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Weekly Book Buzz: Romita Finds Himself Stranded
What's coming to book stores near you?
By Tim Janson
September 01, 2008
Modern Masters Vol. 18: John Romita Jr.(2008).
© TwoMorrows Publishing
Welcome to Book Buzz! I’m your new host, Tim Janson. I’d like to first thank Pat Ferrara, your previous MC, for all his help in making this a smooth transition and for all of his sage advice. Many of you may know me already as I have been writing for Mania for the past 18 months, providing primarily DVD reviews. Pat did a great job with this column and I know I couldn’t even try to follow in his footsteps. The new column will look much the same as it has in terms of format although there will be a few changes.
I will still bring you the latest news on weekly genre book releases although I will tend towards the major releases and omit those books that are re-prints, re-packagings, gift set releases and audio books. In its place there will be some new content. As comic graphic novels and trade paperbacks are so prevalent and also I’ve been a comic book fan for over thirty years, I’ll also be including the week’s notable releases in that category. I would also like to include more information about non-fiction titles that deal with genre subjects. Another new addition will be the “small press spotlight” that focuses on one of the many outstanding small press publishers that are around today. Finally, each column will include a number of capsule reviews. Aside from my regular reviews, these shorter capsule reviews will give you a quick opinion on a recent release that I think you might like.
Well that’s it. Please feel free to leave comments/suggestions. I value your opinion. With that, lets get rolling!
New in Fantasy
The Riven Kingdom (The Godspeaker Trilogy) Karen Miller Orbit Books
The King of Ethrea is dying. His only surviving heir is the Princess Rhian. But if her enemies have their way, Ethrea will not be ruled by a woman. Dexterity Jones is a toymaker. To protect Princess Rhian and his country, he must place his trust in an exile from Mijak. Yet, as Ethrea comes ever closer to civil war, a greater danger awaits. Across the sea, an Empress has already slaughtered millions in the name of her god. And the war will not end -until the world kneels before her.
Hunter’s Prayer Lilith Saintcrow (Orbit)
Another night on the Nightside...An ancient evil looms over Santa Luz. Prostitutes are showing up dead and eviscerated. And Jill Kismet just might be able to get her revenge against an old enemy. There's just one problem. Someone wants Jill dead--again. And if they have to open up Hell itself to kill her, they will. Sometimes, even when you're Jill Kismet, you don't have a prayer...
Harvest of Changelings Warren Rochelle (Golden Gryphon Press)
Ten years ago Ben Tyson, a librarian living in Garner, NC, met and loved Valeria, a Daoine Sidhe woman. Valeria's death left Ben to raise their child, Malachi, alone, and for ten years the two of them lived a fairly ordinary life. Everything changed when Malachi turned ten and began to manifest his fey powers, but without the control a full-blooded fairy would have. Ben has to get his son through the nearest gate to Faerie before these powers kill him. But, where is the gate? Where are the other three children Malachi dreams of — earth, fire, and water to his air? Why are there reports of such things as dragon sightings and why are bookstores selling out of titles on the occult and witchcraft? All Ben knows is the date the gate can next be opened, Halloween. What he doesn't know is that the powers in Faerie have called home the descendents of changelings left here generations ago. Ben doesn't know there are evil forces in both universes trying to prevent this return.
Angelslayer: The Winnowing War K. Michael Wright (Medallion Press) Hardcover
Set amidst an eerie and distant future, this novel tells the story of Etlantis—the mother city built in the shadows of Mt. Arom—and the possible end of the world. Believing in their right to rule the planet, the people of Etlantis sent ships to hunt the Western Seas. In them were the Nephilim—sons of Angels who had become addicted to human flesh and blood through the curse of Enoch. In the wake of their terror, the earth's human population has neared extinction. Unless the survivors can band together to destroy the monsters that ravaged their home, the end is all but certain. Featuring an imaginative range of characters and concepts, this is a harrowing vision of the line between heaven and earth.
