The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

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Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Wed Jul 09, 2014 5:32 am

BOOK 25

The Invisibles, volume 2: Apocalipstick by Grant Morrison et al


I must be some kind of masochist. After all, I am coming back to the brain-bruising menagerie that is The Invisibles despite what I thought of the first volume. Even so, despite everything, the story was intriguing enough for me to want to continue with it. But would I be rewarded for my persistence with pain, or enjoyment?

Dane McGowan, aka Invisibles member Jack Frost, has had enough. After his first mission with them cost him a finger, he flees the Invisibles, and their enemies, barely escaping with his life. But King Mob and his cell are not the only Invisibles out there. While Jim Crow works against some corrupt executives with some very dark magics, and an undercover Invisible working under Sir Miles Delacourt, one of the biggest enemy agents, questions his loyalties, events are on the move. During the search for Dane McGowan, Lord Fanny is attacked, sending the transsexual shaman on a retrospective journey through Lord Fanny’s life. But McGowan doesn’t want to be found, not by the Invisibles, and not by their adversaries…

As mentioned previously, Grant Morrison is an extremely intelligent writer, but one who seems to be preoccupied with the morbid and the highly disturbing. I have to confess to being engrossed by the story, but also repulsed by what is going on. This is certainly no story for the weak of heart and/or stomach.

Lord Fanny gets the focus for much of the volume with her (or his, I’m not sure what the appropriate pronoun is) life story, which is interesting, if extremely grotesque (mostly from both the vision quest Fanny underwent as a child, as well as what degradations Lord Fanny underwent during life). However, there seems to be a focus on many other characters, with an enemy soldier from the first volume getting a chapter, in a style that seems reminiscent of the themes of Peter Chung’s pilot episode of Aeon Flux. Also, there is a chapter on Sutton, a servant in the house of Sir Miles Delacourt, who himself seems like an intriguing, if brutish, villain.

The Invisibles is certainly not for those with weak stomachs and the easily repulsed. However, it remains an intelligent but extremely morbid series that has nonetheless engrossed me…


***

FIRST WORDS: Philadelphia-- September 1992.

LAST WORDS: Disobedience.
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
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Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:02 am

BOOK 26

The Unwritten, volume 8: Orpheus in the Underworld by Mike Carey and Peter Gross


One graphic novel series that I have enjoyed over the past few years or so was The Unwritten, a series about the nature of fiction and imagination, and the effects it had on a single man: Tom Taylor. The story, I had thought, had a natural climax a couple of volumes ago, but kept going. The previous volume, The Wound, didn’t do it for me as much as previous volumes had, but perhaps that would change with the next volume…

Leviathan, the entity that is the source of all stories in the world, is bleeding, even dying. And things of its ilk, even less benign than it, are looking for a way to supplant the collective imagination of humanity. In Australia, Tom Taylor receives a message from police officer Didge Patterson that his lover, Lizzie Hexam, is still alive. Travelling once more into the now ruined world of fiction, Taylor begins a journey that will take him into Hades, and into unexpected confrontations. Meanwhile, Richie Savoy and Didge confront a zombie apocalypse born from creatures looking to usurp the dying Leviathan. Can Taylor save anyone from Hades, never mind saving Leviathan? Or is humanity’s imagination about to die, or change for the worse?

After the disappointments of the previous volume, this one is back on form, more or less. I’m still bemused at The Unwritten’s creator’s view of Brisbane and Australia, but the story seems to be getting somewhere once more, with more than a few surprises, welcome for the most part. There’s some rather disturbing elements, including what has happened to Elizabeth Bennett post-Wounding, but otherwise, it’s a bloody good story. And there’s a twist that will appeal to fans of another series by Vertigo Comics…

We get more development of Tom, as well as Richie, who is redeemed slightly from the rather bad swerve his character took at the end of the previous volume. We also get to revisit more than a few characters who died in the series, being brought back for more development. Overall, that area worked out better.

