Category Archives: General

Getting Back On The Grind

Long-time readers of the blog know me as a prolific reader and reviewer, covering everything from novels to comics to audiobooks to television shows to movies and anime and what not. From 2011 to 2014 I was practically on an express train of consuming varied forms of and disseminating my thoughts on them. And then, all of a sudden the train went off-track and my interest in all of it just petered out. I wrote maybe one review a month, I read maybe one book a month. Same for comics. I was watching more and more television, especially once I got married and got my wife to share in my interests, but the fire of being a reviewer just left me. I had become jaded I suppose. Burnt-out even. Reading ten novels a month, approx 30-40 single-issue comics a week, writing approx 25 reviews a month. I suppose anyone could get burnt out with that kind of a performance. I was just… not into it.

And all of this is on top of doing a fair bit of writing fanfiction and working on various novel-length and novella/short-story projects. I even had a short story published as it turns out. And I submitted various pitches and samples for short stories in the meantime as well.

Somewhere along the way though, I just did not want to do any of it. Enough had been enough. In the intervening time, my most frequent posts have all been about Magic the Gathering, discussing the quarterly previews for upcoming sets or talking about decklists and events and what not. But even that has proven rather unsatisfactory, very much so. As much as I love Magic, even this felt too restrictive, too… work-like. And I just couldn’t handle it.

But something has changed this year. I am slowly getting back into my abandoned novel-length projects. Beginning last month, I am even fully back on the reading and reviewing train as well. As of writing this, I have read five full-length novels, fourteen shorter novels, and a whole bunch of short stories. Even right now, I’m in the middle of an 8-part short story series. And in April I read four full-length novels alongwith at least 13 graphic novels and a whole bunch of single-issue comics. I amaze even myself.

Of course, most of this reading has been from the publications of Black Library as I dip my toes back into the wonderful world of Warhammer 40,000 but all the same, it feels so utterly liberating. The reading catharsis has a hold of me again, you could say, and I love it. I’ve missed so much and it feels great to be back like this. I’d forgotten how utterly awesome it used to feel, and I feel rather grateful that I’m back like this. Not the least of which is that I’m back to regularly blogging/reviewing as well. That’s something I’d thought just a few short months ago that I wouldn’t be able to handle again, but here we are.

Slowly but surely, I’m getting back on the grind and I love this feeling.

Ravnica: City of Guilds by Cory J. Herndon (Book Review)

My first substantial introduction to the world of Magic the Gathering was through the comics written by Matt Forbeck for IDW Publishing. They introduced me to the planeswalker thief Dack Fayden through some really fun adventures across the Multiverse. Since then, I’ve taken up the game itself, and now I play fairly regularly and follow tournament coverage as well. Naturally, my interests would also lead me to other Magic fiction, specifically the novels, and I’ve read a few of them in the last couple of years, the most recent being Cory J. Herndon’s Ravnica: City of Guilds.

The first of the Ravnica Cycle trilogy, this novel follows a lieutenant of the League of Wojek, Agrus Kos, as he undertakes a murder investigation that draws him into a conspiracy that will shake up the entire world of Ravnica. As a fan of the setting, I really appreciated Herndon’s detailed descriptions of Ravnica and its many citizens, which really helped to bring the world alive in my mind. I’m not familiar with any of the characters here, but that’s the thing about Ravnica: City of Guilds, you don’t have to know anything about Magic the Gathering to enjoy it, though that does help.

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Middle East Film and Comic Con 2015

The first Middle East Film and Comic Con happened back in 2012, three years ago, and it was a huge success for fans of all types of entertainment media. We all are so familiar with the big conventions that happen in San Diego and Boston and London and other places all throughout the year, and so, having a “local” on a somewhat similar level is a great thing to have, by far. I’ve certainly enjoyed my three years of going to the convention and while there have been some hiccups along the way, as there were this year, the MEFCC is still a great force to reckon with and should things really work out at the top level, then we can make some magic happen I think.

