Book 4 of 52: The Pack by Jason Starr

When I grabbed Jason Starr’s The Pack, I thought it would be a mystery thriller. I learned of Starr when he wrote a Vertigo Crime graphic novel, The Chill, and thought I would give this novel a try because I enjoyed the graphic novel. The story jacket notes that the story is about Simon Burns, an advertising executive, who loses his job for no reason. It seems like his bosses didn’t like him and he was a bit of a mope. His wife isn’t fond of him either, but in between couple’s therapy, he becomes a stay-at-home dad. The jacket also noted that he meets three dads and becomes friendly with them as their young boys play together.

This is a story about werewolves. I don’t like fantasy books. I don’t like werewolves or horror stories. But Starr’s prose rises above the usual werewolf story. The hardest part of reading this book is the sexual appetites of the wolves. It never is really explained outside of them being animals and that they are closer to their desires, so I was confused. There were only so many excited men I could deal with.

The best moments of this book were between the father and his son. I really enjoyed him trying to be a better father and to continue to watch and worry about his son when everything else is changing so much. In all of the changes and concerns of murderous rage, his family remains his focus.

The book doesn’t resolve itself and the back jacket note that Starr is working on a sequel. I’m not sure I will be back, because it isn’t exactly the kind of book I like to read. But if I am at a lull for a book, I may grab it. This was an above average book on what I consider to be a below average subject. It rose above its material with interesting characters and situations.

Mitt Romney’s Tax Returns

The problem with Mitt Romney’s tax returns isn’t his rate, it’s that while many of us flat-lined in regards to our investments, Romney was able to make a profit of 40 million dollars. Last year, my 401k did not go up. It stayed very close to the same. So, my investments made me nothing. According to CNN, “the reason Romney’s rate is so low — despite having one of the highest incomes in the country — is because his income was derived almost entirely from capital gains and dividends from his extensive portfolio of investments.”

If the last decade was known as a lost decade for investors, how could someone make so much money? In all of the discussions about his tax rate, I have not heard anyone who is surprised by his capital gains. Although the fact that his tax rate is lower than mind, the fact that he was able to prosper from investments in a time where no one was making money on investments should be examined. What did he invest in? Are these all dividends? Where did these capital gains come from? The question shouldn’t be about the tax rates. We should understand that these facts are legal and all of his money management is what someone with type of money can do. But we should be looking at what he has invested in, if for nothing else – to help pension funds, state governments, and mutual funds make similar smart investments.

Book 3 of 52: Mister Wonderful by Dan Clowes

The premise of this graphic novel is something I have written many times. A man is waiting for a blind date to arrive. He has a troubled past and doesn’t seem much joy in his future. All of this makes me feel that I write in a Clowes style. However, the Clowes style seems to include some sort of twist or turn that doesn’t fit with my mindset or style.

More to follow…

Turn the C

DC has released images of its new logos that shape the C into a variety of different DC-styled characters. It is definitely very different than the circle or the bullet or the spin that have been used for the past fifty-plus years, but I bet it’s designed for the digital age. It definitely does have the look of flipping the page in either a floppy or digital comic. As a Superman fan, I want to see the Superman version (unless it’s the sun one). And if this doesn’t confirm the Watchmen prequels, I don’t know what does. Either way, DC is definitely making more news…

