Sunday, November 29, 2020

Review of "The Luna Brothers Girls #2," by Joshua and Jonathan Luna

 Review of

The Luna Brothers Girls #2, by Joshua and Jonathan Luna

Five out of five stars

Strange to say the least

 While this is the second issue of this series so there is some lack of already established context, there is enough to determine that this is an unusual story. It opens with four teens, two male and two female, hanging out in a small room. The father of the one whose room it is comes in and starts talking about some kind of miracle sound, only to be very rudely told to get out.

 There is then a dramatic switch to a residence where a male (Ethan) is with a female clad only in a robe. He found her naked and brought her back to his place. She is hungry and speaks only in noises and short sentences. When she utters a disturbing phrase, he decides that he needs help of a much higher pay grade than his.

 The action involves a law enforcement officer, some backwoods weirdos, some friends of Ethan’s and an ending that piles even more of the bizarre into the story. This comic does what all such comics in a sequence do. They induce a strong desire to read all previous and subsequent issues in the storyline.

Review of "Indian America: A Geography of North American Indians," by Marian Wallace Ney

Review of

Indian America: A Geography of North American Indians, by Marian Wallace Ney 0935741062

Four out of five stars

 Applying geography to tribe location when it is limited in accuracy

 This book contains a state-by-state description of the Native American tribes that were found within them. Canada and Central America are also included. All the while pointing out several times that many of the tribes were in fact pushed out of their original homeland by other tribes that were being pressured by the encroaching Europeans.

 For example, the Lakota of the Dakotas were originally based in the Great Lakes region but were forced westward by the Chippewas, the first tribe to receive guns from the French. Therefore, the Lakota have only lived in the plains region for a few centuries. For this reason, the book is internally stated as being limited in accuracy.

 The best that can be done is to consider it a snapshot of the dwelling places of tribes at particular times as the inexorable movement of the whites decimated and moved the Native Americans to other places. Within that context, this is a good book about many of the tribes. With only a page of text to describe the characteristics of the main tribes within a region, there is a natural limitation. Therefore, this can be at best considered a primer of where they resided.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Review of "Spaceballs," DVD version

 Review of

Spaceballs, DVD version

Four out of five stars

Sine curve from nonsense to parody

 This movie from Mel Brooks is in keeping with his zany manner of putting foolishness on film. It is meant to be a parody of the very popular “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” movie. It also relies on  the well-worn plot device of the bride running out from the wedding at the last minute. Brief snippets of the movie also lampoon other popular science fiction movies.

 Princess Vespa is scheduled to marry a boring Prince Valium, but at the last minute she departs with her golden droid in waiting Dot Matrix. When captured by the evil Dark Helmet, Lone Star and his sidekick Barf (half man and half dog) are convinced to attempt a rescue in order to get a substantial reward. Metaphors are taken literally, for example Lone Star jams the scanners of the ship of the evil empire by smearing actual jam on them. When ordered to “comb the desert” in looking for the rescued Vespa, the soldiers of the Empire do exactly that.

 Mel Brooks is the green-skinned diminutive Yogurt, the sage that puts Lone Star wise in the ways of the Schwartz. Throughout the movie there is no line of demarcation between what is just stupid and what is parody. If you are a fan of the Mel Brooks brand of humor, then you will love this movie. However, if your taste in humor is to be a little more cerebral, then you likely will not like it. The best joke is based on the use of a winged Winnebago as the space vehicle piloted by Lone Star and Barf.

Review of "Kurt Sutter’s Lucas Stand, one of six," Boom! Studios

 Review of

Kurt Sutter’s Lucas Stand, one of six, Boom! Studios

Four out of five stars

 Establishing a context for the story to continue

 The story opens with Lucas Stand employed as a security official in a shopping mall. While being chewed out for being late where the manager also complains about the problems of hiring vets, Lucas punches the manager, throws his vest down and walks out. Heavily into drugs and alcohol, he swerves while driving, causing a family of four to go off a cliff to their deaths. Considering this to be the last straw, Lucas takes his pistol, puts it in his mouth and pulls the trigger.

