Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Monday, December 21, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Mockingjay

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Probably my least favorite book in the series, just because it lacks the few bits of comedy and other light touches the two previous novels had. Also, the focus on the love triangle bored me as I sort of hate both Gale and Peeta as characters. The biggest problem I had was the abruptness of the ending... or I suppose I should say the abruptness of the climax; the ending itself goes on and on. I also don't like Collins' reliance on starting chapters with Katniss waking up in hospital beds, unaware of what happened. It gets tired. That said, Katniss is still a great character who really benefits from first person narration, and with the exception of the two mentioned above I enjoy the supporting cast. The action scenes are inventive and entertaining as well. I wish this had been as good as the first two chapters, but it was still an enjoyable ending.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Panel of the Week: 12/02/14

Marvel has been trying a lot of new things recently. They restarted all their series at #1 after an 8 month in-continuity gap to give readers a great jumping-on point for everything. As such, I've tried a lot of their new offerings. Some, like Karnak and Hercules, were surprisingly good. Others, like Totally Awesome Hulk, are ridiculous but have a good enough hook in there somewhere to make me want to see what happens next. And then there's the new volume of Daredevil, issue one of which was written by Charles Soule and pencilled by Ron Garney, in which the Man Without Fear is given a new enemy...

It's an Asian crime boss called Tenfingers. You know. Because he has ten fingers on each hand. Which really means he has twenty fingers, right, so wouldn't that be his name? I don't know. Apparently part of his thing is that his henchman are allowed to cut off one of their fingers and give it to him whenever they complete an assigned task. yeah, you read that write. They cut off their own fingers not as punishment but as reward. This is so mindnumbingly stupid I don't even want to type about it anymore, let alone read anymore about it.

The literal definition of "they can't all be winners" right here, folks.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Warheart

Warheart (Richard and Kahlan #4)Warheart by Terry Goodkind

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I remember when I started reading the Sword of Truth series. It was 2001 and I picked up Wizard's First Rule on a whim, and was immediately blown away by the fullness of the world, the richness of the characters, and the thrilling action. Fast-forward almost fifteen years to Warheart and I couldn't be more glad the series is over. For me, this series peaked at Faith of the Fallen and has gone downhill ever since. The lush world and full-bodied characters have been replaced by a simplistic, repetitive writing style that sees dialogue go on for pages at a time full of circular conversations where the lines could be said by anyone. No one has a distinct voice anymore. And for a book about a character called Warheart (a phrase, by the way, introduced almost as a throwaway line that is only saved from being a one-off by being used twice more, including a closing line that is easily one of the worst closing lines in the history of books), there is so little action it's unbelievable. It's basically a book about characters traveling back and forth to different places saying the same thing ad nauseam, followed by a ridiculously anticlimactic final confrontation. I'm giving Warheart one star for the one scene in the book that packed any sort of emotional punch for me, and out of loyalty and love for what used to be a great series.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Panel of the Week: 11/25/15

Sometimes there isn't anything all that outstanding that pops out in a particular week's batch of books. When that happens, it never hurts to just go with a classic action shot, and that's what I did with the week in question. The panel from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4 #2, by Brian Michael Bendis and Valerio Schiti, featured below is just a such a panel.

Overlook the idea that both the Thing and Shadowcat are on the Guardians of the Galaxy instead of their usual teams, that's just the changing ways of Marvel now. Regardless of the team, there's nothing more timeless and classic in the comics world than the Thing, a cosmic enemy, and the clock hitting Clobberin' Time.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Brimstone Angels

Brimstone Angels: A Forgotten Realms NovelBrimstone Angels: A Forgotten Realms Novel by Erin M. Evans
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's been awhile now since I picked up a book in the Forgotten Realms setting from a "new" author (I put new in quotations because this book came out four years ago now so, y'know). At this point the only books in this setting I'm still reading are by Salvatore and Greenwood; it's in fact the entry in the Sundering series bookended by those two that Evans contributed that got me interested in her series that kicked off with this book. It has an interesting plot, twisted by machinations of devils, demons, and men alike. It has decent action scenes and a fair bit of comedy, mostly at the expense of the inexperienced heroes. It is in fact those inexperienced heroes that lead to the biggest negative of the whole book, in my opinion; the heroes are young, teenagers really, and as such can be annoying. For every heroic moment they come up with, there's a bratty one to balance it out. But as annoying as it is, it's also a sign of good characterization that the characters are written realistically. The ending was a little too rushed and cluttered, but otherwise it's a solid start to a series that I'm ready to get into book two of as soon as I can.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Panel of the Week: 11/18/15

You should never sip on another man's Kool-Aid. Especially when that man is the king of an advanced race who never speaks a word because the power of his voice could shatter the moon. Seems like the kind of thing that would fall under the "self-evident truths" category. But some people have a bit of a learning curve... which brings us to the panel of the week for November 18th:

The panel in question comes from Marvel's Uncanny Inhumans #2, written by Charles Soule, drawn by Steve McNiven. The character in question, scene above in black, is Black Bolt; Medusa, seen walking away in the top panel, is his former queen... and the dude in yellow and black is the Human Torch, who Black Bolt has just discovered is now dating Medusa. Since his voice isn't something he can really use, Black Bolt decides to let his gestures speak for him when it comes to his feelings on the subject...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Panel of the Week: 11/11/15

I have to be honest, being so far behind on the panels for this column sometimes makes it hard to remember why I picked certain ones over every other panel in all the comics I read that particular week. But in the case of November 11th, I have no such problem. Let me show you why.

