Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Writer - Robert Kirkman
Artist - Sean Phillips
Hardcover collection published by Marvel (2006)
About 9 years ago I stopped buying comic monthly. Not any fault of the comic book publishers, but I just had other priorities and I moved to an area where there were no comic book stores (have you noticed it is nearly impossible to find a comic book in any store other than a comic book store, anymore?). I kept my ear to the ground though so I could keep up with what was going on in my favorite heroes life and some of the other things going on.
I had heard about the comic book "The Walking Dead" by Robert Kirkman and even read a couple of issues, and loved the story and artwork. Then when the TV series was announced I immediately commandeered the couch every Sunday night to watch this awesome series. After all it had zombies, and I LOVE zombies. The series continues to be great, although this second season had a couple of episodes without seeing a single zombie, so they have me worried.
Anyway this got me intrigued about Robert Kirkman and I looked into what else he had done. To my surprise he was asked by Ralph Macchio to write a series based on Marvel heroes being zombies, how cool is that? Well let me tell you pretty darn cool, oh and gory and brutal. This series was 5 issues long and was hugely popular among the comics crowd. I of course purchased the hardcover collection which not only features the entire story run, but also includes artwork for all the covers, which are based on classic Marvel comics covers.
The story begins with the heroes in a different dimension having turned to zombies and seeking out flesh to eat for survival. The problem is, no one is left on earth that has not turned. Magneto is left behind to fix the situation and he (not a zombie) soon falls prey to the heroes. With this being their only meal for awhile the heroes fight amongst themselves to get a slice of Magneto meat for sustenance. The comic then takes a bit of a crossover turn and the Silver Surfer comes to earth as the Herald of Galactus. With a world of zombies the Surfer decides the world is good for Galactus to devour. The zombie heroes have other plans, after all eating Galactus would make a great meal.
The great battle with Galactus and the zombie heroes and even a few zombie villains ensues and well let's just say it gets pretty gory. Iron Man is only an upper torso, Colonel America (not Captain in this dimension) gets half his head sliced off, but still functions, and the Hulk eats so much that when he shrinks back down to Bruce Banner he bursts his abdomen.
Fun book and a some good gore for you Marvel and Zombie fans.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
by Kevin D. Anderson and Sam Stall
Published by Quirkbooks(2010)
Okay folks it's time to put your "Geek" pants on and get ready to "Go where no man has gone before." We are talking about combining the worlds of Star Trek with a Zombie Apocalypse, Okay actually just a bunch of fans of Star Trek and a Zombie Apocalypse at a Star Trek convention. Being a huge fan of the Zombie horror genre and a sci-fi nut, this book just screamed at me. I picked up the book and from page one I was hooked. The Star Trek references were excellent and the authors even strategically through in some Star Wars references that make this survival from the flesh eaters fun and exciting. On top of the intelligently placed references the authors even have thrown their own spin into the creation and world of zombies. In this book there are 3 ways to kill them, but let me tell you the Klingon bat'leth is the coolest in this book.
Another aspect of this book is the mult-genre appeal, the authors have combined Sci-Fi, Zombies, Comedy and adventure to create a quest for survival novel. This book takes the best of all these worlds and creates a mashup that seems like it wouldn't work but does and with a lot of fun. To quote one of the characters from this book, Jim Pike (former soldier fresh from Afghanistan), "
Star Trek is all about applying the Federation's high-minded ideals to difficult situations. No matter how bad things get, you're supposed to play by the don't-shoot-first, don't-mess-with-pre-warp cultures, don't-alter-the-timeline rules. But in the zombie univers it's all about jettisoning everything- morality, sentimentality, weaklings - that might keep you from seeing the next sunrise. Because no matter how impeccably you behave, you'll never bring the other side around to your way of thinking. They don't think. They just kill." But by using the rules of the Federation a rag-tag group of Trekkies in costume, a hotel security Guard, an exo-biologist, a videogame creator, and even a woman in a Princess Leia slave costume that spouts out Star Wars references, all battle zombies hoping to make it to the next day before Houston is nuked.
