I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
So, just starting, but I like the concept of translators: the dinosaurs roar and the translator turns it into human speech. Not sure it's conceivable, even in the far future, but I like the idea.
I'm also not super impressed with the prose so far: it's clean, but it's not the simple poetry of Asimov - which hid ideas of far greater complexity - nor the poetry of Lair Barron, who managed to be so without getting all purple prose on me.
It's... serviceable. I may change my mind in the future, but if I rated it based on what I'd read now this would get a two and a half to three star review. I'm hoping I'll come to enjoy the style more and keep loving the ideas and that this will push up the star rating.
I've just been struggling: family stress has me down, still, and I've been blue and unable to function at optimal. I've been doing what I wanted, so I finally was in a place to catch up on reviews.
First of all, Readercon's program was a thing of beauty. Just the most striking cover I can remember:
I bought and took home fewer books than usual, partly because I'm working less and partly because I'm moving into a smaller space!
Yeah, yeah, I know the image is on it's side. I bought the Ex Libris books because school, and realized that Ken Liu had a story in there after the con had finished, so I didn't get it signed :/ I got the Supernatural book for a dollar. I got the last two in the dinosaur series and The Red in hardcover for thirty dollars. Then I got The Casual Angel for free. Which was a great deal!
(I have the dinosaur lords on order from the library and will probably buy it used in hardcover if I like it enough, and in paperback if not. I just wanted more dinosaurs, because of Jurassic World, to be honest.)
I bought Space Opera for like half price from Valente herself, and Children of Lovecraft on the cheap from Datlow. I got Space Opera signed, and I got Children of Lovecraft signed by Datlow and multiple authors - I can confirm at home, but yeah. Multiple authors were at Readercon. I'd bought Robot vs. Fairies for the Ken Liu story before the con, and got it signed by other authors at Readercon. I won't A Star in the Void - mine was the first hand to go up - and since I own all four books in this series, I'm excited. It's got a heavy AI presence. I bought Jewish Noir, partly because I knew my parents would dig it - and my mom says it's excellent. I want more Jewish fiction! I bought the Mere Wife, a feminist take on Beowulf set in a modern day American suburb, because I heard the author talking about it and bought it for her to sign - as well as signing a short story in Robots vs. Fairies, I believe. (I also told her Humble Bundle worked; I read the book she co-wrote and now am a fan of hers, paying full price for her books!) I'd bought Revenant Gun to get signed before Readercon. I'd bought the Edelman zombie book last year at Readercon and forgot to get it signed: I went to his kaffeklasch and got it and another new book signed.
The new, signed Edleman. Everfair I bought before the con because Nisi Shawl was a guest of honor and I wanted to read - or start usually - something by the guest of honor and get it signed. I got Sirens for two dollars at the library to get signed by Datlow. She looked surprised and said 'oh, the book club edition.' I said I didn't know and she assured me it was the only hardcover edition. I was like 'I saw it at the library and couldn't resist. And I supported the local library a bit.' I added that I got it for two bucks, and wasn't going to tell her, to which she made an amused sound and said 'it's so far out of print, I really don't care.' But it's nice to have a special edition, made more special by the signature! I got the Between to support Cohen. It's the first in her fairy stories, but I'm not sure I'll continue: I really loved her other series for the AI. I figured I loved her so much, I'd give this a shot - and have something other than the book I won't to sign at her signing table! I got Meet Me In the Middle of the Air because I adore Steve Berman and his Lethe press. It came signed and I try to get something from him when he's at Readercon. I got the Ramshead Algorithm because I love that publisher - Pink Narcissus Press - and they said it was their best author. I got it signed, too, since he was there.
I picked up a couple freebies but didn't take photographs. I was pretty much out of breath from carrying all the books so I said later and never got around to it. Shout out if you want a picture of those.
But here, have Blue. I think she's super adorable and my parents think she's super ugly. But Blue! I was hoping for a raptor, but they had Blue at the Newbury next to the theater and although I suppose I could have gotten it from B&N, it's so hard to find a particular one there. I went for the quickest, easiest possibility to stop additional stress of having to find mine at B&N.
And I should clarify: some parts of this books are fun, mostly everything with dinosaurs. The baby raptors, the dinosaurs chasing everyone and terrifying them in the process? So much fun! Even the descriptions of dinosaurs, or the remains as Alan Grant and Ellie Satler are on the dig in the beginning? A lot of fun.
Other parts are slow. The whole history of genetic engineering? Necessary, especially the part about how a lapse in ethical and legal guidelines could allow this to happen. It didn't have to be quite so long, however.
More scenes were simply drawn out in the middle, and towards the end of the book, as well. I can't see myself rereading those parts, but with the X-Ray function in Kindle books, I can see myself rereading the parts with the baby raptors, or with the adult raptors.
This also plays at being morally 'responsible' by showing how you shouldn't play god, especially with dinosaurs, but it's really all Ian Malcolm nagging everyone, bless him, and no one really listening or learning. There is no real nuanced exploration of what it means to bring dinosaurs back, and so I found this lacking in that regard. I found it a little pitiful that it tried, since it was so obviously an action book with one character pretending to be a moral compass without truly encompassing what it would mean to societies and the world - ecologically - to bring these dinosaurs back. Although I mentioned I was reading this to a customer, and he scoffed: dinosaurs couldn't exist in this world, as the percentage of oxygen in the air, for example, was different. And that, he pointed out, was just brushing the surface of the issues of bringing dinosaurs into the modern world.
Like I said, super shaky science. Of course, I wasn't reading it for realism. I know velociraptors are really turkey-sized, not-very-smart beings, or so we think. But I didn't really care: I wanted the super smart, human sized predators that I find fascinating to the point of obsession. (And I mean like little boy obsessed. Y'know how little boys tend to love dinosaurs? Yeah, that's me, just I focus on raptors.)
