Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Jewel at the Heart of the Universe

AL Kennedy “Doctor Who: The Drosten’s Curse” (Broadway Books, 2015)

This may be the best Doctor Who novel that I have read.

Apparently there’s an ancient infinitely powerful telepathic alien under a golf course.  Four gets involved in the mess, along with a couple of temporary companions – an young woman who works at the resort, and an alien bounty hunter who happens to be a clone. (Yes, it is all rather complicated and confusing.)

There’s some seriously creepy stuff here.  Strange twins who are close but not quite humans.  Octopus monsters that live under sand pits.  Mind control.  Attacks on the TARDIS itself. 

Kennedy’s skill is what keeps this from being a true horror story.  Tonally the book is in keeping with the tradition of English humorous writing – Adams, Pratchett, etc.. The tone is light and dry, keeping the horror elements from overwhelming the story.  Sure, there’s dramatic tension, but overall the story is fun.  That’s what I want from my Doctor Who stories.

Sing to Me!

Matt Fraction & Christian Ward “ODY-C Vol 1” (Image, 2015)

The elevator pitch for this is easy.  It’s a female version of the Odyssey IN SPACE!

Talk about a divisive book!  Look at the reviews that are out there!  Almost all 1 or 5 stars.  There seems to be very little middle ground.  

The art here is absolutely amazing.  Trippy and futuristic, it reminded me at times of early 70s art.  Not quite album cover stuff, but maybe a lost psychedelic comic or book?  The art makes it worth buying on its own.

The story is interesting, if a bit off putting.  Fraction uses a highly stylized technique modeled after the style of the Odyssey.  This seems to be very divisive.  Personally, I didn’t have a problem with it, in fact it seemed to add to the epic feel of the piece.

Dim the lights, put on a scorching version of Dark Star, light up some incense, & get your mind ready.  You won’t regret this.

If it wasn't for you meddling kids!

Becky Cloonan & Brendan Fletcher “Gotham Academy Vol 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy” (DC Comics, 2015)

In the past year, DC has tried to add some variety to their line.  Gotham Academy is arguably the biggest hit of that effort.  So what’s the deal, anyway?

Set in Gotham’s best boarding school (the titular Academy), it’s about a couple of young girls –forced together due to the school’s mentor policy—who investigate a “haunting”.  They live in Gotham, so actual ghosts aren’t totally out of the question.  Of course so are other things that go bump in the night.

What you end up with is a fun, fresh title that makes me think of Harry Potter mashed up with Scooby Doo – but set in Batman’s world.  It’s a big departure from the tone & style of their other titles, but it’s confident and successful.

My only complaint is that it is perhaps a bit too rooted in the “normal” world of DC comics. I would have been fine with mentions of Batman without ever actually seeing any Bat characters.

But if you’re burned out on contemporary DC comics, this is a very well done book that may just be what you’re looking for.