The above panel from Darth Vader #12 (written by Kieron Gillen, drawn by Salvador Larocca) features the eponymous lead character disabling a rebel fighter just by Force-throwing his lightsaber through it.

Pretty badass, no?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Working for Bigfoot

Working for Bigfoot (The Dresden Files, #15.5)Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the midst of a long wait for the next novel in the Dresden Files series, it was nice to have this trilogy of short stories to pick up for a quick fix of that world. Each of the three stories involving Harry working for a Bigfoot who wants to protect his son is well written and full of vibrant characters and humor, all the hallmarks of Butcher's work in Dresden's world. As they were written at different times in Butcher's career (and are accordingly spaced out at different points during Harry's adventures), they grow in quality alongside the growth the Dresden Files books experienced. They'd also make a great introduction to readers who might be curious about the Dresden Files because, despite being strewn throughout different points in the series, they aren't at all bogged down by mythology or backstory. Really, the only drawback to the collection at all is that it's too short; the three short stories took a total of about 90 minutes to read. But hey, they're short stories, right? What can you do but enjoy them and use them to tide you over while you wait for the next story.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Panel of the Week: 11/4/15

Gonna keep this one short and sweet as I don't have a lot of time; I'm between finishing up an all day binge of Jessica Jones on Netflix and waiting for the midseason finale of Walking Dead to start in a few minutes. Truly, we're living in the geek renaissance. Anyway, going back almost a full month now, the winner for best panel (or in this case, panels) of the week for the comics released on November 4th goes to the following sequence from Invincible Iron Man, written by Brian Michael Bendis (who wrote the Alias story Jessica Jones is based on, in a fun bit of timing) with art by David Marquez. We all know Tony Stark is a bit of a poonhound, right? But even he has to worry about making sure he isn't snogging the wrong lady... so what's a guy to do?

Introducing... the Hydra Test. When you absolutely need to be sure your new girlfriend isn't secretly part of a throwback Nazi cell planning to kill you in your sleep. Or mid-coitus. You know. Like they do.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Thankful Stormtrooper, 2015 Edition

After four years now, I'm starting to run out of these damn things...

Another time for turkey, another time for the annual SSTS post of gratitude (well I did say last year it needed a better name...). I'm getting it out of the way early this year because I'll be spending most of the day with the number one entry on the list, my love, Marisa. Last year I sat Thanksgiving out because I was still grieving. This year, since it's really the only holiday we have in common, I'll be spending the day with her and the evening having dinner with her family. It should be nice to get back in the holiday swing again. Aside from the holiday aspect, I'm beyond grateful she's in my life. We've been living together for about 13 months now, and it's just amazing. Yes, we have our troubles as every couple does, but everyday is still filled with love and joy and laughter, and if we can fill each others' lives with those things, what else really matters?

Secondly, I'm incredibly thankful that this year was the year I finally found a great job with decent pay, good benefits, fun co-workers (although I'm not particularly close with any of them yet, and who knows if I even want that to change; yeah, I have to get some cantankerousness into this post somewhere, I'm still me), and a lot of great little perks. And I'm grateful I was able to pass that happiness on and get a friend hired, who in turn got one of his friends hired. It's always nice to be able to help someone else.


My family and friends. Except for one period of time, I've never had a particularly large circle, and that's still the case now. But what I have is strong. I love the good people that fill my life, that I know I can count on, that I always have great times with.

Mmmm, Jameson.

Writing. Whether it's my writing or other peoples' writing that I'm able to enjoy through various mediums that spirit of creativity will always be a part of me, and will always be one of my greatest sources of enjoyment.

And of course, New York City. I might have to settle for working there because I don't live there anymore, but regardless of where I reside it's the Big Apple that will always have my heart.

Now it's time to go enjoy some of that writing stuff before my girlfriend finishes her hibernation at around noon. Until then, have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and if there's anything you're particularly thankful for, feel free to share!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - The Grownup

The GrownupThe Grownup by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this back when it was called "What Do You Do?" in one of George R.R. Martin's anthologies, Rogues. It's very much typical of what you'd expect from a Gillian Flynn work: first-person female narration, seedy snark and cynicism, and a twist (or two, or three; who's counting?) at the end. One of Flynn's strengths, which is on display here, is how fully realized and developed all the characters are, not just the narrator, which is something that isn't easy to pull off in first-person narration. The language Flynn uses is snappy and sharp, and is fun to read. Now, the drawbacks. After the setup, which takes up a large part of the story, the climax feels rushed. And I wasn't kidding when I said there were multiple twists, and it just feels like too many, especially coming as they do in a very short span of pages. The ending is wholly unrealistic, but it's fiction so I don't hold that against it. In fact, I wouldn't mind a follow-up to check in on the characters down the road a ways.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Panel of the Week: 10/28/15

My neverending quest to get up to date with this column continues. It would be going better if I'd do this more than once every two weeks... I mean, that's not a great ratio for a weekly column, right? Anyway, the winner for the week of October 29th comes from Spider-Man 2099 (Vol. 3) #2, written by Peter David, art by Will Sliney.

A robot.

Where the hell did it come from ?


Why Detroit?

No idea. Just a blind guess.

THAT'S why Detroit. Robocop, bitch.