Book 2 of 52: Five Chiefs by Justice John Paul Stevens

The second book I read in 2012 was a memoir of sorts by Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired from the Supreme Court in 2010. Stevens genuinely shows how much he loves the institution of the Supreme Court and knows the historical importance of his role on the prestigious body. If you are looking for salacious details of Supreme Court justices or dark secrets of the Court, this is not the books for you. Even with justices he obviously disagreed with, he shows the great courtesy and respect. Th only portion of the book that differs from that is his discussion of the differences between Justice sturgeon Marshall and Clarence Thomas. Stevens shows how little he likes the historical, originality approach used by the current crop of conservative justices. He has noted before that he did not get more liberal, that the court got more conservative. He does not appear to always agree with the current trends in the Court’s decisions, but he also did not appear to like the direction taken by Chief Justice Earl Warren and his court. In both instances, he shows why the different directions taken by the Court matter. In this short book about the Court, he quickly points to particular decisions that exemplify what he believes symbolizes the Chiefs of the last five Courts. He also shows the power of the senior associate justice, a role he played since 1994. As always, this book makes me wish I could be a position just to talk to the justices. Their minds and want to discuss are what drove me to law and the absence of that in law school is what drove me away from the field. Every time I read these books, I get the urge to practice and work in the law. At this point, I doubt that will happen, but it does make me want to read the biography on Louis Brandeis that I bought and look for a biography on Justice Brennan worth reading. And if I cannot, maybe I should be the one to write that biography.

Cancelled 52 : Thoughts and What Comics I Will Be Looking at in May

Of the six titles that DC just cancelled, I had decided to drop five of the six by this point, even though I started reading all but Static Shock at the start. Men at War and Blackhawks didn’t have what I was looking for in new war comics. Both I thought were very well done, but they didn’t excite me to pick up the next issue. Mister Terrific also seemed fine, but as I try to save some money, this was an easy book to drop. Hawk and Dove was only on the list because Sterling Gates was writing the book. Once it was announced that he was off the book, so was I. I have never read anything Rob Liefeld has written, but these characters were not interesting enough for me to continue. I enjoy OMAC but it is a book that did not seem destined to be long for the world as Keith Giffen was moving onto new books and Dan Didio has other things to do.

I am excited about some of the new books:

Batman Incorporated should be good. I am interested to see where it takes place and how it continues between old DC and new DC. I also enjoy Chris Burnham’s art. And who doesn’t like Grant Morrison? Show me this man and I will question his judgment.

Earth 2 by James Robinson and Nicola Scott will be entertaining. I liked Robinson’s end of JLA. I thought he took marginal characters and made them exciting and fun. It was a light heartened book with some serious storylines. The Eclipso story really showed what a good character Donna Troy can be when put with the right people.  With the Justice Society being on another Earth, I am expecting a JLA/JSA cross-over by the end of the year. I would assume Geoff Johns will be writing it.

I love Power Girl. The entire run of her last series was fantastic, so though the Huntress mini-series isn’t that enthralling, I’ll pick this one up. The art alone should be worth it.

Dial H is one of my favorite concepts. A regular person finds a phone dial and becomes a hero when he or she dials H-E-R-O. The Will Pfeiffer run about ten years ago was fantastic and China Mieville is a great novelist. I saw him talking to Shelly Bond at the Chicago Comic-Con. I know nothing about the artist but with Brian Bolland doing covers, they should be entertaining.

However, I am done with war books so I will not be getting G.I. Combat and I don’t think I’ll be picking up the Ravangers as I am not reading Superboy. I’m assuming several of DC’s favorite sidelined teenage heroes (possibly Static Shock and Spoiler) will appear in this book. I would also guess that a Wildstorm character or two will be there.

Anyways, more fun in the comic world


Everyday Fear

According to Mitt Romney, he once feared receiving a pink slip. Currently, I do not go into work fearing that. My concern isn’t that I am going to lose my job tomorrow. It’s that my debt burden from law school is going to cause me unbelievable heartaches. My fear is that I cannot save money now to help others go to college to make a better life from themselves. Not one of the major Presidential candidates mentioned this in yesterday’s ABC debate and the moderators didn’t ask.

When Rick Santorum states that there aren’t classes in America and that there are only middle income individuals, that is just semantics. Whatever you call them, middle class or income students are putting themselves and their families into incredible debt to try to build a better life and the American Dream. Why isn’t a conservative party who believes strong in our economy not trying to get the best and brightest the best educations that America can give us. This isn’t about Ivy League schools. This is about bachelor degrees in fields that we need to advance into the digital age.