Jim Pike is a bellhop for the Botany Bay Hotel in Houston, the Botany Bay is the home of GulfCon, now in its 5th year, which is billed as the largest Starfleet convention in the Western Gulf Coast Region. He used to be a big Star Trek fan but after two tours of duty in Afghanistan the what-is-it-all-about question has set in and Jim just wants to get by in life not responsible for anything. Jim's sister is a Trekkie and she's bringing her new boyfriend, a videogame creator, to GulfCon to enjoy the festivities and see her brother.
Meanwhile an accident at a military underground bunker near Houston has released a strange virus that animates the dead. Many people are calling in sick and the convention is just beginning to go full force with all sorts of activities. Jim is now being forced to act as security for the Botany Bay and with his un-erring intuition Jim begins to suspect that the world is coming to an end. When the nightfall comes the zombies begin taking on their prey with more fervor and Jim is forced to lockdown the hotel and gather the few survivors and fight to escape the brain-eating zombies.
With tons of sci-fi/Star Trek and comic book references this book is full of hilarious moments and with tons of zombies it is also full of some thrills that will keep you anxious to read the whole book in one night. Some of the fun in this book, if you are a fellow Trekkie are the names used and who they are used for, for example Jim Pike, the lead character, get's his name from Captain Pike, the first captain of the Enterprise (in the original series) and Captain James T. Kirk. And yes there's an awesome "Dammit Jim,.." quote or two.
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Read by Allen Davis Drake
Produced by Cloud Mountain Studios (2009)
1 Hour 9 Minutes.
Every so often I find myself going back and revisiting a classic, this time around it was a strange set of circumstances to getting this audiobook. I have always tried to get my son interested in audiobooks and having to compete with the videogames and television the lack of pictures make it hard for me compete. This time around I lucked out. We had an upcoming 2 hour drive and I knew I'd have to find the perfect audiobook. I know what you're thinking, if I have a hard time competing with TV and Videogames how is this classic story by F. Scott Fitzgerald going to get his attention. Well, here's where it gets funny. We never saw the movie based on this story starring Brad Pitt, and probably never will but my son and I are fans of a TV show based on Mad Magazine. "Mad" airs on the Cartoon network and just like the magazine features parodies everything including movies. There was one skit in which he and I found pretty funny titled "The Curious Case of Benjamin Batman," in which Batman was aging backwards.
So we had that as a start then a friend sent me an email with a link in which I could download several classic stories in audiobook form. The choices ranged from "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" to "Treasure Island" to "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" and including this story. So loving the classics I downloaded all I could. (After all they were all free, and were professionally produced, not the lower quality found on Librivox and others.)
So with him now curious about the story and the long car trip planned we listened, and we were entertained.
First of all the gist of the story is that Benjamin Button is born a 70 year old man. His father is embarrassed and flabbergasted and at first does not know how to accept this medical curiosity. The hospital wants Mr. Button to immediately remove the abomination and after buying a suit for his new born son takes him home and life begins at the end for Benjamin Button, having to go to school at the proper age (based on birth) Benjamin is a site in schoolboy shorts at the age of 65. His life progresses backwards as we follow him to college and then marriage where he falls in love with a 20 year old woman as he appears to be 50. He then goes off to fight in the French and Indian War and comes back a younger man.
The story is based on a quote from Mark Twain, "Youth is wasted on the Young." and a conversation between Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The reader delivered the story with skill, keeping my 10 year old son and myself interested in the story and delivering the comedic scenes with just as much ease as the scenes when trying to be able to live as a married man who is growing apart from his wife due to the reverse aging and the turning over the family business to his son because he is getting too young.
The story is fun and at times and poignant at others and sometimes both. A great view of the life of man.
