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Hello, and welcome to my seventh reading post of the year! I'm writing this a few weeks in advance, so for all I know the ants could've taken over now and declared all books irrelevant, but at present moment books are still in vogue and this is my next set of reviews for them.

This post should take me up to 175 books read this year, which is comprehensively more than last year and a total that I'm rather pleased with. Ones I'd recommend are marked with a +, ones I'd anti-rec are marked with a -.

On with the show! :D

All-New, All-Different Avengers, Vol. 1: The Magnificent Seven

The Avengers are dead — long live the Avengers! Earth's Mightiest Heroes — Captain America, Thor, Vision and Iron Man — are living separate lives, not tied to any team. But when a threat from beyond the stars targets our world, fate draws them together again, alongside a group of young adventurers who will reinvigorate the Avengers like never before!

I wasn't expecting to like this, team books are usually a bit wobbly because they're the most liable to be fucked with in the inevitable yearly event, but... Then I realized it was written by Mark Waid. And, reader, you KNOW what a sucker I am for Mark Waid.

So, yeah, I actually really liked this. It managed to tell a remarkably self-contained story, with an excellent sense of character and a really fun style of writing. I liked all of the plot points running throughout, I liked the slightly different interpretations of familiar characters (Kamala! Miles! Kamala/Miles! <33) and I just really liked what was done with it in general. For a team book, this was definitely top of its class.

...I'm not sure I can recommend it, though. Considering that I don't know, as of yet, how it's faring after - within? IT'S STILL NOT OVER YET?! - the shitshow of Civil War II.

James Bond Vol. 1: Vargr

After a mission of vengeance in Helsinki, James Bond returns to London and assumes the workload of a fallen 00 Section agent. His new mission takes him to Berlin, presumably to break up an agile drug-trafficking operation. But Bond has no idea of the forces gathered in secret against him, the full scope of an operation that's much scarier and more lethal than he could possibly imagine. Berlin is about to catch fire... and James Bond is trapped inside.

I can't remember why I picked this series up, because it's been several months since I did so, but I started following the single issues of it and this is the collection of that.

And I liked it! With, uh, a few problems mixed in. I liked their interpretation of Bond (who is a mixture of the current movies with the old movies and the books, to great effect), I liked the plot in general and I felt that it all moved along at a fairly compelling pace. It was a thoroughly solid read.

The only problem is that I think Ellis, the writer behind this, is another writer not quite to my tastes. He's a little too wide for me, and a little too... Posturingly macho? The story often stepped over the ridiculous line, with a slightly over the top glee. It was even more of a ridiculous male power fantasy than Bond usually is, and backed this up with an extremely disappointing amount of jokes based around gender.

So, yeah! I certainly enjoyed it an awful lot, but boy howdy did it have its problems.

The Woods, Vol. 3: New London / The Woods, Vol. 4: Movie Night

The more the crew finds out about the woods, the deeper the mystery gets. With Clay and the Duke teaming up to try and force the school into servitude for the New London army, the kids need to think up a plan to save their peers, and fast. And with Adrian uncontrollable and on the loose, no one knows what his next move will be.


So, yeah. I'm still really liking everything that's going on with the Woods. I'm fully up to date with it, but these are the last two trades that are out at the moment and so I'm going to try and comment mainly on them.

This is just an incredibly well told story. The concept and worldbuilding remains amazing (and even expands in this volume!), the characters are incredibly easy to get invested in and the pace of the plot had me devouring all the volumes breathlessly. This is definitely not a series that rests on its laurels, and is all the better for it. It's slightly vicious, it's undeniably dark and it's one of the most beautifully well-developed tales that I've ever read.

So, yeah. Go read it now, basically. +

The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man

Behold the Visions! They’re the family next door, and they have the power to kill us all. What could possibly go wrong? Artificial hearts will be broken, bodies will not stay buried, the truth will not remain hidden, and the Vision will never be the same.

I honestly think that Tom King is one of, if not the, best comics writer in the industry at the moment and if I were to point to a series in example I would just have to choose this one.

The Vision is a series about what it means to be human, and the numerous complex choices involved in doing so. It's enchantingly told, excellently characterised and with a plot that feels like a punch to the gut on pretty much every level. It's a very dark tale, that definitely doesn't pull its punches, but is also beautifully weird and strangely touching and absolutely absorbing on every level.

I would definitely recommend giving this a go, no matter what your feelings on robots are. It is AMAZING, and I really don't feel like my stumbling gush about it here does it justice. +

Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War

Kirk and Spock make a most unusual discovery on a lost world... igniting events that will change the fate of empires!

I was expecting this to be shit, in the way that a lot of crossovers are, but it REALLY wasn't and I loved it as a result.

