MY?TERY SOCIETY #1 by Steve Niles and Fiona Staples – A Book Review

I usually don’t review single-issue comic books, but when Hometown Comics contacted me and offered me an advanced copy of MY?TERY SOCIETY in promotion of a visit from author Steve Niles, I counted myself very lucky and jumped at the opportunity.

If you’re a comic book lover, you know Steve Niles.  If you’re not a comic book lover, you probably know Steve Niles because he created the source material for the movie 30 Days of Night.  He’s something of a legend in the business, and excels at the horrific, grotesque, and provocative – but all in a good way.

MY?TERY SOCIETY, as of the first issue, is … well … something of a mystery.  The story features a husband and wife team, Nick and Anastasia, who proactively investigate the arcane, classified, and weird.  They’re trying to build a society, but to what purpose we don’t know.

The story begins with Nick Hammond being transferred to prison, and when he stops to field questions from reporters, he recounts a tale that we presume led to his current situation.  In the flashback, he is raiding Area 51while being navigated by his wife back home.  Soon, he meets with complications that threaten to keep him from his quarry just as his wife must deal with an invader in their home.  Since we’re talking about a periodical publication, we are, of course, left with a cliff-hanger ending meant to entice the reader to return for issue number two.

Niles has created a quirky, fun husband and wife team with snappy banter and plenty of action.  So far, the book reads as less horror and more adventure with some touches of the occult.  I’m most interested in what I can only assume will be a future storyline when Anastasia mentions that someone has stolen Edgar Allan Poe’s skull and that they must track it down.  How cool is that idea?  I was disheartened, though, by the use of Area 51.  It seems as though Area 51 is thrown into the mix whenever this type of story arises, and I could have done without it.  If Niles had called it “Area 52,” perhaps I would have been more forgiving.

The art, by the way, was fantastic.  I’ve never heard of Fiona Staples, but she is a real talent whose style meshes perfectly with Niles’ story.  Since there is no inker or colorist listed, I can only assume Staples pulled triple-duty, which makes her all the more impressive.  I’m a color guy, and hers are gorgeous.  She somehow manages to give us a wide array of colors but keeps them all subdued and dark, which, as I said, compliments the story very well.

So while there are touches of the familiar (Area 51), Niles and Staples have delivered a dynamic first issue that firmly establishes the characters, provides a lot of action, and offers plenty of reasons to come back for more.

And if you happen to live near Edwardsville, IL, be sure to drop by Hometown Comics on 110 East Vandalia from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on June 8th.  Steve Niles will be there signing his work and conversing with fans in promotion of MY?TERY SOCIETY!  Call Doug at 618.655.0707 for more information or visit:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=114894441885082&index=1

Andropia Is Here!

My latest book, Andropia, is now live and available for purchase.  I like to think of it as philosophical science fiction, heavily influenced by the world events of the last five years as well as classic works of literature such as Brave New World, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451.

Andropia is the world’s last city, a utopia for its citizens known as Andropians.  They exist to please the Maker, he who created them in his floating Citadel.  Andropians cheerfully question nothing as they go about unnecessarily purifying air, cleaning water, and raising livestock.

When Isaac arrives from the Citadel, his many questions lead other Andropians to compare him to the deviant Amelia.  Soon Amelia and Isaac’s paths cross, and she persuades him to help rescue their people.  For she long ago discovered a suspected harbinger of destruction, an object that could mean the end of life as they know it.

Isaac and Amelia invade the Citadel and confront the Maker, but nothing could have prepared them for what they learn and their final fates.

To get your signed copy of Andropia, simply follow the link:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=KYL4N7D8D4XHG

or send $13.95 to:

Scott William Foley
P.O. Box 174
Normal, IL  61761

The shipping is free, and please allow up to three weeks for delivery.

Andropia is also available at Amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/Andropia-Scott-William-Foley/dp/1450222366/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274142161&sr=1-1

and Barnes and Noble.com:
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Andropia/e/9781450222365/?itm=1&USRI=andropia

I truly hope you’ll give Andropia a try!

Sincerely,
Scott

Iron Man 2 – A Movie Review

Interestingly enough, I believe Iron Man is one of those comic book characters that actually translates better on film.  Let’s face it: no matter how great the artist, Iron Man is a hero we want to see blazing through the sky, shooting rays from his hands, and just being generally awesome in live-action.  I think that’s (one of the reasons) why the first Iron Man was so successful.

