Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What I Read – Nov 29

Ahhh, the holidays! It’s a perfect time to read comics and one of the two prose novels that wife forces me to read each year.  Yep, Wife said this year I had to read at least TWO 'real' books and time is almost up.  Anyone know any really short books with really big letters?  Enough with the chatter, on to what I read.

Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths, (w) John Layman, (a) Alberto Ponticelli, published by IDW
This was the first book that I read this past week because it came so highly recommended from Jim and my LCS Guy. It’s an interesting story because for all intents Godzilla is a supporting character in his own book. But, like zombies and Man-Thing, there is only so much you can do with force-of-nature- type monsters so it comes down to the people interacting with them or with each other.

In this case we have the one good Tokyo detective taking on the ultra powerful crime boss who has corrupted the entire system. He just happens to use Mothra to do it.. which brings Godzilla and lots of other monsters into Toyko and mass destruction occurs.

John Layman, best known for his work on Chew, turns in a decent enough crime story against the backdrop of giant monsters. Ponticelli, best known for his art on Unknown Soldier, is really unsuited for the subject matter. His art looks muddy? Rushed? Sloppy? I am not sure what it is but it didn’t work for me.

Overall, the book suffered from high expectations. With the talent attached to the title I expected something above ordinary.

The other books this month… Cradlegrave, Zombies that ate the World, and in prose No Country for Old Men.

Cradlegrave, (w) John Smith, (a) Edmund Bagwell, published by Rebellion 2000ad
This is my requisite horror comic of the week and it was… I’m not sure what it was. Cradlegrave is the name of a lower income housing development in England. Our hero returns after a short stay in juvie (arson) to find that things aren’t quite right at home. In fact, their down right deadly.

Cradlegrave is one of those bizarre horror stories that is unsettling on many levels without ever having a true monster because most of the characters are monsters on some level. Then there are some really depraved and bizarre scenes that defy quick explanation. This is part monster story, part ghost story, or maybe part environment gone bad.  Smith does a slow burn with the horror that is perfect.  The art is a little muddled at first but once Bagwell gets settled in, he handles the art chores perfectly.

Did I like it? Yeah. Could I put it down? Heck no. Did I completely understand what the heck happened when I got to the end? Hell no! But, I did want to go back and put all the pieces of the puzzle together. So I count that a victory.

The Zombies that ate the World - Book 1: Bring me back my Head!, (w) Jerry Frissen, (a) Guy Davis, published by Humanoids

Set in Los Angeles in the year 2064, the dead have risen and in order to maintain peace the government has declared them the 'living impaired' with limited rights.  Their alive enough that you can't shoot them but they can't vote! 

The book is actually a series of shorts about Karl Neard, his sister, and his buddy Freddie as they catch zombie for rich clients collections or just dispose of unwanted relatives. 

Written by Jerry Frissen of Lucha Libre fame and illustrated by Guy Davis this is a laugh out loud, twisted take on zombies.  I try to stay away from movie references but this is a deeper, darker, even blacker comedy in the same vein as Shawn of the Dead.

I can't say enough good things but I can provide an example of some of the insanity.  In a continuing subplot, Karl who is bad with girls finally gets a girlfriend of sorts.  When presented the opportunity to dispose of good looking woman... well he just takes her home instead.  And keeps her under his bed (much like a nudie magazine) until he... well... welll... his sister implies that he does things with her.  You can imagine how upset he is later in the book when his long dead father returns and starts making moves on his 'girlfriend.'  Ya know... that doesn't sound funny but it's handled with such a straight face that you can't help but laugh at the insanity of it.

As for Prose, I am almost finished with No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
Set in the 1980's southwest Texas, a man stumbles upon the remains of a drug deal gone bad. He leaves the drugs but takes the money and soon the entire world is in pursuit.  It's just a matter of who gets to him first, the law, the psychotic killer with a twisted sense of justice, or the hitman who just wants the money.

When people talk about books with sparse prose they are talking about books like this.  McCarthy uses the fewest words possible to convey the story.  It's actually incredible in a sense because there is soooo little on some pages.  And in places this makes it slightly difficult to read, such as conversations between men who are mostly mono-syllabic to begin with.  Not to mention that McCarthy decided not to use quotation marks to indicate when people are talking... meaning you really have to pay attention to when people speak and when it's just a descriptor.

The story moves at a brisk pace and is classic crime noir.  Halfway through the book all the characters are fine shades of grey, and our lead continues to make bad decision after bad decision.  I have little hope that he'll make to the end but oh well, it's a fine chase getting there.

That’s it for this week.  Hopefully I'll finish Old Men this week and get back to comics.


  1. Lee,

    For your next prose novel read Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory or Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart.

  2. Or if you want a quick read, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It's a young adult book but it's a great read. It's the book young adults should be reading instead of the Twilight garbage.