Goodreads Book Review - Catching Fire

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Much like the first book, I had a hard time separating the book from the movie while I read. That being said, the book is a compelling read. It pulled me along through the few slow spots because I couldn't wait to get back to the good parts; when the action and intrigue is this book are on, it's ridiculously hard to put down. The thing I miss most in terms of what expectations I had from the movie is the behind the scenes intrigue; the movies had more of the people from the capitol as the games went on. But there are more than enough characters to juggle already so I can see why that part isn't in the book. Collins made me want to book up the final part immediately after putting this one down. I managed to resist that but that's definitely the mark of a successful novel.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Unfettered

UnfetteredUnfettered by Shawn Speakman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As in any anthology, there were a few stories I liked and a few I didn't. In particular, the ones by Terry Brooks, Patrick Rothfuss, Tad Williams, Daniel Abraham, Peter V. Brett, Lev Grossman, and David Anthony Durham all amused me to some degree or another, with the Brooks and Grossman ones probably being my favorite. The one that disappointed me the most was R.A. Salvatore's entry; it wasn't a bad story, per se, but as he's one of my favorite authors and has been for almost 25 years now, I was hoping for more. I did enjoy the conceit that sets this one apart from other anthologies, though, that the authors were unfettered by a controlling theme and could write whatever they wanted. I just wish some of them had written things a little meatier.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading this after watching the movies makes it very hard to separate the two in my mind; as I read I'm seeing the scenes from the movie instead of imagining things myself, which makes it hard to give a completely unbiased review. That said, I enjoy the characters and the story line is engrossing.The action could stand to be a little more descriptive and a lot more fleshed out; all the action scenes fly by, and frustratingly tend to end with someone passing out and having the results told to them when they wake up. Isn't "show, don't tell," one of the first rules of writing? Minor complaints aside, it's a very good book.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - The Aeronaut's Windlass

The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1)The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like Butcher's other two series, the first book in the Cinder Spires was a slow beginning for me. Part of it, I'm sure, is that I'm not much into the whole steampunk thing, so I guess a lot of the tropes that go with the genre were lost on me. But as always, I love Butcher's character work. All his characters feel alive, vibrant, and fully fleshed out, which makes it easy to care about them. I also enjoyed the overall plot he has going on here, although aspects of it, such as the love story that pops up, felt a little to rushed and unearned. What I think I loved more than anything else, was the way cats fit into the story. The characterization and lifestyle he gave them felt so spot-on to how cats are that it had me thoroughly entertained. In all, getting into this one was a little slow to me until about the halfway mark, where it really took off, and I'm looking forward to the next one. Meanwhile, am I the only one who caught a reference or two to the Codex Alera in here? Might they be connected?

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Panel of the Week: 10/21/15

Getting closer and closer... I swear, the idea of a weekly column seemed like a good one at the time! Anyway, the winner for the batch of comics from two weeks ago is a two-page spread that comes from Marvel's Weirdworld #5, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Mike Del Mundo.

Weirdworld has been a weird book, part of Marvel's still ongoing Secret Wars event, filled with weird ideas and weird images and just, y'know, weirdness. In this final issue the battle for Weirdworld rages on, and it's fought between crystal warriors and magma men and swamp things and dragons and so on and so forth. Which isn't why this panel wins. Nor are the pencils and colors themselves why it wins, although they're great too. The reason this panel wins is that, in the midst of all the assorted aforementioned crazies duking it out, there are a pair of butterflies flying by with a nuke. How the hell does that make sense?

It doesn't.

It's just weird.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Panel of the Week: 10/14/15

I had intended to post this over the weekend, as it's a good one for Halloween, but the weekend got away from me, so this panel from The Walking Dead #147 had to wait until today. Which is fine, because it isn't really all that Halloweeny after all. Of course, the issue in question was written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Charlie Adlard. There aren't really any spoilers in this one, so don't worry.

If last week's panel winner was a commentary on where things are in the Marvel Universe right now, well, an image of Rick putting a gun to Michonne's head has to be a similar sort of commentary on things in the Walking Dead comic right now, right? Unless all isn't as it seems... Anyway, it wins because it's a fairly shocking panel, in context or out, and the scene that follows is pure gold. And I absolutely love the cold, emotionless look on Rick's face, like he isn't afraid to do something, even if it is against Michonne. Just a bit chilling, huh?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Panel of the Week: 10/7/15

Every time I come close to catching up with this damn column, something happens and I fall off and next thing you know I'm almost a month behind. I'll get there one day, I promise. Anyway, the winner for the week of October 7th comes from Avengers #0, an anthology. The story the following image belongs to is a prelude to Uncanny Avengers Vol. 3, and is written by Gerry Duggan and drawn by Ryan Stegman.

I've chosen it not because the art is particularly great, because it isn't, or because there's anything in the dialogue that makes me love it, because there isn't, but because it's representative of the state of the Marvel Universe right now, and why I'm slowly starting to lose interest. What you can see from the above interest is that Captain America is now a retiree; mutants and, obviously, the X-Men, have been pushed aside for the Inhumans, marginalized to such an extent that they are now rendered unable to have children, something that completely invalidates the last three years of X-Men stories; and, oh yeah, Deadpool is an Avenger now, further proving that at this point he's even more overexposed than Wolverine ever was.