Friday, November 25, 2011
by Jonathan Maberry
Read by Ray Porter
Produced by Blackstone Audio
16 hours and 11 minutes
I love it when an author creates a character that is so strong that it constitutes a revisit or even a series based on the character. But only when it is a Strong Character. Jonathan Maberry has created a Strong Character in Joe Ledger. In the first book, "Patient Zero," Ledger is a Detective wanting to get into the FBI, what happens is Ledger is recruited to join a new branch of law enforcement called the DMS (Department of Military Science) in which he leads a team to fight off terrorists who have devised a disease that creates zombies. The DMS is the branch that keeps the country and the world safe from evil that is beyond the scope of reality.
The second novel in Maberry's Joe Ledger series starts very soon after "Patient Zero" left off, with Joe visiting the gravesite of one of his oldest and dearest friends. The problem is, the DMS has suddenly been targeted by all the other alphabet soup agencies with the search and seizure order issued by the Vice President of the United States. All the DMS offices and teams soon find themselves under attack from their own government. Forced to fend off NSA and CIA agents alone, ledger escapes and eventually regroups with the DMS to find that while the President is getting open heart surgery the Vice President is officially in charge and has taken this time to shut down the DMS. The V.P. as it turns is really a puppet and a mysterious group pulling the strings wants 2 things, 1.) The DMS shut down long enough to institute their plan to destroy the world, and 2.) Mindreader, the DMS computer system that can find anything anywhere.
The DMS soon learns that the evil afoot is 2 groups of genetic scientists that have genetically created mythical creatures, Dragons, unicorns, centaurs and more. One of the 2 groups creations are a fighting force which are called Berserkers due to their complete loss of control and destructive chaos the creatures go into when a battle begins. The Berserkers are super strong, and have a very unique body armor that just cannot be real. The real threat runs throughout the book in the form of a countdown clock known as the Extinction clock which counts down to when a group of genetic diseases which are prevailent in certain races have been turned into viruses which when released will destroy 6/7ths of the world population leaving most of the Earth's inhabitants to be whites only.
From the first word spoken in this book the action begins and never lets up creating a super action story mixed with some horror and some psychological horror. For the most part the book is told in First person and Ray Porter owns the role of Joe Ledger. He also creates the voices of the other characters that not only keeps it clear who is talking but he is able to create through superb voice acting a complete persona for each person capturing perfectly their personality and history. Porter rocks this book, as he did in the first book, "Patient Zero." I don't think I could listen to these books read by anyone else.
Maberry writes the perfect action/horror novel. Really! with Nazi clones, genetically created mythical beasts, the perfect evil mad scientist and his 2 mad scientist children (albino twins) (who are pretty creepy in their own right), ethnic cleansing and a race against time this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout every second of the book. On the good side a team of soldiers that are too cool for words and a young boy hero that shows what pure goodness is all about.
Now let's see if I can find the next book in the series "The King of Plagues."
Monday, November 21, 2011
Written and directed by Dirk Maggs
Multicast performance from BBC Radio
Published by AudioGo
First broadcast in 1988 to celebrate 50 years of Superman, This BBC production features the "Man of Steel" standing trial for his crimes against humanity. With Lex Luthor as the prosecuting attorney and with Lois Lane as Superman's defense attorney, of sorts. In the continuity of the Superman Saga this is based partly on "Superman: Last Son of Krypton" and some early issues of "Adventures of Superman."
AudioGo has remastered this broadcast and even added in some never-before-heard scenes. With superb vocal acting, great sound effects and incidental music that pushes the story, this short audio comic book is the perfect way to bring a comic book to audio life. There are even some fun special guests that make this more than just a story about Superman, but also brings to light how comic books are needed for all ages.
The trial begins with Superman chained down and unable to move or speak, Lex Luthor insists the trial goes on and Lois Lane is forced to defen Superman. Luthor brings charges that range from destruction of property to assaulting humans, and with Superman not of this Earth he should be banished to the "Phantom Zone" (negative space created by Superman's real father Jor-El). Lois brings witnesses to talk about how Superman has done nothing but stand for Truth, Justice and the American Way.
