Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Review of "Hellraisers," by Robert Sellers

Review of
Hellraisers, by Robert Sellers  ISBN 9781906838362

Five out of five stars
 This graphic novel opens with Martin, a budding hellraiser, drinking himself into a stupor, stumbling home and mistreating his wife and child. After passing out on his bed, Martin is transformed to another place where he meets the spirit of Welsh actor Richard Burton. The spirit takes him through what is an autobiography of Burton’s extremely tumultuous life with an emphasis on his drinking and sex life. Some of his success as an actor is also included. While he died at the early age of 58, when reading this story of his life it is amazing he lived that long. Since he was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won many other awards, his acting skills are beyond dispute.
 Once the life of Burton is examined, the story rather seamlessly passes to Martin being exposed to the life of Irish actor Richard Harris. This job is also performed by his spirit. Another man devoted to drink and other debauchery, nominated for two Academy Awards for best actor and the winner of other awards, Harris is another actor that was very successful in spite of himself.   
 After the life of Harris, the story makes a smooth transition on to the life of English actor Oliver Reed. He was also a man that chose a life of wildness, Reed suffered a serious facial scar in a barfight, fighting was something he was known for. Reed was known as a very belligerent drunk and his appearances on celebrity talk shows are the fodder for some dubious legends.
 Finally, Martin is taken on a trip through the life of British-Irish actor Peter O’Toole, again by his spirit. Another man that drank and womanized heavily, O’Toole was also an acclaimed star. He was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor in a leading role eight times, but was never selected. However, he did win many other awards.
 It is noted in this book that the reason none of the four ever won an Academy Award may have been due to the number of Academy men that refused to vote for them because the actor had bedded their wives. The amount of alcohol that these men supposedly drank is almost beyond belief. It has been said that for some time Burton drank three bottles of vodka a day.
 Other than the drinking and other debauchery, the one constant across the lives of these four men is that they had tumultuous childhoods. While some of that was due to the instability of their home life, all were rebels at an early age.
 Although it has an unusual form, this book is an excellent biography of four of the more notorious male actors that were extremely talented, but their flaws kept them from even higher levels of greatness. They certainly made great tabloid headlines.

Review of "Trinity, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman," by Matt Wagner

Review of
Trinity, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, by Matt Wagner ISBN 1401201873

Five out of five stars
 This is an alliance of two male and one female heroes where the female is almost, but not quite treated as an equal by both of the males. Batman is portrayed in one of his darker incarnations, his statements sometimes frustrate Wonder Woman, yet Superman defends him. He reminds her that Batman is a strong force for good, even though he expresses a bit of psychosis.
 The primary battle is with Ra’s al Ghul, a billionaire eco-terrorist convinced that the Earth must be remade in a different image that only he knows. To do that he frees a Bizarro Superman clone from imprisonment in ice and convinces the powerful simpleton to do his bidding. Which is to capture a submarine carrying a set of nuclear missiles. Adding to Ghul’s power is a renegade teen Amazon with significant powers and a really bad attitude towards the world. Finally, Ghul is surrounded by fanatical human followers that will willingly give their lives following Ghul’s commands.
 Ghul’s plan is to use the nuclear weapons to destroy major cities and cleanse them. It is up to the three heroes to thwart those plans and so they must battle Ghul’s tactical brilliance, his human army as well as the powerful Bizarro. Only Superman has the power to successfully physically engage the Bizarro, Batman can do so only with special technological devices and Wonder Woman is outmatched.
 While much of the dialog is canned super hero and villain chatter, there are some truly excellent moments. Such as Superman and Batman’s reaction to their first sight of Wonder Woman’s invisible robot plane. If it was somewhat altered, the banter between Batman (Bruce Wayne) and Superman (Clark Kent) could be the talk between two guys in a bromance engaged in a macho competition.
 This is a very good story, where saving the Earth is the goal, but the act of learning to work and play well together between the three heroes sometimes takes precedence. Which is as it should be, like the gods of Greek mythology, heroes are much more interesting if they act more than a little bit human.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Review of "The Adventures of Tooki: The Secret of the Stones," by Jamie Courtier and Vicky Kimm

Review of
The Adventures of Tooki: The Secret of the Stones, by Jamie Courtier and Vicky Kimm ISBN 9781406330021

Five out of five stars
 This is an unusual story that requires a bit of insightful thinking to understand it, although not beyond the capabilities of the child in late middle school. The plot is that there are two societies that make a particular location their home, one during the summer and the other during the winter. Yet, each has no idea of the existence of the other.
 The location is essentially the Stonehenge structures and Tooki is a member of the group that lives there during the summer. That group is gathering food items for storage in the caves, at this time they will make them sick when consumed but will be turned into food over the winter. When an early major snowstorm arrives, the group immediately packs everything they can and begins the migration to their warmer summer homes.
 However, Pooki is separated from the group and realizes his only hope for survival is to go back to their summer home and live in the caves. He collapses in the snow and is rescued by a member of the tribe that lives there over the winter. This begins a cross-cultural experience where both tribes learn about each other and how they were unwittingly cooperating.
 The members of both tribes are fuzzy creatures that are attractive to children and their spirit of acceptance of others that are different is a powerful message. Even though he is strange, Pooki is accepted and aided, leading to what is indicated will be friendship and additional cooperation in the future. That is something that needs to be learned and relearned.