This year’s MEFCC was billed to be bigger than it was last year, primarily on the back of a guest list that included as superb celebrities like William Shatner, Haley Atwell, Gillian Anderson, while also bringing in some top western comics talent like Charles Soule, Andy Suriano, Matt Hawkins, Tula Lotay and Mahmud Asrar. That was pretty much the reason I wanted to go this year, in addition to the fact that I was taking part in a Magic the Gathering tournament at the event, the PPTQ Milwaukee. Here then is my kinda-sorta log of the event, such as it was.

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IXth Generation #2 (Comics Review)

Matt Hawkins and Stjepan Sejic’s IXth Generation, the next phase in the future-set Aphrodite IX storyline, finally kicked off last month and proved to be one hell of a comic. In retrospect and time-context, it definitely beat most of my expectation. Which I’m honestly quite happy for, since I wanted this book to be good and the first issue did not disappoint me.Weaving in a story with the IXs and their fight against The Darkness with Aphrodite IX and Hephaestus IX leading the way, the first issue was an intense story about fighting ancient monsters and confronting your own weaknesses. Great concept that.

In this past week’s IXth Generation #2, we follow on from the events of the first issue as Aph and Heph break out from Sanctuary XIII to get back to Earth, while at the same time we also see the flashbacks that portray the life of the IXs following the Ascension, when they all took control of the Earth from the two warring states of Speros City and Genesis, establishing their own dominance over the world. The story here is much more intense this time and on several different levels too, and that makes for one hell of a read. Not to mention Stjepan’s amazing visuals as usual.

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IXth Generation #1 (Comics Review)

If you’ve been following Top Cow’s various books for about a couple years now, then you know that IXth Generation has been a long time coming and that it has been setup for an equally long time. Of course, the origins are humble, spread out across books like The Darkness and Witchblade and CyberForce and Aphrodite IX among others, but then that’s the fun thing about Top Cow’s books: they are all clearly about superhero-like character, but are also so much more than just that. They are vibrant unlike what you find at the Big 2, competing only with the sterling work that Valiant Comics is doing of late.

In last week’s IXth Generation, we see what has happened to the world in the 25 years since the end of the recent Aphrodite IX series. At the end of that, there was a sort of global genocide by the IXs and now they are the undisputed masters of everything before them. And they’ve since fallen into infighting. Nothing serious of course, but when you have access to unlimited cloned cyborg bodies, conflict takes on a new dimension. And this is the setting for a major crossover between the various different franchises of Top Cow, leading to the eventual Darkness Falls crossover I believe. And it is off to a grand start too!

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 120,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Secret Origins #5 (Comics Review)

A couple weeks back I read my first issue of Secret Origins, an anthology series where each issue is full of the 3 origin tales of various DC superheroes and supervillains. Focusing on Wonder Woman, Deadman and Sinestro, Secret Origins #6 was a really good issue and it made me want to read more of the series. Since there’s no continuity between these various issues, I can pretty much cherry-pick which one I want to read and when, which really helps in that I don’t have to catch up to the backlog of five issues already out in order of chronology or publication.

For this week I went back to August’s issue, Secret Origins #5, which tells the origins of Victor Stone aka Cyborg, Jason Todd aka Red Hood and Mera, the Queen of Atlantis and Aquaman’s wife. While the first story is pretty much a rehash of what happened in Geoff Johns’ first arc of Justice League, it tells of some new details and is decent enough. The second story is rather bland and boring, being little more than a long recap of Jason Todd’s time as Robin and now Red Hood. The third story however, with Mera in her time as the Princess of Xebel, is pretty solid, in both art and writing, and I really enjoyed that one.

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Secret Origins #6 (Comics Review)

The Secret Origins is one where each issue contains three short stories, each about a different superhero and supervillain in the DC universe and their respective origins. I’ve been fairly interested in the series for a while now, though I haven’t really gotten into it as yet. There’s already so many titles I want to read every month that just managing any more is a super-task. But still, the concept of the series is a good one and it really does seem to give you a brief taste of different characters and titles in a single package, so why not check it out yeah? Least, that’s what my thinking was when I picked up this week’s issue.

