Sunday, April 30, 2017

End of April Kickstarter roundup

First, let's look at a couple of comics:

Swords of the Swashbucklers- Dynamite Entertainment is looking to print a collection featuring the original graphic novel and the 12 issue series. This is a pulpy and beautiful SFF series, so if that's your thing...

Family Man- This is another reprint, this one a crime comic from the unfortunately short lived Paradox Press. It's not seen collection before, as it was a three mini-volume story, and didn't see the explosion Road to Perdition or A History of Violence did.

OK, now, onto some games:

Button Men is coming back, the new version being launched with cards. This is an old two player dice combat game, and is ridiculous quick fun.

Aces & Eights: Reloaded is a new edition of Kenzerco's  Western RPG. There's also rules for a minis skirmish game.

Commands and Colors: Tricorne from Compass Games is Richard Borg's C&C engine applied to the American Revolution. Compass Games strictly is a wargame publisher, and this is a good light one. I state this based on my experience with other C&C games. 

Fuedalia appears to be an interesting upgrade on the Deck Building mechanic, integrating some resource management as well.

TerrainCrate- If you've got an RPG, or need a diorama for a minis tournament, this has some great looking pieces for you at good pricing, provided you want at least one box.

Farsight- Well, I just found this and it is PRETTY. We've got mechs, artillery and 2-4 players.  Yeah, it's not Battletech or Robotech, but it is setup as a boardgame.

I've looked through the fiction, anthology, and periodical categories, and nothing has struck me as noteworthy/trustworthy.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Calling Independent Operators

Yep. I had another couple shirts designed, this time by somebody local to me. I think you'll dig them:

Found here.

And this one:


When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Injustice Quick Reviews 2.6

Cower not, fierce reader! Today, I am pleased to present to you the books that helped maintain my sanity during the reading for my last book review. There's no Pulp entry in this review set, due mostly to indecision. But, we do have a great collection of stories to behold.

Wraithkin by Jason Cordova- We've got interstellar war, racism, eugenics,  the utopia/distopia dichotomy, and enhanced suits to turn the unwanted into terrifying soldiers. There's also love, brotherhood, sacrifice, and political intrigue. Major crime: Fitting all that coherently into a small package. When's book 2 due? 8 of 10 fell deeds.

War to the Knife ; and Forge a New Blade by Peter Grant- The Laredo Trilogy(only tow books so far) takes place in the same time/space(relatively) as The Maxwell Saga. The writing's a little tighter than the early Maxwell books, and the story is vastly different. We've got a small planet resisting conquest, lots of political intrigue on all major locations, and of course, a good amount of war. Good stuff, and one more to go. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

The Old Man and the Wasteland by Nick Cole- Yeah, I haven't gotten through all 3 yet, but let me tell you: the first story is pretty good. In many ways, it's an obvious take on The Old Man and the Sea, and it knows it. There's plenty of apocalyptic goodness here though, that built Mr. Cole's reputation, and his writing has grown since, so there's good stuff both ways. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

Cartwright's Cavaliers by Mark Wandrey-  A shared universe mech/armored suit series with a complex set of alien cultures and a solid coming of age story? Yeah, we've got that and more. A great start for a Hero's Journey tale, and I really want more of Cartwright and Co. 9 of 10 fell deeds.

Asbaran Solutions by Chris Kennedy - Yeah, it's the second book in the world. Different author, so different review. This story is radically different. There's a ton of loss of life, and while there's great motivation for the characters, I can't imagine who'd want to join Asbaran given their death toll. Yeah, great revenge story, though. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Updating without reimagining comics

I know there's been a LOT of talk of the major comic book publishers making comics not fun. They've been doing this by recreating characters in their own images, and taking them away from their roots. They've created new characters solely for virtue signalling, and written blatantly political material, alienating half of the comic book buying population.

Well, I'm going to tell you about two new books that (so far) aren't pulling that garbage. Dynamite Entertainment generally takes the properties it's working with very seriously. Part of this is because of the number of licenses they deal with. Unlike IDW, they don't shove everything into a crossover every few months meaninglessly.

They've got two books now that are both technically crossover books, though it's a bit hard to see them as what most companies would consider such. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: the Big Lie; and The Greatest Adventure are the titles I'm covering now.

