Detective Comics #27 New 52 REVIEW

I know I haven’t reviewed comic books on this blog, but I thought it would be smart to add them. Lately, I haven’t really been reading much novels. And I happen to subscribe to quite a few Marvel, DC, and Independent comics. So it seemed like a good idea to add comic reviews rather than let this blog get lost in the web.

I won’t be reviewing every single issue though. I need more time for writing fiction, editing, etcetera. So I’ll be reviewing certain issues and graphic novels I really enjoyed. Like this issue; Detective Comics #27.

Back in 1939, Batman first debuted in Detective Comics #27. That issue is worth millions of dollars, and is very rare… Unfortunately, this review is not for that original issue, but rather a retread. DC controversially rebooted all their books in 2011 and renumbered all of the books as #1, as part of The New 52 initiative. A little confusing I know, but in the modern comic’s industry renumbering has become common, and not too special.

But what makes this issue special, is that it’s been 75 years since Batman first appeared on the comic stands. And it’s issue #27 all over again! :)

You can find or order this comic at your local comic book shop.

You can find or order this comic at your local comic book shop.

To celebrate 75 years of the Bat, DC decided to make #27 a special over-sized issue with Batman stories that paid tribute to Bill Finger & Bob Kane’s popular creation. This 100 page comic has some amazing new stories, written by people such as Scott Snyder (Current writer of BATMAN and THE WAKE.) , Peter Tomasi (BATMAN & ROBIN), John Layman (DETECTIVE COMICS) , crime fiction and comics writer Gregg Hurwitz (Batman: The Dark Knight) and surprisingly the bestselling thriller novelist and host of Decoded, Brad Meltzer (And he wrote the popular DC miniseries IDENTITY CRISIS.).

It also has fantastic art by Francesco Francavilla (Afterlife with Archie) , Bryan Hitch (THE ULTIMATES), Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus), Jock (Savage Wolverine) and many other amazing artists.

Overall I’d give the comic 4 out of 5 stars! This $7.99 over-sized issue is well worth the purchase, especially if you’re a long-time Batman fan, or want to be introduced to the books. Also, it stays true to Bill Finger & Bob Kane’s vision for the character, and has all the qualities that has made Batman relevant for 75 years, and very likely beyond that. 

The Lone Ranger MOVIE REVIEW

When the reviews for Disney’s The Lone Ranger started to pour in, the movie critics all seemed to have one opinion: the movie sucked. When I watched the movie, I admit a part of me was a little skeptical about the film’s quality. What if the critics were right this time? Usually when almost every paid critic has the consensus that a movie is bad, it usually is. (But of course, the audience has the right to watch whatever the hell they want, and think whatever they want.)

 

Is the movie as bad as critics say?

Is the movie as bad as critics say?

And if almost every critic hates a certain film, people don’t see the film. And if no one sees the film, the company loses money. Thus, the theater loses money, and are less likely to show the movie. And all of this happens because some hipster movie critic says so, just so they can maintain a following of fellow hipsters, and not anyone else.

And as I watched I asked myself if I was watching a different film? Because the story I was watching unfold was actually not too bad. Especially if you take into count the original show. (Which is horrible, and the film rights many of the wrongs of the show. Like having Tonto actually talk in sentences.)

Now that I’m done going on my rant against unhelpful critics, let’s dig into the meat of the film.

When it comes to directors, Disney made a great choice in Gore Verbinski. His first Pirates Of the Caribbean was a work of genius (Wish the others were just as good.) , and Rango proved he also knows what makes a Western tick. The Lone Ranger would’ve been a disaster if they chose someone who doesn’t respect the Western genre.

The action sequences were epic, but at times there was a little too much cgi. I understand, cgi at times is the only choice for certain scenes. But do you really need cgi animals that obviously look like cgi? But what I liked the most was that Verbinski avoided the pitfalls of the poor quality of the original show. Like hats never falling off, gunfights being drawn out forever, cackling maniacal villains, etc.

The directing however only does so much. The actors doing the script justice brings the story to life. And the cast is a good one.