 The next thing he knows a no-nonsense military man is standing over him and giving him an opportunity to do something other than die. This starts a bizarre sequence where he takes on a demon with fire coming out of his head and with that demon, falls of the roof of a high building. Rather than experiencing a second death, Lucas is transported to Nazi occupied Paris, where he meets a female member of the French underground.

 The story goes strange as Lucas experiences the real and implied horrors of what the Nazis did to members of the underground. While it is interesting, it is also unexplained to the point where the reader is uncertain as to what is actually happening. There is no real explanation as to why the bullet did not kill Lucas and why he is being recruited to fight the demons, some traditional and others in German uniforms. While this first issue is intriguing and entertaining, there is insufficient establishment of the context for the reader to be able to understand what is happening.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Review of "Milestones and Magic: A Grandma Remembers," by Mavis Sharp Steitzer

 Review of

Milestones and Magic: A Grandma Remembers, by Mavis Sharp Steitzer

Five out of five stars

Great grandma memories, sometimes from the perspective of the child

 This book is a collection of short pieces of rhyming verse, simple yet moving. They are from the perspective of a grandmother that spent time with her grandchildren. At times, she writes from the perspective of the child, sometimes playing at great things and other times just plopped in a lap of luxury.

 This is a simple book for all ages, written by a veteran grandmother that has played that game well and loved it.

Review of "Star Trek Mindmeld, Number 11," written by Mke W. Barr et. al.

Review of

Star Trek Mindmeld, Number 11, written by Mke W. Barr et. al.

Five out of five stars

What should have been the topic of a movie

 My favorite episode in the Star Trek original series is “Mirror, Mirror.” In this episode, a parallel universe is discovered where the Federation a brutal empire and the Enterprise is one of the means to enforce and expand its power. In that universe, Captain Kirk is a ruthless wielder of the power of a starship and will stop at nothing to maintain and expand his influence. At the end of the episode, the good Captain Kirk challenges the Spock of the evil universe to do something to change the track of the empire.

 To me, this was the best possible starting point for a sequel to the episode, perhaps even a full-length movie. It would have been fascinating to see a story developed in what would have been the ultimate good-vs-evil matchup. Where else can you pit an entire universe against another universe?

 This story involves a battle between the Enterprise characters of the evil universe against those of the Federation. Like all empires before them, once the evil Enterprise characters learned of the parallel universe, their first thought would be to conquer it. The battle is joined where the tactical genius Kirk faces off against the tactical genius Kirk. Furthermore, the mental genius Spock is engaged in a mindmeld with the mental genius Spock.

 This is a great story, so filled with multiple cliffhangers at the end that the reader craves to see the prequel and sequel items in this particular storyline. How does Kirk defeat Kirk and Spock defeat Spock?

Review of "William Shatner’s Tekworld Plague?, number 15," written by Ron Goulart

 Review of

William Shatner’s Tekworld Plague?, number 15, written by Ron Goulart

Three out of five stars

Another installment in the Tekworld saga

 I have read a few of the novels in the Tekworld series where the basic scenario was created by William Shatner, and ghost written by Ron Goulart. While they are reasonably entertaining, I characterized them as “material you read to tuck your mind into bed at night.” In other words, engaging enough to keep you interested, but not so much that it has the power to turn you into an insomniac.

 This comic is derived from those Tekworld novels, where the powerful drug called “Tek,” it is in the form of a mind-altering microchip, and is illegal but creating incredible wealth. Jake Cardigan is a former police officer that was once framed for dealing in Tek but was exonerated and is now working for a private investigating agency called Cosmos. In this episode, people are becoming incredibly sick from an unknown disease and there is the belief that the Tek lords are involved.

Cardigan and his partner Gomez split up and each of them becomes reluctantly entangled with a female sidekick. Cardigan’s situation is complicated because the mother of his son is hospitalized with an extremely serious case. His son blames him for the problems, even though Cardigan can prove that he was not at fault.

 The action is involved and a bit formulaic. At first each of the partners tries to dissuade their female sidekicks from being involved, but that attempt is half-hearted and is easily seen to be a waste of effort. The reader knows very early which piece of furniture each pair will soon be involved with.