No wonder the number of indies I'm reading has spiked lately...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #2)Finders Keepers by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't enjoy this book as much as Mr. Mercedes. It's not because the plot was weak or because I wasn't pulled in, because the plot was great and I was. The problem is that it felt like it was really two plots that were put together for no reason other than King wanted to do a sequel. The Mr. Mercedes characters don't show up until the book is halfway through, and then they spend the whole rest of the book playing catch-up and just rehashing ad nauseam what the readers already know. The complaint being said, the "A" plot of the stolen books and what two lovers of reading who fall on opposite ends of that spectrum do for those books is thrilling. I wish that plot had been expanded into its own book instead of being shoehorned into being the middle part of a trilogy it is only barely connected to tangentially. The tease throughout the second half of the book, especially at the end, of where the final part in the trilogy might go was interesting enough to make me want to read it despite this one's shortcomings.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Panel of the Week: 9/30/15

No intro today. The Mets are on and I'm a bit buzzed, so let's get right down to it. The winner for the comics from the week of September 30th is the following panel from DC Comics' Justice League #44, written by Geoff Johns, art by Jason Fabok.

It's a double-page spread of the ongoing battle between the evil god Darkseid and the uber-powerful Anti-Monitor. This battle has been featured here before, but I'm in awe of this image: the power and violence of the fight, the cleanless of the lines, the cowering figures of the Justice League as they are buffeted by the force of the blows traded in the battle. It's pretty great.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Panel of the Week: 9/23/15

Today's post is a bit of a milestone, folks. It's my 101st post in 2015, which means I've officially blogged more this year than any other year previously.

And even with that being the case, I still can't seem to get up on this damn column. Stupid life.

Anyway, the winner for September 3rd's batch of comics is a series of panels from 1872 #03, a miniseries that is part of Marvel's Secret Wars event. The book is written by Gerry Duggan (of Deadpool fame) and drawn by Nik Virella (who I've never heard of). And here are the panels:

That's a Wild Wild West version of Bullseye getting taken out by Red Wolf, and I'm absolutely tickled by it. How it took someone this long from the moment Colin Farrell's Bullseye popped up in that awful Affleck Daredevil movie to do a gag like this is beyond me, but it wins, hands down. From the shock on everyone else's face to the stoicism on Red Wolf's as he drops the punchline, I love it. Maybe if Duggan's Deadpool was this funny it wouldn't be such a chore to slog through...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Archmage

Archmage (Homecoming #1; The Legend of Drizzt #28)Archmage by R.A. Salvatore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like all Salvatore books, this one is filled with vibrant characters and the kind of vivid, thrilling battle scenes he's known for. The intrigue keeps increasing in the plot as the remaining Companions of the Hall become more and more intwined with the drow and their machinations. This kick-off to the new sub-series, Homecoming, was the first in awhile where I didn't have a feel for where the book was going before it got there, which was a pleasant surprise, as was the pair of cliffhangers the book wrapped up with. The strange bedfellows (stranger than usual) set up to work together in the next installment have me eagerly awaiting it.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - William Shakespeare's Tragedy of the Sith's Revenge

William Shakespeare's Tragedy of the Sith's Revenge (William Shakespeare's Star Wars, #3)William Shakespeare's Tragedy of the Sith's Revenge by Ian Doescher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A better installment than the last few, but that's only because Revenge of the Sith has a better... and admittedly more Shakespearean... plot than either of the last two books. Aside from some humorous touches, like spotting the Samuel L. Jackson movie title in all of Mace Windu's lines, this whole thing is a fun conceit that really should have stopped at one book.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #1)Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know there are a lot of complaints about King's writing out there: it's repetitive, he isn't any good at endings, whatever. You can say whatever you want about those negatives and more, but one thing you can't say is that he isn't great at characters and characterization. He makes you care about his characters and what happens to them by really letting you into their lives, and that is a talent of his that is on full display in Mr. Mercedes. It's something different for King, a straight-up noir-style detective story without any supernatural elements at all, and he kills it. Obviously none of the aforementioned repetitiveness is there, although there are allusions to past works and themes. it's a fresh story, not at all hurt by being set a few years ago. The characters are vibrant and endearing, and consequently the horror that sets in when something is about to happen to them is more real. The only complaint I've ever heard about King novels that can still be applied here is that he doesn't stick the landing. The ending left me a bit disappointed, not so much in how it ends but how it unfolds, more specifically who is left out of the action and who plays too small a part in it. That's all I'll say for fear of spoilers, but if you want an engrossing read, this is the book for you.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Panel of the Week: 9/16/15

My trek to get caught up with this damn column continues. Pickings have been slim lately, though, which is why we end up getting a Star Wars winner two installments in a row... it has nothing to do with the thematic connection to this blog in its entirety, I promise. Anyway, the winner for week mentioned above comes from Marvel's Star Wars ongoing, issue #9 of the series, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Stuart Immonen.

C-3PO and Chewbacca have both had fairly limited presences in the series so far, so it's great to see them start getting featured. And Immonen's art here is just perfect, from the Threepio's stance to how fierce the agitated Chewie is, with his bowcaster. The snippet of Aaron's dialogue in the lines he's written for Goldenrod there show you how well he knows the characters' voices too. Bottom line is that it's a great picture from a great series perfect for Star Wars fans.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Time Heals All Wounds

Time heals all wounds. Until it's a year later and the wound is still raw, this is. But I suppose that's where someone says it just hasn't been enough time yet. Which I suppose is true; also true is that it's been 365 days since my grandmother passed away, and it definitely hasn't been enough time yet. The wound isn't healed. I don't know if it ever will be. And there are some things even time can never change.