The Soldier King: A Novel of Dhulyn and Parno Violette Malan (DAW)
Fulfilling their Mercenary contract, Dhulyn and Parno have accepted the surrender of Prince Edmir, heir to the Tegriani Realm. The Common Rule of the Mercenary Brothers states that prisoners taken by them go free and unharmed. But when the War Commander who hired them refuses to honor this agreement, the duo break their contract and escape with the prince. And thus they take the first step along a path that might lead Dhulyn to the truth about her past—or bring them to a magical trap from which there may be no escape.
Mistshore: Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep Jaleigh Johnson (Wizards of the Coast)
Violence and Magic in the Streets of Waterdeep! Icelin thought she had escaped the horrors of her past--until they come hunting her, forcing her to go to ground. But when things go from bad to worse, and her friends start paying for her mistakes, Icelin learns she has to embrace the talents she fears, accept the past she runs from, and confront those threatening her future.
Ed Greenwood, beloved author and creator of the Forgotten Realms, presents the second book in a brand-new series dedicated to showcasing both the City of Splendors and our most talented up-and-coming authors. A series of stand-alone adventurers, this book and the series to which it belongs are an excellent entry point for new readers interested in the Forgotten Realms.
Imaginary Friends John Marco (DAW)
We’ve all had them. We’ve all needed them. In this fun fantasy anthology, readers are given thirteen variations on what kinds of friends come in handy indeed in times of need. From a toy Canadian Mountie who suddenly comes to life, to a boy and his dragon, to a young woman held captive in a tower and the mysterious being who is her only companion, these highly imaginative tales entertainingly explore the nature of what constitutes a “real” friendship.
Duainfey Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (Baen)
Faliance is a world where there is traffic and trade between humans and Fey, elflike beings who control powerful magic. Lord Altimere is powerful, both in influence and in magic. The former because he is the Queen’s most trusted advisor—and, if his plans succeed, her consort as well. The latter because of a secret. He has abducted a human, Rebecca Beauvelley, middle child of the Earl of Barimuir. Even overlooking her withered left arm, she is not a beauty in the sight of humans, but the Fey are attracted to the auras of humans, and Rebecca’s exceeds even the most comely of human auras by a factor of ten. An enchanted collar which Altimere has placed around her neck makes her unable to resist obeying his orders. And each time she has an affair, carefully arranged by Altimere, with one of the Fey, some of their magical power passes through her to Altimere. So it was until Altimere was absent from the court, and Lady Sian of Sea Edge, one of the Queen’s cousins, came for a visit, discovered that Rebecca was secretly a prisoner in her own mind, and freed her of Altimere’s compulsion. Unfortunately, even now that both the Queen and Lady Sian know of Lord Altimere’s plot, he may be too powerful for anything but a large number of other Fey, pooling their magical power, to bring to justice—and since getting Fey to act in concert is like herding cats, the Queen will need some time to cajole and persuade enough of her allies. Iin the meantime, Rebecca must be protected from Altimere—and from herself. She is determined to return home, which cannot yet be permitted. And if she cannot go home, she is even more determined to kill herself!
Blackstaff Tower: Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep Steven E. Schend (Wizards of the Coast)
A young group of friends stumble across a terrifying conspiracy that holds the heir to the Blackstaff, the defender of the city of Waterdeep, in terrible danger. These friends must search deep within themselves to become the heroes their city needs to save its champion from those who would see both brought low.
Belisarius I: Thunder at Dawn David Drake & Eric C. Flint (Baen Hardcover)
Two complete novels in one volume—the beginning of the Belisarius saga.
An Oblique Approach: In northern India the Malwa have created an empire of unexampled evil. Guided or possessed by an intelligence from beyond time, with new weapons, old treachery, and an implacable will to power, the Malwa will sweep over the whole Earth. Only three things stand between the Malwa and their plan of eternal domination: the empire of Rome in the East, Byzantium; a crystal with vision; and a man named Belisarius, the greatest commander Earth has ever known. In the Heart of Darkness: Having conquered sixth century India, the Malwa Empire is forging the subcontinent's vast population into an invincible weapon of tyranny. Belisarius, the finest general of his age, must save the world. Guided by visions from a future that may never be, he and a band of comrades penetrate the Malwa heartland, seeking the core of the enemy's power. And when Belisarius leads the forces of good, only a fool would side with evil.