 The plot uses the old standby of a secret government project that somehow either went awry or was stolen for profit. That path has been used many times and not very well here.  This comic is lightly entertaining, but there no real depth to the story. Yet, you read it because it is strong enough to keep you to the end.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Review of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2, Issue 3" comic

 Review of

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2, Issue 3 comic

Five out of five stars

 Literary references within a literary reference

 The reader needs to know a great deal about English literature in the mystery/horror/adventure/science fiction genres in order to understand the characters in this League. Members include Mr. Hyde, Mr. Holmes, Mr. Griffin, Mr. Quartermain, Mr. Nemo and Wilhelmina Murray among others. In this case, these literary figures are operating within a modification of another classic story, “War of the Worlds” by H. G. Wells.

 It is the late nineteenth century and meteors have crashed in England, and it contains creatures from Mars with powerful weapons of disintegrator and heat rays. Unfortunately, not all the members of the League are committed to defeating the invading Martians, with one of them turning traitor to the human race. Like the novel, things are starting to look bleak, the British Army has suffered a stunning defeat and the Martians have emerged from their craters atop their mighty machines. At this point, they appear unstoppable.

 This is an amazing series of stories where the characters made their “names” in classics of literature. Every member was a major character in a classic work of fiction, and it is a work of genius to put them all in the same story that is in fact a fairly accurate retelling of a classic story. I loved it! Give a copy to students in an English literature class and give them the assignment of reading it and explaining all the characters.

Review of \"Axe Cop, The American Choppers Number 2," comic produced by Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle

 Review of

Axe Cop, The American Choppers Number 2, comic produced by Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle

Five out of five stars

An exercise in creative copying

 When I encountered this comic on the rack at a local used bookstore, the cover that had a winged police officer swooping down ready to chop with an axe was intriguing, so I knew I had to buy it. It was an interesting read, at times the content is borrowed and other times original, but it certainly was not dull.

 In the area of copying, there is the origin of the title character, where his parents placed him in a hollow meteor and sent him off before their planet was destroyed. That meteor then crashed on Earth where he was found, axe in hand, and eventually adopted by Bobber and Gobber Smartist. Which is a thinly disguised copy of the story of the origin of Superman.

 As an adult, the former baby is known as Axe Cop and he is the principal warrior in the ultimate battle between the white bearded, sunglass wearing head angel and the evil fallen one. Axe Cop and his cohorts must do a lot of chopping in order to rid the universe of the army of Satan. In the end, he emerges victorious and receives a major heavenly reward for his efforts. One of the oldest of stories with some significant originality.

 One quote applicable to this comic has been attributed to more than one person, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” In this case, the artists reach a level slightly above good, but do not achieve the level of great.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Review of "Dastardly & Muttley #2," comic

 Review of

Dastardly & Muttley #2, comic

Five out of five stars

Wacky indeed, just like the races

 Dick Dastardly and his sidekick Muttley first appeared in the cartoon series “Wacky Races” where they constantly engaged in schemes to cheat in order to win. Which was unfortunate for their side, for had they played it square, they likely would have won many times. As it was, their schemes always failed, and they never won. The two characters appeared in subsequent animated features where they filled various roles. One of which had them acting as the pilots of warplanes.

 This comic takes the weirdness of the characters and their situations even further. Both are pilots in a military context and while Muttley has the face of a dog, he has the body of a human. This issue opens with Muttley carrying Dastardly in an attempt to break him out of a military detention facility. They have been captured  by the guards when another man shows up with a bizarre weapon that shoots a large hole in humans without otherwise damaging them.

They appear to be in Germany, the waitress speaks Germanized English and fits the stereotype of the German maiden. There is some kind of jolly-juice releasing drone plane. It flies over a killer shark and turns it into a smiling creature from a Disney movie. There is a lot of incongruity in this comic, since it is the second issue, one would expect some of the context to have been established in the first one.