While not perfect, this volume of The Unwritten was a welcome rise in quality over the previous volume. Here’s to the next one…

****


FIRST WORDS: When I tell it, it sounds like a weird dream.

LAST WORDS: --do we have a Plan B?
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
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Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:42 am

BOOK 27

The Invisibles, volume 3: Entropy in the UK by Grant Morrison et al


My masochism must know few bounds if I come back to The Invisibles time and time again. But maybe, just maybe, it might be third time lucky. But would that old adage be merely another cliché, or else actually prove to be a truism in this case?

King Mob and Lord Fanny have been captured by the enemy, and Sir Miles Delacourt is determined to prise every secret out of King Mob’s mind. Indeed, his masters demand it. And King Mob may just be acquiescing to their methods. Dane McGowan, aka Jack Frost, returned to Liverpool and dodging both enemy agents and the Invisibles, soon learns why he has been chosen for his mission in life, and accepts his place in the Invisibles. Together with Boy, Jim Crow, Ragged Robin and Jack’s teacher and undercover Invisible Brian Malcolm, they launch a raid on the enemy lair to save their comrades. But has King Mob already betrayed his secrets to the enemy, or does he have something up his sleeve? Can Jack Frost face down the power of the King of All Tears, one of the most powerful Archons? And will anyone be able to get out of this confrontation alive?

Ah, finally. Now this series lives up to its potential with less of that morbid preoccupation with grotesqueries that plagued the previous two volumes. Sure, it still reads like a bad acid trip combined with a conspiracy theorist’s encyclopaedia, there’s more than a few clichéd references to both The Prisoner and Nineteen Eighty-Four, and there’s still that morbid air, but that’s not the point. It’s a bloody good yarn, and a damn sight better proclamation of Grant Morrison’s strengths as a comic writer. Not only that, but I now have the feeling that the story is actually getting somewhere.

Finally, we get some even development for almost all the characters here. We get a surrealistic look into King Mob’s mind and past, as well as a more grounded look at the pasts of Boy and Dane ‘Jack Frost’ McGowan, with the latter going through the most character development of the volume. We even get a tragic look at an incidental character who becomes a victim of the King of All Tears in a well-written and brutal sequence, as well as some sympathy for one of the villains.

Overall, the third volume of The Invisibles showed a quantum leap in quality and enjoyment compared to the previous volumes, and now, I’m well and truly hooked…

****½

FIRST WORDS: 1: I TRADED MY VIRGINITY FOR VICE!

LAST WORDS: So must we.
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
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Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Sun Jul 13, 2014 4:23 am

BOOK 28

At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie



I have to confess to liking Miss Marple more as a character than Poirot out of Agatha Christie’s characters. Maybe there’s something more endearing about the character, of a little old lady who unobtrusively but sharply observes and deduces. So my next foray into Christie is my third Marple book: At Bertram’s Hotel

Bertram’s Hotel, a hotel that specialises in old-fashioned service, a trip down Nostalgia Drive. Miss Marple is staying there for a brief holiday, enjoying the memories of a previous visit, as well as observing her fellow guests, from vivacious heiress Elvira Blake to famous racer and womaniser Ladislaus Malinowski. But the eccentric and muddle-headed priest Canon Pennyfather goes missing. What has happened to Pennyfather? Why is Elvira Blake making enquiries about her inheritance? And what links Bertram’s Hotel to acts of crime committed across the country?

Although a murder mystery towards the end, At Bertram’s Hotel is not primarily a murder mystery. Indeed, most of the story revolves around the titular hotel’s links to a crime racket, as well as the disappearance of Canon Pennyfather, making it a touch more refreshing a mystery. It also hearkens to nostalgia and a bygone age, and Christie’s writing has clearly come a long way in the time between Murder on the Orient Express, and this story. Although I got confused by elements of the ending, I nonetheless enjoyed the story more than many others.

