A brief summary of things that have been awesome over the last few weeks. Not all of these things are fucking awesome, but they are nonetheless pretty darn cool.
- The Complete Six Feet Under. I bought this after Christmas (I had a coupon – save $15 on a $250 box set! How could I afford not to buy it?), despite not having seen most of the series before. It’s such a great, twisted show with black humour and characters who are quite frequently entirely unlikeable. Everyone’s just so totally fucked up. Like real life, only moreso.
- The Other Side: The final issue of Cameron Stewart & Jason Aaron’s Vietnam minseries came out last week, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, if “thoroughly enjoyed” can be applied to what is ultimately a dark and depressing story. It’s true that the themes and ideas have been done before, but while Aaron doesn’t have a lot that is truly new to say, he does say what he has to say very, very well. Cameron Stewart’s art is amazing – while the story holds its own, Stewart sells it completely with the perfect mix of black humour, reality, and horror. A surprisingly excellent book. Aaron’s other book, Scalped is showing some potential after two issues, but is not quite awesome just yet. Nonetheless, it’s something worth checking out; just go for The Other Side first.
- Dinosaur Comics. Because it makes no sense whatsoever. My favourite webcomic, by leaps and bounds.
- Curses, by Kevin Huizenga. My most-excellent girlfriend got me this for a Valentine’s gift, quite fortuitous since I kept meaning to buy it. Huizenga’s got a simple style – there’s a blurb on the back comparing him to Hergé, of Tintin fame – but his stories are quite dark and surreal, and have something of a modern, slightly more absured Kafka feel. I’m only halfway through the book, and it definitely requires re-reading, but so far it’s quite excellent.
- Absolute New Frontier. I really should have written a full post about this by now, but let’s just say that it’s exactly as awesome as everyone has said. Darwyn Cooke’s look at the birth of DC’s Silver Age heroes is reverential of the era and characters without being mired in the past, a story full of conflict, betrayal, and cynicism that’s nonetheless rooted in the very best of the superhero genre: Heroism. It builds slowly, with a huge cast, but it all comes together beautifully. Along the way, there are many wonderful moments, both big and small. And the Absolute format is gorgeous: This is the way great comics are meant to be read.
- Alastair Reynolds. Technically a person, not a thing, that is awesome, Reynolds writes big-time, hard-core sci-fi novels. (Having used up my reserve of hyphens in that sentence, there will be no more for the rest of this post.) I’ve just started Absolution Gap, the final volume of his trilogy (that’s really a quadrilogy) about what’s been causing all these extraterrestrial extinctions that keep being discovered. He occasionally gets too big: I got halfway through Redemption Arc and thought “My God, isn’t it over yet?” Not because it’s a bad book, but just out of sheer exhaustion. And sometimes he gets bogged down in the scientific details, but that’s probably to be expected: He is an actual scientist, after all. Still, an amazing author with a fantastic imagination and sense of scale. Revelation Space, the first volume in the series, can be a bit dry, so start with Chasm City: It’s part of the tapestry, but not entirely central to it (though there are parts of Redemption Arc that probably make no sense if you haven’t read it). Plenty of mystery and magic. Also, the standalone Pushing Ice is an entertaining read, even if the pacing gets a bit dicey in the latter half of the book.