 After reading this comic, I emerged amused and confused. Yet, I do have a desire to read additional issues as it was entertaining.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Review of "Star Trek Starfleet Academy The Return of Charlie X"

 Review of

Star Trek Starfleet Academy The Return of Charlie X

Five out of five stars

One of the characteristics of the Star Trek original series is that many of the villains were sympathetic figures. That tone was set in the second pilot that became the episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” In that episode, the Enterprise encounters a barrier and Crewman Gary Mitchell (close friend of Captain Kirk) is transformed into a being with incredible powers. Although Kirk is forced to kill his friend, the viewer is sympathetic to Mitchell and experiences the same regret that he had to be killed.

 Something similar takes place in the second episode of the series, “Charlie X.” In it a boy (Charlie Evans) now seventeen is taken aboard the Enterprise. He was the only survivor of a crash on the planet Thasus and the natives gave him enormous mental powers so that he could survive. However, he is an adolescent boy that has never experienced the undulating phases of human existence and it is not long before his powers are a danger to the Enterprise and her crew. The situation is resolved only when the Thasians return and take Charlie away. The best point of the movie is when Yeoman Rand cries for Charlie out of sympathy for his plight.

 In this comic episode, Charlie returns as powerful as ever and just as eager to generate havoc and danger as he was before. However, this time there is a powerful telepath among the Starfleet personnel and so they don’t have to rely on the powerful male father figure to tame him. Once again the battle is for survival and again the members of Starfleet are able to overcome Charlie and beat him, but just barely.

 The timeframe of the story is during the Federation war with the Dominion with their brutal army of Jem’Hadar. This story closes with a powerful cliffhanger where the Jem’Hadar are about to attack a defenseless planet within Federation space. If they can control the creatures of that planet, they may have a weapon that will allow them to easily defeat the Federation and their allies.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Review of "The President’s Trip to China," by the American Press Corps

 Review of

The President’s Trip to China, by the American Press Corps

Five out of five stars

 This book is a snapshot report of the world changing event of U. S. President Richard Nixon traveling to China in 1972. There is no question that it was a seismic shift in the geopolitical landscape of the world. In one event, the world began the process of moving from a bipolar ( the U. S. and the Soviet block) political entity to a tripolar one (U. S., People’s Republic of China and the Soviet block) to a bipolar one again with the U. S. and the People’s Republic of China. There is no doubt that it was the first major step in China becoming an economic superpower, with an economy now on par with that of the United States.

 It was an event that astounded the world, as billions of people saw the events live. It is rare when the world changes so much in one week, yet it is clear from the text by the American Press Corps that they understood what was happening. In retrospect, Nixon’s trip to China made the world safer regarding the threat of overt war, yet it paved the way for the rise of the more subtle aspects of warfare, such as intellectual theft, economic aggression and electronic messaging. Tactics that the Chinese are very skilled at.

 This is a good book to refresh your history genes and understand once again that approximately fifty years ago the United States and China were mutually silent adversaries and China was economically miniscule.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Review of "Charlton Classics presents Hercules, Diomedes’ Curse," comic

 Review of

Charlton Classics presents Hercules, Diomedes’ Curse, comic

Five out of five stars

In Greek mythology, the eighth labor of Hercules was to steal the giant flesh eating mares of Diomedes. In the myth, there were four mares, and they were held chained in a giant stable. Diomedes had a powerful army as well and he was hostile to Hercules.

 This story strays a great deal from the myth, yet it remains true to the fundamental idea of Greek mythology that the gods can intervene in human affairs and take sides, but only to a point. Being the father of Hercules, Zeus, the king of the gods, favors him, but is bound by his own laws to only engage in limited assistance.

 Even though it is significantly altered from the original,  this story demonstrates the richness of the Greek myths and how they marveled at the heroes in their fables. In many ways, Hercules was the prototype of the hero character that is a staple of all of western literature. He was powerful, clever, resourceful, imaginative and confident. All of the characteristics that a hero needs when battling against powerful creatures and performing “impossible” tasks.

