The Stuff of Legend: Vol. 4 The Toy Collector Review

I swear that stack is bigger every time I go to read something off of it. Probably my own fault.

Also, as a warning to you new folks, you should know that I have zero problems with spoiling things and will probably spoil the hell out of this book for you. If you just want to know what it’s about, check out the review.

The latest volume continues in the tradition of being fantastic, even though the main party is split into sevreal small pieces and we get little updates on each of them. Max inexplicably continues to have leadership roles despite the fact that he is the worst choice. The girls do very little of note.

And then we get the plot lines I actually care about.


Jester is still alive! I was far more worried than I should be about it, but now they’ve introduced a medic for the first time, with the ability to reassemble toys and who gives us a bit more insight into the motivations of the Boogeyman. Really, with Jester being in the shape he is, he spends most of his time helping to exposit the motivations of the Boogeyman.

I am… mixed on the reasons for the Boogeyman. On the one hand, I see it and it makes sense. He wants to be like the Boy, a god in his realm and master of everything. The problem is he seems to much less terrifying and more childlike now. I’m just not sure about it yet.

The book has been great at making me really dislike Percy despite his plight being perfectly understandable. I know he’s doing this all motivated entirely by knowing that the boy is going to murder him at some point and he just doesn’t want to die. That doesn’t make me like his attempts at playing both sides any more,1 but it does make me understand him. And I really think that’s good enough.

As for the boy, I’ve gotten a little hesitant about his the last volume. He was bland and generic before and that hasn’t changed. What has changed is the introduction of a single idea that would give him the ability to be God in this world. There is a possibility now, sitting in the back of my mind, that dead characters can come back if the Boy wants them to. I am not a fan of the notion.

Still, the book is moving. This volume was a lot of developing ideas rather than the action, but it was still set at a good pace and, while I’m iffy on some of these ideas, I am still looking forward to the next volume. Overall it was good times.

  1. Though mostly the Boogeyman’s side, honestly. It’s just the Boy’s side when the guilt gets to him. []

NaNoWriMo Poll 2014!

Guess what? Nanowrimo time. Once again, I don’t want to decide what to write this year, so I ask the internet to pick for me. Twist this year is that I’m probably going to be writing two books and the second one is probably going to be Looking Glass related.1

Anyway, most of you know the drill already. Bunch of options, poll at the bottom. As usual, you can choose up to three options and all voting is closed on October 25th.

The Sword Prince
Prince Siegfried, after an unfortunate encounter with a basilisk, was cursed to be a sword at the bottom of a lake. When he is removed from the lake by his descendants, he becomes a boy again just in time for the throne to be attacked. He finds himself caught in the middle and his curse slowly taking hold once more.

Mirabella knows she is a princess. She knows because she doesn’t want to be an innkeeper’s daughter. When a group of people come through the inn looking for the real princess of a conquered kingdom, Mirabella sneaks out to join them on their quest to fulfill the prophesy to retake the kingdom. The journey isn’t quite what she had hoped, full of danger and uncertainty, and she is not the only potential princess they’ve picked up in their travels.

Sky of Butterflies
Deciding to try their luck on their own, Mateo and Serafina venture out of their orphanage and into the wide world outside, only to be swept up in a revolution. The robots have caught their world up in a tyrannical rule while the rich remain safe behind gilded gates. The kids, however, soon learn that the resistance is not all that it seems to be… and neither are they.

Escaping Reality
When Helena was a child, she went missing for several years. When she came back, she had no recollection of what happened. Now in her twenties, she is getting the feeling she’s being watched. She’s starting to remember what happened back then and it’s becoming clear that she has unfinished business that’s coming back for her whether she likes it or not.2

City Without Heroes
In a world full of supervillains and superheroes, Indira’s parents have decided to take jobs in the crimeless city of Whitten. She couldn’t be happier about it. Super powers run in her family and Indira is psychic, though plays her powers down as much as possible to keep from being roped into becoming a hero herself. Her uncle distrust the place, but Indira quickly settles, not realizing the price that comes with keeping a city like Whitten free of both heroes and villains.


Nanowrimo Poll 2014

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  1. Unless you pick one of the ones below that’s actually a two parter. No, I’m not telling you which one. []
  2. Also magic. Shit tons of magic. []

John Constantine, Hellblazer: Vol 4 – Family Man Review

I am slowly working through all of the Hellblazer books via these huge collections and they are all very dense reads. There’s just always a lot of stuff happening in them and it has that world building that never quite stops.

The theme of this one might have been family and dealt with the Family Man, but that’s not the only story in the book. It’s told a bit more like life. Stuff happens, one thing leads to another, he doesn’t do anything else about it and something happens in the mean time before he gets back to the main plot. Three months pass and he does something else in the mean time.

Despite it being the fourth volume in the series, you can pick it up with very little understanding of anything that happened before. All you really know is that Constantine is an asshole that gets involved in the occult.  Very little in here involves you needing to know what happened before.

Instead of relying heavily on the occult, this volume is about a regular old serial killer that just happens to use a contact to get his victims that is involved in the supernatural and knows Constantine. The magic involved in the story is relegated to the epilogue, after the Family Man arc proper is over, which is really nice. Instead, we get to spend the story watching Constantine, a man who’s dealt with demons and unholy abominations of all sorts, lose his shit over a man coming after him. He’s scared and it’s great to see.

It does read like a bit of a jumble, though. There’s side stories and what I assume are specials that are spliced into the main story, giving it the sense that all of these things are happening one after another. Personally, I like it because it feels a lot more like how the events actually would unfold for him, but I can understand where it would lose people.

