8.31.2009

This just in -- Disney buying Marvel Entertainment!

The comics world is rocked to the very foundation today when it was reported by all the major news sites that the Walt Disney Company is buying Marvel Entertainment for an estimated 4 billion dollar deal.

In a stock and cash transaction, Disney will gain the ownership of some 5000 Marvel characters, and the future of Marvel will change somewhat I'm sure under new ownership.

What does this mean for Marvel Films? What does this mean for Spidy, Wolverine, and the X-Men gang? Stay tuned. How the Disney media powerhouse might transform the House of Ideas is yet to be seen.

This office tried to reach The Punisher for comment, he has yet to return my calls.

8.22.2009

A Friday Run

After what felt like weeks [and it may have actually been weeks], I met my partner in crime yesterday and hit Midtown Comics. Being a weekly comics buyer for as far back as I can remember, whenever too many weeks go by without hitting a shop, I start to exhibit symptoms of withdrawal. So I was glad to be back among the colorfully printed books and fellow nerdy companions.

I've a few things to note for any interested. First and foremost, if you're not already reading FABLES, you should be [what is wrong with you?]. Volume 12: The Dark Ages came out in trade paperback last week and I'm already a few pages in, and as always it did not disappoint.

I was pleased to find the first story, "All Around Town" illustrated by Mike Allred with colors by his talented wife, Laura Allred. I'm a big fan of the Madman creator, and his Kirby-influenced style was a nice slight change of pace for an issue.

I also picked up, PUNISHER: Noir, #1 written by Frank Tieri, with art by Paul Azaceta and colors by Nick Filardi. I had read a preview of this at Comicbookresources.com and liked the opening pages in the trenches of World War I [anyone who knows me, knows that I'm happiest when military history & comics come together].

I was initially pleased with the fantastic artwork, which works great for the flashbacks to the war, but was disappointed by the latter part of the first issue dealing with "young little Frankie." The plot seemed like a combination of The Godfather [with a young Vito Corleone refusing the Don of the streets, and the confrontation in the store is right out of A History of Violence--one must simply substitute a hot pot of coffee with a jar of pickles].

I picked up the variant cover, although I normally shun variant editions as I had enough money taken from me in the 90s with that nonsense, but this cover was just perfectly reminiscent of that great shot in The Usual Suspects of Keyser Soze walking...had to get it.

I may stick with this book another issue or two, especially if it flashes back to the father figure in the trenches of the war. We'll see.

Lastly, I was glad to see The Eternal Prison prominently displayed at Midtown [good work guys supporting a local writer - Jersey boy].

Back to the trenches...

8.18.2009

My review of Bloodroot by Bill Loehfelm

Bloodroot by Bill Loehfelm
Putnam, September 2009, $25.95, hardcover
A novel by the author of Fresh Kills

How “at home” can a novel feel? For me and Bloodroot… right at home.

And not because of the content. This is a story about two brothers and their turbulent relationship, some high stakes mob activity, with a dash of drug use, mixed all together and set to boil. No, I feel right at home because author Bill Loehfelm’s setting is on the streets where I grew up—Staten Island. And coincidentally where he grew up as well.


Now I know what you’re saying, “Staten Island? What kind of a setting is that?” To many it is the forgotten borough, but it has charm, and for this story it was the perfect setting. Mind you, this is not a book about Staten Island—it just happens to take place there. And I would have been able to call “bullshit” if the author was calling it in.

But this second outing by the winner of the Amazon New Discovery Award for his first novel, Fresh Kills [also a real location on SI], knows his shit. He gets it right. The sleepy suburb is brought to life by it’s shady characters, and every street from Richmond Avenue to Hylan Boulevard is right on. Every hangout from the Red Spot to The Cargo CafĂ© is perfectly recreated. I felt like I was back in the borough where I used to live avoiding shady characters and hanging out at Midland Beach. [Ok, Queens isn’t that far away. And Loehfelm has since settled in New Orleans.]

So in the story when when Kevin Curran, a school teacher, realizes that his brother Danny is loosing a long battle with addiction, Kevin thinks he’s never going to see him again. Then, three years later…

Danny is back and he’s not the same. He’s cleaned himself up, and is hanging out with a serious crowd. A big goon from high school in fact named Al Bruno is now Danny’s partner-in-crime… literally.

Can Kevin save his brother from the dangers of his new profession, and save their relationship in the meantime? Plus, can he keep his job while avoiding the strange goings on at the Bloodroot Hospital for Children, that is all somehow tied into all the crazy shit going on in his life?

With pacing reminiscent of Fight Club, Loehfelm brings to life the thuggish guys of my youth and breathes life into the suburb-meets-city feel of Staten Island with all the twisting roads, ridiculously wealthy houses, and local hangouts.

I’d recommend this book to my best buddies because not only does it draw upon bits of a communal experience (at least for us New Yorkers who grew up in the outer boroughs), but also its great story of an ordinary guy thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Anyone can appreciate it.

The dark places where I used to be afraid to go while wandering around as a teenager are exactly the places he goes in Bloodroot.

How much does the author take from real life and how much does he make up? I couldn’t say. But don’t we all draw from life when we write? It all mixes together with the imagination, and he isn’t claiming this to be a memoir, so there you go. Where it all came from doesn’t concern me, even if one thug is an exact reproduction of a guy I went to high school with. It just makes it all the more real. And a damn good read.

Suddenly I’m craving a good slice of pizza.

8.05.2009

The Eternal Prison by Jeff Somers - website up, book out soon!

Soon to be published [Aug. 12th], the 3rd in the Avery Cates series, The Eternal Prison by Jeff Somers is a force to be reckoned with.

The official website has been made live, with a fun text game to check out, and Jeff's street minions are spreading the word far and wide online as well as through posting various tidbits and handing out goodies.

In a few days I'll post a short sample text, so sharpen your hidden weapons, make sure you've a few extra clips, and keep eyes peeled for Security Force cops at every turn.

As I plow through my early copy I'll continue my live report from the field.

If you haven't read these books, think grim & gritty near future reminiscent of Blade Runner. It also reminds me of Frank Miller & Geoff Darrow's Hard Boiled comics - hard core indeed.