Wednesday, June 10, 2015

This is not the spy I was looking for

Tim Seely & Tom King “Grayson Volume One:  Agents of Spyral” (DC Comics, 2015)
Word is that DC has slowly started doing a few titles with a different style than their normal house style.  I’ve never been a big Dick Grayson fan, but that change in tone & style is more than enough to get me checking it out.

There’s some big convoluted nu52 backstory, but I don’t know that it matters a whole bunch.  All you need to know is that Dick Grayson is no longer a superhero, now he’s a spy!  He’s working with Helena Bertinelli (who is NOT the Huntress) for some super agency called Spyral (get it “spy” and the leader’s face is a spiral!  Yes, I’d groan if I didn’t feel sad & somehow dirty about the whole thing.)

Basically I felt like this was a big mess.  Apparently Dick is really undercover for Batman, because…. (Batman has to be in every title?) I don’t really know.  Or more importantly care.  

This is such a weird book.  On the one hand, it’s clearly not for adults—look at the groan worthy names, villains, etc… It’s like a Bond story written by a 13 year old.  Yet for all its childishness, it never actually feels fun or playful.  It’s adolescent all the way down.

Grayson is absolutely professionally executed, but I don’t know that in a crowded marketplace that means a lot.  If I want a spy book, Velvet is a much better one and it doesn’t have the odd superhero baggage that this title seems to carry with it.

Those suspended animation chambers never quite work, do they?

Alastair Reynolds “Slow Bullets” (Tachyon, 2015)
When you hear the name Alastair Reynolds, who thinks of tightly plotted novellas? A lean, mean, storytelling machine? Show of hands?  Yeah.  Me too.  I think of big doorstopper space opera.  Complex plots with lots of characters, advanced tech.  

Well Slow Bullets is a tightly plotted novella, that basically takes place in a single ship.  Rather than the expansive feelings that I expect from space opera, this enclosed story felt more claustrophobic.

Technically, this novella was great; just as I would expect from Reynolds.  But the setting & what felt like a dark grim tone set me off this basically from the beginning.  When the novella opens, our protagonist is a POW & is being tortured.  I found I just couldn’t recover tonally from that place.

So yes, well done, but just not for me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Even cooler than Agent 99

Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting “Velvet volume 2” (Image, 2015)
If you go & read conversations amongst reviewers, if they ever talk about series, you’ll find that they often ignore the middle parts of a series.  The beginning will be covered heavily, as will the end.  What’s this about? Did they stick the landing? But the middle part that carries most of the weight is just ignored.  Hey, it’s hard to talk about.

The second volume of Velvet is a great example.  We don’t have any big character moments or plot swerves.  What we have is a continuation and deepening of the first volume.

Well what do you say?  If you liked the first volume (I loved it), you’ll like what they’re doing here.  It’s more of what you already love.  

Sometimes when something is so good, keep it coming is all you can really say.  KEEP IT COMING!