While people's individual knowledge of the details vary, it's no secret that my family life definitely had its ups and downs while I grew up, more so than most. People who were supposed to be there weren't, in so many ways. They were always in different states than me, either in the physical sense or in an altered, drunken state kind of sense. But the one person who was always there, who was never too bombed or too gone, was my grandmother. Whatever I needed, she provided if it was at all within her power. And if she couldn't provide it, well, more often than not she made me realize it was something I didn't need, I never really appreciated it growing up; I was always too angry or depressed over what I didn't have to see what I did. And as I got older and "wiser" and realized what I had, I still never really appreciated it because I told myself it was about what I didn't have, not what I had.

In short, I was an idiot.

I fought with my grandmother a lot, right up until the last time I saw her before she went into the hospital. Sure, that time we fought because she wasn't eating enough and I was trying to get her to eat more because I was worried, but I didn't have to be an asshole about it. I spent too much time fighting with her and not enough time making sure she knew I loved her, and that she was the rock I could always lean on, and that I was forever grateful to her for everything she ever gave me, and I should be, because she gave me everything.

With how fast she deteriorated once she was in the hospital, just how deep the cancer no one knew was there had sunk in, she must have been sick for quite a while. I've come to believe she hung on as long as she could, until she was sure I'd be okay without her. She waited until I found someone I love with all my heart, someone who loves me just as much in return. Someone I could make a life of my own with. My grandmother's final gift to me was waiting until I'd be okay without her.

But it's a gift I wish she never gave, because I'm not okay without her. The life I've made since she's been gone is great, but it's bittersweet without her here to see it. I wish she could be here to see how happy my girlfriend are together, sharing our life, living together. I wish she could see the great job I've gotten and how happy I am now. I wish my happiness could have come sooner, so that she could be here to see it, to enjoy the fruit of all her hard work. Because there's no mistaking the fact I wouldn't be where I am without her.

I guess that's what's important; the guilt, the pain, the loss, that's all stuff that time will eventually heal, no matter how long it takes. But who I am is down to her. That will never change with time. Neither will how much she loved me, and how much I loved her.

I miss you, Grandma. I didn't say it enough, but thanks for everything. I love you.

Let time march on.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Panel of the Week: 9/9/15

One day I'll be closer to caught up with this than two weeks behind, I swear. This will be a brief entry because I've got some stuff on my mind (which might become clear in a post tomorrow if I can turn my thoughts into anything approaching coherent). What I will tell you is that the winner for this installment comes from Star Wars: Journey to the Force Awakens - Shattered Empire. Written by Greg Rucka, the title is a clunker but the art by Marco Checchetto is anything but:

The panel in question is the lightsaber duel, but I had to include the whole page for obvious reasons, part of which is that I love how the action of the Rebel Alliance X-Wing bisects the page and panels. Aside from that, it's just a beautifully drawn image in a book full of great art. This series might just make Checcetto a star.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Star Wars: Aftermath

Aftermath (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, in a world different than our own, Aftermath is a book about what happens to Luke, Leia, Han, and everyone else after RotJ. It's an exciting book about taking the fight to the Empire after that stirring victory, and it features character development and action and memorable new villains. Unfortunately, in our world it's a book where, aside from an interlude that doesn't affect the story at all featuring Han and Chewie,the most relevant SW characters are a wounded Wedge who needs rescuing and an Admiral Ackbar who doesn't do much else except wonder if it's a trap or not. I kid you not. The Empire and the New Republic, formerly the Rebel Alliance, are in a Cold War kind of state, neither side willing to make a move that might risk something. Is is logical and realistic? Maybe, but it's a ridiculously boring state of affairs to read about. I know, it sounds like I'm judging the book based on what I wanted it to be and not what it is, so here's what I think about what it is. Instead of an action-filled plot with heroic characters, we get a boring state of affairs where the chapter often cuts ends in the middle of an action scene just to pick up again after the action is over, the whole thing centered around completely unlikeable characters. And if that wasn't bad enough, any momentum the book might occasionally pick up is derailed by random interludes between chapters that, like the aforementioned Han and Chewie bit, have nothing to to with the book's plot. Apparently this is the first book in a trilogy so maybe those bits will be picked up on next time, but nothing about this book made me want to read the next part to see if that happens. Other than the comics from Marvel, this was my first foray into the new canon, and all it inspired me to do is find an old EU book I never read before and pick that up instead of whatever is next here...

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Panel of the Week: 9/2/15

I'm almost all caught up. So close. Anyway, the winner for September 9th reaches back a bit to the winner from two weeks ago, a panel that one in part because of how it used a sound effect as part of the panel to make the page tell a whole story. This week's winner is very similar:

It comes from Groot #4 (yes, that Groot, obviously), written by Jeff Loveness and drawn by Brian Kessinger. When it was first announced that Groot was getting his own series, I wondered how the hell they'd manage to tell entire issues of story starring a character who's vocabulary is a whopping three words. In this example, the answer to that question is, "very cleverly." Groot has to convince another character that the universe is worth fighting for, and while he only has three words to use, he manages to express all the things he loves about the universe in those three words. It's schlocky, sure, but it's also a beautiful image.

Even if it chock full of replacement characters instead of the real things... but that's a debacle for another time.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The 2015 Fall Season

Yep, it's that time of year again! TV shows are about to begin anew, and as always my crazy ass just sat here and created a spreadsheet listing all the shows I plan on watching this season, when they start, what time they're on, and on top of that a color-coded guide to what channel. Partly I do this because people seem to love it (if you look at the list of posts to the left there, you'll see that last year's installment is ranked on the top ten most popular posts I've done) and also partly because I'm getting old and between that and all the cumulative booze of my lifetime I just can't remember all this shit anymore.

