Blog Archives

Tomb Raider #1 (Comics Review)

My first ever experience with Tomb Raider was this one PC game demo that I got off a magazine CD. I remember it clearly because I just ran around the starting area with no clue as to what to do. I just couldn’t find a way out. Then years later, I saw the two movies featuring Angelina Jolie. They were good, decent, but hardly exciting fare. Then again years later, when I finally got a Nintendo DS in college, I bought a Tomb Raider game on a trip to San Francisco for a gaming convention. And it was fun. A lot of fun. I’ve still got it, even though I haven’t played it for like 4 years now.

Last year Dark Horse announced that they would be doing a new Tomb Raider comics series and that this was going to be set in the aftermath of the recently released video game with the rebooted continuity. I was excited. I hadn’t played the game but the comic was going to be written by one of my absolute favourites, Gail Simone, and that’s all that I wanted. This week, the first issue got released, and it was everything that I wanted out of it, and more. And the art was quite good as well. Very different to what I expected but good nonetheless.

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2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke (Book Review)

Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a novel that I will never forget. It has the distinction, for me, of being the first ever full-on space opera/science fiction novel that I ever read (I am not counting the young adult Animorphs novels). It was also the first novel I read at my new school in Dubai when we moved there in July 2001 (I read the book sometime late September 2001). To this day, I remember the book very fondly. It started off in an amazing place, and it ended with the most wondrous climax that I’d read to date, and that applies to all the hundreds of novels I’ve read since then.

There is something about nostalgia, and that first book. Frank Herbert’s Dune will always be an amazing masterpiece for me and a true space opera classic, but 2001: A Space Odyssey is a great companion at the top of that table. Clarke’s novel is the one that really set me on the path to reading the wider science fiction and fantasy genres, and that is why it will always have a special place in my heart. Just a few days ago, I re-read the novel for the first time ever since that first reading almost twelve and a half years ago. The sense of wonder and grandeur in the novel is just as compelling today as it was to an inexperienced reader all those years ago. A timeless classic.

Note: This novel is part of my 25 Series To Read In 2014 challenge.

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The Hunger Games: Death and Glory

In recent years, there has been a big shift in Hollywood productions. Slowly but surely, we are getting more movies featuring female protagonists. Many people would point to the Twilight franchise as an abomination and what not, but can you really argue with the results? The industry is in a situation where even such “bad” films can still do their part to raise the point clearly and with distinction that female-led movies can do well at the box office. But the kicker is the quality of such a heroine of course, and that’s where the movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ first The Hunger Games novel comes in.

The Hunger Games followed the Twilight trend of adapting young adult novels featuring female protagonists for the big screen, a trend that hasn’t worked out for some other recent adaptations unfortunately. It features a very awesome female lead who kicks all kinds of ass and who is strong by her own merits, by her own doings. She isn’t defined by the people around her. She defines them. Of course, it also helped that the story itself was quite good. I’ve seen the movie a number of times since watching the theatrical release, and it has held up pretty well. The sequel, Catching Fire, released a few months ago, went a few steps further and was equally good at the least.

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John Carter: Hero of Mars

Far as I am concerned, there was only one major negative of John Carter: Disney screwed up the marketing big time and instead of a potential franchise, they ended up with a near-flop. And that is painful for me, since I enjoyed the movie. I’d seen the trailers before I went to watch it on the big screens, so I kind of had an idea of what it would be like, but since I’d never read any of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels before, I didn’t know who the character was or what Barsoom really was. After watching the movie, everything changed for me.

In that same year, I listened to the audiobook of the first book, A Princess of Mars. I began reading the tie-in comics from Dynamite Entertianment, comics which built up the world that Burroughs had introduced to readers almost a century ago. I became a big fan of John Carter and Dejah Thoris, all thanks to watching that movie. Reading Nathan Long’s Jane Carver of Waar novels, which are heavily influenced by Burroughs’ own work and present a kick-ass female protagonist in a similar science fantasy sword-and-planet setting, took things even further for me.