New In Sci-Fi
The Van Rijn Method: The Technic Civilization Saga #1 Poul Anderson (Baen hardcover)
When the human race spread out among the stars, they took the profit motive with them, and none exemplified that fact better than Nicholas Van Rijn, interstellar trader and capitalist extraordinaire. He might look like Falstaff and talk in a steady stream of malapropisms, but anybody who might take him for a bumbling buffoon would quickly find themselves taken—to the cleaners! In Nick Van Rijn, Poul Anderson created one of the most memorable and popular characters in science fiction, and now, for the first time, all the stories of Van Rijn and the Polesotechnic League will be published in chronological order in three volumes. This first volume includes the classic novel, The Man Who Counts, in which Van Rijn and two associates are stranded on a planet inhabited by a winged race, two factions of which happen to be at war with each other. The planet has no food that is not poisonous to humans, and the three humans have only a small supply of food in their wrecked ship. Somehow the humans must get to another continent, where a human outpost is, before they starve, in spite of the planet’s inhabitants being too busy fighting a war to bother with the troubles of these three odd-looking wingless aliens. An impossible problem? Not for Nick Van Rijn.
The Scourge of God: A Novel of the Change (The Sunrise Lands) S.M. Stirling (Roc Hardcover)
Rudi MacKenzie continues his trek across the land that was once the United States of America. His destination: Nantucket, where he hopes to learn the truth behind The Change that rendered technology across the globe inoperable. During his travels, Rudi forges ties with new allies in the continuing war against The Prophet, who teaches his followers that God has punished humanity by destroying technological civilization. And one fanatical officer in the Sword of The Prophet has been dispatched on a mission—to stop Rudi from reaching his destination by any means necessary.
Riders of the Storm: Stratification #2 Julie E. Czerneda (DAW Hardcover)
On the distant world of Cersi, Om’ray Aryl Sarc and her supporters have been exiled from the rest of their people. Finding refuge in the mountains, they work to rebuild the ruined village of Sona, even as they try to discover what happened to the original Sona Clan. But Sona has a history among all three of Cersi’s races—a history that may soon threaten the future of Aryl’s newly founded clan...
The Last Days of Krypton Kevin J. Anderson (Harper Collins)
Everyone knows how Kal-El—Superman—was sent to Earth just before his planet exploded. But what led to such a disaster? Now, in The Last Days of Krypton, Kevin J. Anderson presents a sweeping tale of the pomp and grandeur, the intrigue and passion, and the politics and betrayals of a doomed world filled with brave heroes and cruel traitors. Against the spectacular backdrop of Krypton's waning halcyon days, there is the courtship and marriage of Kal-El's parents, the brilliant scientist Jor-El and his historian wife, Lara. Together they fight to convince a stagnant, disbelieving society that their world is about to end. Jor-El's brother, Zor-El, leader of the fabled Argo City, joins the struggle not only to save the planet but also to fight against the menace of the ruthless and cunning General Zod. The diabolical Zod, future archenemy of Superman, avails himself of a golden opportunity to seize power when the android Brainiac captures the capital city of Kandor. As Zod's grip on the populace tightens and his power grows, he too is blind to all the signs that point to the death of the very civilization he is trying to rule.