Armie Hammer (The Social Network) plays the titular character of the film, and brings life to John Reid, the man who becomes the Lone Ranger. I know, I know, actor Clayton Moore played the Lone Ranger. Moore was good in his time, but Hammer makes the hero act more like a human being. Moore acted almost like an android, and didn’t have any life save for shooting people, and arresting people.

Johnny Depp, in his 5th collaboration with Verbinski is the breakout performer of the film. When it was announced he would play Tonto, many people, myself included, wonder how a white man like Depp would pull off playing a Native American convincingly. The biggest difference between Depp and Jay Silverheels’ version is that Depp’s version is far more intelligent, and you wouldn’t know Depp was white because he’s so convincing as a Native.

I think the writers from the original TV show did Sliverheels a disservice by making Tonto an idiot. Thus, Silverheels didn’t get a chance to show what he could do as an actor. In this movie, Tonto actually speaks in sentences. And avoids the speaking in third person crap from the Westerns of yore.

Even if you hate Westerns, at least watch it for Depp & Hammer’s amazing performances.

And of course, neither the director or the actors would have a movie without a script. Frequent collaborators Terry Rossi & Ted Elliot, writers of movies such as The Mask Of Zorro, the Pirates Of the Caribbean series, and The Road to El Dorado, worked their magic once again. The two respected the source material, but at the same time add some much needed back story to Tonto and The Lone Ranger.

There is a lot of the same dry humor from the other movies the duo has written. But this film isn’t as funny as Pirates. Like Mask Of Zorro, Rossi and Elliot don’t just focus on the things we want to remember about the “Wild West”. It addresses how greed, and how ignorance and the railroad fractured relations with the Native Americans, and out of control corporations of the day did things.

Unlike the classic show, this movie shows more of a connection between The Ranger, and Tonto. Tonto is more of the mentor, while Reid in many ways is his protege, which actually works quite well. And it finally tells the story of how Tonto became who he is, and why he seeks justice for the wrongs of the world.

The movie will have you thinking for awhile after the credits roll.

Overall, I give The Lone Ranger 4 out of 5 stars!

It’s a very exciting Western that will appeal greatly to a modern day audience. And fans of recent superhero blockbusters will feel right at home. And I think it’s safe to say the movie is better than the show, and it will appeal to Ranger fans who have longed for the characters to “grow up”. 

The Scars of Ambition by Jason Letts REVIEW

scarsEver get tired of a Medieval Fantasy setting? Or have you ever wondered what would happen when Middle Earth’s technology would become like ours? With The Scars of Ambition, Jason Letts answers these questions.

The novel takes place in a land called Cumeria, where the government hardly has any serious power, and wealthy all powerful corporations control nearly every aspect of life. Much like Game of Thrones, these wealthy families behave much like the squabbling Houses of Westoros. But, the background setting is much like modern day. There are airplanes, gas powered vehicles, computers, phones, guns, etcetera.

You may ask how Scars can be Fantasy with all of these modern pieces of technology, there still are some elements, like magic, creatures, and swords, that are in most Fantasy Novels. I honestly didn’t know if Letts could pull the fusion of new and old elements off, but Letts does amazingly well, and makes the plot his own rather than follow the normal conventions of the genre.

The story centers around the Bracken family. It centers around Lowell Bracken, the father & head of the family business called Bracken Energy. The Bracken’s have been leaders in the land of Cumeria for hundreds of years without resistance. That is, until forces beyond his control turn on him, and he doesn’t know who to trust…That’s all I can say about the without spoilers. All I will say is that the tale will keep you guessing till the end. :)

As for the characters, they are well done too. Every character is fleshed out well, even characters who you only see a few times will stick with you.

Overall, I give the book 3 1/2 stars!

If you are a fan of G.R.R.M, the TV show Dallas (When you read it, you’ll know what I mean.), and Steampunk Fantasy, this book is made for you.

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King REVIEW

Click image to get from Amazon.com!

Click image to get from Amazon.com!