I still lament that John Carter failed at the box office. Disney’s ineptitude and the backlash from critics and fans before the movie even went to release ruined any potential success. But, thankfully, the movie has already become a sort of cult classic. I’ve seen it at least three times on DVD and each time has been a joy. It is a movie I can have fun watching every single time. Here’s the repost of my original review of it.

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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

As a kid, I remember when the original trilogy was released in India in theaters. There was a huge promotion about it, to the tune that you could get these nice little stickers in packets of chips that you could then use to add to these booklets that you could buy from confectionaries, grocers etc. That was when my fascination with Star Wars began. Years later, I picked up my first Star Wars book, Starfighters of Adumar by Aaron Allston, and a few years later I saw the third movie in the prequel trilogy in theater with a friend, and then soon after that I saw the original trilogy for the first time, in college. I then went on to read a ton of Star Wars novels, thanks mostly in part to a well-stocked college library (or libraries rather, I should say), and I’ve almost always had fun.

In 2012, George Lucas and Co. began to roll out 3-D versions of the movies, starting with Episode I. It was a fantastic experience for me. But my excitement for watching the successive movies in the new format died out when it was announced that all plans had been put on hold pending Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. And now Disney has no plans to rerelease the movies in 3D, moving forward instead with a new trilogy and several spin-off films. Ah well. It was fun while it lasted.

So, anyway, here’s a repost of my review for the 3-D version of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

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Li’l Sonja #1 (Comics Review)

As you might well know from the reviews I’ve been posting in the last few months, Red Sonja is one of my favourite female characters in comics and with Gail Simone on writing duties for her with Dynamite’s latest relaunch, things are on the up and up for her. She’s always been a character that I enjoy reading about, and this past week Dynamite released a one-shot called Li’l Sonja which reimagines the fiery redhead as an all-ages kids character, very much in the same vein as, say, Powerpuff Girls or Li’l Gotham or Itty Bitty Hellboy.

I just read the issue a few minutes ago and I got to say that it was a lot of fun. Knowing that it is all-ages and being a little familiar with Jim Zub’s writing style from his Samurai Jack comics with Andy Suriano and Josh Burcham for IDW, I knew that I would be in for a treat here and I wasn’t disappointed. Honestly, if Li’l Sonja was a cartoon being aired in the mid-90s, I would have totally been watching it. Honest truth! Jim’s writing is great and the art team has done a great job as well.

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Best Movies of 2013

Its been an interesting year for the movie industry, whether we talk Hollywood or Bollywood. Big tent-pole movies were the norm at the box office, and there were both successes and flops from each region. It can’t be denied either that some of the box offices successes have proved to be quite surprising, such as the runaway hits Frozen and The Hunger Games #2: Catching Fire, which continue to tell studio executives that female-led movies, especially action movies, CAN be successful if given a chance and that hiding behind ridiculous sexist attitudes and thinking just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Or let’s talk Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim which underperformed in the US but was a big hit in international markets and the reason for the former can no doubt be laid at the feet of the subversive trend in American media of trash-talking movies that are different.

But enough of that. This post, the first such that I’m doing, is meant to celebrate the movies that I thoroughly enjoyed this year, whether Hollywood or Bollywood, and that’s what I’m going to focus on here. So let’s have at it.

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Comics Picks of The Week 18.12.2013

Looks like its going to be the month of busy weeks. The last two weeks I’ve read two graphic novels each along with all my regular monthlies and this past week proved to be no different. Both Detective Comics Volume 4 and The Flash Volume 4 proved to be exceedingly good and now I have two more series that I need to catch up on for the New 52. Tall order, but doable. And as regards the usual monthlies, there were comics across the board, in all sorts of ways: genres, publishers, characters, etc, etc. The year has slowly transformed over the months into a really solid year for comics overall.

I still haven’t made any dent in the pile of graphic novels I have to read, but I’m not too worried about any of it, to be honest. Already used to that phenomenon from my novel reading.