Side note: I just noticed this is my 92nd post this year, which equals my total from last year, so I guess I'm well on my way to breaking my record number of posts in a year, which is 100. But that's a topic for another time.

Now it's time for what you're here to see!

You really should click to enlarge. Have mercy on your eyes.

One thing that jumps out right away? That's a lot of fucking television. 27 shows total, which is about 8 more than last year. But a few got left off the list last year that I remembered to include this year, and 9 of these shows are new ones: Into the Badlands, The Muppets, Supergirl, The Bastard Executioner, Scream Queens, Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, Limitless, Heroes Reborn, and Angel from Hell, so who knows how many of them will be sticking around, either because I hate them or the network does. Either way the schedule will probably clear up.

But then there are the mid-season replacements...

Anyway, as always now I'll turn it over to you, my scarcely existing readers! What are you watching? What should I be watching that I'm not? Hit the comments, let's talk about it.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf

Vengeance of the Iron DwarfVengeance of the Iron Dwarf by R.A. Salvatore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel like my Salvatore reviews tend to get pretty repetitive. Praise the action scenes, praise the characters, mention how much it left me looking forward to the next one, wash, rinse, repeat. And all of those things apply to my thoughts on this installment in the Legend of Drizzt. My problem with this book, however, is the separation of some of the main characters. After a series of books in which most of the characters we've come to know and love are dead and gone, they're brought back and reunited, giving us a chance to once again enjoy the characters and camaraderie we've come to expect from the Companions of the Hall... and instead we get a book in which Wulfgar and Regis only share a half-page scene with the other characters, a situation furthermore worsened by how much time Drizzt spends away from Bruenor and Catti-brie, especially during the climactic battle and long, drawn out battles that follow. It leads to a book that isn't as good as the two in this series that preceded it, but with its promise of a focus on Gromph in Archmage left me waiting for the next installment anyway.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Panel of the Week: 8/26/15

Continuing my ride on the "getting caught up" train, here's my second of these in a row. Yesterday I posted the previous week's winner, one that involved, among other things, a creative mix of sound effect and panel placement. The next winner as no such technical merit, but instead was selected just for complete absurdity. It comes from Spider-Woman #10, by writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Natacha Bustos:

Hulk cows.

I'm not even going to explain this one. Or praise it. Or say anything else at all, really. I'll just let the (awesome?) absurdity speak for itself.

Hulk cows.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Panel of the Week: 8/19/15

Yeah, I know; I'm ridiculously behind on these. Don't worry, I plan on getting all caught up this week. Anyway. In the last post in this series, I fairly well excoriated DC for being absolutely ridiculous. So it's no surprise given how life works that they'd turn around and win the title in a good way with a great piece of art:

The full-page piece of awesomeness in question comes from Justice League #43, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Jason Fabok. It's the third chapter of the ongoing Darkseid War storyline, and the image captures the arrival of that titular figure to the battlefield. It's a full-page image of the great embodiment of evil superimposed over panels of his mighty army shaped in the form of a horizontal "boom" the sound the boom tube makes, which signifies his arrival. The entire page, wonderfully drawn by Fabok (who, for me, seems to throw back to the great artists of the 90's like Jim Lee and Michael Turner, with all of their strengths but, so far at least, none of the excessive weaknesses they fell into that signify that era in comic art) conveys the power and horrible majesty of the lord of Apokolips. The art in the entire issue is great, but this panel takes the cake.

Ugh. It pains me to praise DC this much...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Doctor Who: Touched by an Angel

Doctor Who: Touched By An AngelDoctor Who: Touched By An Angel by Jonathan Morris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm two in a row on good Doctor Who novels. Prior to this book I read The Silent Stars Go By, by Dan Abnett. While I enjoyed that book more, Morris' novel here is a very enjoyable one as well. The characters are written "correctly," meaning their voices ring true to what you'd expect based on their TV show personas. The story is touching and emotional, as some of the best Doctor Who stories are, and it features one of my favorite Who villains, the Weeping Angels.  I'm not sure offhand when this came out in relation to when episodes of the show aired, but whether it came before or after the episode, there's a nice bit of foreshadowing for the Angels Take Manhattan episode that tugged on my heartstrings a little bit. I could definitely see this being a probably two-part episode of the series, which is fairly hefty praise when you think about it.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By

Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go ByDoctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven't read that many Doctor Who books, but with the few I have, the most important factor for me is just how real the character voices feel. Meaning, when I read the dialogue, does it sound like the characters do on TV? Can I hear their voices in my head, picture them saying the words and acting out the motions described? In this case, with the way Dan Abnett (who I'm a huge fan of from his comic book work) writes this story, I definitely can. Add that to the fun, twisty plot he created and the good supporting characters, and you have all the ingredients for what would make a great episode of the show. Eleven, Amy, and Rory all feel true to the characters, and what I love about this story is that the Ice Warriors get a better deal here than they did in their one episode of "NuWho" so far. It's a little slow here and there, but for the most part it's a great story that Id recommend for any fan of the Eleven and the Ponds era of the show who is feeling a little nostalgic.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Reblog: Words From the Master: Review and Contest for CS Moore Grimm Fairy Tales Snow White Ruby Edition Statue

My buddy Gio is running a contest on his site to give away a pretty cool piece of comic-related swag, so even though it could hinder my chance of winning, I thought I'd reblog it here to give some of my readers a chance to enter and perhaps become his readers too. Click the link below to check out the contest and find out how to enter.