Review of "I Love Lucy Show: Lucy and Superman," DVD

 Review of

I Love Lucy Show: Lucy and Superman, DVD

Four out of five stars

 To the modern viewer, the episodes of the Lucy Show in the early seasons now seem quaint. Lucille Ball played a ditzy woman that was always getting into absurd situations due to her often limited thought processes. This was a complete contradiction to what she was in real life. She was the first woman to run a major television studio and was an active producer of many productions on stage and television. In many ways she was one of the major pioneers of females in executive positions in entertainment.

 While this episode degenerates into the silliness of Lucy donning a pseudo-Superman costume on the pretense of fooling a group of children into thinking that Superman has attended their birthday party, it was enjoyable to see George Reeves as Superman act paternal in picking up a child and holding them. He was a hero to children, and the thought of being picked up by Superman was the height of wishful fantasy.

 Severely restricted in what could be done, many of the early television shows based on comedy have not worn well. Most of the episodes of the Lucy Show remain funny, but only if you put your fifties prism on first.  

Friday, November 13, 2020

Review of "Mars Attacks!," DVD version

 Review of

Mars Attacks!, DVD version

Four out of five stars

Parody heaped on parody

 One of the most widely used cliché’s of science fiction is the Little Green Men or LGMs. That and several other phrases are used to describe some of the frequently used and rather bad plot devices in science fiction movies. In the case of this movie, even the exaggerations are exaggerated.

 It starts with an all-star cast led by Jack Nicholson playing two roles. He plays the president of the United States and a glittery Las Vegas huckster. Among others, Glenn Close is the First Lady, Pierce Brosnan is a perpetual pipe smoking intellectual, Jim Brown is an ex-fighter now working as a Las Vegas gladhander, Martin Short is the White House Press Secretary and Danny DeVito is a loudmouth Vegas gambler. Every single role is deliberately overplayed, you get the impression that the actors really enjoyed hamming it up.

 The villains are Martians carrying disintegrator guns and that have green Jell-O for brains. Like the classic tale by H. G. Wells, at first the Martians win all the battles, but eventually the humans discover their fundamental weakness and after that the humans quickly win the war. That weakness is hilarious.

 Even though the stakes are the survival of humans on Earth, there is never a truly serious moment in this movie. It is truly impossible to select the one most absurd parody in the movie, there are so many, and all are so overdone.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Review of "For Laughing Out Loud: My Life and Good Times," by Ed McMahon

 Review of

For Laughing Out Loud: My Life and Good Times, by Ed McMahon ISBN 0446523704

Five out of five stars

What a life he led, Marine Colonel to entertainer

 No person that lived in the sixties to the very early nineties is unaware of the McMahon signature phrase, “Heeere’s Johnny.” Yet, as amazing as it sounds, his activities on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was only a small part of what he accomplished. Therefore, this autobiographical work reads like the works of several lives.

 First off, he was an aviator in the Marine Corps, flying 85 combat missions during the Korean War. After that war was over, he remained in the Marine reserves, retiring as a Colonel in 1966. Secondly, he was one of many that literally created commercial television in his early years working in Philadelphia. At the time, the medium was new, so almost everything they did was a first.  While it is common knowledge that McMahon did some acting, his singing and nightclub exploits would be the answer to many trivia questions.

 Finally, McMahon started earning money early in life, he worked for some time as a salesman, which is where he honed his skills that made him such a success in doing commercials. In his last years of activity, he (co)hosted very popular shows.

 McMahon led an incredible life, until you read this book, it is unlikely that you will truly know how much he accomplished.

Review of "Ghost Town Treasure," by Clyde Robert Bulla

 Review of

Ghost Town Treasure, by Clyde Robert Bulla

Five out of five stars

One of my boyhood favorites

 This was one of my favorite books when I was young. After acquiring a copy at a garage sale, I must have read it ten times. Ty Jackson is a boy that rides horseback across the land of the California desert. He lives in Gold Rock and the town is now nearly a ghost town. The only remaining residents are Ty and his parents, his father owns and operates a grocery store. Earlier, the local ranchers bought their groceries at the store, but now that the roads are getting rougher due to lack of maintenance, they find it easier to take the new highway into another town.

 Therefore, Ty’s parents have informed him that they will be closing the store and moving in a short time. However, Ty learns that his pen pals Paul and Nora Connor will be visiting soon. Not wanting to disappoint them, Ty’s parents agree to stay in town longer.