In short, I’m really enjoying Hellblazer and can’t wait for the next volume in this re-release.1

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  1. This re-release which is numbered because my god, I could not figure out the order of the old system []

Pretty Deadly: Vol 1 Review

A friend of mine originally mentioned this one to me and I’m really happy she did. It’s a fantasy western, which I’m now a bit more interested in as a genre after American Vampire. As it turns out, this one’s probably better.

The story isn’t entirely straightforward in the way it’s told, which I love. There are a lot of characters keeping secrets about who they are and who other people are, plus a few characters who don’t even know their own natures in the story until much later. The misdirection plus slow reveal is a thing that I really love in story telling, though I know some people aren’t going to be completely on board with it.

Not that you can’t pretty easily tell what’s going on yourself if you pay attention. There’s people who are obviously being set up, you know that these characters in the stories the characters tell all correspond to characters in the action. You know that the characters are all actually their counterparts and you know that there’s a lot of bad blood that needs to be worked out.

As a fantasy, there’s a very rich universe painted here in both the art and storytelling. There’s a whole world here that is very different from our own with rules that operate on a very different level. While the characters all behave in a very human manner, very few of them actually are and you can feel it as well as see it as the story unfolds, bringing in elements of the world of death and a very different sort of deity than we normally see in fiction these days.

In short, it is so good and you should get it.

Pretty Deadly Volume 1 TP (Paperback)

By (author): Kelly Sue Deconnick

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Five Ghosts Review

About time I got around to Five Ghosts. It’s been sitting there for a while and I just saw the new volume come out last week or so.

The premise is fantastic. It’s a guy possessed by five ghosts who he can channel to use their special skill sets or abilities to help him go around Relic Hunter style, stealing relics from dangerous places and selling them.1 Just don’t think too hard about the vampire part and the set up is great.

It fell apart for me with the writing. I never felt like I got a good foundation of just who Fabian Grey was or what any of his motivations were. Sure, he’s doing it to find a way to help his comatose sister2  but I have no idea who he is or if that’s the only reason. He sleeps with women, he’s cursed, he sleeps a lot, but he seems bland as an actual person.

There’s also the plotting. Things kept happening. This would be great if they lead into one another, but I don’t think they actually did. He succumbed to his curse at plot convenient moments, got out of it at convenient moments and then something else would happen that wasn’t prompted by any previous actions.

It might be a case of being dropped into the middle of the story and not being able to see the connection between events because the camera is pulled in too close, but I have no idea at this point. I’m not invested enough in the characters to care about the random woman getting bombed somewhere else or the fainting sexy priestess. I just don’t care enough about Fabian to find out how any of this stuff links together or what’s going on.

Guess I’m skipping on that second book.

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  1. I realize Relic Hunter didn’t sell the relics. []
  2. The only named female in the book which, just, UGH []

Saga: Vol 3 Review

I read something else off the pile! I’ve talked about this series before and how much I like it, but the third volume was sitting in the pile for a while. Whoops. Finally got around to it and, SURPRISE, I liked it.

It is a lot more domestic than the other volumes. Hazel has a stable house and they have their recovery arc from all the craziness of the previous two volumes. Even The Will1 gets a nice domestic arc, though as you can imagine, the arcs don’t stay terribly domestic.

I was more focused on some of the world building that happened in this one than anything else. We spend a good time away from the characters having their down time and instead focused on these two reporters who I really hope we see more of. At first I thought it was a tabloid sort of thing and I still don’t really know why they’ve latched onto the story in the first place, but I’m kind of invested in them and they’re now characters I am looking forward to resurfacing in the future.

Also, just the fact that we get little insights into Alana’s back story without it seeming forced or out of place. As a framing device for it, the reporting on the kidnapping was a great way to show Alana’s history without actually having her spout exposition.

And, of course, ending on a cliff hanger. I suspect the next book will pick up again, but it was nice to have a bit of a quieter book with a bit of exposition and world building.

Saga, Vol. 3 (Paperback)

By (author): Brian K. Vaughan

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  1. God, that name is still stupid sounding to me []

Umbral Review

All right! Let’s start making a decent effort to read the stack of unreads I have just sitting on the floor next to me every day. Staring up at me. Getting bigger and bigger every week. First book go!


Book One: Out of the Shadows

I started reading this one in issues a while back. It looked interesting and, while I don’t read much fantasy anymore, that doesn’t mean I don’t read fantasy at all. I find a lot of fantasy comics – like a lot of fantasy stories – fall into relying on older tropes and telegraph what’s going to happen early on.

Luckily, not so much the case with this one. We follow a girl named Rascal, who is friends with a prince who doesn’t last long. Creatures use the solar eclipse happening as a means to break into the castle, murder the royal family and replace them with doubles. Thy are after the Umbral, a powerful force of magic for reasons having to do with gods and an entirely new mythology.

It does have some of the tropes. There’s still the magical macguffin item that reacts at inopportune moments, the old wizard who knows more than he’s letting on who will serve as the mentor until he gets killed off, the tank, the one with the gadgets and an underdog heroine who is in over her head.

Oh, and racial infighting between two characters in the party. They may not have dwarves and elves, but they do have two races with a long history with one another who do not like each other.

The art is interesting in the book, too. It’s rough and looks almost unfinished at parts, but it does a lot more to add to the darker atmosphere than take away from it. Everything looks a little dirty and, when the world is tainted by a pervasive dark evil, that works amazingly well.

The important part is that it’s not predictable in the way a lot of fantasy stories are. While I can see future beats coming, I don’t know how they’re going to unfold at this point and it should be interesting to watch this journey.

I’ll probably pick up the next trade when it’s out.

Umbral Volume 1 TP (Paperback)

By (author): Antony Johnston

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