With books & shows like The Vampire Diaries, and True Blood dominating pop culture, (And that book about sparkling vampires everyone talks about. I don’t know what it ‘s called… ;) )  people have forgotten what a Vampire book should be about.  And it’s not books for angst filled  teenagers, or old cat ladies. Thankfully, true Vampire books that actually scare people are around…you just have to look around. ‘Salem’s Lot is one of those books.  It’s Stephen King’s take on the Vampire story.

In the sleepy Maine town of Jerusalem’s Lot, an evil lurks below the surface of a seemingly charming small town. Then, when strange new visitors arrive, nothing will ever be the same. And not all of the monsters are of the blood sucking variety…

As with most good books, I don’t want to spoil the plot anymore. Other than the book is a modern-day retelling (When it was written that is, which was 1975. It was King’s 2nd novel.) of the first and one of the best Horror novels Dracula. So, it’s definitely worth it if you read Dracula  first before you touch this book.

As for the character’s , they aren’t cardboard cutouts. They are all deep. And the amazing thing about King’s writing ability, is that he is able to have a big cast of characters, and make them all deep, and make you empathize, and he is even able to make the  horrid characters believable, rather than clichéd caricatures. This reason is just one of the many than make ‘Salem’s Lot brilliant,  and relevant today.

This book should not be missed.

Overall, I give this 4 out of 5 stars! 

Note: This book is not for the squeamish.

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What to watch before seeing The Wolverine

Last year, when I wrote that guide on what to see before The Avengers, many people thought it was very handy to check out before seeing the film. I thought I would do the same  for what to watch before you see The Wolverine.  Here we go!

1. X-Men: First Class — This movie is the perfect intro to the X-Men movies. It features a younger, and wilder Professor X,  before he was in a wheelchair, and it has Magneto before he became a villain. There are some differences from the other films, but not too many.

2. X-Men Origins: Wolverine — This Wolverine movie was alright, but could have been better. You could have big debates bringing up this movie to X-Men fans. Mainly because of  some inconsistencies, which you will notice from watching First Class. But they are all minor.

3. X-Men – This is the  X-Men film that shot the mutants into even more popularity. This movie is about the team learning to work together. And this was made in 2000, and changed superhero films into a genre adults could enjoy, and washed out the bad taste Batman & Robin left two years earlier.

4. X2: X-Men United — It’s always hard to make a follow up to a movie as good as the first. Thankfully, X2 hits all the right notes. It’s about ,literally, good and bad mutants banding together to stop a common threat. (And this one is even better if you watched Origins, since one of the other characters returns. I’m not telling who.)

5. X-Men: The Last Stand– This one is required to see before The Wolverine, since it takes place a few years before the events in the film. Namely, the person he regrets killing is in this one. It may not be the strongest X-Men film, but it has a lot of good things to know. 

There you have it! :) Now you can get the most out of The Wolverine.

I have also  added a poll, so we can see which movie  is your favorite! Let’s see which film ends up on top. :)

Interview with D.P Prior

It’s been awhile since an author interview has appeared on Goblins, Swords, Elves, Oh My! , so I thought it would be a good idea to ask around. I shot an email to author D.P Prior, and he said sure. (Here are my reviews for his books Cadman’s Gambit and The Nameless Dwarf.) Enjoy! — Jake P.S Thanks Derek for taking time out of your busy schedule for an interview!

nameless..

JS: When and why did you start writing Fantasy? 

DP: I started trying to write a fantasy novel at about age 13. I had an antiquated typewriter and some really original idea about little people with hairy feet going on a quest. By that time I had read a fair bit of Robert E. Howard (Conan), Lin Carter (Thongor), Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter) and Tolkien (The Hobbit, LOTR, Tom Bombadil, Farmer Giles of Ham). I guess I was just trying to emulate what I was reading. That effort didn’t get beyond a few pages, but I was acutely aware I didn’t want to be that guy who was always working on a book that was never likely to be finished.

