"All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened
and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you
and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse,
and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was."
Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Superman: Red Son

Image courtesy of
DC Comics
Superman:  Red Son
Mark Millar
Dave Johnson
Et. al.

The Summary
In this unique twist on the Superman mythos, Superman lands on a Soviet collective farm in Ukraine rather than a rural farm in small-town Kansas - and his story develops very differently.

Raised to support and defend the socialist ideas of the Soviet Union, Superman "fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact."  His superpowers, however, make a very different impression on the world as he tries so hard to do the right thing - and Lex Luthor becomes a very different villain.

The Good
Filled with the usual intricacies of the "Superman story," Red Son is a complex and enjoyable graphic novel that's sure to please.  It has an exceptional plot - and twists and turns in the DC Universe that are sure to leave you surprised and craving for more (see Batman's Russian counterpart to know what I mean) - and excellent characters.

The exceptional art in this comic also makes it worthwhile to read.  Illustrating all the details its narrator cannot explain, or aspects character dialogue cannot illuminate, the graphic component of this novel enhances its qualities and makes it more enjoyable.

In particular, being able to see the progression of time on many characters and view the scenes a reader may not immediately see in their mind's eye, helps this novel pack a real punch.

As an aside, I found the narrator of Red Son equally appealing.  Actually having Superman narrate his own story - explain his motives even as he serves Stalin, lay bare his personal thoughts and feelings, question his own judgment or enforce it - offers this comic a uniquely "human" voice that's sure to catch your attention.

The Bad
Admittedly, the conclusion of Red Son was slightly dissatisfying.  It hypothesizes a unique and, subsequently, clever idea concerning Superman's end as well as his origin; however, it also makes the novel seem like one long, infinite loop, never truly having a satisfying - and definite - conclusion.

The Ugly
Consider this in Red Son:  Superman is completely bent on preserving the planet and keeping humankind safe, so much so that he's possibly willing to sacrifice free will and human thought to accomplish his goals.

And:  Lex Luthor cuts a very different figure in society - and he may not be the villain Superman accuses him of being.

Clashing ideologies and personal vendettas create a confusing and, frequently, ugly mess that appears to result in personal tragedy, war, and death.  To put it simply, the characters you know and love from the DC Universe may not make it to the final page.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye (Volume One)

The Walking Dead, Volume 1: Days Gone Bye
Image courtesy of
Barnes and Noble
The Walking Dead:  Days Gone Bye (Volume One)
Robert Kirkman
Tony Moore

The Summary
When small-town sheriff Rick Grimes is caught in a shoot-out with his partner, Shane, he doesn't expect to wake up in a coma weeks later - and her certainly doesn't expect to learn the world is a very different place, a place rife with abandoned cities and zombies.  But his grave situation doesn't deter him from finding what's most important:  his wife and his son.

His former partner, however, just might.

The Good
Packed with stimulating art and gripping story-telling, Days Gone Bye is a graphic novel that is sure to please.  Not only does Tony Moore, the artist, render the story with great detail and care, Robert Kirkman, the author, creates a suspenseful tale woven with equal parts tragedy and horror and human insight.

In particular, Kirkman's skills as a story-teller in formulating compelling characters, unique stories, and appropriate amounts of action - and suspense - will keep you on the edge of your seat from cover to cover.

Granted, much of The Walking Dead focuses on the journey of Rick Grimes as he travels to Atlanta in search of his family; however, Kirkman and Moore's novel branches in many different directions as new character and newer dangers emerge.

It's interesting and it's gripping, no two ways about it.

The Bad
I would not recommend The Walking Dead to a younger audience.  Filled with stronger language, gore, frightening images, and a fair dose of horror, Kirkman and Moore's novel is probably a little graphic for some readers.  Honestly, I don't think I read a single issue in this first volume in which multiple people didn't die.

I suggest if you don't like stories that make your stomach twist with grief and worry, or make your heart sink inside your chest, this book may not be for you.

The Ugly
Riddled with gore and tragedy, The Walking Dead is a post-apocalyptic horror story bent on making you squirm the farther you read.  As you learn in these first few issues, it's not just the zombies about which you have to worry - it's the survivors.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Apologies for the unexpected hiatus.  With November being one of the more popular seasons for retail and National Novel Writing Month (see nanowrimo.org if you don't know what I mean), I've had very little time between then and now to write suitable blog posts - or anything at all.

But I intend to remedy this month-long hiatus with a new post on Saturday and a couple bonus reviews throughout the month of December and January.  Going with the comic motif from early November and late September, I'll start with a review on The Walking Dead.

See you Saturday.

Happy reading.

- The Scrivener