And this provided me with enough compelling raptor scenes that I stuck with the book.
Why be seduced by a raptor when you can be seduced by the ghost of a raptor?
I wasn't sure if I'd have the energy to catch up on my reviews: the last couple of times it's been like wave, and I've pooped out in the middle. This time, I got through everything. Yaaaay!
Jack, or his consciousness, goes back in time, to Maurice Boniface, the first Shadowman. What will he learn? Can this provide answers to the true nature of the Shadowman? Can Jack make it back to Alyssa after this side-trip?
I guess I'll have to find out in issue five. Please be a line wide Valiant sale soon...
Beautiful work: the writing, the art, the cover.
My favorite Shadowman by far. Baron Samedi has stolen the relic of the Shadowman that makes him far more formidable and placed it in the Deadside. Although Alyssa bitterly regrets sending Jack there, she must, in order for him to be able to remain topside and to keep New Orleans safe.
Baron Samedi has laid trap after trap for Jack and Shadowman, a loa that has turned his back on the trappings of the loa. Jack is close to discovering what the Shadowman really is, what the Shadowman's true name is, but he needs the help of the loa - all of whom view Shadowman as a traitor. They've turned their back on him.
His true name, and nature, has been erased.
Speaking of the loa, this feels slightly less disrespectful and problematic, but I can't say for sure and I can't pinpoint why. It is a whole bunch of fun.
Another gorgeous cover, but not the one pictured. The extras were the same - hey, nice comic, some pencils and scripts and so on and so forth - but I'll continue in digital.
Jack may have left the Deadside, but it doesn't want to leave him. Baron Samedi comes after Jack, even as another predator stalks New York. Beautiful, horrifying, and just one of the more compelling Shadowman series I've read.
Jack Boniface is back after five years in the Deadside and both he and Alyssa have changed. Neither is as young, or even optimistic, as they were before although both still have heroic streaks a mile wide.
Alyssa's connection to Jack brought him, and the Shadowman, back, out of Darque's grasp, but she feels abandoned. Although he didn't intend to abandon her, he did, and so her sense of betrayal is justified.
Still, they'll have to work together to keep New Orleans, and even themselves, safe.
Not crazy about the extras, although the covers alone were worth the pre-order procedure. Some beautiful exclusive covers, and a lot of the extras were 'hey, isn't this a nice comic' from those working on it, or for Valiant. The pencils and scripts were nicer, but not enough for me to keep buying this on paper. Think I might wait for a line wide Valiant sale on Comixology, and then binge, to be honest.
I can't find a hint that this continues and yet it doesn't seem to end. That is, issue 24? Can't find an option to pre-order it on Comixology. Not sure if this series is cancelled, but if so, it's a weak ending.
One extra half star for the revelation of the wife and kids, which, yes, I knew it! But overall, this story feels just really oddly paced. Hard to get too excited about this particular storyline because of that.
Just not really loving this storyline as much, even if I love some aspects, like the mechas and the singularity aspects.
Too much happens too fast, in some ways, and then some of this issue feels like filler too somehow. So very mixed feelings.
But to do that, he needs the mother box that turned Cyborg into what he is now.
It's a slow storyline over the next couple issues, but felt a bit disjointed and not as exciting as I'd hoped it would be. I also suspected the truth about the dude's wife and kids by the way they were kept in shadow, starting with this issue.
But I don't really care about The Hulk's new look, or Iron Heart's new look. That felt like a really forced scene, too, but it got better once they got a mission: to help a small African village with water issues, if I'm remembering correctly.
Very liberal, very open to diversity, this series talks about a lot of real world issues, couching them in fictional places and people to not target any one country or people in particular. But I like that it does tackle real world issues with a good deal of thought given as to how to do so.
I know a lot of the fandom wants this to just get on with it and find a strong direction, but this feels like real life: sometimes it's just trying to get by, to me. But it's really fun real life set in another universe and I'm the weirdo who's loving this even as it kind of strings us along.
But I'm okay with being that weirdo because I'm still loving this series, so there's that.
Everyone is trying to figure out what they're going to do: stay, go, or just enjoy the moment? For all that, tension comes with people stalking Prince Robot IV - yup, still refuse to think of him as anything but a prince, even though he calls him Sir Robot because I liked him more as a Prince, to be honest.
The journalists take the deal that Robot warns them not to, and he's going to get new bodies for him, Petri, and Squire Robot. Bodies that will hide them from the wrath of things like the Robot Kingdom and those that Prince Robot IV has wronged in the past.
Squire wants to stay with Hazel, but getting the new bodies means going, so there's definitely tension between the small familial groups.
With Jack Boniface, and thus Shadowman, stuck in the Deadside for five years, Alyssa has to try and protect New Orleans on her own. Having in fact struck out on her own - and in fact having left the Abettors, a society devoted to stopping Darque and mystical evil by helping the Shadowman, she is truly on her own - she finds this a harder and harder task. She's older, and it shows: she's being worn down by her fight, but also not ready to give up by a long shot.
When she faces off against an evil too great to fight on her own, she calls out for help - and Jack Boniface returns.
This also had previews of Harbinger 2, and on and on, but I was hoping for original content here. Having read issue one of Shadowman, I can tell you there is not original content: this is just a preview. Sometimes that happens with Free Comic Book Day books, but I've found it's mostly new content. I hadn't read issue one before this, treating it more as an issue zero and lead in to the series - which is what I'd hoped it would be - so I had no idea it wasn't original while reading this book.
It's excellent regardless of whether or not it's new, and I"m super excited about Shadowman right now.