The unique aspect of this audio comic book is that the trial then turns to being a message about how comic books in general are important. This is done with some very cool special guests, Adam West, Jenette Kahn (President of DC Comics) and Dave Gibbons (Co-creator of Watchmen). These three real life witnesses talk about how comic books, especially Superman comics promote literacy, always teach the reader the difference between right and wrong, and how all ages can and do enjoy comics. I found it really cool when Adam West was leaving and Batman was entering the courtroom and Batman was delayed getting to the stand. Very fun subtle context.
Very nice production bringing an interesting comic book story to life.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
BBC Radio Drama Written by Simon Bullivant and Dirk Maggs
Produced by AudioGo
One of the many things I love about comic books is that they are a quick read. I love carrying them with me and when I have a few minutes relax and read an exciting story. This audiobook gave me the feel of a real comic book, not only was it a full story in 45 minutes but the voice acting music and sound effects brought a comic book story to audio life. Every aspect of this audio drama gives the full color graphics of a comic into sound.
The story was a 1989 BBC Radio 4 broadcast, produced to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the popular comic book character Batman. If you are wondering where in the Batman continuity the story falls, it contains references to such Batman stories as Batman: The Killing Joke, Batman: A Death in the Family, Batman: Year Three, and Batman: Son of the Demon. AudioGo has released the performance as this audiobook.
On the anniversary of his parents murder Batman is attacked by an old enemy. Then there is an explosion and it seems Batman is no more. With the disappearance of the Batman Commissioner Gordon begins searching for any lead, even going as far as arranging a meeting with The Joker and Catwoman. The commissioner then gets an audiotape which seems to be from Batman, telling the commissioner of Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne, and that receipt of the tape verifies the death of Batman. But when Gordon goes to Wayne Manor finding Bruce Wayne liquidating assets, Gordon realizes something is wrong. Barbara Gordon the commissioner's daughter and former Batgirl (before The Joker shot her and put her permanently in a wheelchair) begins her computer expertise to hack into the Bat-computer and find out where the real Batman is.
While in Wayne Manor Bruce Wayne informs Alfred and Nightwing (Dick Grayson, formerly Robin) that he is hanging up the cape and cowl forever. He begins selling off all of Wayne Enterprises and plans to relocate the Bat-computer.
At the same time in some unknown location the true Batman awakens in the same room as Talia (the daughter of Ras' al Ghul) and realizes he needs to regain his strength and awareness before this impostor uses Wayne Enterprises to bring ruin to the world.
In an exciting audio-comic book, you will feel every punch and smell the dankness of the bat-cave thanks to the expert production fro BBC Radio and AudioGo.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Sam Hoffman and Eric Spiegelman, Editors
Produced by HighBridge Audio.
TRT: 1 hour
Looking for an hour of just pure laughs (and a few groans)? Check this out: HighBridge Audio has compiled a bunch of jokes from Old Jews Telling Jokes (http://www.oldjewstellingjokes.com) into a one hour audio collection. The audio is set up like a wrestling/match between the comedians with bells between rounds and an announcer introducing the contenders with some interesting nicknames all telling jokes trying to top each other or in some cases where a joke will remind another comedian of another joke and they snowball from there.
This collection reminded me of some of my old family get-togethers where all the men were sitting around telling jokes and just having a fun time. Each time the jokes would be funny or you would groan and all would laugh and share good times. That's pretty much how this comes off, just a bunch of old men having fun telling jokes. I will warn you some of the material is explicit but not enough to make you stop listening, just be careful as to who else may be listening in, it may not be appropriate for a younger audience, although some of these jokes were ones we told on the 5th grade playground and we would giggle madly then but may groan now in our older wiser years.
The collection also includes jokes that have been phoned in from various sources that seem to be fans of the website oldjewstellingjokes.com. A couple of these left me wondering where the punchline was, but they were fun nonetheless.