I continued to read a lot of fantasy (Donaldson, LeGuinn, McCaffrey, Moorcock, L. Sprague de Camp) but after those writers there was, for me, a real dearth of material. That all changed when David Gemmell released Legend (circa 1984). From that moment on I read everything he released and still consider him to be the greatest writer of heroic fantasy. Since his death I’ve run out of things to read. The so-called “new-wave” of fantasy authors didn’t really appeal to me. To be fair to the authors, I didn’t try many of them. The covers, blurb and first few pages was enough to put me off. I’m sure it’s a taste thing and that if I persevered I’d probably enjoy many of these books. I had some respite when I discovered Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, and I’ve gone on to read all his new releases. 

I finished my own first fantasy novel, The Resurrection of Deacon Shader, some years back. It felt such a great achievement getting to the end of a story, but that’s when I learned that doing so was just the beginning of the writing process. John Jarrold (script doctor, former publisher, and fantasy agent) edited it and (rightly) ripped it to shreds. I started to redraft, following John’s notes, but soon realised it would be more worthwhile to begin the novel from scratch. I tidied up the original and released it as a print-on-demand paperback then immediately set to work writing Shader’s story in a much more contemporary style (close point of view, irony, dark humour, and a fully fleshed-out world with thousands of years of history). I had originally planned a trilogy, but it soon became apparent the first book alone was going to be so long it could form a trilogy by itself. The original book 2, The Archon’s Assassin, was swiftly moved to fourth place (much of it was already written in first draft), and the first book (originally called Gods in the Dreaming) became Cadman’s Gambit (followed by Best Laid Plans and The Unweaving, which I am finishing off at the moment).

My aim was initially to see if I could write a novel, but that later changed to me writing stories I would want to read. I wasn’t aware I could make a living out of writing (without jumping through lots of hoops) until C.S. Marks (Elfhunter)suggested publishing Resurrection on Kindle. Since then it’s been a mammoth voyage of discovery. I narrowly missed the first wave of the golden age of e-book publishing, but I got carried along in its wake and am now at the point where I can make a tidy living from e-book royalties.

JS: What made you self-publish rather than go the traditional route?

DP: I have nothing against going the traditional route, but the whole process of finding an agent to represent your work, and then of that agent being able to sell it is so fraught and time consuming. I had visions of spending a year or more writing a book and then nobody reading it whilst I sought a publisher. There’s no guarantee a first, second, or even a third book will rise above the slush pile, and ultimately I would have found that discouraging. I may well not have written all I have if I felt there was no feedback loop, no one reading my stuff.

The advent of print on demand, and more importantly ebook publishing, has circumvented that whole process. It’s possible to find thousands of readers without going through the gatekeepers, and it’s also possible to make a reasonable living out of independent publishing whilst remaining open to mainstream publishers. I’d certainly rather be selling hundreds of ebooks each month, reaching new readers and learning from reviews than waiting for months on end for a response to a query letter that is likely to be negative in the majority of cases. 

There’s every indication that successful indies are catching the attention of the big six publishers, in any case. Rather than leave a book to rot at the bottom of the slush pile, it seems a no brainer to publish and promote it oneself, connect with readers, interact with them and learn from what they like and don’t like. It seems infinitely preferable to putting my fate in the hands of corporations who have probably got a thousand and one better things to do than read my submissions, and whose overriding concern when taking on new writers is how successful the book is likely to be financially based on the similarities it has to the bestsellers in the genre within the past few years. Mainstream publishers have to be all about profitability.

I’m extremely grateful to companies like Amazon (in particular) for making it possible for me to write full-time. Book royalties are my main source of income these days, supplemented by my editing work, which is again made possible by the indie publishing revolution.  

JS: How did the book do the first few months?

DP: When I released The Resurrection of Deacon Shader I had the expectation that it would be successful (for me) if I sold maybe 400 copies over all time. I’m not sure where the numbers came from, but back then I considered it a good month if I sold about 15 copies. 

With each successive release, sales have improved (overall and for individual titles).

