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Those Poor, Poor Bastards by Tim Marquitz, Kenny Soward and Joe Martin (Book Review)

In the short time that it has been operating, Ragnarok Publications has been doing some great work by all accounts. Their kaiju anthology that was released early this year, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters was an awesome piece of kaiju fiction that covered all different sorts of genres and styles and what not, and the men behind the publisher have been going full at it for a good long while now. A few months ago Tim Marquitz, Joe Martin and Kenny Soward launched a new series for Ragnarok, called Dead West, and it was promoted quite heavily as a new spin on an old and popular genre.

Those Poor, Poor Bastards is set in the American Mid-West during the mid-1800s and it features zombies and holy magic and the American Frontier and everything else that goes with all of that. Having read some of Tim’s fiction previously, I was expecting the story to be quite bold and brash, with some rough humour thrown in for good measure, and I wasn’t disappointed in that at all. Tim collaborates on this with his Ragnarok co-publisher Joe Martin and with author Kenny Soward, with the three of them turning out quite an interesting zombie western that unfortunately does have a few flaws.

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Lazarus #8 (Comics Review)

Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s first arc on Lazarus proved to be quite a short one at just four issues. Their second arc in comparison appears to be a bit longer, and that’s perfectly fine with me since the first arc was only intended to introduce the characters and the setting, to hook readers in and keep them coming back for more. Which is what happened with me. Now, with the second arc, the creators have improved immeasurably by giving us a much wider view of this post-apocalyptic world as the creators deal with a terrorist plot and also explore the protagonist, Forever Carlyle, and the world around her.

In the previous issues we saw the lead-up to the terrorist plot that is going to be executed very soon. And we also saw what is going on with the Garrett’s and the loss they suffered while making the trek to Denver to take part in the Lift and find a better future for themselves. In the new issue we see how all the storylines are beginning to converge finally and how everything is going to go down in the Lift. Forever, the terrorists, the Garretts, they are all going to be having a word or two in the next issue and hopefully sharing the space. While the writing is better from last time however, the art doesn’t seem quite so good, perhaps because of an overuse of inks this time. Read the rest of this entry

Lazarus #7 (Comics Review)

Up until now, Lazarus has been one of the most interesting series to come out from Image Comics. The first arc was pretty intense and it not only told a great personal story as far as the protagonist Forever Carlyle was concerned, but it also told a wider story about the world that Greg Rucka and Michael Lark have created. Suffice to say, I enjoyed the first arc. But, the second arc has been giving me doubts. The action has slowed down considerably, as the last two issues depicted, and the story has been split as well, between the events revolving around the Carlyle family and between those involving the Barrets and their friends.

The new issue, it suffers from low-key action, and heavy story-ing. We get a little bit of characterisation here and there, but it doesn’t quite work so well because the narrative is just so weighty with all of what needs to be covered to the move the story further. I enjoyed it to a degree, but I still can’t quite like it fully because its as if Rucka is doubling down away from the action. Lark’s art too wasn’t quite so good either, though that just might be the narrative-art associative thinking.

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Lazarus #6 (Comics Review)

After yet another break, one of Image’s newest titles returned to shelves this past week with its sixth issue. Across the five issues we’ve had previously, writer Greg Rucka and artists Michael Lark and Santi Arcas built up a well-defined post-apocalyptic (of sorts) world around the protagonist Forever Carlyle, a genetically engineered and conditioned woman who acts as her family’s ambassador and head of security. Its been a fairly good series thus far, and I’ve enjoyed what the creators have done. This isn’t the type of story that would ever be told at the Big 2 and Image is a perfect fit for this title.

In the new issue, we continue to get a wider perspective of the world and the setting itself. We are able to see just how the world works and how the Serfs and Wastes are treated by the Families. This is by no means a happy setting, bleak in the extreme actually, and this issue shows that off nicely. In fact, it highlights how ruthless this world is. And the art is quite decent. No big scenes here this time, and everything is more or less a subtle play on the larger themes.

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Best of 2013 Part 2a: Books

Since 2013 is now over, its time to do my second “Best of the Best” list, for the second half of the year from July-December. There were some really good reads in this period, and as always, picking the best has been a chore. I always try to keep these lists as diverse as I can and hopefully you agree.

You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then! Read the rest of this entry

Best of 2013 Part 1

I did two “Best of the…” lists last year, one for the half-year from January to June, and the other for the half-year from July to December. The lists proved to be quite popular, and I was recently asked if I was going to be doing any more. To which I said yes. I like putting together lists like this. It gives me a chance to reflect a bit on all the good stuff I’ve been reading in novels and comics, or listening to in terms of audiobooks, audio dramas and so on.

You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!

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Best of the Best Part 2

I last did something like this in July for the six months from January 1st all the way to June 30th. This list is for July 1st and all the way through to December 30th (the last day doesn’t count!). As I mentioned at the end of that list, this isn’t going to be regurgitation of my “Reading Awards” page, but something more varied. The list takes into account everything I’ve read in the last six months.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!

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Best Debuts of 2012

This year has been an excellent year for debuts, whether it’s science fiction or fantasy or historical fiction or urban fantasy or noir or western or young adult or whatever. Some truly amazing authors have made themselves known, and many of these have gone on to impress with second novels also released this year. In this blog I take a look at the debut novels of the year that I just loved and would recommend far and wide to everybody.

I didn’t actually read that many debut novels this year (from 2012), so the list is going to be unfortunately small – only eight in total, which is why I’m going to do a straight list rather than a Top 6 and 6 Honourable Mentions as I had initially planned.

So let’s have at it, yeah?

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