The topics of the jokes range from the old traveling salesmen jokes, plastic surgery jokes, marriage jokes, blonde jokes and lots of golf jokes. The whole audio collection kicks off with each comedian telling the first joke they can remember and from there the "Joke-Off" is off and running. This collection could be fun in one straight sitting or spread out when you need a quick chuckle. Definitely one to have around just for the fun of it.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
by Robert A. Heinlein
Produced by Full Cast Audio
TRT: 7 hours
It's time for some classic science-fiction and you can't get much "classicer" than Robert A. Heinlein. Yeah, I know I made up a word but when it comes to Heinlein you know you are in store for some sci-fi that is rich in all things that make good sci-fi. From the author of "Starship Troopers" and "Stranger in a Strange Land" this book is no exception to the excellence that goes into and comes out of a Heinlein story. He writes the full story. He doesn't just write a space adventure, he also creates a political and social culture around and throughout the story that keeps the story on pace.
"Between the Planets" was originally published as a series in "Blue Book" magazine in 1951 under the title, "Planets in Combat" and was serialized in "Boys' Life" magazine in 1978 as a monthly cartoon series. Scribner published the hardcover version in 1951. Knowing it appeared as a cartoon series in "Boys' Life" is a hint that, yes, this is a young adult readers book. With that in mind, I can think of no one other than one of the champions of YA books than Bruce Coville to take command of turning this fun piece of sci-fi into an audio book. Coville is an author of young adult and children's stories and novels, especially some really fun scary stories. He is also the founder of Full Cast Audio.
Full Cast Audio takes a nice approach to creating an audiobook, using a full cast of performers and keeping the productions family-friendly and with age appropriate casting. Full Cast Audio also throws in some original music for the chapter separations that make this a fine listening experience. I will admit that some of the younger voices weren't as honed in the acting craft as some of the others, but that was easily forgiven due to the fact that the voice matched the character. All in all I'd say, a job very well done in bring this Heinlein story to life.
Don Harvey is about to graduate from his Dude Ranch type High School on Earth when his parents, who are living on Mars send for him to come to Mars before graduation. They also leave him with the mysterious message to be sure and see a family friend, Dr. Dudley Jefferson, and to bring the package that Dr. Jefferson gives him to Mars. At this time in Earth's future, there is an uprising from the Colony on Venus who want to end Taxation without representation. Not being born on Earth, Don has yet to declare whether he is a citizen of Earth, Venus or Mars and all the powers that be treat him with suspicion.
Dr. Jefferson dies mysteriously after giving Don a ring to take to Don's father. Don then blasts off for the orbiting space station which is the launching point to all the planetary colonies. The problem, Venusian rebels have taken over the station and are directing residents of Venus to Venus and those of Earth back to Earth. Don can't get to Mars so He goes to Venus, knowing that there is something he needs to do with that ring.
A coming of age story in which Don Harvey learns to make life-changing decisions and those trying to keep secrets learn that Don is not the "kid" they think he is. With Venusian Dragons, and military coups this book will keep you on the edge throughout and with the very nice production from Full Cast Audio, the story will come to life putting you "Between Planets."
Thursday, November 10, 2011
by Scott Kenemore
Published bySkyhorse Publishing Inc. (2009)
I have for some reason been on a zombie kick with most of my reading, I love the movies and now the books are becoming quite fun to read. The books I've found conatain anything from horror to comedy to a mix of both. When it comes to the humorous side of zombies, Scott Kenemore has become my favorite writer, so far. Scott knows his zombie encyclopedia inside and out and in every book he makes reference to nearly every zombie movie made, including some of the ones I thought I was the only one who saw them.
This time around I read one of Scott's earlier writings (earlier by only a couple of years but he has been busy in his short career. He is the author of the horror novel Zombie, Ohio (2011) and several zombie-themed satires, including: "The Zen of Zombie: Better Living Through the Undead" (2007), "The Art of Zombie Warfare" (2010), "The Code of the Zombie Pirate" and "Zombies vs. Nazis" (2011). In this book "Z.E.O..." Scott tells how you can take the path of a zombie and become successful in business. Let me tell you you may be surprised this book actually has some good ideas, except for the eating brains part, but Scott writes how brains can be loosely translated to destroying the competition, rewards for a job well done and more.