New In Horror
Lucifer’s Ark Simon Clark (Severn House)
Welcome to Lucifers Ark. This is the voyage to hell - The Volsparr routinely sails to a mining community in the Baltic. Unknown to the passengers aboard, the ship also carries a secret cargo: stateless criminals being transported to jails where no one will ever question their fate. Tanya Rhone is travelling to visit her fianc. Little does she know that aboard this ship life is the cheapest commodity of all…
Heaven's Bones: A Novel of the Mists Samantha Henderson (Wizards of the Coast)
Love and death walk hand in hand...Dr. Sebastian Robarts is a man paralyzed by the fate of his adored wife, dead in childbirth, their only child with her. He searches for a way to build angels from women, a pastime known to Scotland Yard as murder. Robarts meets the Vistani seer named Trueblood, who becomes his assistant and leads him to the Antebellum-era domain of Riverbend, controlled by the sadistic Dr. Weldon, to create angels, unfettered by conventional morality, or even rules. When the murderer returns to earth, it is the task of a Vistani policeman and a woman with a strange connection to Robarts to stop him…If he can be stopped.
The Ghost Quartet Marvin Kaye (Tor Hardcover)
Do you believe in ghosts? You will after reading these original short novels from four of today’s best writers of the fantastic. Brian Lumley, a Grand Master of Horror and author of the popular Necroscope series, opens the collection with the tense “A Place of Waiting.” The moors of Devon, England, are home to many ghosts, but none as fearsome as the red-eyed specter that refuses to accept his death. His only chance of release, however, comes at a terrible cost.
Orson Scott Card puts a new spin on one of literature’s most famous ghosts in “Hamlet’s Father.” What if the former King of Denmark was not killed by his treacherous brother for his crown, but by someone entirely unexpected as punishment for the darkest of crimes? Would his troubled son still seek revenge?
The patrons of an Edinburgh tavern are introduced to a beverage with an unusual history in “The Haunted Single Malt” by Marvin Kaye, a clever and spooky story about ghost stories and the people who love them.
Tanith Lee offers “Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata,” a chilling tale set in an alternate Russia. When a poor man is rescued from certain death by hospitable strangers, he discovers that he is not a guest in their haunted tenement building--he is a prisoner destined to become a sacrifice.
Cross Country Tim Waggoner (Wizards of the Coast Discoveries Hardcover)
When surviving gets this hard, death comes easy...Cross County's secrets run deep. Settlers first came here hundreds of years ago, taking the land from local tribes sworn to guard its dark secrets. The Cross family now holds the power in the region. When a grisly murderer, hearkening back to a series of killing from years ago, shakes the community, it's up to the local sheriff to get to the bottom of things before it's too late. Part murder mystery, part supernatural terror, Cross County will appeal to fans of Greg Iles and Patricia Cornell, as well as horror fans who love Stephen King and Dean Koontz.
New in Graphic Novels/Comic Trade Paperbacks
Brave & the Bold Vol. 2 Book of Destiny DC Comics
Collecting issues #7-12 of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD! The Book of Destiny's been opened, and it will take the combined might of Superman, The Flash, the Metal Men, the Blackhawks, the Atom, Hawkman, Aquaman, the Teen Titans, the Newsboy Legion and more to prevent certain doom!
Suicide Squad: From the Ashes DC Comics
The Suicide Squad makes its triumphant return in this new volume collecting the recent miniseries. But how did team leader Rick Flag Jr. survive a ground-zero nuclear blast and return from the dead?
Metal Men DC Comics (Hardcover)
DC's metallic heroes return in this hardcover collecting the 8-issue miniseries! Gold, Platina, Mercury, Iron, Lead, Tin and Copper must face off the forces of Chemo, Doctor Yes, BOLTS, The Balloonatic and his Orphan Army, as well as the Robot Renegades in this action-packed volume!
Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 2Marvel Comics
A battle for eternity rages in the heart of Heaven! While his business partner and friend is held hostage by a Hydra-affiliated megalomaniac, Danny Rand has been ushered to the fabled city of K’un-Lun to fight in a tournament against the Immortal. Collecting issues #8 – 14 and Annual #1.
New Warriors Vol. 2 Thrashed Marvel Comics
Now officially a member of the team, former X-Man Sofia Mantega undertakes her first mission as a New Warrior! But when things don’t quite go as planned, the Warriors are left to wonder: Did one of their teammates have an ulterior motive for pulling this job? Plus: What is Night Thrasher doing while the New Warriors are trussing up super-villains? Collecting New Warriors #7-13.
