Friday, December 07, 2012

What I read this week - Dec 7

So this week is a little of what I read and a little of what I saw.
Let's start with what I saw and that was Contagion.  The movies stars Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lawrence Fishburne, and many others.  If you couldn't guess from the title, it's the story about what happens when a plague hits the world and lots and lots of people die.

And... it's ok.  I think it's a scary movie for people who don't like to be scared.  It's a really good break down of what a worldwide epidemic might look like.  Think the Influenza Breakout of 1918 just sped up and modernized.  The science is fantastic and explained in a simple enough fashion that the layman can understand it.  The story takes into account the impact on different social strata's, lack of security, the red tape of modern medicine and even the blogosphere.  It covers all the bases.

But, for someone like me, who reads plague and environmental disaster novels it was light on consequences.  It shows food stores being raided but it never really touches on the fact that famine would be widespread.  It shows trash in the street because garbage pickup would stop, but doesn't explain how pestilence would spread.  Yes, it's morbid to think of such things but it's what would likely happen.  Bottom line, this is a Hollywood epidemic movie in which some good people die, but everyone ends up happy in the end.  Good but not deep.

Below the break, comics including Riven, Fatale, and Omac.  Sorta...

Riven (w/a) Bo Hampton (w) Robert Tinnell, published by Dark Horse, 176 pgs, $18

The official hype: Katya was in a coma for five years, and when she awakes, everything has changed. Now she is a gorgeous teenager with a mysterious, gruesome past, becoming aware of a growing, terrifying power inside her body, triggered by the touch of the full moon, eager to break free. Can Katy solve the mystery of her blood-drenched nightmares before they become reality?

Two years ago when Jim and I were at the Baltimore Comicon we met, and spoke, with Bo about this project. At the time, he was shopping it around and showed us some of the pages. It looked great.  For the most part it still looks great unfortunately it’s a clunker of a story.

Let’s start with the art. Bo was always a good ink artist, but who knew that he was an even better painter. The figure work is just outstanding. There are a couple of minor quibbles though. In a couple of places, after the art was scanned, Bo got fancy with the computer and blurred the images to make it appear foggy. Maybe the printer didn’t understand the story because it just makes the images appear blurry, so compared with all the other amazing detailed painted panels, it looks bad.

As for the story, it starts out great. It has a solid mystery, the characters are well developed, and suddenly it all crashes and burns. That’s not fair, the story slowly goes off the tracks until you can’t stand it anymore. About halfway through a character makes a really, illogical decision. Then another one does. Then some plot devices require the reader to make some real stretches in believability. So, by the end when the clichés start showing up I couldn’t take it anymore.

So, my conclusion, if you’ve ever watched a B-grade horror movie and said to yourself, “When you think about it, it makes sense that the topless cheerleader would survive longer than the big, studly football player when being chased by a homicidal Leprechaun” then this is the book for you.

I had a couple of half reads this week. I almost got through Fatale and Omac. Why didn’t I finish them? Well, in the case of Fatale, between work and home life I wasn’t able to really focus on a detailed story. There were characters going in and out, subplots being developed , and time changes. It was excellent… and way too much for me to appreciate so I stopped.

As for Omac. That story was one giant ball of stupid. And it was awesome! We’re talking pure 70’s Marvel ridiculous type of stupid.  People were punching other people for no other reason than to punch them. While the story was light and fluffy, it had super pretty pictures. I wanted to savor the stupid and I just couldn’t give it the proper due it deserved so I stopped reading that. Then again, I ended up with Riven so maybe I should’ve stuck with Omac.

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