The problem with a lot of officially sanctioned crossovers, to my mind, is that they don't really think it through enough - they want the characters to meet, and so they bend the universe to do so and don't really pay much attention to making it make sense. They assume that seeing much beloved characters together will be enough, and leave it there with little further effort spent.

This, however, put a LOT of effort in. The plot was obviously very well thought through, if slightly heartbreaking, and left me wanting more in the very best way. The characters were very true to themselves as a result, and a lot of thought had obviously been put into their interactions. The writing was great, the worldbuilding was fantastic and overall... It was just really good?

So, yeah. This took a concept that should've been awful and turned it into something marvelous, and I will quite cheerfully recommend it for that. +

Animorphs: The Invasion / The Visitor / The Encounter / The Message / The Predator / The Capture - KA Applegate

The Earth is being invaded, but no one knows about it. When Jake, Rachel, Tobias, Cassie, and Marco stumble upon a downed alien spaceship and its dying pilot, they're given an incredible power -- they can transform into any animal they touch. With it, they become Animorphs, the unlikely champions in a secret war for the planet. And the enemies they're fighting could be anyone, even the people closest to them.

I debated splitting these up into their own separate sections, but in the end decided to go for my comic book rules and group them altogether for ease of review writing. Tell me if you'd prefer them separate, though! I honestly do think they could work either way.

I read the Animorphs avidly when I was a preteen, but this is the first time I've come back to them in about ten years. I was extremely worried that they wouldn't actually hold up to the test of time, but...

Yeah, if you've been talking to me at all for the past few months you'll know that they totally did. I LOVE the Animorphs series, perhaps more now than I did when I was a kid. The characters are still so incredibly compelling (Tobias! Ax! MARCOOOOOOOO! ;;) and really good depictions of kids forced into a warzone, the plots are incredibly compelling and the writing is honestly fantastic. The amount of effort put into this series clearly shows, and I adore them as a result.

So, yeah. Another set of books that I'd definitely recommend. If you're looking for a rush of nostalgia that stands the test of time, you could definitely do a lot worse than these. +

Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation2, Volume 1

When the Federation's most terrifying enemy strikes an unholy alliance with one of the Doctor's most hated antagonists, the result is devastation on a cosmic scale! Spanning the ends of space and time itself, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise find themselves joining forces with the time-travelling Doctor and his companions, with the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance!

This was what I expected the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover to be like, and I don't mean that as a compliment.

It wasn't well thought through at all, events just seemed to happen because of plot and very little reasoning was applied to them. The characters were expected to excite you by themselves, but they were badly written and often acted in ways contrary to how they should've. The plotting was bad, the writing was dull... And the art! The art was hideous.

If you want a crossover done well look elsewhere. If you want a mess, with the one bright spot being a brief flashback to Four... Well, I suppose you could look here if you have no other option? -

Starman, Vol. 9: Grand Guignol / Starman, Vol. 10: Sons of the Father

Jack Knight returns to Opal City from his adventure in space, only to find the Shade has reverted to his villainous ways. Knight suspects that he is even committing murders, all this while many of Jack's friends seem to be missing. Before he can fully investigate, he witnesses his most horrible nightmare become reality--his beloved Opal City burning to the ground. Chaos ensues as hundreds of villains take the opportunity to strike.

Nuuuuuu, the end of my massive Starman read! ;;

So, yeah, I've read it all now and I can honestly say that it was a joy from beginning to end. Every single character was great (JACK ILU), the plots were amazing, the art was gorgeous and the writing was just fantastic on every level.

If I had to pick one series to explain why I love superhero comics so much, then it'd be this one. It just shows everything good about the medium. The struggles, and the morals, and the sheer sense of hope that outlasts everything else.

So, yeah. Definitely a rec from me. +

Daredevil: Back in Black, Vol. 1: Chinatown

Daredevil is back in black and back on his home turf, as Matt Murdock begins a fresh life once again! He may have returned to New York City, but Matt's on a different side of the law now, with a job in the District Attorney's office. And he's finding his new career quite the challenge, as even his incredible skills aren't enough to indict the local crime lord known as Tenfingers. Could this be a job for Daredevil?

I wouldn't call this bad, as such, but... I just found it absolutely impossible to get into and found myself incapable of caring as a result.

This is the first run of Daredevil post-Reboot, and I suppose that may be part of the problem. It's not bad, as such - the art is certainly beautiful, and the characters are reasonably compelling. The main problem is that it just doesn't hold a candle to the two absolutely excellent runs that went before it. This entire volume seemed like it was trying to be new and exciting, but instead ended up reverting to a far duller version of the character. Complexity was lost, the storytelling became weaker as a result and it was just a lot harder to care about anything.

Which is a pity. The art was lovely, but otherwise I found this incredibly forgettable.