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie is a serious noir story. The characters are still the same ones from the books, albeit a touch older. They still are pursuing truth, and tricking their enemies along the way. They are going without any support from an authority figure, and we see them in what could become real danger. There's the sudden turning a small town will do on a prominent figure if given what appears to be reason. I suspect this mystery and conspiracy goes to deep and high places, and will put the characters into moral quandries.

Like I said, serious noir.

The Greatest Adventure is a nontraditional crossover. ALL of the protagonists are creations of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tarzan, Korak, the Mucker, Ulysses Paxton, Jason Gridley, and a lot more are here.

While only one issue of this has shipped(and it's a setup issue), I have some high hopes for this. Bill Willingham is writing this(Fables), and the artist is pretty solid, with only a couple of mediocre panels, one of which being a roll call type panel.  I'm going to guess that the characters aren't going to be updated even, but merely adapted for working together to stop the threat that caused Tarzan to bring them together. Besides, snowflakes hate ERB, falsely calling him all the names they shove at conservatives and libertarians in SFF.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Injustice Book Review: Spinal Tap Edition

Cower not, fierce reader! Today I'm going to approach our text a little differently than normal. For those perhaps unaware, or just wanting to refresh their knowledge of what this review will entail, I present this scene of cinematic history:

You might ask yourself, "What on Earth did our host read to prompt such reviews?" The answer is simple. I took one for the cause of Injustice, for I knew I must give a fair try to one of the most SocJus authors there is: John Scalzi and his book, The Collapsing Empire. First, the fun reviews, then something a  bit more serious.

The Collapsing Empire: The Collapsing Career

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi is a morass of retarded sexual obsession and sycophantic virtue signalling, matched only by the lack of anything resembling a compelling story.

The Collapsing Empire: As a substitute for firewood, it is functional but overpriced. I recommend continuing the use of L. Ron Hubbard novels until such time as the price has imploded.

It's good to know that Wil Wheaton is the reader for this. The pairing makes a perfect addition to the Guantanamo Bay prisoners' soundtrack.

Tor has a copyeditor. Who knew? Not Sanderson readers.

Now, more seriously.

If this book were half as good as the SocJus forces state, I would not have needed most of a week to get through 300 some pages. From the Scooby Doo opening to the lazy finish, this book is dissatisfying, and quite often painful. The ships are given creepy song based names. The major nobility of this space opera are merely virtue signalling to Brianna Wu and N K Jemisin, with large amounts of sexual obsession. The "cathedral" in this thing claiming to be a book has no loft for musicians, as though it were designed by someone who had never stepped into a church with an organ loft, and the accompanying balcony for musicians. This author also denies the existence of truth, and the draw of religion being repentance.(He claims people want to be coddled spiritually rather than called to repent. See mainline Protestantism for refutation.)

There's a narrator infodump; by that I mean the narrator actively inserts itself to provide the information. Never have I beheld such poorly written and ham-handed delivery of complex information supposedly crucial to the plot.Unfortunately, I can count  the times this book made me laugh: 1.  While Tor proved quite definitively that they have a working copyeditor(I didn't find any misspellings or homophone errors), John Scalzi has yet to prove to me he can write out of a paper bag.  For the laugh, I generously grant this book 2 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

More branding.

Dawn Witzke has allowed us the pleasure of another design, using the end tagline. I'm only putting this in villain colors, since they're going to paint you as the bad guy anyway.

Two quick notes: 1. Wash these inside out, the white will wear quickly in the wash. 2. Per tall sizes, I looked and couldn't find a POD shirt company with tall sizes reliably available. That said, if cryptofashion decides they want these, I'll gladly partner with them(doubtful, but I can hope). Tall sizes are an add on there, and they special order those, as they aren't regular stock.

Oh yeah, here's the shirt:

Yep. Pretty cool. More soon, also.

You know what? Just read the shirts. They got it covered.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Pulp Comics: The Rocketeer

Fierce readers, when you want pulp characters in comics, the biggest names came straight out of the pulp era: The Shadow, Doc Savage, Tarzan, Conan, and more. The Rocketeer fits right in there with them, despite coming into existence far later. I am not talking about the Rocketeer movie by Disney, though that is a fine take on the character that is a pretty good adaptation, though some changes were made to enlarge the audience and appeal of the story.