She-Hulk Vol.6: Jaded Marvel Comics
It's a new direction for the lean, green fighting machine as longtime INCREDIBLE HULK writer Peter David takes the helm. High-powered lawyer. Celebrity party girl. Super-strong Avenger. Jennifer Walters, alias She-Hulk, had it all. So why is she a bitter bounty hunter living in a trailer park? See how the mighty have fallen as the emerald adventuress carves out a new career on the margins of the Marvel Universe, where she’s battling evil more to make a buck than to make a difference.
X-Men Legacy: Divided He Stands Marvel Comics
In the wake of Messiah CompleX, there are no X-Men and mutantkind still lies in ruin. With Magneto depowered and Xavier gravely injured, it seems their reign as the preeminent mutants has ended. But neither of these old soldiers is willing to go gentle into that good night! Collecting X-Men Legacy #208-212.
New World Order: Dawn of a New Day Image Comics
Conspiracy theorists rejoice! Gus Higuera’s hit series is now collected into a MUST HAVE trade paperback geared to appeal to the intelligent fan! With expanded stories and exciting extras that make this collection stand out in the crowd! Expand your market and your mind as a new day dawns!
Strange Embrace Image Comics (Hard Cover)
DAVID HINE’s tortured, modern gothic is a tale of pain and sorrow, obsession and damnation, of madness, death and sexual longing. The world of STRANGE EMBRACE twists and pollutes the lives of all that enter it! Collects Strange Embrace #1-8.
The Astounding Wolf-Man Vol. 1 Image Comics
When Gary Hampton is mauled and left for dead--his life takes a drastic turn. Gary is cursed: When the moon is full he transforms into a beast of the night, a werewolf. This curse will not be used for evil – witness the birth of the world’s most unlikely new superhero: Wolf-Man!
Collects The Astounding Wolf-Man #1-7
Fear Agent Vol. 4: Hatchet Job Dark Horse Comics
Abandoned in deep space, near death, and with no hope of rescue, Heath learns the cost of crossing the nefarious pirates of the Centurion Nebula. Back on the moon base a mysterious figure from Heath's past arrives as a harbinger of more hard days for humanity.
Achewood The Great Outdoor Fight Dark Horse Comics (Hard Cover)
Since 2001, cult comic favorite Achewood has built a six-figure international following. Intelligent, hilarious, and adult but not filthy, it's the strip you'll wish you'd discovered as an underappreciated fifteen-year-old. Dark Horse presents the hardbound edition of Achewood's The Great Outdoor Fight, the story of "Three Days, Three Acres, Three Thousand Men."
Nightmare Factory Vol. 2 Thomas Ligotti Harper Collins/Fox Atomic Comics
The mind-bending universe of horror master Thomas Ligotti awaits in another graphic adaptation of his haunting work. Enter a sphere where bizarre gas station carnivals serve as the first stop on the road to oblivion, a malevolent puppet steals people's identities, a deranged chemist engages in horrific experiments, and nameless beings skulk about in a stone tower, waiting to envelop the unsuspecting into the nebulous reaches of unreality. Ligotti's world is a thoroughly modern one where both identity and reality are fleeting, and nothing is truly as it appears to be. Four more of Ligotti's arresting tales are adapted into fine graphic literature by famed creators Stuart Moore, Joe Harris, Vasilis Lolos (The Last Call), Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin), Toby Cypress (Killing Girl), and Nick Stakal (Criminal Macabre: My Demon Baby), featuring all-new introductions to each story by Thomas Ligotti.
Witchblade Vol. 5 Top Cow Productions
First Born, the biggest event of 2007, is collected in this trade paperback along with key subsequent issues of Witchblade. Written by Ron Marz (Ion, Samurai: Heaven & Earth) and featuring art by a hit parade of artists such as Luke Ross, Steve Sadowski, Rick Leonardi, Kevin Nowlan, Stjepan Sejic, and Sami Basri, this volume collects the entire epic storyline which revealed the father of Sara Pezzini's mysterious child, the child's significance, and shook the Top Cow Universe to the core. Collecting Witchblade #110-115, First Born #1-3, and a cover gallery for a massive nine-issue trade paperback.