 Paul and Nora’s great grandfather is buried in the town and they have his diary. After they arrive, they read the last pages and he mentions finding a cave and one of the last passages appears to be “gold in the cave.” Excited about the possibility, the three children try following the cryptic clue as to the location and at first cannot find it. They persist and when the cave is found it turns out that there is no gold, but the existence of the cave leads to enough interest that the town starts coming back to life.

 This book combines simple childhood adventure with a happy ending. Ty is a boy like most others, he has his dreams and his hobbies and at the point when it seems his dreams are gone, they are rekindled at a higher rate than he ever thought possible.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Review of "G. I. Joe Battle Files The Joes 1 of 3"

Review of

G. I. Joe Battle Files The Joes 1 of 3

Five out of five stars

For the dedicated fan of the G. I. Joe storyline

 This comic is for the dedicated fan of G. I. Joe. For it does not contain action, it is a collection of brief biographies of members of the G. I. Joe team. The background information is useful when reading the actual adventures of the team and the list includes those that were killed in actions of the G. I. Joe team.

 If you have an interest in the G. I. Joe team that extends beyond a basic joy in reading of their actions against their enemies, then this is a book you should read. It gives some explanation of what the team members are as human beings.

Review of "G. I. Joe Battle Files: Weapons & Tech, 3 of 3"

 Review of

G. I. Joe Battle Files: Weapons & Tech, 3 of 3

Five out of five stars

The best of the weapons used by Joe and COBRA

 Every hero, whether singular or in an organization, needs to have a strong villain in opposition. For the G. I. Joe line, made up of many characters capable of waging overt and covert war, there is the opposing organization known as Cobra. Both sides have their own line of weapons with extreme capability of waging modern warfare.

 This comic reads like an advertising brochure for lines of weapons available for purchase. For many of the weapons used by G. I. Joe and by Cobra, there is an image, a list of the specifications as to weight, speed, endurance and armament. This is followed by a long paragraph descriptor of how it is used along with the strengths and weaknesses. This includes vehicles and some hand weapons down to pistols, swords and knives.

 Clearly, this is a comic published for the serious follower of the G. I. Joe adventures. For it contains no action or storyline, it simply provides a primer on the main weaponry used by both sides.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Review of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century 1910," by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

 Review of

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century 1910, by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill ISBN 9781603090001

Four out of five stars

 Very complex context that is not well established

 I had to read this graphic novel twice before I felt that I had a basic understanding of the talents of the characters and how they interact. At times there is mention of powers and sorcery, yet other times expressions of disbelief that such things exist. Many of the characters or their descendants that have appeared in literary works appear at some point.

 Which is the reason why it is hard to understand. For example, you need to know the Jules Verne story, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” in order to follow the reference to Captain Nemo and the Nautilus. Some of the other names that appear are Prince Zaleski created by M. P. Shiel, Dr. Taverner created by Dion Fortune, Oliver Haddo created by W. Somerset Maugham and Simon Iff created by Aleister Crowley. All are characters that appear in science and occult fiction and it is very difficult to thoroughly understand the references without knowledge of what kind of characters they are.

 There are also hints of a pending major apocalypse, which is a clear reference to the upcoming Great War, although there is the suggestion that it is something else. The setting is London in 1910, it is a dirty, grimy place with mean and dangerous streets. There were many homeless people that survive any way they could.

 This is one of the most complex graphic novels that I have ever read. Due to the number of characters and their literary backgrounds, it has many deep qualities. It is easy to see where a college English instructor could use it as the foundation for an entire course in literature.

Review of "Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual Issue 1" comic

 Review of

Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual Issue 1 comic

Five out of five stars

Two groups with superpowers meet

 This comic is a reboot of the event where the Fantastic Four meet the Attilans, a group of powerful creatures that live an extremely secluded existence on Earth. It opens with Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, out nightclubbing and trying to impress the women when there is an event where what appears to be a woman is being chased by unusual creatures. Johnny Storm intervenes and gets thoroughly beat up. The apparent woman is Crystal, she is beautiful, and she is fleeing an arranged marriage in Attilan.

