Books

Books

Wed
17
Sep

Justice League of America: Survivors of Evil

While the Crime Syndicate was busily taking over the Earth, the question was raised: Where was the Justice League?

The heroes of the world had been imprisoned, uniquely, within the Firestorm matrix, each in a world that capitalized on their psychological weaknesses, trapped in scenarios that prevent them from realizing they're in a fiction. Only the Martian Manhunter and Stargirl understand what is happening, as they probe deeper into the prison. But are they in the process of rescuing the heroes, or are they in a prison themselves?

Tue
09
Sep

Justice League: Forever Heroes

DC's Justice League books were, perhaps, the most enjoyable ancillary chapters of the Forever Evil event. Not surprisingly, they were written by Geoff Johns, so their content didn't contradict anything happening in the main Forever Evil miniseries, and having Ivan Reis and Dough Mahnke provide the interior artwork made them a thing of beauty.

Tue
02
Sep

Forever Evil (hardcover)

Forever Evil

Geoff Johns proves time and again that he not only knows how to play with all the toys in the DC sandbox, but that he can do it better and use them in ways previously untried.

I've always enjoyed DC's decades-long riff on the Many Worlds theory. So much so that I have my Green Lantern #40, with Hal Jordan and Alan Scott learning about Krona and his multiverse-creating experiment, framed on my office wall, next to my two-part Justice League of America: "Crisis on Earth-3" issues. Those issues, introducing the evil mirror-image Justice League members known as the Crime Syndicate, form the keystone to this epic tale where the bad guys have been playing the long game -- and finally win (at least for a little while). The Crime Syndicate was quickly followed by the Lawless League of Earth-A, but that team didn't have nearly the resonance of the Crime Syndicate.

Wed
27
Aug

The Flash, Volume 4: Reverse

It took a little bit, but I'm finally starting to really like The Flash in DC's New 52 Universe. He has a new status quo, a new life, and a new love in Patty Spivot -- even though there's every indication that at some point in the future Barry Allen is destined to be with Iris West. He also has a new angle on his Speed Force powers, which play heavily into this fourth volume, "Reverse."

Thu
29
May

Legacy, Book 3: Overload

Legacy, the next generation of The Destroyer franchise, has had a slow start over its first two books, but the characters are starting to settle into their roles and the styles of Destroyer creator and veteran writer Warren Murphy and that of The Last Witness author and creator Gerald Welch are starting to hum like a well-oiled machine. And speaking of well-oiled machines... No, it's too soon to let that cat out of the bag yet.

Tue
20
May

Genius, Animated: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth

I've had the opportunity to peruse a couple of art books over the years, and while I can appreciate the quality of the work that goes into them, and the talent of the artist being showcased, eventually it seems each turn of the page starts to reveal "more of the same."

With Genius, Animated: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth, there is just so much variation of style, so many characters and stories involved, and so much nostalgic coolness to it that anyone who remembers even a pinch of the cartoons involved will be entranced for hours. I know I was, because I spent three hours with this book, which was pretty much a cover-to-cover experience.

Wed
23
Apr

The Art of Thief

Video game art books take fans inside the minds of the creative writers and artists that build beautiful, unique, and beloved characters and universes. They are made with the sole purpose of providing commentary and conceptual artwork to let the fans fully realize the work and progress that was made in the process of building the game. The Art of Thief does all of these things well, letting fans get a more in-depth view of the main character, Garrett, supporting characters, the world, items, and more, but will likely leave you wanting more.

Wed
16
Apr

The Complete Funky Winkerbean, Volume 3 (1978-1980)

Entering any of the Black Squirrel Books reprint anthologies of The Complete Funky Winkerbean is like opening a time capsule. That's because Tom Batiuk's daily comic strips weren't just humorous, but they were consistently on topic to the current events of the day. At times, it's a moment of remembering how things were; at others, it's a reminder of just how much things haven't changed that much at all.

