Sunday, June 17, 2007


It's been a while since I posted any reviews, so I thought I should catch up. Since my last review post, I've read 4 books and 4 trades...

It only took me 2 days to reread Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book of the series (and of my "Harry Potter Project"). It's the first book to not feature Voldemort as the main villain; instead, one of his supporters appears to have broken out of the wizard prison Azkaban and is after Harry. Of course, things aren't as straightforward as that. This book also features such cool bits as the Marauder's Map, which shows not only a map of Hogwarts but who is where in the castle, and Hermione's use of a Time Turner, which allows her to take multiple classes at the same time and also plays a big role in the finale of the book. For me, this book kicked the whole series into another gear the first time around and I was just as enthralled the second time around.

Next up was All-Star Superman Vol. 1, which collects the first six issues of the series that reimagines Superman (somewhat akin to Marvel's Ultimate line). This series is by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, which I feel is one of the best writer/artist teams working today. The first issue features Superman rescuing an inventor on the Sun, which appears will lead to Superman's death. So what does he do? He tells Lois that he, Clark Kent, is Superman. That's the first issue. From there we get Supermen of the future; Lois getting super-powers for a day; Clark and Luthor in the midst of a super-powered prison riot; Jimmy Olsen as a cool, capable man; black Kryptonite; and the death of Pa Kent. It is a series full of cool ideas and visuals with plenty of heart. It is what super-hero comics should be and I highly recommend it.

I've mentioned my love for the Legion of Super-Heroes on this blog several times. Of course, my Legion of Super-Heroes has been gone for more than a decade at this point - the franchise has been rebooted a couple times since the mid-90s. Right now there is a story going on in a JLA/JSA crossover that features that original Legion (more on that later this week) and it made me decide to try the latest Legion reboot. Legion of Super-Heroes: Teenage Revolution collects the first six issues of the latest series, which is written by Mark Waid and drawn by Barry Kitson. The future that this Legion is in is one of homogeneity and the young Legion members want to shake up society. They find themselves at odds with the United Planets and the Science Police. These characters aren't the same as they were but there are still some similarities. I liked it well enough to want to pick up the next trade at some point.

My next read was the debut novel by Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End. It's about an ad agnecy that is going through a wave of layoffs and what happens to the people...gossip and odd behavior and humanity and anxiety and meanness and friendship. It's also written in the royal "we," which is a very interesting choice. It allows for wide-ranging viewpoints but also keeps things at a distance for a while. By the latter half of the book, you don't notice it as much, however. This is a solid book but I wouldn't put it on a par with, say, Max Barry's Company (though that novel is not as straightforward as this). Still, when it comes out in paperback, you may want to give it a look.

I went right into another book, I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle. In it, Dennis Cooverman uses his valedictory speech to profess his love for the titular head cheerleader. From there, things become very interesting for Dennis and his friend Rich. I'd say more but I wouldn't want to ruin it for you. Think of the really good movies about high school and you'll have the gist; in fact, Doyle starts each chapter with a quote from one of those movies. The book is hilarious and really, really good. You should read it.

I switched back to comics after that, reading Nexus Archives Volume 2. Nexus and Judah found themselves on the Bowl-Shaped World and met up with The Badger, a crazy martial-arts master who calls everyone "Larry." Meanwhile, Sundra and Jil went into business (and more) together and Tyrone got himself elected the first president of Ylum. After that, the slaver Clausius makes his return and Nexus investigates ways to stop the dreams that haunt him. Oh, and we learn a bit more about where his powers might originate. The issues collected here are from the early 80s but they still seem fresh. Mike Baron and Steve Rude created a masterpiece with this series and I'm counting down the days until I can justify buying the next volume of this series. Oh, and there are new issues about to be published as well!

I made a rare foray into Marvel Comics after that, reading Doctor Strange: The Oath, which collects the five issue mini-series. Why Doctor Strange? It was written by Brian K. Vaughan (and Marcos Martin on art didn't hurt either). The story is about magic and medicine and goes back to the beginnings of Doctor Strange and features what could be the end of his faithful servant Wong. Oh, and Vaughan uses Night Nurse and it world wonderfully. Proof that Vaughan is one of the best writers in the comics industry.

Finally, I spent the last 6 days reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It's tough to get through a 700 plus page book quickly. It's also tough to not spend all your time reading it. The Quidditch World Cup. The return of the Death Eaters. The Triwizard Tournament. Students from other schools. A dance. The full return of Voldemort. If you like this series, this is certainly an important book. Hard to believe it's been 7 years since I first read it...

I should also mention that I read the April/May double issue of Asimov's in there somewhere too. And that brings us to today, where I will start another trade.

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