 When Crystal is forcibly returned to Attilan, the Fantastic Four are able to go there and attempt a rescue. This leads to a battle and a time of reconning, where the two groups of super beings have to decide whether to try to coexist or remain apart.

 I am someone that enjoys reading the first installment of a reboot of a comic story. Since I am familiar with most of the original stories, it is interesting to see the differences in the plotline as well as determine if the proper background context has been laid for the continuance of the story. That criteria has been met here. Also, Sue Storm is depicted as a much more forceful personality, often giving the orders rather than Reed Richards. That raises the quality.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Review of "Defenders of the Earth: The Sun Stealers," by Mark Sufrin

 Review of

Defenders of the Earth: The Sun Stealers, by Mark Sufrin ISBN 0307617653

Five out of five stars

Great team up of Sunday comic legends

 This short story for young people features four of the greatest heroes ever to appear in the newspaper comic sections. They are the Phantom created by Lee Falk, Flash Gordon created by Alex Raymond, and Mandrake the Magician and his sidekick Lothar also created by Lee Falk. In this story they do battle with Flash’s old adversary Ming the Merciless.

 Ming’s goal in this book is to capture the energy of the Earth’s sun and channel it to his own uses. He has no concern regarding the effects that the theft will have on Earth. Towards this end, Ming has made an alliance with the Glow People, who possess the ability to store solar energy from other stars. It is a great threat to Earth and one the Defenders must thwart.

 The story is simple and lacks drama. However, fans of the comic section of the Sunday papers will be thrilled to see these heroes teamed together to defend Earth from a dangerous cosmic menace.

Review of "Star Trek Early Voyages: Pike vs. Kaaj Mortal Enemies!" Written by Ian Edginton and Dan Abnett

 Review of

Star Trek Early Voyages: Pike vs. Kaaj Mortal Enemies! Written by Ian Edginton and Dan Abnett

Five out of five stars

A ruthless Klingon on a blood hunt against Pike

 In many ways, going backwards in time through the Star Trek universe is more interesting than going into the future with new characters and worlds. For there are limits on the past that don’t apply to the future. This comic is a demonstration of that, the story features Captain Christopher Pike, the immediate predecessor of Captain Kirk as captain of the Enterprise.

 The Klingon commander Kaaj will stop at nothing in his goal of killing Pike, he will not hesitate to kill any humans and even members of his own crew in order to achieve that. By faking a message that Pike’s father is ill, he is able to lure him away from the Enterprise, alone on a shuttle. Kaaj orders that shuttle to be shot down and it crash lands on a planet colonized by humans.

 Thinking nothing of instigating an interstellar war between the Federation and the Klingons, Kaaj orders a literal scorched planet strategy in an attempt to kill Pike. Of course, the resourceful Pike and his newfound allies manage to prevail in the battle. Yet, it is a demonstration of how ruthless the Klingons can be and a harbinger of the future potential of the stories of Captain Pike. It is a great story.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Review of "My Folks Back to the Basics: A Treasury of Outhouse Stories," edited by Michele Webb

 Review of

My Folks Back to the Basics: A Treasury of Outhouse Stories, edited by Michele Webb ISBN 0941678415

Four out of five stars

A look back at how we used to go

 When I was growing up, both of my grandparents had outhouses, my paternal grandparents did not have electricity or running water in the house. Therefore, many of the experiences, particularly those of going outside in extremely cold weather are familiar to me. While some people took care to seal their outhouses against the elements, that was not the case with my grandparents. There is no experience like having to go really bad yet trying to hold it off when the temperature is south of zero. Even worse, feeling a wind of that temperature on your bare bottom as you desperately try to hurry the job along.

 Therefore, in my opinion, these stories will not be as humorous to those that experienced similar events in their lives. There may have been times when hiding in the outhouse was fun as a child, but using it was smelly, chokingly hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. No one that I know of that used one on a regular basis finds those memories humorous, even in a significant retrospective. Yet, I concede that people that have flushed their way through life will find them amusing.