It's funny, Scott Kenemore mentions that everyone from sports stars to military commanders have written books about how to become successful in the business world and professionals actually heed their advice, so why not zombies? So a military commander can wipe out bases with missles how does this make him able to run a business? So Tiger Woods and C.E.O.s make a lot of money, but the similarities stop there. Tiger Woods can be stopped by knee surgery, lightning on the course and, occasionally, Vijay Singh. But a zombie is stopped only by a gunshot straight to the head or decapitation. Makes sense.
But seriously, this book is full of fun comparisons to the ways of the zombie and how business should work, but it also offers up some pretty sound advice, such as: Do it your way. A zombie's pace is slow and steady but every time it gets the job done. Slow and steady and done right the first time every time. Zombie time management, don't get distracted by gossip at the water cooler, or knick-knacks in your cubicle, when someone tries to distract you just moan and shamble on to your task. There are a lot more of these great ideas all intermingled with very funny anecdotes as to how they are all traits of zombies.
The book is divided into two parts with the first part of how to become a zombie power in the work force and the second part a one year plan to become a C...er um I mean... Z.E.O. Humor and common sense all rolled into one with this very interesting and entertaining book by Scott Kenemore.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
"Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death" by Deborah Blum
by Deborah Blum
read by George K. Wilson
Produced by Sound Library (2006)
approx 13 hours
It seems to be a recent trend to go out and try to find proof of the existence of ghosts, spirits and all things paranormal. We have "reality" TV shows showing ghost hunters and search amazon.com for ghost hunting and you can find all sorts of equipment that theoretically aids the hunt for ghosts. But this trend has been with humankind ever since we began burying our dead and trying to find out what happens next. Pulitzer prize winning writer, Deborah Blum takes a look at some 19th Century ghost hunting int the book, "Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death." During this time period Harvard professor William James, remembered more for his contributions to psychology and philosophy than psychical research, was one of the early leaders in scientific research aimed ultimately at determining whether consciousness survives bodily death.
From the mediums speaking to the spirit of a dead girl to find her body to tricksters using various contraptions to fool the audience, several members of society's Intelligencia (both British and American) were looking to prove or disprove psychical arts. William James sought out to apply objective scientific methods to the study of paranormal phenomena. Many times a fraud was found but sometimes during this book you just have to wonder.
Deborah Blum tells this story of intellectuals, philosophers, pyschologists, Nobelists from the 19th Century into the early part of the 20th Century trying to bridge the gap between science and religion when religion was being questioned by the theory of evolution and the the new sciences. I found it quite interesting as to how many folks were out to fool the public in the name of talking to the dead. I had listened to the Mary Roach book "Spook" and she also talked of the the same fakes trying to earn a buck by holding seances. In fact, this book would make a great companion to that book or vice versa.
The narrator George K. Wilson (no relation) does a superb job of narrating the book and even throws in some voice changes and accents when representing quotes from various people in this documentary. I have also heard some other books read by Wilson and I have decided that any documentary or non-fiction audio book I look at I will immediately get the book if he is the reader. He has a way that presents the story or information with no opinion yet keeps the information very interesting to hear.
So, if the study of the paranormal or you're thinking about becoming a ghost hunter like on TV, check out the history of debunking and proof in this book.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Being a bzz agent (http://www.bzzagent.com) I get to try out new products and review them. This time around I got to try out the website smarterer. This site is so addictive. You can go on the site and take tests about numerous subjects from html code writing, your knowledge of social network sites like twitter and facebook and see how smart you are about the subject. The test results can be displayed as badges on your website, your blog or even in your resume. This site, therefore can show what you know, but be warned you will constantly want to raise your score and soon you may become addicted to the quiz taking (It almost feels like playing a Quiz Show like game rather than taking a test).