Thursday, January 26, 2017

Comic: "Criminal: Lawless" by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Comic: Criminal: Lawless by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, 2015, 9781632152039.

Ok. I remember this series. I had to look it up but I read an entry in 2010. Crime stories that each involve The Undertow bar. This four episode story arc involves Army veteran Tracy Lawless. Lawless saw action in several places overseas and was locked up when he heard his younger brother died.

Lawless and his younger brother Rick were raised by a dirtbag father after their mother left. Tracy took off when he was only 14 and lived on his own until he ended up in court and joined the service to avoid conviction.

Tracy did not keep track of Rick while Tracy was gone but he now returns to town to avenge his death. He finds out Rick was a full time crook and his crew has continued on without him. He figures the crew are to blame. Since no one - well, almost no one - recalls who Tracy is after twenty years he fakes his identity and gets hired by Rick's old crew as a get away driver.

Things happen. Tracy keeps his eyes and ears open and asks probing questions. Tracy starts to lovey-dovey with the female crook who was seeing Rick before Rick was killed. Tracy remembers his past. Tracy gets violent. Tracy tries to avoid the gangster he stole from for seed money. Tracy gets it all figured out but ends up under the thumb of the gangster he was avoiding.

1. I read my notes from 2010 and that reminded me about how incredibly annoying the underlined words of dialogue are. The underlining seems random at times and really stuck in my craw. Let me read the damn dialogue without direction.

Comic: "The Fade Out: Act Two" by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Comic: The Fade Out: Act Two by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, 2015, 9781632154477.

Part two gives us more about Charlie Parrish, his life, and his relationship with the dead actress. Charlie had a thing for Dead Actress. They got to be good friends and were secretly screwing. But, Charlie also knows that as a lowly screenwriter he'd get pushed to the side when Dead Actress's star started to rise.

Charlie helps Dead Actress deal with her scuzzy ex-husband. He helps her deal with the scuzzy studio boss. Charlie remembers seeing someone from his black-out when Dead Actress was murdered. Charlie starts asking around.

Meanwhile, Charlie's writing partner, Gil, is also mad about Dead Actress's murder and starts to run on angle on the studio boss by running a blackmail scheme to shake information loose. Trouble is brewing.

1. Seeing as how Dead Actress becomes integral to the story during several long flashbacks shouldn't I look up the character's name?
2. Yes.
3. But, I won't.
4. The artwork is still great.
5. I have volume three at home.

Comic: "The Fade Out: Act One" by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Comic: The Fade Out: Act One by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, 2015, 9781632151711.

When I put these on hold I knew I would forget how I heard about them.

Compilation of four issues.

1948 Los Angeles and screenwriter Charlie Parish wakes up hungover in a bathtub. The bathtub is in a bungalow. The Bungalow is in Studio City. The bungalow belongs to the dead blonde actress in the other room.  Uh-oh. Charlie sees that the actress, the lead in the picture Charlie 'wrote', has been strangled. Charlie removes all evidence of his presence and slips away.

Charlie has had trouble since the war ended. He is unable to write and is teaming up with a pal whose been blackballed since the HUAC hearings. His pal, Gil, does all the story and dialogue and Charlie types it up.

Things happen. Charlie saw obvious signs of murder. But, the police rule actress's death a suicide by hanging. Charlie was at a show business party the night of the murder and tries to piece together his black-out drunk. Charlie doesn't want her murder written off. Charlie wants to know what happened.

Lots of characters based on real actors and studio execs. An Errol Flynn playboy. A Montgomery Clift. Dime a dozen blondes. Scuzzy studio execs working the casting couch. Studio security willing to beat and kill to keep scandal under wraps.

The artwork is excellent. This is some of the best work I've read in a while.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

First of the Year: "Willnot" by James Sallis

First of the Year: Willnot by James Sallis, 2016, 9781632864529.

Lamar Hill is a small town doctor/surgeon dealing with the daily health ills of his patients in Willnot. The novel begins with Lamar responding to a mass grave outside of town that holds several bodies. Former child patient and now Marine sniper Bobby appears and acts mysteriously. A FBI Agent and a reporter show up separately and ask the doctor about the former patient.

Bobby gets shot with a .22 and tells Lamar that, "an old friend was saying 'hi'." Bobby slips away from the hospital and travels in and out of town of Willnot and the surrounding woods without being spotted.

Lamar treats heart attacks and removes appendices. Lamar's teacher  husband Richard worries over one of his students with lots of intelligence and a tough home life. Plenty of things happen but the action barely involves Lamar. He is just living his life, working a lot, and only slightly wondering what is going on with Bobby and the FBI.