For the curious, I'm strictly concerning myself with the original works by the creator, Dave Stevens. There are quite a few more recent works published by IDW and other artists and writers; what I've read was pretty good, but it's not Dave Stevens work.

This is going to be SPOILER HEAVY!

Our hero has lady troubles. He's a pilot in a flying circus scraping by, and his girlfriend Betty is an "actress" getting attention from a Hollywood photographer. The photographer, Marco of Hollywood, is a real piece of scum. Can't really blame anyone for looking, though. She's, um .... let me find my words...


Anyway, some Nazis try to steal his plane, and have left the prototype pack in it. He of course, starts finding trouble right after using to save a friend. Like I said, the movie adaptation is pretty good.

So yeah, we've got Nazis, government spies, the most storied recluse millionaire there is, and little Cliff Secord trying to save the day so he can get the dough to feel like he can keep his girl.

Mr. Stevens only finished two short story arcs, though, and the second ties this far more to the world of the pulps. Betty is on a plane to catch a boat to Europe with Marco, and Cliff is trying to catch up to her to get her back.

Once he gets to New York, he gets a job offer from an old buddy who helps him find Betty. Then, of course Cliff confronts her, his jealousy foremost in his mind right now. After a brawl interrupted by a very obvious tribute to the Shadow, that skirts the edge very closely, but there's never any use of hypnosis, black outfit, the laugh, etc.

Cliff's broke, so he takes a job for our "Jonas" that involves some carnival workers that Cliff used to work with being killed. Yeah, we've got a nice little Shadow short filled with danger, death, and revenge. Cliff heads back, but before he gets home:


Now, since then, there's been a myriad of crossovers and a good amount of other stories. He's worked with Captain America, Batman, The Spirit, and more. The costume is popular as crazy for some cosplayers, though it's not as Cliff, but as Betty wearing the outfit.(not in Steven's work, by the way).

In other news, try to keep an eye out for a special anniversary Injustice Book Review later this week.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Injustice Quick Reviews 2.5

Cower not, fierce reader! After delays of pain, I am pleased to bring to you another collection of fine works to trigger the forces of SocJus.  Let us proceed to these works, and the charges affiliated therewith! (All titles are Amazon links.)

Fade by Daniel Humphreys-  Mr. Humphreys takes a swing into the Urban Fantasy milieu, and we largely succeeds. We have good, evil, and mysticism in full force. Also, secret organizations that pretend to government alliance.Major crime: We've got self sacrifice, we've got a hero that isn't arrogant, we've got vulnerable characters. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

Schrodinger's Gat by Robert Kroese-  If you're expecting another comic sff story from the guy that might just be the funniest man in sff, forget it. This book is dead serious, and delves into physics, philosophy, and metaphysics, all with a touch of what might be noir. Major crime: The idea that there are things we shouldn't know. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

Wizard of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs- This last tale of Carson of Venus was published posthumously, and is still under copyright, and thus not available in ebook as of this writing. There's a companion story, Pirate Blood, that I'll read and review later.  This short work is honestly better than the previous entry in the series, and is very satisfying to boot. Major crime: A hero that limits himself to only doing good with his extraordinary abilities, and knows what good is. 9 of 10 fell deeds.

'Til Death: The Man Who Balked by Jason Anspach- We've got a protection gig for our hero at the beginning of the integration of baseball, taking place in the rough and tumble minor leagues. There's action aside from the baseball for those of us less into that, but the history this is tied to makes for a great read. Major crime: The race relations are one aspect(a real thing at the time of this story), and the commie manipulation of such another. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

The Coconut Swindle by Matt Abraham-  Like I was going to not read this after the magnificent opening. This book is a prequel, rather than a sequel, and I'm ok with this. The Mike Hammer books jumped around a lot too, so it's playing a bit to type. This is Dane Curse's first solo case, and he's in over his head for awhile. When everything clears, he's got his motivation to be a force for justice, if not law and order. Major crime: The hero loses a lot to gain a little. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Regarding the early pages of Alt-Hero

Earlier today, Vox Day showed us two early pages of  what looks to be Castalia House's first entry into comics, depending on the timeframe of the Quantum Mortis adaptation. Now, I know that Vox isn't into the medium himself, and a lot of the VP commenters are cheerleading this(especially ones that don't read comics), so I felt it appropriate to write up some thoughts.

