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Guest Contributors

Guest Contributors (494)

‘Relish:’ Book Review

I recently picked up Relish on recommendation from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast (the “Fall Books and Great Detectives” episode, which aired September 26th**).  Wanting to start a new graphic novel and always a sucker for a good foodie experience, I jumped over to the my public library e-book site and was delighted to see it was available for immediate consumption.

I like the Silent Hill franchise.  It tries its best to touch on true horror. True horror is about atmosphere, madness, and a creeping sense of doom that follows you off the page and into your bed at night. So, I was giving Silent Hill Downpour: Anne’s Story a fair shot when it slapped me out of the horror mode and into confused mode.

You know what I love most about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic books? The whole tie in with the action figures. Each comic I've read so far has reminded me of so many fond memories I had as a child. And, in TMNT #38, I saw so many of my favorite action figure characters!

These days, if I were to pick up a Star Wars comic book and hope for a new storyline, I would expect to read about tales during the currently popular Clone Wars. Naturally, you'll feel my surprise and excitement when I asked to read Star Wars Volume 3: Rebel Girl and learn all about what happens to some of my favorite original characters from a galaxy far, far away.

Poor, misunderstood Darth Maul.

When we think of all the Star Wars villains out there--particularly from the films--Maul is probably the worst of them all. I mean, think about it: we barely get to know Darth Maul's back story in Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace. All we discover is that he died an apprentice. "Always two, there are," Yoda says. "A master and an apprentice." The comic book I just finished, however, Star Wars: Darth Maul--Son of Dathomir, gives an excellent inside look as to who Darth Maul really was and perhaps even who he could have been.

Paul Tobin and Joe Querio’s The Witcher: House of Glass is a murder mystery set in the Black Forest of Angren. It begins with a chance encounter between Jakob, a hunter, and Geralt, the titular Witcher. The two share a campfire and a meal, as well as a lot of expensive Evreluch wine, and then Jakob explains that he’s figuratively haunting the edges of the forest because his unfortunate wife Marta has literally been haunting the land in the form of a Bruxae Vampire for the last nine years. After further commiserations, the two depart into the Black Forest under the pretense that Jakob would like to seek out a new life as Geralt’s traveling companion.

Nightmare Carnival is a short story anthology. The included works are generally gothic in their tone and tenor, and — as indicated by the title — they all relate to a carnival or carnivals in one way or another. With some notable exceptions, the included tales are generally amateurish. A surprising number of the authors have not mastered basic concepts that pertain to the craft of writing (e.g., they overuse and needlessly repeat words; they fail to use paragraph structure to establish tempo; and they include labored dialogue that is usually more distracting than informative); however, it is also true that a number of the stories — or, more specifically, the ideas — that are conveyed in these pieces are entertaining and do deliver the anticipated “goods” — scary carnival-themed events. For these reasons, the work can be recommended to anyone who has a well-worn VHS of Killer Clowns from Outer Space, but it can’t be recommended to a general audience.

‘Annihilation:’ Book Review

There is a particular quote from Annihilation that sums up my entire experience with it:

“When you see beauty and desolation, it changes something inside you.  Desolation tries to colonize you.”

I teetered between loving and seriously not liking this story.  It wasn’t until the very last scenes that I came to some degree of reconciliation with my reaction to it.  To Jeff VanderMeer’s credit, I think that this is the exact experience he intends for the reader to have, as he skillfully manipulates the reader into the same difficult emotional journey that his main character is taking.

‘Goof #1-4:’ Comic Book Review

Not all superheroes can be of Superman or Batman quality. They make it seem so easy to be a superhero, but it’s really much harder than it seems. Sometimes, there will be superheroes a bit goofier and not so graceful, even more so than Peter Parker is in his daily life.

That’s the underlying premise of Goof #1-4 from New World Comics. A very goofy average Joe (Nick) is approached by aliens (the Jun) and given superpowers to save the world from an onslaught of alien invasions. A contract is signed with the U.N., he’s given a costume and a name (Captain Gorgeous), and set off on his own to protect mankind.

Wow. That was deep. I'm talking "reasons-why-I-love-the-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-series" deep. And, if you don't know how deep that love goes, then think of Michelangelo's favorite style of pizza. That's right, I'm talking deep-dish kind of deep. It doesn't get any deeper than that!

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