Lamar ponders on life and death. He reminisces on his famous scifi writer father who died several years ago. He hardly ever talks about his mother and sister and Richard calls him on it - I'm left wondering about that with only a couple clues to make me make wild guesses.

The plot is like taking a mystery or thriller novel and only focusing on the secondary characters like Lamar. Hell, the plot does not matter. Lamar is just a local dude dedicated to his work and possessing a strong moral and ethical center. This is what I'll call an experience novel: you follow the character around and learn about the guy, his life and the small city he lives in.

I suppose this could be a literary novel. There is a small bit of action towards the end. That's about it.

Comic Book Novel: "The Black Beetle in 'No Way Out'" Francesco Francavilla

Comic Book Novel: The Black Beetle in 'No Way Out"; a mystery tale, 2013, 9781616552022.

Compilation of retro style pulp comic featuring a costumed and gun toting vigilante hero. Two separate story lines here. The first one has The Black Beetle in 1939 intercepting a trio of nazi commandos trying to steal an ancient Egyptian relic from the Colt City museum.

The second story has Black Beetle looking to bust a meeting of Colt City mob leaders when the restaurant meeting place explodes. The Black Beetle later runs into a costumed bad guy, Labyrinto. Black Beetle investigates, gets in fist fights, gets in gun fights, escapes death by rat, drives a fast car, and ultimately perseveres. A possible love interest is implied at the end.

Nothing too original in the stories. This is a straightforward "good guy versus bad guys" stuff. I am a sucker for the late '30s setting. I enjoyed the artwork more than the story. I liked both the art style and the perspective.

There are several other Francavilla titles in the library catalog but this is the only Black Beetle one.

1. I will not capitalize nazi.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Heard: "Star Wars: aftermath" by Chuck Wendig

Heard: Star Wars: aftermath by Chuck Wendig, 2015, Overdrive download.

I bought Wendig's The Kick-Ass Writer for work and that thing has circ'ed 18 times. That is a lot of checkouts for a writer's guide.

This has a very enthusiastic narration by Marc Thompson. Thompson also has voiced some characters in a way that reminded me of other actors and characters. Including:

Eugen H. Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants.
Patrick Warburton aka Puddy from Seinfeld.
Jimmy Stewart
Father Guido Sarducci. (Ha, just kidding.)

I've heard several Star Wars novels and I wonder if the Star Wars tie-in novel writing guidebook must require multiple planet settings and multiple character lines and points of view. Frequent POV changes must also be required. Same with flashbacks.

This story is set right after the second Death Star was blown up.

Norra is a rebel pilot who just fought in the battle against the second Death Star. She has returned to her home planet of Akiva to collect her son. She left her son in the care of her sister about 4 years ago and is both excited and apprehensive about seeing her 15-year-old.

Temmin is Norra's son. He left his aunt's care a while ago and runs his own shop on Akiva. He is a technical genius and very agnry with his mother. Temmin figures Norra abandoned him - which she mostly did - as she galavanted around with the rebellion. Temmin has no desire to follow Norra's plan to leave Akiva for another planet. He has a droid he named Bones, a former B1 battle droid, and turned into his Temmin's own bodyguard.

Sinjir is a former loyalty officer with the Empire. Sinjir was like a political commissar from the Red Army. He had to snoot out crooks, subversives, and general troublemakers. After the second Death Star exploded he abandoned the Empire and has been hiding out on small planets like Akiva.

Bounty hunter Jas Amari used to hunt down Rebellion/Alliance leaders for the bounty offered by the Empire. Now she does the opposite and while surveilling her target on Akiva recognizes several high-level Empire leaders meeting together. She hopes to catch several at once and score a big payday.

Admiral Rae Sloane is loyal to the Empire and meeting with the several high-level officers to plan for the future now that the Emperor and Darth Vader are dead. She is ambitious and ruthless.

Wedge Antilles was on a scouting mission at Akiva when his small ship was captured by Admiral Rae's cruiser. Wedge is held captive on the planet and undergoing interrogation.

Anyway. Things happen as Temmin and her son clash. Sinjir avoids capture by the Imperials. Jas teams up with Sinjir. Jas, Sinjir, Temmin and Norra team up together.

There are several "Interludes" - introduced as such - at several different points and on other planets. Naboo, Coruscant, Cloud City. With Han Solo, Chewbacca, Admiral Fish-Fishy Fish, others.