1. It might be self limiting. One of my concerns with a hero book of this type(most of them, really), is that there's only so many stories one can tell with them. I'm not saying this is bad. If this goes for a 12 issue equivalent, is done well and improves along the way, and doesn't go on pointlessly, then GREAT. Complete stories are better in many ways. It could also provide a stepping stone to a comics universe.

Really, my point is, I don't want to see the same story 38 times(# chosen randomly). I don't care if they have a new villain each time. Tell the story, and leave. At least for a bit. Come back when there's a good new story. 

2. The art is ok. That's about it. It's not my favorite by any means, and most of the books I've seen with a similar style are targeting a YA non-hero audience. Again, not a negative, just an observation. The layouts are PLAIN as all get out, and that, again is not necessarily a negative, but it is an indicator of  a need for input from people that know the medium.

I do know I would like the art style better in a cartoon than in comics. Why?  When I'm reading, I can take time to really look at the art. Cartoons work at the pace of playback.  And I'm far more willing to forgive a plain background panel if there's say, Hal Foster level detail elsewhere(see Prince Valiant). That's not present here, and I don't know how fast this was churned out.

3. Vox likely should acquaint himself with some of the aspects of comic book theory. I'm not talking art here, at least wholly, but scripting things that allows comic readers to fill in holes effectively, among other things. I would recommend to him and his artist Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, and possibly Making Comics as well. Yes, McCloud is a liberal; he also is pretty much unparalleled in his understanding of the structure of comics, how they accomplish things, and how they work differently than text or film.

I'd also recommend some Will Eisner and Jim Steranko for the artist. Eisner drew people amazingly, and Steranko's Nick Fury books had more creativity sometimes in one page than most modern books in totality.

4. It's a start. To an extent, I understand Vox's desire to succeed at this himself first. But, there's plenty of writers he could be reaching out to: Chuck Dixon, Doug TenNapel, and yes, even Jon Del Arroz come to mind for a start. This is without touching adaptations of existing CH books(Moth and Cobweb and the Ames Archives, please!), and are good creatively with some record of success already in the medium.

Honestly, I'm more interested in the long-term prospects(new Earthworm Jim?) than Vox's initial push. Oh, I'll buy it, don't get me wrong, but I think it's also a weaker opening than he could make. Of course, if he can succeed in a field Tor failed(and screwed the creators), that's another aspect of this.

5. Format. I know the biggest reason for digital is that all of CH stuff is digital first. My opinion is that comics on reader programs aren't nearly as good as a physical copy, for a few reasons. If you need to zoom in to read a panel, the flow is gone(and some of the medium's trick disappear, though new ones can show up). The amount of space comics take up is HUGE comparatively.  As to the physical versions, it's sounding like he's thinking of the equivalent of softcover being a trade collection, and the hardcovers being what DC calls the Deluxe edition(2-3 trad volumes).

Again, I am looking forward to this project. But it's the long term implications that I'm excited about.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Music Blog: Glisten

Well,  I've had some tiring days at work, after the days of fun controversy. Have some Rock:

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dune: Misunderstandings, and Rebutting the Father

So, Rick Stump has come out and commented on my response to his son Alex's review of Dune on the Castalia House blog. I'll get to that in a moment, but first I NEED to clear something up, for the benefit of anyone new here:

The last line of my post, "When you play Social Justice, the world loses." was not directed at Alex or his opinions. It's a TAGLINE, you know, branding. It's at the end of my posts with the only exceptions being a music blog here and there. It feels out of place there, but also feels weird leaving it off. Go ahead, check my book reviews, check my comics posts. Pick a post. It's there. It's at the end of this post, because it's branding. My book reviews also open with "Cower not, fierce reader!", since I came up with the phrase.

I don't blame anyone for not being familiar with my phrases. I'm a minor blogger, though my audience is growing, and Ive gained both the friendship and respect of a few authors. I'm also not part of the OSR community, though I have read a couple of posts of Rick's prior to this.

Now, also:

I didn't know Alex was a minor. Doesn't make me change my post. It does make me want to congratulate him for writing something that demanded response. I am up for friendly arguments, my post was not made in enmity, though I get the impression that Rick's was. I am willing to argue with an understanding of friendship, though, and will try to do so here.