Small Press Spotlight: Midnight Marquee Press
Midnight Marquee began its life as a fanzine back in 1963 when publisher Gary Svehla was just 13 years old. That fanzine evolved into one of the most beloved monster magazines and is still going strong today. In 1995, Svehla and his wife Susan branched out into publishing books with dozens of titles to their credit. Most, but not all, are dedicated to the horror film genre, and specifically classic horror. Among their titles have been the Forgotten Horrors series, which looks into some of the more obscure genre films of the 1930s and 1940s.
They have recruited some of the most knowledgeable film historians in the business to publish titles such as Tom Weaver’s “Monsters, Mutants, and Heavenly Creatures” and Bryan Senn’s “Drums of Terror: Voodoo in the Cinema”. The Svehla’s themselves and written and edited several outstanding titles including “We Belong Dead: Frankenstein on Film” and “Hollywood’s Classic Scream Queens of the 1930s”.
Among their latest tiles is “Classic Cliffhangers Vol. 2” which I feature this week in a capsule review. For fans of classic horror and eclectic cinema, Midnight Marquee provides a virtual treasure trove of outstanding titles. Check them out at www.midmar.com
Modern Masters Vol. 18: John Romita Jr. George Khoury and Eric Nolen-Weathington (TwoMorrows Publishing)
Nobody, but nobody puts better books out about comics books than TwoMorrows Publishing. Each volume of their long-running Modern Masters Series features a different comics book artist in a book long interview session and includes scores of pages of previously published and unpublished art. Fan Favorite John Romita Jr. talks about his life, growing up in New York as the son of a comic artist legend. You think of John as a young artist still but it’s been over thirty years since his first professional work was published at Marvel. John Jr. did not rely on his father’s name but worked his way up from being an office gofer to one of the most dependable artists in the business today. John talks about many of his top assignments including his memorable stints on the X-Men, Daredevil, Spider-Man, and more. The book concludes with a Romita Jr. art gallery displaying 38 pages of his work. Grade A.
The Stranded TPB Mike Carey & Siddarth Kotian (Virgin Comics)
This trade paperback collects the first five issues of the Virgin Comics series. A group of aliens, refugees from another world, are hiding out on Earth. Their memories have been wiped clean of their previous existence and their unique powers suppressed to keep them hidden from their enemies. Now though, an assassin named Janus has begun to track these “stranded” down, wiping them out until only a handful remain. Now is the time for the stranded to awaken. Their protector, Tamree, removes their mental blocks, restoring their memories and powers. Yet, the realization of their previous lives may be too much for them to handle. The Stranded is a strong Sci-Fi story with interesting and atypical characters. Carey is one of the best at handling a big cast of characters and proves it again here. Grade B+
Classic Cliffhangers Hank Davis (Midnight Marquee Press)
If you wait long enough, most things come back into style, eventually. However, it’s likely the movie serial is one thing we will never see again. These films, told in chapters ranging from 20 – 30 minutes in length, would be presented at theaters each week before the feature presentation. Serials dealt with all types of themes: Crime and spy thrillers, westerns, horror, Sci-Fi, superhero, adventure, and more. This is the second volume from Midnight Marquee covering serials made from 1941 – 1955 when they finally died out. Davis presents a detailed history of each of the more than fifty serials covered in this volume. Among them are some of the finest ever made such as “The Adventures of Captain Marvel”, “Gangbusters”, and “The Crimson Ghost”.
Besides Captain Marvel, other serials based on comic book heroes included Superman, Batman, The Phantom, Blackhawk, and the atrocious Captain America. Serials are wonderful and almost a forgotten form of entertainment. Thankfully, Davis has listed many sources where serials can be purchased on DVD and usually quite inexpensively. Grade A