Or, y'know, don't, and increase my chance of winning!

Words From the Master: Review and Contest for CS Moore Grimm Fairy Tales Snow White Ruby Edition Statue

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Armada

ArmadaArmada by Ernest Cline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up because I enjoyed Ernest Cline's previous book, Ready Player One, and was hoping to find more of the same. In a way, I got what I wanted; it's filled with the same humor and appreciation for geekdom both modern and classic as Ready Player One, two things I loved about both stories. But while Ready Player One felt very long but not in a bad way, like it was given room to breath and become fully realized, Armada feels far more rushed. Both the story itself feels shorter and the pacing feels far quicker, like things happen in a blur and are over before I really had a chance to enjoy them. So while I loved the characters involved and world-building that went on, the pacing left me cold. But while it's true not all books can be perfect, the imperfect ones can still be enjoyable and, flaws aside, Armada is still a good read.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Panel of the Week: 8/12/15

Here's a quickie for you this week, because work has been absolutely insane and I'm running on empty. This week's winner, from Red Hood & Arsenal #3 (written by Scott Lobdell, who I used to love, and drawn by Denis Medri) goes a long way to show you just how bad DC can get.

That's the big new villain of this book. Underbelly. SO, you know, he has to be fat then. And gray. And have multiple heads. Even though he's apparently the unkillable embodiment of the concept of organized crime. Or something. It doesn't make a lot of sense. They explode him once, and he comes back, so their solution is to explode him again and hope it takes him longer to pull himself back together this time. Again, stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And totally DC.

Make mine Marvel.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Every Day

Every Day (Every Day, #1)Every Day by David Levithan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought this was a beautifully written book, even if it does come off as a YA version of Quantum Leap, but without the science or any explanation at all. Which is fine, because that isn't the story the author was telling, and I'm more than capable of enjoying the story in front of me as it is. I love what Levithan does with the language when it comes to A's narration, and I love the characters; A and Rhiannon feel very vibrant and lifelike to me. I did have a major problem with the book, though, that kept it from getting four or even five stars. The whole story really seems to be about how love is valid no matter the shape it takes, because you fall in love with the person inside... gay, straight, trans, whatever. Love is love and it's beautiful. Until, this book seems to say, it comes to the overweight. Once A explains to Rhiannon his situation, that he wakes up inside a different person every day, she eventually falls in love with him, no matter who he wakes up as. He's a boy, a girl, a boy born in a girl's body, different religions, different races, different ailments, whatever. And she loves him in whatever shape he is. That is, until he wakes up as someone who weighs three-hundred pounds and it's suddenly too much for her to have him be someone else and she calls it off. Granted, it's possible that was just the emotional arc and it would have happened at that point regardless of who A woke up as that day, but the fact that Levithan has her be so taken aback by A's size that she won't even touch him combined with A's own very apparent discuss as he talks about his new body really amounts to a chapter full of body-shaming that mars an otherwise beautiful story about love and acceptance.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Panel of the Week: 8/5/15

Let's get some Spider-Man love going this week, as the winner this time comes to us from Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #3, written by Dan Slott, with art by Adam Kubert, who is a bit of a legend in the field, going back at least to his stint on Wolverine back in the '90s, if not even farther back than that. It's an alternate reality tale, part of the Secret Wars event, from a world where Peter Parker and Mary Jane are still married and have a daughter. In this issue and specifically in the page from which the panel we're about to see can be found, Annie is asking her mother if her father ever lost any of his battles. This is how MJ responds:

Aside from loving Kubert's pencils (although I always preferred his brother Andy, and even more, their truly legendary father Joe Kubert), which bring a perfect sense of melancholy to Mary Jane's features, I love the juxtaposition of her saying Spidey always wins while visualizing some of his greatest losses. It definitely makes me miss the days these two were married, back before the shitshow that was One More Day. Ugh. I feel an ulcer kicking in just thinking about it. I'll just enjoy the art instead.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Panel of the Week: 7/29/15

Yeah, I know this is really late. Shit happens. There might just be another of these tomorrow to help me get caught up. Or maybe not. Anyway. For the first time, a panel wins this mostly meaningless weekly award based on the dialogue, not the art. Here, I'm sure you'll see what I mean.

The above panel comes from Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies #2, and yes, that's a mouthful. And also yes, that's a Puritan version of the Punisher as he stomps on the head of some zombified Marvel bad guys. The art is by Steve Pugh, and it's a great design, but it's the writing by James Robinson that does it for me. Not only does the scene itself as imagined tickle e pink, but that dialogue, my goodness. It's almost enough to make me want to be a Puritan Punisher for Halloween.

Goodreads Book Review - Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying GirlMe and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I decided to read this mostly because I loved the movie and have run low on things to read. I was pleasantly surprised by it. Despite its protestations of not being a love story, it's definitely written with a lot of heart. The characters are fully realized and wonderfully brought to life. the format and writing style is creative and just a joy to read. The only drawback for me is that the main character (the "me," as it were) is written as being way, way to down on himself and the story he's telling, especially when narrating. I realize it's part of his characterization, trying to get over how bad his self-esteem is, but that point comes across plenty in his dialogue; it doesn't need to be hammered home again and again in his first person narration as well. Other than that little annoyance, however, I absolutely loved this book.