JS: In Cadman’s Gambit, I noticed  that you use a lot of Latin. What inspired you to use Latin in your novels?

DP:I’m not sure how much I can say without giving away certain story elements. On Earth, in the Shader books, Latin is known as Aeternam (Aeterna is the Eternal City, so called after the cataclysm known as the Reckoning). There were a lot of changes to national boundaries, names of countries, and religion, which enjoys something of a resurgence in the aftermath of the technocracy of Sektis Gandaw. The problem is, many of the religious scriptures are traduced for reasons both political and capricious. The culprit is revealed during the books. 

A lot of recognisable history has been retained under various guises, and Aeternam (Latin) becomes the lingua franca of the ruling Templum clerics who govern the Nousian Theocracy, an empire that spans much of the Earth.

However, in the world of the Dreaming (Aethir) the same language exists in select circles, only it is still known as Latin. There is also a city governed by a Roman style senate, complete with togas and backed by legionaries. There are very good reasons for this, but I can say no more at this stage. Oddly, even the reclusive dwarves of the ravine city Arx Gravis retain some Latin, and it is rumored they once practiced the ancient faith Shader’s Nousian religion evolved from.

I studied Classical Latin at night school and later taught Church Latin to my son when he was home schooled, which was a huge help when I wanted to include snippets throughout the Shader books. There’s also a smattering of Latin in my Nameless Dwarf books, which are set in the world of Aethir.

JS: I have also another question about Cadman’s Gambit. I was pleasantly surprised that it was in a post-apocalyptic Australia (I’m a huge Mad Max fan.) What made you choose Australia? 

DP: I lived in Australia for over three years and made a lot of my conceptual notes there. 

Due to its remoteness, Australia made the perfect last pocket of rebellion against the world-spanning Nousian Theocracy. Before that, it was the last bastion of freedom from Sektis Gandaw’s Global Technocracy, at least up until the massacre of the Dreamers and the cataclysm known as the Reckoning.

In the Shader series, the whole world is post-apocalyptic, but the centre of the cataclysm was Australia. This opened doorways onto the world of the Dreaming, Aethir, and specifically onto its dark side (Qlippoth), unleashing the nightmares of Aethir’s mad god on the Earth.

There are many recognisable Australian features in Sahul: the Pinnacles of Western Australia; Perth (underlying Sarum); Uluru, and from time to time there are glimpses of indigenous flora and fauna. There’s also a bit of Australian slang in some of the scenes featuring Rhiannon and the boys from Oakendale.

JS: What does your typical writing day consist of?

DP: I usually start writing between 5 and 6 a.m. when my wife and baby are still asleep. I aim to get at least an hour’s writing done, and this usually translates to what I term a sub-scene (a unit of action within a scene). Sometimes I’m lucky and get a whole chapter written. During the afternoon or evening I tend to read through what I’ve written and make corrections as well as adding detail. This stage usually works best with a glass of red. The next morning I will re-read what I’d written the day before, making more corrections, and then continue with the scene/chapter. I usually work like this Monday-Friday, but sometimes I work obsessively on a chapter for the entire day (and occasionally the night, too). When I’m revising, redrafting and editing I work for longer periods, often right through the day. First drafts, though, are much more demanding for me in terms of creative energy and I’ve found I am more successful if I keep the sessions short and focused.

If I’m editing for someone else, I write first for 1-2 hours and then dedicate the rest of the day to editing. If I have a lot of editing work on, like right now, I don’t write until my workload is more manageable. I’ve just taken two weeks off writing, but with one editing commission finished and the second a third complete, I’ll be pressing on with Shader three by the end of the week.

JS:  What is the most  important advice you have for aspiring authors out there? 