Tue
04
Feb

"A Snicker of Magic" Enchants, Enthralls

If Harper Lee had set out to write the Great American Fairy Tale, we might have gotten A SNICKER OF MAGIC a half century earlier. But she didn't, so the world had to wait for Natalie Lloyd to be come along, to grow, to collect the words and string them together, so that the story could be born just the way it was meant to be. As Florentine would say, "Some books are magic that way."

Immediately, the reader is brought into a world that is cozy, comfortable, familiar, and altogether strange and wonderful, as we are introduced to Felicity Juniper Pickle, as well as her family -- mother Holly and little sister Frannie Jo, and their dog Biscuit -- as they wander the country in the Pickled Jalapeno. They never stay any place for long, but the family's new destination is unlike any place Felicity has ever visited before. It's the place her mother came from. And there's something very special about it.

Fri
08
Nov

Legacy: The Killing Fields

Legacy: The Killing Fields by Warren Murphy and Gerald Welch

While there are currently no new novels detailing the exploits of Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir’s cult action hero, Remo Williams, The Destroyer, fans can still sate their appetites for adventure through the Legacy series, which follows the half-sibling heirs of Remo Williams – Stone and Freya. Trained in the ancient Korean art of Sinanju by their grandfather, chief of the Sinanju tribe (you’ll have to read the series to discover the connection between the two), these two are capable enough to be able to amaze, yet inexperienced enough to be fallible, removing the almost godlike capabilities that sometimes overshadowed the stories of their father.

Tue
05
Nov

The Art of Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag

Sometimes, it’s difficult being an adult. You have to balance what looks cool to you, or what is fun for you, with what other people think. It becomes even more difficult when you have a significant other living with you, as you have to balance your interests with those of another person who may have totally different interests than you in the limited space that you call home.  And until you actually have children of your own, it is difficult to fathom that when they arrive, you have to take a critical view of what you like versus what is appropriate for your children to view, play with, or listen to. That Suicidal Tendencies CD you’ve been bumping since ’83 may in fact be awesome, but you don’t let your children listen to it. That Batman poster of his back being broken by Bane is pretty cool, but it might not be something you want your 4 year old to look at.

Wed
20
Mar

Further Down the Rabbit Hole with Frank Beddor

Frank Beddor Hatter M Looking Glass Wars Interview

Once upon a time, a certain creative individual found himself possessed of the idea to write an alternative take on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Several years later and a number of prose books and graphic novels under his belt, Frank Beddor still finds himself lost in the wonder, as Princess Alyss and Hatter Madigan continue to weave their personas into new adventures, in new forms.

Perhaps there really is a stream of imagination coming from the Wonderland dimension. If so, Beddor seems to have tapped into it's mainline, and is drinking from it deeply.

Sun
17
Mar

Dreams and Shadows

When I received my copy of Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill, the first thing that jumped out at me from the press release was the number of comparatives to Neil Gaiman. This did not bode well for the book, as I've become somewhat inured to hyperbolic release praise, finding that most books that claim to be the next big thing barely reach the bar the publicist has set. And, already being partially into a rather large novel already, Dreams and Shadows was destined to go "in the stack" to maybe get a look at whenever I could get around to it.

Blame the fussy eating habits of a five year old. I was on "make sure he eats" duty while the missus went upstairs to put away the clean clothes. Dreams and Shadows being the only media to have arrived in the daily posts, I sat at the table and read the liner notes again. Then I let myself mildly peruse the opening text, making no promises.

Thu
01
Mar

Andrew Breitbart: Walking Toward the Fire with Righteous Indignation

Andrew Breitbart

Update: March 1, 2012. At the age of 43, Andrew Breitbart has passed away of natural causes yet to be determined. It was barely less than a year ago I had the opportunity to interview the man who fearlessly confronted and challenged corruption in the government and the media.

It is with a sad and heavy heart that I update this interview with this information.

Working mostly behind the scenes, Andrew Breitbart has evolved into the face of New Media conservatism. With websites like BigGovernment and BigHollywood, and prepping a handful of other Big internet ventures, Breitbart rocketed to public attention when he rolled out James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles' video exposure of ACORN.