Marple, as always, is a delight to read, and she remains my personal favourite of the Christie-penned sleuths. Chief Inspector Fred ‘Father’ Davy is also interesting, as is the eccentric and befuddled Pennyfather, as well as Elvira. I can’t say the other characters truly grab me, though.

Overall, I enjoyed At Bertram’s Hotel. Intriguing, nice, but slightly confusing.


****

FIRST WORDS: In the heart of the West End, there are many quiet pockets, unknown to almost all but taxi drivers who traverse them with expert knowledge, and arrive triumphantly thereby at Park Lane, Berkeley Square or South Audley Street.

LAST WORDS: (Not recorded due to spoilers)
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
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Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:29 am

BOOK 29

The Invisibles, volume 4: Bloody Hell in America by Grant Morrison et al


Having had my faith in The Invisibles paid off in the stellar third volume, I knew I should come back to it again. The fourth graphic novel volume picks up a year after the previous one left off. The thing is, would the series continue at the high standard it has managed to reach?

A year after the events at the House of Fun, the Invisibles have left for New York for a break. Ragged Robin and King Mob have become lovers, staying at the luxurious mansion of fellow Invisible and millionaire Mason Lang, while Boy, Lord Fanny, and Jack Frost are seeing the sights. But soon, Jolly Roger, lesbian head of an Invisible cell, comes calling. Her cell had recently launched a disastrous raid on Dulce Airbase in New Mexico, the infamous Area 51, where she found proof of a vaccine for HIV. Unfortunately, Roger has been compromised by Outer Church agent Mr Quimper, whose powers of mind control are extraordinary, and the Invisibles are walking into a trap…

After the grotesqueries on display in the first couple of volumes, and the leap in quality for the third, this volume comes as a slight letdown. Although the intelligent writing is still on display, unfortunately, this story is more like an action romp, and the thoughtful elements are not in as much abundance as they were previously. In short, it was more like a standard action film, albeit with bizarre slants.

Even so, I have to confess to liking the new character dynamics, and how they evolved from previous volumes. The relationship between Ragged Robin and King Mob is unexpected, but more than plausible, and Jack is growing into a more sympathetic character. Mr Quimper seems okay as a villain, given his abilities, but underutilised, while Jolly Roger basically seems like a stereotypical butch lesbian with guns.

Overall, after the brilliance of the third volume, the fourth volume of The Invisibles was a bit of a letdown, I’m afraid. However, I’m still hooked, and intend to continue…

***½

FIRST WORDS:
It’s the end of the word as we know it.

LAST WORDS: (Not recorded due to spoilers)
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
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Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:16 am

BOOK 30

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History by Andrew Farago


Long before I became obsessed with Doctor Who, I was obsessed with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Mostly, this was due to the famous cartoon series, though I did become aware of the original comic series. So when I found this book at the library, I was intrigued enough to borrow it…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History is a look at the story behind one of the most famous franchises of all time. From its humble beginnings as a cult comic created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, all the way to the colossal franchise it is today, this book looks at this history. What’s more, it has little bonus inserts, including a reprint of the very first comic of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and other intriguing miscellany, including a sneak peek at the upcoming Michael Bay film...

Let me get the bad stuff out of the way. This book left me wanting more, although funnily enough, I’m not even certain there is more that this book could have covered, save for perhaps beefing up some areas covered. I’m not sure whether I could call it ultimate or definitive, but it certainly is exhaustive. The removable inserts sometimes get in the way of the reading, and while they are designed to be removable, I do feel that this is something of a silly gimmick. And like many books of its type, it’s a triumph of style over substance.