The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Vol. 2: The Crime of the Century

It's a second serving of the greatest villain book on the stands today! Crime does pay...but the Foes just might pay harder!

As I recall I wasn't entirely sold on the first volume of this, but I found the second one absolutely fantastic! :D

So, yeah. I really liked this. It seemed a slightly more coherent and well thought through story than the first one, which was odd because it was actually a lot more episodic. It felt a little fractured, but this time the fractures seemed intentional and all worked towards a really satisfying whole. The writing was incredibly enjoyable, the characters were easy to get invested in (I loooooove Beetle), the art was wonderfully quirky and the whole thing just had a real sense of heart behind it.

So, yeah, hugely enjoyable. I'm not going to recommend it, because I still have a few doubts about the first one, but it was certainly a fun read.

Black Magick, Volume 1: Awakening, Part One

Rowan Black is a detective with the Portsmouth PD... and a witch, two aspects of her life she has struggled to keep separate. Now someone is targeting Rowan, someone who knows her secrets and means to expose her... or worse.

I liked this, but feel like I could've liked it more.

It was very good! I really like Rucka's style of writing, and so this was a lovely read as a result. The art was very inventive and quite gorgeous, the characters were involving and the plot steadily picked up steam throughout to the point where I was definitely invested in it by the end of the volume. It was an obviously well thought through story, with a lot of potential and a lot of interesting clues as to where it's going to go next.

I did have a few problems with it, though. I like Rucka's style of writing, but feel a little like it meshes better with his work for the big two. The art was definitely beautiful, but sometimes hurt my eyes a little and so the whole book was a little hard to read as a result. I liked the hints of potential there, but sometimes wished that it'd been a slightly faster moving story and spent a little less time on moody impact shots.

I still definitely liked it, and will definitely be continuing to read it whenever it comes back, but that doesn't really erase the few issues I had.

The Repentant Rake - Edward Marston

Divided by politics but united in a desire to see justice done, Christopher Redmayne and Jonathan Bale join together once more. But how can they hope to find those who exploit the scandal of others, when the victims themselves will do anything to maintain their anonymity? And what of Sir Julius son? Most feel he must have been the victim of his own, debauched appetites, but a few talk of his repentance. So where is the repentant rake? And, with only lies, rumors and gossip to work with, even Redmayne and Bale despair of finding him.

This is the next entry in one of the historical detective novels that only I am reading, and I'm pleased to say that it was absolutely great and I'm still determined to make these historical detective novels grow beyond a fandom of one! ;)

So, yes. This was a pretty pivotal book in the series, and one that I liked an awful lot. I felt that Marston's earlier books sometimes read as a bit disjointed, but this certainly felt a lot more cohesive and picked up the pace as a result. The plot was definitely compelling, the writing style was extremely absorbing and I really liked all of the new characters who got introduced. It's still fairly standard detective novel fare, but if you like that this was definitely done in a way that was both absorbing and hugely fun to read.

If you like detective novels I WILL DRAG YOU DOWN INTO MY WEB, this series would definitely be a good thing to read. +

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra - Vaseem Khan

Mumbai, murder and a baby elephant combine in a charming, joyful mystery for fans of Alexander McCall Smith and Rachel Joyce. On the day he retires, Inspector Ashwin Chopra discovers that he has inherited an elephant: an unlikely gift that could not be more inconvenient. For Chopra has one last case to solve...But as his murder investigation leads him across Mumbai - from its richest mansions to its murky underworld - he quickly discovers that a baby elephant may be exactly what an honest man needs.

*SPOILER ALERT* I actually read a book by Alexander McCall Smith later on this year, and now I am even more annoyed at this book for daring to compare itself to him.

I was really expecting to like this, but... Didn't. It's another book that I can't exactly call bad, but was so not to my tastes that I found myself heavily grinding my teeth by about 25 pages. The main character is alright, but grows steadily less compelling as time goes on. His backing cast are all hugely annoying at best, and I found myself glaring into space every single time they showed up. And the attitudes within it just really weren't to my tastes, the way the author wrote women was slightly absurd and eventually I ended up putting the book down because the way it treated animals was just flat out TERRIBLE.

I'm not sure I'd anti-rec it, the writing was good enough when it went nowhere near female characters and the plot was compelling enough, but yeah. I did not entirely enjoy this book.

Red Hood and the Outlaws, Vol. 2: The Starfire

As if Batman's former sidekick Jason Todd, now known as the Red Hood, didn't have enough problems leading the team of outlaws such as Arsenal and Starfire, now his "estranged" brother Red Robin is knocking on his door because "The Night of Owls" is here! With Batman in dire need of help, will Red Hood answer the call?

I continue to be surprised by how much I enjoyed this series!