Secret Origins #6 is the origin stories of Wonder Woman, Deadman and Sinestro, from the respective creative teams of Wonder Woman, Justice League Dark and Sinestro, with some changes. Each story deals with the earliest days of the respective characters, and each story is executed well with enough callbacks to later events in the characters’ histories or even their respective ongoing titles. There is a right crazy mix of creators here, and I can definitely recommend this one, for it is a great standalone issue given you a great brief look at three of DC’s greatest characters.

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Comics Picks For 15.10.2014

After two rather dreary weeks of reading comics, where I didn’t manage to hit my recent highs of 40 singles/graphic novels a week, this week was much different. I got back on track for one, and moved through three entire volumes of DC’s Earth 2, almost catching up to the current status of the series.

The surprise hits of this week were Blood Queen Annual 2014 from Dynamite Entertainment, Deadpool’s Art of War #1 from Marvel Comics and Trinity of Sin #1  from DC Comics. The comics that disappointed me this week were Wytches #1 from Image Comics and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #1 from Marvel Comics. Of the other titles, the ones that I really loved were recent ongoings like Flash Gordon #6, Unity #0 or even Ms. Marvel #9.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Comics Picks For 08.10.2014

This week turned out to be even less productive on the reading front than the previous one, mostly because we had some guests over this weekend, and I was busy entertaining them for the duration of their stay rather than focusing on my reading as is usual. As such, I only got done through 24 singles and a single graphic novel. But thankfully most of them were good, so there’s that at least, and I’m still reading more now than I was reading last year.

The surprise hits of this week were Birthright #1 from Image Comics, Charmed Season 10 #1 from Zenescope Entertainment and Batman #35  from DC Comics. The comics that disappointed me this week were Avengers & X-Men: Axis #1 from Marvel Comics, Caliban #7 from Avatar Press, and The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage #2 from Valiant Comics. Of the other titles, the ones that I really loved were recent ongoings like New Suicide Squad #3X-O Manowar #0 or even Death Vigil #4.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Gotham Central Special Edition #1 (Comics Review)

In a few short weeks, comics fans will be treated to Gotham, a gritty noir-styled live-action show that deals in the early days and the origins of some of the greatest heroes and villains in Gotham City, the home of one of the world’s most well-known superhero vigilantes, Batman. After the success of Arrow, Warner Bros. is launching several new shows this Fall season and Gotham is one of them, with a main cast that includes Gotham stalwarts Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock, as well as villains such as Selina Kyle, Oswald Cobblepot and others.

To mark the upcoming debut of the show, DC this week released a reprint of Gotham Central Special Edition #1, which is the prequel to Gotham Central: In The Line of Duty by Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, three of the biggest names in comics these days. This one-shot issue deals with a regular investigation gone wrong as Mr. Freeze steps in on the scene, and shows how Gotham’s finest deal with the danger of the supervillain running loose once more in the city. Rucka and Brubaker have crafted a really engaging tale here, which is brought to life by Lark and the other artists.

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Dark Templar: Firstborn by Christie Golden (Book Review)

The first time I ever ran into StarCraft was in one of the two gaming magazines I got as a kid, many, many years ago now. I recall reading a review of the game in the magazine and thinking, “I’d like to play that”. But that didn’t happen until I got into college. And you know what, I loved the game. It was sort of similar to WarCraft (strategy games were all similar to me back then) but more nuanced I suppose. Then the obsession went further in junior year of college when my friends and I played the StarCraft board game on weekends and had a ton of fun playing it. It wasn’t until just three years ago though that I read my first StarCraft novels, Graham McNeill’s I, Mengsk and Keith R. A. DeCandido’s Nova that I truly fell in love with the setting.

And that brings me to Firstborn, the first novel in Christie Golden’s Dark Templar Saga, which I finished reading a couple days ago. It is my first StarCraft fiction in three years, and it was as great an experience as I, Mengsk was. It isn’t as rooted in the original lore or even the games as that novel, but it does some amazing work to expand on the setting and the lore. I haven’t kept up with the game unfortunately, so I don’t know how the bits of lore in this novel came about and whether Christie has shepherded it all, but I don’t care either way, because Firstborn was ultimately a fantastic novel that much to increase my fascination with the Protoss and the mysterious Xel’Naga.

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