So What? has not only the entertainment I’ve come to expect from the series, but a hell of a twist. Let’s hope the series continues its high quality…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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BOOK 112

The Mask, by John Arcudi, from the concept by Mike Richardson.

One of my favourite films was the comedy film The Mask. I had been distantly aware that the movie was loosely based on a comic, and one that was far, far darker than the movie was. But would I enjoy the source material, now that I’ve finally come to it?

The repressed and mercurial Stanley Ipkiss has found what he thinks to be a good gift for his girlfriend Kathy: a mysterious antique mask. But when he puts it on, he transforms into a green-headed goon with superpowers…and a malicious streak. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and even if Stanley’s rampage as the vicious killer ‘Big Head’ is stopped, can anyone who wears the mysterious mask resist its allure?

Okay, so, for anyone who is more familiar with the movie and the cartoon derived from it, this book is going to be a hell of a shock, given how much of a darker turn it takes. The violence may put people off, especially those more familiar with the film, and the plot isn’t much to speak of, save for when Kellaway uses it to act as a violent vigilante.

Still, the dark comedy does work quite well at times, and it’s actually a refreshing, if somewhat too dark at times, contrast to the film. And to be honest, the comic version of Kellaway makes a more compelling protagonist than the comic version of Stanley Ipkiss, who’s a psychopath. The thought of the Mask being a violent vigilante is an oddly appealing one, especially with the dark comedy and cartoonesque abilities.

Overall, while somewhat too dark at times and with little proper plot, The Mask is a surprisingly fresh take on a character I thought I was familiar with. A shame it was not quite as good as I wished it to be…

***
 

Quatermass

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Dec 7, 2010
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BOOK 113

London’s Underground: The Story of the Tube by Oliver Green.

I sometimes make odd choices in reading material. This book about the history of the Underground just happened to catch my eye. But would I be rewarded?

The London Underground, otherwise known as the Tube, is debatably the most iconic piece of public transport in the world. This book examines the convoluted history of the Tube, from its ambitious beginnings, all the way to the modern day. The trials, travails, and tribulations of organising it, the engineering triumphs, and the problems that plagued this modern marvel…

Okay, so, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. While it’s good that this is a comprehensive history of the Tube, I actually think it might have been better to concentrate on the early years, as that seemed like the most interesting. In addition, this book seemed to be more concerned with presentation than substance.

Still, the presentation of this book is well done, and it does have quite a lot of interesting information and history about the Tube. The curious rivalries involved, the engineering feats, some interesting tidbits from history including the origins of the iconic font or the stylised map of the various lines are all explained there. I was just left dissatisfied.

Overall, London’s Underground was a book that failed to grab my interest enough. I’m sure aficionados of the Tube will get more out of it, but it didn’t do it for me as much as it could have, despite some good parts…


***
 

Quatermass

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BOOK 114

Injustice- Gods Among Us: Year One, by Tom Taylor.

Recently, Injustice: Gods Among Us, was released. A fighting game by Netherrealm Studios of Mortal Kombat fame, this fighting game pitted DC Comics characters against each other. There was a comic prequel series that I decided to give a try, but would it be any good?

Superheroes walk the line between good and evil every day, and in a foul scheme, the Joker makes Superman cross that line. Engineering the death of Lois Lane and Superman’s unborn child, the Joker is killed by a grieving Superman. This opens not only a rift between Superman and Batman, but sets the Man of Steel down a dark path that will see him dominating the very world he swore to protect. But is Batman in the right himself, or just self-righteous? And who can stop the Man of Steel from dominating the world?

One of the annoying things about this comic is the fact that, in its attempts to portray moral ambiguity, it falls flat. It points out the hypocrisy in Batman allowing villains to live, despite the civilian casualty, and yet shows him as the hero, and if this were handled better, it would be less on the nose. As it is, it has little more actual plot than Batman and Superman’s opening bouts in a battle that would culminate in the video game.

But for all that, it’s still quite an enjoyable, if dark, story. The moral ambiguity does work some of the time, and it’s a thrilling ride, with Superman’s descent into tyranny an engrossing if tragic read, and we have some wonderfully awesome moments, even some funny and heartwarming stuff to break up the tragedy. I personally enjoyed it, despite the speed bumps.

Overall, while not without its faults, this part of the Injustice prequel comic was a good one. A different take on the DC universe that mostly does well…


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,813
83
2,850
BOOK 115

Homeland, by RA Salvatore.

Having read the graphic novel adaptation of Homeland, the first (chronological as opposed to published) story featuring Drizzt Do’urden, I endeavoured to get the original book. This is the first time I’ve properly delved into fiction based on Dungeons and Dragons, the Critical Role stories aside, or those inspired by it. But how would Homeland, a book now thirty years old, fare?

Deep in the Underdark of Faerun, in the massive underground city of Menzoberranzan, the Drow, evil cousins to the Elves, engage in a life filled with intrigue and treachery in service to their vicious deity, Lolth. But what happens when a Drow is born that doesn’t fit in? In a world where morality is a liability, Drizzt Do’urden is born and raised, but can he survive not only plots against his family, but his own flesh and blood?

I had been hoping, somewhat, for something a little more complex and deep than the graphic novel adaptation, and I have to confess to some disappointment. There wasn’t quite the level of intrigue or characterisation I had expected, and I feel at times that some elements, like Drizzt bonding with Guenhwyvar, were a touch rushed. I’m also sure that those not that familiar with the world of Dungeons and Dragons in general, and Forgotten Realms in particular, might be at sea.

And yet, for what it is, this book was a quite enjoyable one. Drizzt’s formative years are shown well, as is the relationship with his mentor and father, Zaknafein. The subplot of Alton DeVir’s vengeance works well enough, and we have hints that the vicious evil of the Drow aren’t quite that universal. And I find myself looking forward to the next instalments of the series.

Overall, the first book of The Legend of Drizzt, while not quite meeting the expectations I made of it, was still an enjoyable romp. I intend to read more about the famous Drow’s adventures soon…


****
 

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Good Omens

"Pratchett’s wackiness collaborates with Gaiman’s morbid humour; the result is a humanist delight to be savoured and read again and again."

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