Anyway, here’s another edition of this new feature. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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12 Days of Best Covers of 2013: Day #10

The tenth pick for the “12 Days of Best Covers of 2013″ list is the cover for Wesley Chu’s The Deaths of Tao, the sequel to his 2013 debut from Angry Robot Books, The Lives of Tao by Argh! Oxford. The Lives of Tao is one of the best debut books I’ve read this year, largely because how approachable and… normal its protagonist, Roen Tan, is. The Deaths of Tao lives up to the promise of its predecessor and its a book that’s an adventure from start to finish and I couldn’t get enough of it. The launch of The Lives of Tao was so successful that Angry Robot pushed the release of the sequel up several months and The Deaths of Tao was released quite recently. Which is pretty frikkin’ great actually. I’m hoping that the third novel is release soon as well.

The tenth comic cover that I pick is Marc Silvestri and Sunny Gho’s jaw-dropping cover for Ron Marz and Laura Braga’s Witchblade #170, which sees Ron Marz return to the series after a long hiatus and newcomer Laura Braga join in as the artist. I’ve read a fair few Witchblade comics prior to this and I have to say that Witchblade #170 is definitely among the best by quite a margin. Now that I’m following this series regularly, I’m very excited where things are going, especially given how Witchblade #171 ended. Can’t wait for Witchblade #172, which will be coming in about 4 weeks or so. Long wait.

Without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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12 Days of Best Covers of 2013: Day #9

The ninth pick for the “12 Days of Best Covers of 2013″ list is the cover for Martha Well’s latest novel, a Star Wars tie-in for the new Empire and Rebellion series, The Razor’s Edge. This new series takes place after the original Star Wars movie and continues the adventures of Leia Organa, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in those early days of the Rebellion. It was a really fun book that did much to add to the mythology of these characters and add to the overall Star Wars lore as well. The most fun part was in seeing how these characters continued to interact after their victory over the First Death Star, and the primary protagonist was Leia herself, one of my favourite female characters in SFF.

The ninth comic cover that I pick is Nick Runge’s excellent cover for the first cover of J. W. Rinzler’s adaptation of George Lucas’ original script for Star Wars, The Star Wars. I’ve read the first three issues of the series and they’ve been quite interesting and fairly good. They betray a much more fantastical tone to the entire setting and its evident that George Lucas’ imagination really did run wild for that initial attempt. I’d definitely recommend the series!

Without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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12 Days of Best Covers of 2013: Day #8

The eighth book cover that I pick for the “12 Days of Best Covers of 2013″ list is Halo lead concept artist Sparth’s gorgeous illustration for Michael Martinez’s debut novel The Daedalus Incident, released this year by the Night Shade imprint of Skyhorse Publishing. The Daedalus Incident is a story that meshes in solar system space opera with alchemical fantasy and creates a really fun and unique setting all of its own. It also so happens that one of the protagonists is an Indian woman by the name of Shaila Jain and that she is a written as a strong character completely independent of any romance subplots. What more can you ask for?

The eighth comic cover that I pick is from Jeff Lemire’s first issue of Trillium, a series that he both draws and writes. I held a rather passing interest in the title until I picked up this issue and after reading it I was a total fan. It is weird SF pulp adventure space opera (basically a really fun mish-mash of SF subgenres) and I love the series. Jeff Lemire has done some really great things in this series and while I haven’t read the latest issue as yet, like many of the series I’ve featured on this list, Trillium is one of my most highly anticipated monthly comics.

Without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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Comics Picks of The Week 27.11.2013

This was a really busy comics reading week, primarily because I read two graphic novels this time around, both of them for Marvel no less. I have finally dipped my toes in full in Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man and the first taste has been quite interesting and fun. On the flip side, the somewhat older Immortal Iron Fist proved to be a bit of a mediocre book, but no less intriguing for that fact and I’m quite interested in the character now. Other than, a lot of the DC comics this week were really good and this is quite pleasing in fact. And Zero Year tie-ins are finally over so I look forward to a month of no such tie-ins.

I still have a big backlog of graphic novels to burn through, so I have that to keep me busy further I suppose. More on that as it happens.

In the meantime, here’s another edition of this new feature. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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