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A Super Fella and a Superp Collection

58) All Star Superman: vol 1 by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant(DC Comics, 2007, 160 pages)
As with many Grant Morrison comics projects, Superman is a mixed bag of strange, often ingenious, and just plain weird stories. Vol. 1 feature the first six issues of Morrison/Quitely/Grant's run on Superman, and it's a doozy. In issue one, Superman does his super job (saving a research team from a sabotage situation on their solar expedition, orchestrated by Lex Luthor of course) only to have his cells bombarded with deadly solar radiation. The very thing that provides SM with his super strength and such turns quite deadly, and now he has a limited amount of time left to him (unless and until the midnight hour saving throw, I'm sure), and boy does he intend to go out with a bang. He springs his identity on Lois Lane, gives her the greatest gift in the world, discovers his own dark side when exposed to a brand new Black Kryptomite (the day is save by . . . wait for it . . . Jimmy Olsen?!?), pays something of a time travel visit to the most important day of his youth, and even takes time out to play with Krypto the Superdog. While material of this nature lends itself quite easily -- too easily, in fact -- to sentimental bullpuckey, Morrison keeps his sense of humor and pathos in tact. Quitely's pencils are simple but beautiful, and Grant's colors are nicely done. These images pop, and the stories (when they don't delve into the huh? Region of Just A Little Too Surreal) are pretty easy for nonfans to digest. Let me admit: I don't particularly like the character of Superman and I don't typically read Superman; the only reason I picked this up was for Morrison's crazy imaginings. Final Analysis: not bad but not as purely awe inspiring as much of Morrison's other works.

59) Cages and Other Stories by Ed Gorman (Deadline Press, 1995, 372 pages)
Sure Ed Gorman is a novelist, but for my money he excels at the short form. Here are 21 stories which run the gamut from mystery to sf to crime to horror. Some are beautiful, some are tragic, and some are both. I found only a handful to be forgettable, which is a pretty good for a collection. Gorman writes about human pain with a strong sense of empathy. Not a one of these stories is particularly gratuitous, though a few of them just don't really touch me the way others do.
"Moonchasers" finds a pair of kids falling in love with the legendary quality of a wounded bank robber (who resembles their icon, Robert Mitchum) and discovering just what human evil really is capable of (in fact, it resides not in the bank robber but in the hearts of their own community).
"Mainwaring's Gift" finds a drifter looking for his One True Love on Christmas Night. Almost a year earlier, they shared a night of passion, and though not a one of his letters has been returned, he hopes to rekindle the flame. What he finds is a condition he had not counted on, and a surprise gift for the holiday.
"Deathman" considers the habits of a hangsman, and finds that while he has no regrets about the job he performs, he carries his own emotional weights.
"The Brasher Girl" finds evil in a remote well, a voice that speaks to a person's mind and sets free their darkest impulses.
And more. This is a pretty solid collection, all told. And while stories like "Dreams of Darkness" and "The End of it All" don't particularly appeal to me, they are still solid stories.
I was surprised as hell to find this in the SA Library system. It's a limited hardcover, signed edition (#266 of 500 copies). Nice.
Tags: 2009 books read
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