And yet, it was enjoyable. What information it gave was interesting and intriguing, if slightly thin on the ground, and the presentation of the book is almost beyond reproach, my concerns about the inserts notwithstanding. It’s an enjoyable insight into one of the biggest cornerstones of modern pop culture, as well as its creators, Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I was left wanting somewhat more, admittedly, but it was good enough for what it is…


****

FIRST WORDS:We are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

LAST WORDS:I’ll always be the co-creator of the Turtles, always be the guy who stayed with them for their first twenty-five years, and I am happy and proud that that is so.
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
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Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Thu Jul 17, 2014 12:33 am

BOOK 31

The Invisibles, volume 5: Counting to None by Grant Morrison et al


So, any pithy remarks to make about The Invisibles before I start on the fifth volume? No? Well, on we go, into the mouth of madness…

Millionaire Invisible Mason Lang has many research departments under him, one of which seems to be on the verge of creating a time machine, something that leads Ragged Robin to make a revelation about her past, and the future of the world. Meanwhile, Lord Fanny and Jack Frost make a crusade to find the powerful Hand of Glory, and King Mob travels into the past via psychic projection to meet an Invisibles cell in the Twenties. But it may all be for naught, for Boy has a secret that threatens the cause of the Invisibles, a secret that may cause her to betray them…

Okay, I have to admit it. In this volume, the intelligent writing comes back, along with a small degree of the grotesqueness that plagued earlier volumes. However, it also becomes quite a bit more confusing and harder to follow. I did manage to decipher it in the end, but even so, it was more effort than I cared to put in.

Character development is better than the actual story. We get revelations about Ragged Robin’s past in the future (she’s a time traveller, which automatically complicates explanations), as well as the activities of the Invisibles in the Twenties. We also have King Mob beginning to question his own moral compass, coming to a head in the final story arc, where we also have Boy go through absolute hell.

Overall, it was another disappointing, but not actually bad volume for The Invisibles. I just hope it picks up as it goes towards the end…

***½

FIRST WORDS: Japan: Now.

LAST WORDS: Nice and smooth.
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
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Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:21 am

BOOK 32

DVD Extras Include: Murder by Nev Fountain


One of my first reviews for this particular book-reading thread was Nev Fountain’s experimental Mervyn Stone book, the Twitterature story called The Pen is Mightier than the Nerd. Having listened to the audio drama, the podcast mystery, and the first and third novels in the series, it’s about time that I come to the last Mervyn Stone story for me to read, DVD Extras Include: Murder. But have I saved the rest until last? Or would this kill my enthusiasm for the series?

A year after the murders at Convix 15, Mervyn Stone has been invited to record a DVD commentary for an episode of Vixens from the Void. But not just any episode: the controversial episode called The Burning Time, causing outrage amongst fundamentalists and launching the career of Marcus Spicer, now a very rich and obnoxious arch-atheist. Unfortunately, Mervyn Stone has reason to resent Spicer beyond Spicer being unpleasant and opinionated: Stone had been forced to rewrite Spicer’s work at the last minute, and Spicer got all the credit. But during the commentary recording, Spicer drops dead after drinking from a water bottle that hadn’t been tampered with, and yet, he was poisoned with cyanide. The fundamentalist group known as the Godbotherers have proclaimed it to be a miracle, an act of God. But Mervyn Stone isn’t so sure. Neither is Spicer’s wife and Mervyn’s one time squeeze, Cheryl. And soon, Mervyn Stone will be drawn into a mystery that involves a mildly unhinged policewoman fan, a fundamentalist who bakes the face of Jesus into cookies, and more than one has-been actor. And someone is not only willing to kill, but more than willing to allow Mervyn to take the fall…

As mentioned before, I’m not really good with murder-mysteries. One of the reasons why I enjoyed Mervyn Stone is that the story built around the mystery is entertaining enough nonetheless. Here, I think, Nev Fountain manages a near perfect mix between the humour and the drama. In fact, this book is more serious than the other Mervyn Stone stories, and is actually all the more better for it. It’s still quite funny, and will also prove to be an interesting insight into the making of DVD commentaries. My only real complaint about the plot is that it took me a while to follow the mystery, although it has a good conclusion.

