Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week Nine

The author is curled up in a corner. His arms are wrapped around his knees, and ragged fingernails have traced ugly lines down his shins. He's rocking back and forth, mumbling nonsense to himself. Pages from a calendar are lying on the opposite side of the room. Nine weeks have been marked off. There's a metal trashcan in the center of the room, full of burning paper: Pages and pages of rejected manuscript...

Well, heh. I don't think I could ever actually get that bad. And the deadline Black Library established for a response to submissions has been extended a wee bit, so I'm not out of the running yet. I'm calm, mostly: slightly nervous, and the red-skinned Imp of Anxiety is sitting on my bookshelf, sharpening his little black pitchfork and giving me meaningful looks...

No no, enough of that. Let's be upbeat instead. Sarah Cawkwell, who I know as the operator of the excellent Black Library Bolthole, recently announced that she'll be writing her first book for Black Library. She seems keen on documenting the process on her blog, so feel free to take a look and offer her congratulations/commiserations.

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Between Halo: Reach, an anniversary, and a birthday, I've been a bit broke for the past few weeks, but last Friday I finally managed to make it into Third Eye Comics and catch up on the spandex and tights set. What follows is the stuff I liked and recommend.

Captain America #610 pits the new Captain America (formerly his sidekick, Bucky Barnes) against Baron Zemo (son of the guy who supposedly killed Bucky Barnes). If there's one villain who's consistently managed to really hurt Cap, even more than the Red Skull, it's Zemo, and he does just as good a job with Bucky in this issue.

Lady Death was free this week, so it gets a pass on quality. Basically a woman died, went to hell, and conquered it with a sword and magic powers. And she looks like an albino Pamela Anderson. Or something. The art's pretty good. Did I mention it's free?

Secret Avengers #5 reveals why Nick Fury has been running around acting like a bad guy. A pretty cool origin for someone who could be a good villain.

Avengers #5 keeps going with the twists and turns this series has had since day one. Time travel, Kang, Ultron, future Avengers: it's good stuff.

X-Men: Smoke and Blood is a one-shot tying in to the current X-Men versus Vampires storyline. A team of mostly-mutant scientists tries to study a captive vampire, but things go south monster-movie style when the thing gets loose. The big draw here is the excellent dialogue and the super-science.

Nemesis #3 sees Mark Millar get even nastier than he did in Kick-Ass. The whole series has been great: imagine that Bruce Wayne was the son of psychopathic rich people who were arrested and executed, and that he dedicated his life to taking revenge on Commissioner Gordon. Now add in ultra-violence and acts that go beyond disturbing, and you've got Nemesis. Enjoy.

The Flash #5 pits the Flash's Rogues Gallery against their futuristic, law-enforcing doppelgangers, the Renegades. It also has the Flash trying to stop himself from committing a crime in the future that the Renegades want to arrest him for, before he can even commit it. This series keeps getting better, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Geoff Johns ties it all up.

Action Comics #893: Lex Luthor versus Gorilla Grodd. I shouldn't have to say more, but Lex has taken over this title from Superman and, frankly, it's become the best Superman book on the rack today. There's also a cameo at the end of the issue that's going to gobsmack anyone who hasn't been following the advanced solicitations, so go check it out.

Titans #27 has crazy-go-nuts Roy Harper (that's Green Arrow's drug addict sidekick) team up with his baby-mama supervillain Cheshire and a crew of villains to bust up a drug ring... okay, it gets complicated. Just figure on bad people behaving badly.

Hulk #25 pits the Red Hulk against Iron Man to stop a nasty breakout of nanotechnology. Difference is, the Red Hulk isn't the bad guy this time. Worth picking up to see how Rulk is being groomed for full-time hero duty.

Franken-Castle #21 closes out an excellent Punisher storyline with a bang. See, Frank Castle got himself carved up by an evil Wolverine and, well, died. In pieces. At least until the Monster Society found his remains and stitched him up as a Frankenstein with an arsenal and a massive chip on his shoulder. This story had every reason to be stupid as hell, but somehow it not only worked, it excelled. And the cover includes the real Marvel Dracula on it, so that's a big plus too.

Finally, Green Lantern Corps. #52 resolves the Alpha Lantern subplot that's been running through the Lantern titles for awhile now, as the cybernetic Internal Affairs Lanterns face off against Cyborg-Superman. The Green Lantern titles have excelled for years now, and while Blackest Night might be over, they're all still worth following.

Wow, that took longer than I expected. Hopefully I've still got time for one quick game of Halo...

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