But, yeah. I've heard bad things about it, and I still feel like Kori bears no actual resemblance to Kori, but in practice it's actually surprisingly good. The art is absolutely lovely, the characters are very easy to get invested in (Jason is AMAZING, as is Roy!) and the plot moves along quickly enough that it's very easy to get absorbed in. I still wouldn't call it the best series in the world, but it's certainly incredibly charming and has a great interpretation of characters who rarely seem to get their fair share in canon.

Faster Than Light, Volume 1: First Steps

In the very near future we discover the secret of faster-than-light travel. Suddenly the universe is wide open to us, but are we ready for it? With all the idealism of the original Star Trek and the grit and immediacy of Gravity and The Martian, the story of humanity's first thrilling and terrifying adventures to the stars takes flight!

This is a tie-in comic for a game that I've never played, that I picked up because it looked like interesting Sci-Fi.

And, yeah, I do definitely like it! It is very interesting Sci-Fi, with a well told story and interesting writing. I like the general direction that the plot seems to be taking, I like its approach to alien life and I really enjoy the little worldbuilding details that keep being thrown in. I'd probably get more out of it if I'd actually played the game, but it still stands as very enjoyable Sci-Fi and I like it on those terms.

I will say, though, that I still can't tell the difference between all the characters and that it seems remarkably low stakes so far considering that I'm pretty sure an alien plague is in the imminent future. But, yeah. Even with those faults, still hugely enjoyable! :D

Broken Angels - Richard Montanari

When the first body is found, mutilated and strangled on the riverbanks, Philadelphia homicide detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano suspect yet another case of random urban violence. Then it happens again. And again.

Carefully dressed and posed, each victim seems to tell a story so gruesome that Byrne and Balzano struggle at first to make sense of the killer's dark and twisted imagination. But when they stumble upon a collection of old fairy tales, the fragile link between the murders suddenly becomes clear - and with it the terrifying conclusion of the killer's plan.

Desperately, they try to anticipate the madman's next move, but as the body count rises, the killing spree spirals out of control ...

This is another obscure detective novel, that I'm pretty sure only I have read... And I don't care at all, I LOVED it and shall sing its praises to the world. <33

This is a series of slightly trashy detective novels set in Philadelphia. I enjoyed the previous entries, but felt that they leaned slightly more towards the trashy than they perhaps should've. This novel, however, definitely addresses that balance. It was still a little bit trashy, but the action felt a lot more grounded and the plot was far easier to get into as a result. It relied very little on shock value, and instead focused on crafting a very interesting and absorbing story. I especially liked the details within in, the characters - and the well-developed interactions between them - being a highlight.

So, yeah, really good! And definitely a detective novel that should be picked up. :D +

Quantum and Woody, Volume 3: Crooked Pasts, Present Tense

Eric needs to know he can trust Woody - and that means Woody needs to get a job, open a bank account, sign up for a library card, and do all the things a responsible adult does. But when a new gang of rogue mad-scientist super-criminals launch a wave of robot-enabled mega-crimes, will Woody stop them... or join them? Plus: the return of Edison's Radical Acquisitions and the thrilling secret origin of... the one and only Goat!

This was meh, like the sound a goat makes! :D

But, uh, seriously? I did not enjoy this volume very much. The thing about Quantum and Woody is that it is generally very funny, but also very broad and crude. In past volumes it balanced the smarter humour - and the more genuine moments of heart - well with the broadness and the crudeness, but in this volume it just seemed to throw that balance to the wind and ended up borderline unpleasant as a result.

I can't anti-rec it, I enjoyed the earlier volumes quite a lot and there was still stuff to like here, but... Yeah. Not as good.

Wolverine and the X-Men, Vol. 1

Wolverine takes one half of the X-Men back to Westchester to start over again with a new school, a new student body and a lot of surprises up his sleeve. But when the new Hellfire Club decides they don't like what the ol' Canucklehead has started, and decide to burn the place to the ground, will the school even outlast its first day?

Meh like a goat, AGAIN.

I was talking earlier, both in this post and in general, about how Aaron just doesn't really gel with me as a writer and that really shows here. I'd heard good things about this volume, from people I trust, but it just left me cold throughout. I couldn't care about the characters, I couldn't care about the plot and the whole effect was just a bit maddening as a result.

Not for me, unfortunately.

So, yes! That takes me up to 175 books read this year. And, thankfully, a good chink of them enjoyed at that!

I'm still hopelessly behind on these, so am hoping to get a few more posts along these lines out before the new year. God knows if I'll manage it, work will probably continue to be busy (and hopefully continue to be nice), but it's good to have GOALS.

Hope you enjoyed! :)


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Nov. 7th, 2016 02:15 pm (UTC)
That's quite a lot of books here - well done!!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )