What I Read April 2016

April was not a banner month for me, with me only managing to finish two books. I did read a handful of comic TPBs, but that is not really the same thing. I expect to get back on track in May.

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Console Wars

Blake J Harris

This book purports to be the story of Sega and Nintendo and the 16-bit console wars. It really isn’t. It is the story of Sega and the 16-bit console wars, with a chapter about Nintendo’s rise and one about them buying the Mariners. That isn’t to say it’s not good, the story of Sega’s rise and fall is one worth reading, but Nintendo is only a small part of this book. I am sure the writer had much greater access to former Sega employees than Nintendo ones, which results in getting the story from their perspective.

Judging it for what it is and not what it isn’t, Console Wars is a fascinating read. The events that lead to Sega making such a splash with the Genesis and then failing utterly to capitalize on that success is a good one. It does spend a little too much time lionizing the Sega of America crew, seeming to suggest that if Kalinske and crew had been allowed to set their own course then Sega would have never fallen, but I am not sure that is the case. Still, the way they took it too Nintendo for the first handful of years the Genesis was on the market was kind of amazing.

One thing that really did drive me nuts about this book is how wrong it got some stuff about games. I know it was written from the perspective of the guys at Sega, but to suggest that Buster Douglas Knockout Boxing is even in the same league as Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is ludicrous.

tgh

The Glass House

Ashley Gardner

This is the third of these Captain Lacey detective novels I’ve read and the series isn’t quite clicking for me. It is mired with characters that might be interesting, but they don’t interact with each other, only Lacey and often seem to be clogging up the mystery. That is honestly a nitpicky problem, but it is just one that comes to mind that keep me from fully enjoying these books.

In The Glass House, Captain Lacey finds a young woman who was fished out of the Thames and tries to find out how she got there. He finds a lot of people with motives, but his investigation also leads him closer to people he would rather avoid. The mystery is solid, with each revelation leading to a completely new line of questioning. If only the series character stuff moved with the same life as the mystery. That stuff just kind of trudges along. Still, it’s not a bad book.

Collected Comics Reading

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Angela: Asgard’s Assassin Vol 1: Priceless

Kieron Gillen, Marguerite Bennet, Phil Jiminez, Stephane Hans

I like all the creators involved in this comic, and they do a good job. However, this book mostly just left me cold. I don’t care about the character Angela and this book did nothing to change that. The whole story requires every character to act like a dick for no good reason to work, with each and every one of them coming off looking stupid. The art is good, at least. Honestly, I am being too harsh on this book because it really isn’t bad, it is just a (sorta) superhero comic about a hero that I find actively disinteresting.

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Silk Vol 0: The Life and Times of Cindy Moon

Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee

A lot of my complaints about Angela could be repeated here. I picked up the books during a sale, willing to try them out, but neither really moved the needle for me. I liked this one a little more than Angela, if only because Silk’s goals are at least understandable. Angela is kind of an inscrutable character, which does not make her the most engaging protagonist. Silk is mostly just a female Spider-Man. I don’t know whose idea it was to shoehorn her into Spidey’s origin, but it almost works. The book has a peppy tone and some really engaging art, but this is not a character whose continued adventures I am especially interested in reading about. Especially since it ends with a lead in to a reality altering crossover. Spider-Man fans would likely get a kick out of this, but I am not a member of that group.

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Jem and the Holograms Vol 1

Kelly Thompson, Sophie Campbell

I am not the biggest fan of Jem and the Holograms the 80’s cartoon. It is just a little too old for me and I never saw it as a kid. But I heard enough good things about this comic that when I saw it on sale on comixology I went ahead and snatched it up. It is great, especially Campbell’s art. The book looks excellent, with distinct and expressive characters and just an overall great look. The story occasionally seems like its treading a little water, but it does a good job of introducing all the characters and providing some compelling conflicts for those characters to face. I realize I am being vague about this, but while there really isn’t anything too shocking or surprising with the story, readers should experience it for themselves. A great book.

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Wonder Woman Earth One

Grant Morrison, Yannick Paquette

I’ve got a big post about this coming soon, but in the meantime I will say that I liked it very much. It is conflicted and strange at times, but it is one of the most thoughtful Wonder Woman comics I’ve read in a long time. Morrison really does take things back to the characters roots, for good and ill. Wonder Woman is a strange character, so any one actually trying to engage with her is going to produce something a little strange.

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Seaguy Vol 1

Grant Morrison, Cameron Stewart

I’m not quite sure what to make of this; I really think I’ll need to read it again. It is a strange coming of age tale for a strange sort of hero. Seaguy is a man is a scuba suit, a would be hero in a seeming utopia with everything run my one Mickey Eye, an anthropomorphic eyeball that acts as sort of a Mickey Mouse type character. With his sidekick Chubby da Choona, Seaguy sets out a series of surreal adventures. It is a world where everything is both great and unsatisfying, so when even the smallest adventure appears, Seaguy jumps at the chance. For such a slim volume, there I a lot to unpack here. Seaguy is beautiful (Cameron Stewart’s art is great), haunting, sad and funny all at once. The sequel has now shot to the top of my to buy list.

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Descender Vol 1

Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen

Descender is something like a comic version of Mass Effect, but told with some actual storytelling ability. Ten years after giant robots show up and decimate living populations on several planets, people have all but stamped out robots. On a backwater colony, a small robot boy named Tim-21 wakes up to find everyone in the colony dead, possibly including the boy he was supposed to be the companion of. His creator finds out that that little robot might be the key to figuring out what drew the giant murderous robots, so he sets out with a team to retrieve it. The book is just incredibly well done. You feel for the characters, even those that are far from perfect. And there are so many possibly directions for this story to go that I am eager to get more. Because this book is just the first chapter, it whets the appetite for what I hope is a lengthy story to come. I will likely jump on the recently released second volume sooner rather than later.

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