DP: There’s so much advice, so I’ll try to keep it brief. These are the things I find most important. It does, however, depend on your goals. Some people will tell you to look at what’s popular in the genre at the moment and to emulate it. Others will focus on marketability, business plans etc. These things are obviously important if you want to make a living from writing, but for me it’s much more important to write the story you want to write. Do this well enough and you’ll have a product to market. These days many writers are in such a hurry to make a fortune from indie publishing that they skip most of the essentials; they have huge social networking platforms, professional press releases, a mountain of hype, and end up rushing to meet their self-imposed deadlines. I’ve worked with a few writers whose manuscripts are riddled with problems but who still go ahead and publish within hours of getting my notes back (notes that should take weeks if not months to implement) because they have set a release date that must, must, must be met. Strive for excellence, make progress every working day, and above all, be patient.

1. Write what you know, and write what you would like to read.

2. After you’ve made your notes, sketched out your story arc etc, get the first draft written quickly. Don’t fuss too much about spelling and grammar at this stage.

3. Do not set a firm release date until the next few stages are complete!

4. Take a break from the book for a few weeks (if you can) then read it through and make notes (I use track changes for this). If you see any typos, correct them, but don’t look for them specifically. 

5. Work through scene by scene, making revisions and corrections. Do not be afraid to cut scenes or completely rewrite them if required. Look for points of conflict, tension, humor, themes etc. Sharpen them.

6. After another break, read through again, but this time with emphasis on the prose. Simplify the language and the sentence structure, pay attention to word repetition (but also make sure you avoid telling the reader things they already know). Check how passages sound read aloud. Sometimes the juxtaposition of certain words or phrases just sounds bad, and a little rephrasing can make a huge difference.

7. Read the entire book aloud (preferably to someone else). This make take a few days. Make notes where necessary and revise afterwards.

8. Hire a decent editor. Start with a content (story) edit. Action the notes through more revisions. Then have the book line edited (spelling, grammar, word repetition etc). Make any further corrections.

9. Take a break from the book. Reread it. Correct any lingering errors (there will undoubtedly still be some).

10. Hire a decent proofreader.

11. Now you are ready to look at marketing and release dates. Hire a professional cover designer (and maybe an artist, if you’re not broke by now). Work on your blurb (very important!) and run it by an editor. You may want to get feedback on this on a writing forum. Unless you have the skills and knowledge yourself, hire a formatter. Plan your release date, contact reviewers and send out ARCs. Consider which promotional sites you are going to use and coordinate your promotional efforts for the release. Make sure readers can find you (Amazon Author Central, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Smashwords, Nook Press, Kobo Writing Life etc). There’s a wealth of information on this stage online (Kboards is a pretty good place to look in the first instance). 

About D.P Prior

IMG_0748D.P. Prior is the author of heroic fantasy, including The Nameless Dwarf and the Shader series. He is also editor-in-chief at Homunculus Editing Services. He originates from the south of England but has lived in Wales and Australia. He currently lives in Florida at the bottom of a gator-infested lake. He’s married to Paula and has two children, Theo and Cordelia. He can be contacted via www.dpprior.blogspot.com

City of Scars: Book One of The Skullborn Trilogy by Steven Montano– First look!

city_of_scarsCity of Scars (Book One of The Skullborn Trilogy)

By Steven Montano

Release Date: June 28th, 2013

Cover Art by Barry Currey

It’s been three decades since the Blood Queen led her legions on a brutal campaign of conquest and destruction, and the Empires are still struggling to rebuild.  Now, in the distant aftermath of the war, the real battle is about to begin.

Haunted by the crimes of his past, fallen knight Azander Dane ekes out a mercenary existence as he drifts from one city to the next.  His latest job is to hunt down Ijanna Taivorkan, a powerful outlaw witch desperately seeking a way to escape her destiny.

Dane and Ijanna find themselves in Ebonmark, the City of Scars, where deadly crime guilds and shadowy agents of the White Dragon Empire prepare for a brutal confrontation.  Pursued by apocalypse cults, mad alchemists, exiled giants and werewolf gangs, Dane and Ijanna soon learn a deadly lesson – in Ebonmark, only the cruelest and most cunning can survive.

City of Scars is the first volume of The Skullborn Trilogy, an all new epic fantasy adventure from the author of the Blood Skies series.

Check out bloodskies.com for more!