Fri
07
Oct

Juan Williams: The Fight for Honest Debate

Juan Williams

"Political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don't address reality. I mean, look, Bill, you know I'm not a bigot, you know the kinds of books I've written about the Civil Rights Movement in this country. But when I get on a plane, I've got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb, and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

If you have any interest in political news and hadn't heard of Juan Williams before October 19th, 2010, you certainly learned about him after October 20th. With the above statement, made on FOX News' The O'Reilly Factor, the NPR analyst found himself on the outs with the radio network he had called home, resulting in his quick dismissal.

Wed
05
Oct

Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner's Graphic Adaptation

Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner presents an eye-opening story of class struggles in Afghanistan, portrayed over the course of a few decades. After winning awards and being adapted into film, The Kite Runner, Hosseini's first novel, is has made the transition to the graphic novel format, available from Riverhead.

We shared a few moments with Hosseini to discuss this new form for his novel as well as some of the elements of his very moving story.


This is probably the first time I've seen a non-genre literary work adapted into the graphic novel format. How did the idea to use that medium come about?

Fri
03
Dec

Neal Shusterman: A Moment to Unwind

Neal Shusterman

Even though Unwind is well in the published past, relatively speaking, it was nonetheless the major topic of discussion during a chat we had with author Neal Shusterman, whose latest venture, Everwild, has just been released into paperback.

What was on the author's mind while penning this disturbing and thought provoking novel? Where do things go from its ending? And what else does Shusterman have planned for the near future? Read on...


Unwind tells the story of an American society where the two sides in the abortion debate come to a grisly compromise which basically makes abortion illegal but allows parents to decide to have their teenagers parceled out for parts -- or "unwound" -- if they decide the kid was no longer worth the effort. It was a bit surprising that both sides in the war that sets things off actually agreed to it, and it's akin to the biblical story of two women fighting over the same baby.

Fri
10
Sep

Dr. Steve Gerali: To Save a Life

Steve Gerali

Overlapping with National Suicide Prevention Week this year is National TO SAVE A LIFE WEEK (September 6 - 12), which encourages churches, parents and teens to start the new school year looking at the issues of teen suicide, bullying, depression, body image, etc., and to start the conversation to let teens know they are not alone -- that help is available. To better understand the issues of teenage depression and suicide, we talked this week to Dr. Steve Gerali, author of What Do I Do When Teenagers are Depressed and Consider Suicide?, as well as a host of other publications focused on understanding the problems of adolescents.

As regards suicide prevention, let's open with the classic question of Cain: Are we our brothers' keepers?

Fri
05
Mar

Frank Beddor: There's Something About Alice

Frank Beddor Looking Glass Wars

Here's a take on Alice that's rather novel: Alice is grown, and returns to Wonderland, only to find that the Red Queen has taken control and imposed tyranny on the citizens. Card soldiers roam the streets, and the Hatter and her other friends form an armed resistance, with Alice as their leader.

But it's not Tim Burton's new sequel, "Alice in Wonderland" (which, more aptly, ought to have a "2" appended to the title). Rather, it's the plot of a series of novels and graphic novels, The Looking Glass Wars, penned by the producer of "There's Something About Mary," Frank Beddor. With all the hype surrounding the movie, everyone has Alice on the brain -- so it was a good time to sit down with Beddor and chat about Alice and Lewis Carroll and Wonderland... and who better than me to do it? (Well, probably a lot of people, but fortunately the pool of potential interviewers was limited to the staff here at Critical Blast, so there.)

Sat
15
Aug

Brian Herbert: The Chronicler Heir of Dune

Frank Herbert is regarded as one of the few holy names of the science fiction pantheon of authors. His 1965 novel, Dune is the bestselling science fiction novel of all time. His passing left behind big shoes and a tall shadow, but Brian Herbert has been more than up to the task of carrying on the Dune legacy. Working with author Kevin J. Anderson, he has added over a dozen more novels to the history of his father's creation, setting up a tradition of New York Times best sellers in his wake.

With so many years of Dune history still available to be explored, is there any planned end in sight for the franchise?

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