Mervyn Stone is, as always, a good protagonist, dropped in the deep end and having many FML moments. Indeed, due to his interaction with Cheryl, we’re given a far more personal insight into the character than ever before. Mick is a strange but ultimately intriguing character, and indeed, most of the more prominent characters, with the exception of Lewis Bream, are interesting to one stripe or another.

Overall, I considered this Mervyn Stone story, while not actually perfect, to be the best of the whole lot. Good on you, Nev Fountain.


****½

FIRST WORDS: Vixens from the Void stays with you.

LAST WORDS: (Not recorded due to spoilers)
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
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Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Wed Jul 23, 2014 6:25 am

BOOK 33

The Invisibles, volume 6: Kissing Mister Quimper by Grant Morrison et al


As the story of The Invisibles approaches its conclusion, I find myself bemused at the variability of the story. But something in it has had me stick with the series to the end, and I have now come to the penultimate volume. But the last couple of volumes disappointed. Could the sixth stop this trend?

There is dissent in the Invisibles, even as they try to relax in New Orleans. Boy, in the wake of her traumatic deprogramming, is considering leaving the Invisibles. King Mob is rethinking his violent tendencies. And Ragged Robin, their current leader, is slowly but surely being taken over by the mysterious Mister Quimper. Soon, this fact will lead the Invisibles on a quest that will take them once more to Dulce in New Mexico, a quest that might end with them all being in the hands of the enemy…

While not quite at the high water mark provided by the third volume, this volume does manage to get back up to a strong level. The story about Quimper is resolved, and we get some lovely characterisation. It’s just a shame that some parts, especially with all the jumping around times, do get somewhat on the confusing side, not to mention all parts of the caper in this volume.

We have quite a lot of character development here. We have some insight into the pasts of Quimper and Lord Fanny, with a bizarre link between them, while Ragged Robin gets some for her struggles with Quimper. King Mob gets some for struggling with his morality, and has an interesting revelation towards the end of the volume.

The Invisibles managed to claw its way back up to a high standard of story with its sixth volume. And it’s got me all excited for the big finale…


****

FIRST WORDS: Go ahead, Sir Miles.

LAST WORDS: This is what it feels like.
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
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Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Mon Jul 28, 2014 4:51 am

BOOK 34

The Superman Files by Matthew K Manning


Of all the superheroes of the world, the most famous is Superman. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, he is also perhaps the oldest superhero to still have a major following. But due to the nature of comic book storylines and the inevitable continuity clashes and retcons throughout the years, no history of the character can be considered definitive. And yet, someone has tried…

In the year 3013, Querl Dox, aka Brainiac 5, a one-time ally and friend of Superman’s, sits down to write a history of the famous hero. It’s a daunting task, partly due to many events that had rewritten history. But from the history of Krypton, to Clark Kent’s childhood, all the way to the events of Flashpoint, and beyond, an attempt at chronicling the life and times of Superman is made…

One has to admire the actual author of the work, Matthew K Manning, for the way he does manage to meld many of the disparate continuities, and make it one seamless whole. This is no mean feat, considering how ridiculously convoluted and contradictory the Man of Steel’s story has become over the years, and I have to confess to enjoying myself somewhat, despite my not being a Superman fan. The pictures are glossy, the files and commentary are quite good, and it was enjoyable all around.

However, like so many of its kind, this book is a triumph of style over substance, and indeed, there is far less substance than usual. Perhaps this is because it was too monumental a task to go into every single detail of Superman’s battles, but I felt slightly shortchanged by the story part of this book. Which is a shame, really.

Overall, The Superman Files was an enjoyable look into the life and times of the most famous superhero of all time. I just wish there was considerably more meat on the bones…

***½

FIRST WORDS: A Superman once walked among us.

LAST WORDS: Braniac 5.
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
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Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:02 pm

For any of you remotely interested, I will probably stop this book-reading blog after the next book, which will be the final volume of The Invisibles...
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
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Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:59 am

Actually, can't be bothered reading anything more. So this thread is over. But my reviews will return, later...
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

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