Education wasn’t mentioned. Contraception was. And this is why our political system is broken. This is why people are sick of elections and parties. This is why we’re in trouble. Between the candidates and the media, we have millionaires asking millionaires questions that affect all of us. We have millionaires giving answers to millionaires who donate to their campaigns. We need more. We need something.


The Fury of Firestorm 3 and The Fury of Firestorm 4: Reviews and Thoughts

In the old 52, Firestorm had been transformed in the past year to an entity with a dark side due to the Black Lantern Firestorm and Ronnie Raymond coming back from the dead. When the New 52 was announced, Firestorm became one of the characters to watch as so much had happened to the character in the past year. Through Brightest Day, Jason Rusch and Ronnie became two interesting characters that were not very familiar to me as I had not read either of their books. The solicitations for the new book with the two characters as Firestorms appeared to be a great premise. The books started by showing some of the differences between the new teenagers in their high school setting. Dr. Stein, who created the Firestorm matrix, appeared in back story but did not appear in the current storyline. With issue three, the main storyline focused on a set of government officials who wanted the matrix. And wanted to get it away from Jason and Rusch.

The government as bogeyman has been a through-line in many of the new 52 books that I have read. Captain Atom and Action Comics come to mind. But with current politics flooding around the purpose of government, this attempt at commentary rationally flows from the front page. However, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men is missing the mark as a solid political commentary.

By the end of issue three, I am confused as to what the matrix can do, why the government wants it, and why a monster who was created by the first attempt at imposing the matrix into a human needs to enter the mix. The tone of the book has dramatically changed from two teenagers out of their league with powers that they don’t understand to two teenagers fighting for what they were given from the hands of the government.

The art in issue three also appears rushed. In the scenes of the Firestorm are losing the the governmental officials and are being told that their mentor, Dr. Stein, was selling the Firestorm protocols to terrorist nations, the line work becomes very rough and the backgrounds become a bland blue that may reflect the night sky. However, the grass appears blue and the inking makes everything look over shadowed.

By the time Helix appears, the story has become lost. The small moments between the Firestorms work very well with a bond slowly bring formed, but then Helix flies in with visions of Nazi Firestorms dance in his head. But the rest of the issue does not clarify why the Firestorms become one that looms like a skull head and it does not become anymore compelling.

In issue four, the allegory for the arms race of nuclear weapons becomes crystal clear. Though Firestorm began as a Spider-man archetype, the fear of nuclear war and disaster became a storytelling point for the character in the past , and it appear this is where the story is going in the new 52. Issue four was stronger than three in art as well as story. Though Cinar’s faces go from Tony Stark to overly cartoony by the end of the issue, the storytelling is stronger. In the fight between two other Firestorms, as the battle went on, the panels became a skewed until a winner is determined.

However, having a Russian and an Arabic Firestorm confront each other seemed overly clichéd. And the mysterious Director Zither fails to stand strong as an adversary/ally. We know she was married to Helix and some disaster due to the Firestorm protocol/matrix ruined her family, but I am not that interested in finding out anything more about her. Obviously, she isn’t helping Ronnie with good will and it will come back to bite them as they are teenagers who don’t know any better. I hope I’m wrong, but this book isn’t going out on enough limbs and quickly changes back and forth between high school rivalry and intergovernmental fights over nuclear weaponry in the form of humans associated with the Firestorm protocols/matrix.

2012: The Year of The Blog

It has been almost three quarters of a year since I posted anything here and I believe my three year contact with BlueHost is up soon, but I am dedicating myself to my writing and everything this year. I want to create the kind of blog that I want to read. So, it will touch on television, comics, movies, music, and maybe even some other stuff. Every Wednesday, I will post a review of a comic. Not sure how I will catch up or if I will write about old stuff, but I want to write often. This will be in addition to my current gig writing for I enjoy writing and i want to start taking it seriously. So, wish me well in this endeavor and here goes nothing: