Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review of "The Walking Dead: Volume 14, No Way Out," by Robert Kirkman et. al.

Review of
The Walking Dead: Volume 14, No Way Out, by Robert Kirkman et. al. ISBN 9781607063926

Five out of five stars
 True to the plotting of this series, when things look like they are stable for Rick and his group, the smelly mess hits the fan. In this case, they have found what appears to be a sanctuary, a walled compound with a group of people that are permanent and have a stock of food and other materials. The undead are few enough that it is possible to send people out to search stores and other retail establishments for supplies such as antibiotics that they are lacking.
 In the previous episode, the people in the sanctuary were able to fend off an attack by a hostile group. However, the sound of the gunfire attracted large numbers of the undead and they massed up against a wall, causing it to collapse, leading to an invasion. There are tense moments as the living stand and fight against the hordes.
 At the end, Rick has a revelation, for the first time since the nightmare began he realizes that running is not the answer. He now understands that with the people he has, it is best to stand and fight against the walking dead. This issue of the series appears to be a major turning point, the mindset has now shifted from running away and avoiding the undead to standing strong and organized in place and holding the ground you are living on. It is all summarized in the single word, “Hope.”

Monday, November 13, 2017

Review of "Pennant Stretch Drive," by C. Paul Jackson

Review of
Pennant Stretch Drive, by C. Paul Jackson

Four out of five stars
 Marty Martin was a star outfielder in the major leagues when he suffered a serious knee injury while water skiing. While he could still run and was still a great hitter, the foot speed needed to be a major league outfielder simply was no longer there. Seemingly washed up, he went into business with another man in developing a series of fast food restaurants.
 However, executives of the major league team called the Chiefs believe that Marty has promise as an infielder, specifically third base. Unfortunately for Marty, he has never played the position and has no confidence. He makes error after error, even on what should be routine plays. Marty can handle fly balls, but the grounders he used to field had nowhere near the velocity of those at third.
 At first his bat is still powerful, but his problems in the field start affecting his hitting. Finally, the decision is made to try Marty at first base, a position that he has played before. His performance improves and his team starts playing better and is now in a position to challenge for the league pennant.
 This is a story about being on top, suffering hardship and then coming back in a new way by recognizing your limitations. Marty must also juggle what he thought he would be doing when he was out of baseball with his remaining in the game. It lends an interesting sidelight to the baseball aspects of the story. It is difficult to conjure up a valid reason for his involvement in fast food, it adds very little to the baseball side of the story, which is more interesting that an order of chicken and fries.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Review of "The Walking Dead Volume 13: Too Far Gone," by Robert Kirkman et. al.

Review of
The Walking Dead Volume 13: Too Far Gone, by Robert Kirkman et. al. ISBN 9781607063292

Five out of five stars
 In this continuation of the fascinating saga of Rick and his band of survivors, they have joined a stationary group in what can only be described as a sanctuary from the terrors of the walking dead. All seems quite normal in their compound walled off from the terrors of the undead, yet Rick’s uncanny sense tells him that (t)he(y) must be wary. Even when all seems well and safe.
 Since it is necessary for members of the community to go outside the bounds in order to get materials they do not have, there is always danger. Furthermore, there are dangers that lurk within the compound as well. Given their greater experience in navigating the new normal, the people in Rick’s band very quickly demonstrate that they know more about leading than the current leaders in the compound. To their credit, they recognize this and show their leadership skills by deferring to the members of Rick’s band.
 Unfortunately, the ugliness of human nature once again appears as there are normal people that try to shoot their way to power rather than acquiescing. This story also ends with a cliffhanger as now the undead are on their way. This is a great story showing the best and worst sides of human nature, even when they are not undead.