Wednesday, November 08, 2006

10/06 Good Reads!


Went to the beach several weeks ago, took several books with me. First up was Jules Verne’s JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. I had gotten a beat-up paperback for free and had never read it. I actually found it very enjoyable. Where 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA was tedious, this book was often a bit light-hearted mainly through the rather un-adventurous young man that serves as narrator who would rather be at home romancing his cousin and eating good food prepared by the cook, doing all of his scientific research in relative safety and comfort. From this, Verne is able to generate quite a bit of humor some of it almost gallows humor from a man convinced he’s going to die on this insane adventure. It’s short enough that it doesn’t quite fall into the travel log model of most adventure novels from this time and at times does quite well at getting across the almost claustrophobic and real dangers faced by the trio of adventurers. Sadly, where it fails is due to it’s dated nature of writing style. When the book finally gets to where someone like ERB or even Doyle would really just be getting started, it suddenly and violently wrenches its characters from the depths of the Earth and back into the reality of the surface world and end of the novel. There is also a bit of an internal logic hiccup in the narrative, when the adventurers find themselves at the great underground sea, where conclusions based on the info given don’t logically follow. But, it’s a fun vacation novel.

Also read IT’S SUPERMAN, a novel by Tom DeHaven. I got this at the booksale at work for a dollar. I’d seen it at bookstores but didn’t get it at full price in hardback, my reasoning being, I read another one of this guy’s novels which was ok, but didn’t really grab me the way I had hoped, a certain cynicism or modern superior look at the past. In some ways, this novel follows that path of misleading.

Because, despite the title, the book isn’t really about Superman. A better title would be IT’S THE WORLD OF CLARK KENT. Because in reality, the book really covers a lot of the same ground as the tv series SMALLVILLE does in that it’s about Clark Kent on the road to becoming Superman, learning about why the world needs a hero, only it’s set in the 1930’s and is a bit more serious in its tone and characters.

For what it is, it’s an enjoyable book. We see Lex Luthor growing in power and concocting an almost purely pulp like plot, we see Lois Lane growing in her role as reporter and striving to be a thoroughly modern woman. And dollops of sex as we now know who Clark’s first time was with and the flings of various other characters. And like many outsider writers dealing with a universe they didn’t create, there are a couple of Mary Sue characters to serve as being important parts of guiding the characters to their destinies.

But, Superman is hardly in it, maybe really just the last 10% when most of what DeHaven had to say has been said and now it’s time to finish up his pulp-like plot which unfortunately he doesn’t really carry off with the same conviction that pulp writers are able to.

But, DeHaven has a breezy style that keeps things moving, he sets the tone of the world of the 1930’s very convincingly, and his characters are mostly sympathetic or at the very least interesting. The act of reading it is enjoyable and keeps you entertained. It’s only when you finish that you wish there was something more, instead of feeling like it was really just the opening act to something much bigger and better.


You know, I’d like to talk comics, I generally do in this space. But, looking back at what I wrote a few months ago, nothing has changed. I guess it’s just a sign of my further distancing from current comics. Heck, I’ve not been to the comic store in over a week, a fact that doesn’t bother me overly much. I still like the books Gail Simone writes, but may end up dropping BIRDS OF PREY if the Manhunter character becomes a regular. It’s funny how originally I liked that character and her book until it became almost everything I dislike about many current writers and so-called legacy characters. Even if I like the writer, there are characters I just don’t have any desire to read month to month a couple of bucks a plop. I’m more willing to drop the book for several months or however long it takes to get back on track. It’s why I won't be following Fabian Nicieza to a mini-series about Baron Zemo when THUNDERBOLTS gets re-tooled (will be dropping THUNDERBOLTS as well, the book has been a bit tedious before and frankly I’veDeodato’s artwork which was once pretty buy overdone, looks now just overdone).

So, just re-read my comments from my last zine, cut them out and paste them in here, and you have a section of stuff in comics that I like.

Oh, there is one thing. SPIDER-GIRL is back!
More Comics and Pulps here!

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