Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Boys, a graphic novel by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson

My interest in graphic novels has been off-again, on-again and has re-entered the on-again stage.

I was in the Comic Cubicle to pick up We3, the story of three "animal weapons" - a dog, a cat, and a rabbit - who escape captivity before they can be terminated when the program in which they were created is closed down. Will Wheaton recommended it on his blog and I liked his other recommendation so much (Fell) I decided to get We3. It wasn't in so I started browsing. By the way, comic stores are browsable unlike most big box bookstores. I found The Boys, written by Garth Ennis (Preacher) and illustrated by Darick Robertson.

The story line immediately appealed to me. I enjoy seeing a common theme reversed. Even if you don't read comics you know about super heroes battling super villains to save the world. What if the super heroes are really arrogant, super jerks who have only disdain for normal people, for whom a 60% attrition rate is acceptable because they don't know what they are doing? That's the idea here. The president of the U.S. unofficially sanctions a team, The Boys, to monitor the activities of the super heroes and stop them when they go too far. The Boys are Butcher, Frenchie, The Female, Mother's Milk, and Wee Hughie. OK, one of The Boys is a woman. Basically, they declare war on the supers. In volume one we learn that Butcher and Wee Hughie have personal scores to settle against the super heroes. Butcher's wife was raped by one, and Wee Hughie's girlfriend was killed by another. Wee Hughie is is the newest member of The Boys and his attempt to come to terms with their mission is possibly the only endearing aspects of this series. He is still an innocent among psychopaths.

Besides the story, another reason I had to have volume one of this series is Wee Hughie. They used Simon Pegg as a model when drawing this character. You might remember Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead, one of the best zombie movies ever. Also, he will play a young Scotty in the next Star Trek movie which might actually get me in the theatre to see it. I get a kick seeing Simon Pegg battling super heroes.

When I took The Boys to the counter I was cautioned that it is a bit twisted. I don't know if that was out of deference to my age and perhaps I should be looking at Archie and Jughead or if it was a general caution. The fellow was quite correct; The Boys has extreme violence and graphic sex. Definitely for mature readers, really mature readers.

Halting State by Charles Stross

Halting State is a technological thriller set in 2018 in Scotland. The starting point is a bank robbery by a gang of orcs in the virtual reality world of Avalon Four. From there it expands into a threat on the world's information infrastructure, and the use of virtual reality worlds and role playing games for governments to conduct clandestine activities.

The technological future Stross imagines is well grounded and not unlikely to be available in ten years. It is a fascinating look at the expansion of cell phone technology and gaming.

I have a longer review of this book up on Revish.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hardboiled Crime Story in the Porn Industry

I just posted a review of Money Shot by Crista Faust at Revish. This is a terrific hardboiled crime story with a strong female character. It does use the porn and sex slave industry as a backdrop which could offend some readers. The narrator, Angel Dare, doesn't apologize for her profession and is matter-of-fact the the details. Excellent character development, story, and action.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

More New Reads

In addition to the Edgar nominees I mentioned int he previous post, I've recently finished the following books. The links will take you to the Revish reviews.

Atomic Lobster by Tim Dorsey. My favorite hyperactive serial killer and devoted Floridian, Serge A. Storms is back in this latest novel by Dorsey. If you like Carl Hiaasen and Jeff Lindsay's Dexter, I would recommend Dorsey.

Fell: Feral City V.1 is a graphic novel written by Warren Ellis. It is a gritty noir police story. Excellent in all respects.

For the Dogs by Kevin Wignall. Wignall is the author of Who is Conrad Hirst? For the dogs is his third novel. I've only read two of Wignall's books but they both feature a hit-man who is, if not likable, at least sympathetic. This is a story of a surviving family member seeking revenge for her murdered family.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Edgars Read So Far

I've been reading the 2008 Edgar Award nominees as I can find them in our public library.

New reads:

  • Christine Falls by Benjamin Black. The full review is on Revish. It's a nominee for Best Novel and the first in the Quirk series. Quirk is a pathologist in Dublin in the 1950s. Black wrote a careful, layered story, very character driven. The Catholic Church takes a hit. Recommended.
  • Priest by Ken Bruen. Follow the link to the full review on Revish. Priest is also a Best Novel nominee and is a Jack Taylor story. The Catholic Church takes another hit here. Recommended.
Previous reads:
  • Chicago Blues . Review on Revish. Nominee for Best Short Story. Contains Stuart Kaminsky's short story, Blue Note, a poignant story about a son, his singer mother, a literate gangster, and gambling.
  • Who is Conrad Hirst by Kevin Wignall. Nominee for Best Paperback Original . An excellent story of a confused hit man trying to quit.
  • In the Woods by Tana French. Nominee for Best First Novel by an American Author. A murder investigation set near Dublin, Ireland conducted in the shadow of an old investigation. Tana lives in Ireland and I think the Irish are claiming her though she is nominated as an American author.
I'm glad I'm not on the awards committee. I would find it difficult to put Priest against Christina Falls. They are both excellent and but very different at least to my untutored eye.

Time to go look for more. If I'm lucky, Queenpin, nominee for Best Paperback Original will still be on the shelf.