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - The Seventh Sigil

The Seventh Sigil (Dragon Brigade, #3)The Seventh Sigil by Margaret Weis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are a lot of things to like about the conclusion of this trilogy. It was action-packed, filled with great character moments, and even had a few touching emotional moments thrown in there as well. Which is no surprise to me, having been a reader of Weis' work for most of my life. What I didn't like about the book is how and where the characters ended up at the end of it; while after looking at it it's true the characters ended up happy and ultimately getting what they really wanted, it wasn't what I wanted for them and it annoyed me. Selfish, maybe? Sure. But equally sure is that it must say something about how good a book and, ultimately, the series was and how good the authors' work was that they made me care enough about the characters to have that reaction. In the end, the Dragon Brigade series turned out to be some pretty great period fantasy adventure, and I'd recommend it.

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Panel of the Week: 7/22/15

I can't even lie, this week's winner was chosen (late, I admit) out of pure fanboy nostalgia. It comes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17, written by Christos Gage (who I have long been a fan of) with the art done by the very talented Rebekah Isaacs, whose art is just gorgeous.

It's the first time in a long time that Buffy, Angel, and Spike are all together in a very long time. What I love most about it, aside from the aforementioned nostalgia, is the detail Isaacs puts into their faces. She really does capture the essence of all the characters, including Willow to a lesser extent in the background. My choice might be further biased by the fact that I met Isaacs at the Special Edition Comic-Con in Manhattan last year, where she signed a really beautiful print for me:

Looks like some things never change; Buffy really will always win with me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Storm Riders

Storm Riders (Dragon Brigade, #2)Storm Riders by Margaret Weis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's been about four years since I read the first part of this trilogy, so I didn't remember much of it. I went back and read my review of that book and saw I didn't like it, so I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed this one a lot more. My lack of memory wasn't a problem as everything is recapped well. And while there is a decent amount of exposition, it isn't as repetitive as before and there is more action spread out. The political intrigue is a lot of fun as well, as alliances form, shift, and break apart only to reform in different combinations. Some of the plot is predictable and it's a little frustrating to watch the characters flail around in the dark for answers that seem obvious but I suppose that's the nature of omnipotent narration; it just feels more prevalent here. But the main thing is I enjoyed the book enough to want to pick up the final part of the trilogy as soon as I finished reading this one.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Panel of the Week: 7/15/15

Most comic book fans are familiar with the publishing company Zenescope and their Grimm Fairy Tales series, a series known for it's... well, let's say buoyant female stars. But the series gets a bad rap; yes, the woman are drawn with an amount of sex appeal that doesn't just border on unrealistic absurdity but blows past that border doing 95mph, but the stories can actually be really good, and GFT exemplifies that. It started as an issue-to-issue retelling of different fairy tales and soon grew into its own universe with its own mythology. One of the biggest parts of that was the Wonderland series, a series that spawned multiple sequels and eventually its own ongoing. So it's only fitting that, as Zenescope releases a series of one-shots commemorating their 10th anniversary, that one of those books be Alice in Wonderland (this issue written by Donald Joh, art by Gregbo Watson), which is where this week's winner comes from:

The central conceit of the Wonderland series is that Wonderland is a land of madness that lives to infect our world, and only sacrifices of people like Alice Liddle and her family keep it at bay. In this story, we flashback to a young Alice and a troubled young boy named J.W. who finds his way to Wonderland periodically, coming back again and again because Alice is his only friend. Meanwhile, his life becomes more and more twisted. When he finds that Alice has escaped from Wonderland herself and doesn't remember any of it, he turns into a deranged serial killer. The whole time reading it, I was waiting for the sucker punch I knew was coming, as they always are in a Wonderland one-shot (the ongoing has become a bit more ridiculous than anything else). The sucker punch comes on the last page with the realization that Alice's friend J.W. was a young John Wayne Gacy. Is it silly? Maybe. But it's also a great way to tie the madness of Wonderland to the real world in a concrete fashion. Besides, it's a beautiful page of art. The sadness on the waifish Alice's face as she looks into a mirror, mirrors being gateways to Wonderland, and sees a sheepish, sad vision of her former friend as the readers learn the truth. Plus, it helps that Alice in this image is probably the most realistic a woman in a Zenescope comic ever looks...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - William Shakespeare's The Clone Army Attacketh

William Shakespeare's The Clone Army Attacketh (William Shakespeare's Star Wars, #2)William Shakespeare's The Clone Army Attacketh by Ian Doescher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one was definitely an improvement over the last one (yeah, I know, that's probably due to TPM being completely unsalvageable in any form), but I still think this series would have been better off being left as a one-off novelty book with A New Hope. That being said, Star Wars being spun as Shakespeare is an enjoyable concept, and it actually does make the painful "love story" between Anakin and Padme in AotC better. And there's the fun bonus of picking out which Sam L. Jackson movie is being referenced in each of Mace Windu's lines. Still, I'm looking forward to the Revenge of the Sith installment coming out so it can be over, as these are the only Star Wars books I still buy. In short, it's a fun book, but nothing memorable as the joy of the conceit has worn off.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Panel of the Week: 7/8/15

Yeah, the Walking Dead wins again. This week's winner comes from #144, which was easily the bloodiest issue with the highest death count... and most shocking... since the 100th issue. Something like a dozen characters were killed off, most of them minor, but two of them fairly major (including someone who is still alive on the show). The panel of the week goes to the big reveal of the 12th and final death:

Striking image, isn't it? Poor King Ezekiel. At least now he'll be reunited with Shiva. How pissed off bloody vengeance murder rampagey do you reckon Michonne will be after this?