He called my post objectively bad, and his first bit of evidence is that I stated Alex's review displayed antipathy. Allow me to quote his son: "SCREW THIS BOOK!!!" .  Am I objectively wrong in declaring that to be a statement of antipathy? His son's review concentrates far more on what he perceives to be bad than any of what he considers good.

In fact, I'm guessing that Alex talked to his father far more than he wrote about what he liked of the book, if indeed he is neutral to it. I'm not projecting, I'm looking at the fact that over 2/3rds of the review is spent bashing the book, even gleefully. Rick, your son nowhere stated in his review that Dune "sucked him in". In fact he stated, "The first three chapters were good, uhh…yeah that’s all I like about DUNE, everything else sucks.". Reads like antipathy to me.

As to my possibly incorrect recollection on the effects of melange, I can only blame the years. That said, Navigators don't see the future, they see across space, and gain the ability to fold space, and calculate the folding safely.

If your son did not intend his comments on the "man vs machine" trope or the Bene Geserrit to be negative, then why are they clearly in the section of his review titled the bad and the cheesy? Like with your son, I come to believe we are reading different texts entirely.

He then goes into personal attacks on me for warning his son off Somewhither if Dune was painfully long, attacking my manhood, instead of merely saying my argument was invalid. Then goes on to say that Chick Tracts are "painfully long". No sir, they are painfully bad theology.

Rick then complains that I missed a point about Suk conditioning and the loyalty it confers to employers. Does Mr. Stump deny that being a father is a job? I submit that being a husband is a more important position for Dr. Yueh.

Rick then goes after the fact that I substituted the word Arabs for his son's use of Palestinians, based on the political realities of the 60's. Then, of course, he goes on to completely ignore my positing that the Fremen are instead the Jews, specifically the zealots of the time of Christ, hiding from the occupying empire and searching for the Messiah. If you're going to call my essay bad, address my counterpoints as well, please. Or are you afraid I might be right?

As to the not understanding stoicism, the stoics would demand a limited mourning, as does the Fremen life. It possesses a harsh code, and tears would waste water. Though I freely admit it has been many years since my reading.

Mr. Stump even goes so far as to insult me with the label trufan. Sir, those things inhabit File770, a place I deign to dip into only to get material to tear apart. If I had meant enmity with your son, whom I had no way of knowing was a minor, I would have truly torn into him. Check on my response to the Publisher's Weekly review of Beyond the Mist. THAT is objectively bad. And why are YOU the one responding? Your son entered the arena at Castalia House, and he should be responding in kind, not you.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Sleeper Must Awaken: A Defense of Dune

Over at the Castalia House blog, Alex Stump has gone and made some rhetorical opponents with a tirade against Dune. Sure, he claims he's "meh" towards it, but who on Earth gets that passionate over something you're ambivalent towards? Sorry, the word count alone belies not apathy or ambivalence, but rather, antipathy. And having read the essay, there's quite a bit that he simply gets WRONG. Sure, he gets some stuff right, and I'll try to give him credit where it's due. Strap in, this is going to be a long ride!

For reference sake, this is my copy:

That's a first edition. Chilton only published the first ed. hardcover, and even licensed out the 1st ed. paperback.

First, I'm a going to have to say, his summary and "good stuff" section is well, overly simplistic, and he gets bits wrong here. Melange does indeed grant longer lifespans, but prescience? Only to the Kwisatz Haderach, the Messiah figure of the story.  He calls the Harkonnens "royal" and "one- dimensional", when they are not either: I have to wonder if he actually read that they were being taken down a peg by the Emperor and CHOAM in the assigning of Arrakis to their long term enemies, the Atredies.

Alex calls the "man vs. machine" story cliched, but how many times have those in the Pulp Revolution crowd pointed out that the so called cliched stories of the old Pulps are in fact, better, and more compelling stories? At any rate, this is centuries after the Butlerian Jihad, and I fail to see the point of complaining about a background piece that the book isn't even about. His immediate comparison here is to The Matrix, and honestly, that's only a mediocre film addressing VR, AI, and philosophy. It looks pretty, but if that's compelling to you, I'm guessing you don't or watch much SFF.

That was the whole that he liked about it. The world building, and three chapters. Now, it's onto his fightin' words.

Mr. Stump believes this book to be painfully long. I suggest he avoid Mr. John C. Wright's Somewhither at all costs, then, if he can't handle that. I find this argument specious and indicates a lack of attention span and possibly discipline. Please, try getting though Pierre Bayle's Commentary, I did. Get back to me.

As to Dr. Yueh's betrayal, everyone has a breaking point, and the fact is that nobody is immune to such, and even hardening and conditioning only go so far. Since it's the Harkonnen that have her, he was likely shown the horrors they have or will visit upon her if he doesn't cooperate. Where does loyalty and honor dictate one protect first? Yueh has an impossible decision to make, and acts with as much honor as he can given the situation.

And now he starts talking about what he believes to be Dune's agenda.

Yes, he's absolutely right in the fact that CHOAM was an analog of OPEC. How naming part of the hero's enemies as an analog to a largely Arab conglomerate helps his narrative of it being anti-Israeli propaganda, I don't know. As to the names of Sardaukar and Fremen characters, so what?  Herbert mixed a lot of things together here. I think Mr. Stump has it backwards: the Fremen are the Jews, wandering in the desert, and the Sardaukar are Arabs, serving their lonely god, Shadaam Corrino IV.

Further argument against this is the fact that the Arabs have not reclaimed any of the desert, yet the Jews in Israel have indeed done so. Frank Herbert did extensive research into efforts to reverse desertification, and applied that to the preparations of the Fremen for the return of rain. Not to mention that Mohommadans do not search for a Messiah, but Jews, especially zealots, in the time of Christ, were, and especially for a warrior to deliver them.

Addressing his criticism of the Bene Geserrit, um, this does take place in the FAR future, and the religion of that order is in fact an amalgam.  Why using real religion as a basis is bad, I cannot comprehend, as it's more comprehensible than most fictional religions.

As to the dialog criticism, this truly rings hollow. Jessica very much act like a human when the Harkonnen attack, going into shock from the emotional impact. Yes, shock makes people dumb. As to Alia, I see no reason why she would use baby talk when she gains the knowledge in the womb of Bene Geserrit generational memory, including muscle control and language. Oh, and a society will in part dictate speech patterns, so don't expect a future fuedal society to talk like you. I have heard that newer editions have had the dialog altered, so that may be a factor here, I will grant.

Now to his criticism of the characters, once again, this feels false, as though we read completely different books. Paul I found likable throughout, and enjoyed his journey to manhood and leadership. As to Jessica being dumb at times, she was trained to be a concubine, not an advisor, and her education is clearly focused elsewhere.

His framing of the Harkonnen leads me to believe he really oversimplified them. Yes, they are all cruel, but each has their own special loathsomeness, and Feyd is supposed to be the one the people all rush to after Rabban has been running Arrakis ragged.

Then he rants on into antipathy for the book. I get the impression that Mr. Stump doesn't understand stoicism, and is lacking when it comes to appreciation of political intrigue(model the empire after the Byzantines, Herbert did).

As to his three theories, I will grant to an intersection of them. There was far less to compete with in 1965, the density of the book is addicting to those of us that like it(we do this for fantasy as well), and honestly, not everyone will like a book. That said, his essay came across very much like an censorious one against the pulps by a Campbellian editor.  He misunderstands the material, misses the points, and doesn't get the characters. Now, I don't know Mr. Stump outside of this essay, and I have no clue as to his diet of SFF. Mine for the last  year is mostly(not entirely) documented here.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Pulp Comics: The Shadow: Blood and Judgement by Howard Chaykin

In 1986, DC comics chose Howard Chaykin to to reboot a property they had the rights to, but was currently languishing unused: The Shadow. Chaykin agreed to write and draw the book, but only if he could tell the story he wanted. Part of that was bringing the Shadow into the era modern to the writing of the book. Chaykin's done a lot of work, and is heavily influenced by pulp/Appendix N writers. But, is this pulp? More importantly, is this the Shadow? Note: There will be spoilers in this essay.

The Good

Chaykin does violence very well, and action filled comics are his forte. He created Dominic Fortune for Marvel, one of the Marvel characters I truly enjoy. For the historical segments of this book, Chaykin did a lot of research into 1920's-30's architecture and Eastern dens of iniquity. Chaykin also has a nearly perfect drawing style for the mid 80's- square jawed men, broad shoulders, and women to drop the jaw of any red blooded male.He also illustrates the fashions of the times excellently.

To his writing: The plot works quite well for bringing a long absent Shadow back to America. The agents from the old days are getting knocked off one by one, to draw the Shadow back. The ultimate point is for our villain to gain youth and immortality at Shamballa. There's a pretty good portrayal of a version of the Shadow's psychic abilities.

The Bad

Because there is definitely some. Chaykin appears to enjoy drawing sex, or at least its implication, as much as he does violence. And in writing it, he turns EVERY male character into a sex maniac, regardless of age. I truly wish I were kidding, as he's talented in his writing and his art. There's no sense of fidelity, and I don't recall the Shadow being a womanizer from my previous readings(There's a ton of novels, and I've only read a very few.), nor do I recall him treating sex frivolously. I could be wrong here, I freely admit, but I get the feeling this is more due to personal tastes and predilections, and casts light on his collaborations with Samuel Delaney.

I'm also not really a fan of modernizing the Shadow. The book feels more dated than if it had been a period piece. I'm not saying it can't work, but the temporal nearness make it a glaring product of the age it came from. This is also some of the problem with superhero books: the fashions, technologies, and politics portrayed tie them to a specific time, and impose limits on immersion. As a period piece, it becomes more a fable, and more able to translate to the modern world at the same time.

Now, to the "contemporizing" of the Shadow that Chaykin did. Firstly, Shamballa is not a mystic place, nor are his powers derived from such practices. They are instead, products of super-science. Chaykin, in interview stated he didn't care for mysticism, labeling it as racist. Of course, he appears to completely ignore religion whenever possible in his writing. The Shadow's son's are of mixed blood(Look! The Virtue Signal!), and just as degenerate sexually as their father.

Honestly, after this I'm likely done getting anything by Chaykin. He doesn't know squat about actual goodness, and his Shadow doesn't even have another effective persona, to tie him to the world around him(he's in all of one scene).

Is it pulp? Is it THE SHADOW?

Well, I would have to say that it is a pulp story, though one with a fixation on sex.  This is the seedy side of things, and I don't mind dens of iniquity being portrayed in proper context(It is appropriate here, as part of the origin, though other scenes are not). The thing is, I don't see why the Shadow would even come back if he were as self-centered as portrayed here. The violence of the Shadow? No problem, he's here to take out trash. But the Shadow was also a HERO. This guy? Nope.

Chaykin has talent, make no mistake. I just wish he had an understanding of Justice, and not the false equality libiertinism he spouts.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Injustice Book Review: Rocky Mountain Retribution by Peter Grant

Cower not, fierce reader! My sleep schedule has been disrupted once again by Peter Grant having a new book(here) for me to read. Yes, I just did a quick review set Friday, after finishing the last book in it, and started this lovely book yesterday. For the new here, there should be two takeaways: 1. I read fast 2. So does this book.

This book picks up about three years or so after the last one, and it's apparently been a largely non-violent period in the life of Walt Ames. I'll not go into the details of that, but he's grown his business, bought land, and is ready to move his operations as Denver becomes more booming and corrupt.

The book opens with a hunt of a bear. From there, we have great periods of sudden violence, rest, and preparation.  But the events surrounding each incidence do not make this boring, but rather, more compelling. There is sacrifice, loss, and vengeance. Goodness and honor are shown, and well demonstrated, as is loyalty.

Mr. Grant has also taken great pains to present accurately the West, showing it as a land and time that was far more allowing for racial differences than commonly presented. The abilities of the individual mattered far more in the pursuits that frame Westerns than the color of skin. His research into the reality pays off in presenting a men that are hard, fair, and honest.

His research, of course, extends well beyond the "race relations" category, though that may be a partial focus of his due to his prior life in South Africa. Mr. Grant continues to present us with an accessible yet informed presentation of the the firearms, and now explosives of the West. We also gain an insight into what are in many ways, the early days of actual modern medicine, with amputations and prosthetic fitting being the only option at the time in many cases.

Now, fierce reader, if you are wary because you haven't read the first book, worry not. This adventure of justice and revenge does not need your acquaintance with the prior tale. While you would gain some benefit of insight into the story, and I do recommend  the first book highly(here),  feel free to dive in unprepared. Of course, i will say you may want to be ready to lose some sleep.

10 of 10 fell deeds

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.