I’m happy to say that in nearly every conceivable way, Iron Man 2 is just as good as the original if not a tad better.

Let’s get the bad right out of the way.  Certain aspects of the story in Iron Man 2 … well, they were a little clichéd and more than a little fuzzy.  The parts concerning fathers and sons I got; the parts concerning Stark’s new power source and how he discovered it … not so much.  And we have a lot of iron men battling Iron Man, which sort of felt like a retread from the first film and something I hope we’ve seen the last of.

Okay, let’s talk about the good!  First of all, it is undeniably a fact that Sam Rockwell took a great movie and made it better.  I actually couldn’t wait for him to return to the screen during this movie, which says something considering that he played an opportunistic, annoying jerk.  His Justin Hammer was absolutely a blast to watch.  He even outdid the always-entertaining Robert Downey, Jr., whose Tony Stark was not all that different from Justin Hammer in a lot of ways.  For some reason, though, Tony comes off as the cool kid and Hammer comes off as the annoying bottom-feeder.  These two actors were phenomenal to watch.

Mickey Rourke was also amazing, but for the completely opposite reason.  As extravagant and bombastic as Downey and Rockwell were, Rourke was subdued.  His villain, Ivan Vanko, could have been a joke.  A man with daddy-issues tied to the Stark family who uses Stark technology to wage war against Iron Man.  Instead, Rourke took him and made him his own—Rourke made him scary and real.  Of all the characters, Vanko was the one I believed could actually exist, and that’s because they got a top-notch actor to play him.  I loved every scene Vanko had except for at the end of the film when they ruined him just like they did Jeff Bridges in the first Iron Man.  But man, when we first see Vanko’s gear at the road race … that’s the stuff of cinematic legend.

I’d also like to mention that Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts came off as far more likable in the sequel.  I actually found myself rooting for her this time around, and I think that’s because they gave her a meatier role.  Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes also had charm, as did Sam Jackson as Nick Fury and Gary Shandling as Senator Stern.  In fact, this was a stellar cast who brought real charisma to their characters from top to bottom, making Iron Man 2 a fun film to watch.

And, of course, the special effects couldn’t have been done any better.  I even took note that the score was appealing which usually only happens for me with James Horner, John Williams, or Danny Elfman.

I really enjoyed Jon Favreau’s direction.  He seems to understand how to let his actors play to their strengths while keeping the action tight and the shots dynamic.  Iron Man 2 was actually pretty funny in a lot of ways, which makes sense considering Favreau’s background, but it felt purely organic to the characters and not as though this was a comedy masquerading as an action film.  And as much as I love The Dark Knight, I’m okay with a super hero movie having a lighter tone and giving us something to cheer about.  By the way, I would have loved to have seen Favreau directing Downey and Rourke in the same scene.  I can’t imagine two more different men.

So while the story left me scratching my head at some times, the sheer charisma of nearly every actor in this movie, as well as its action, sense of fun, and appealing direction made it a great ride.

P.S.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, make sure you sit through the credits.  It gives a big hint as to the next Marvel film to be released.

Neil Young’s Greendale by Joshua Dysart and Cliff Chiang – A Book Review

The graphic novel Greendale serves as a companion piece to the Neil Young album and movie of the same name.  I was totally unfamiliar with both before reading the graphic novel, and, after a little bit of investigating, it seems you can enjoy the graphic novel with no knowledge of its sisters.

That being said, Greendale is an interesting book in many respects, and disappointing in others.

The story revolves around Sun Green, young woman who has inherited a mysterious connection to nature, as do all of the women in her family.  Sun is experiencing visions that she doesn’t quite understand, and when a stranger comes to the small town of Greendale, those visions are forced to become a reality – for better or for worse.

Greendale is set in 2003 and is a politically-charged, socially-relevant commentary on ecology as well as our military actions from that year on.  Joshua Dysart’s dialogue flows along nicely, and Cliff Chiang’s artwork is both pleasing to the eye and incredibly adept at conveying the characters’ moods, thoughts, and personalities.  However, the real star of this book is the colorist, Dave Stewart.  I read an advanced copy of Greendale that was mostly in black and white, but those few pages that were colored were astounding.  I can’t wait to see the final product to see the rest of Stewart’s colors.

On the other hand, Greendale is a convoluted plot that never made total sense.  There are far too many characters with similar names to keep track of, and, at times, I caught myself thinking, “What’s the point of this story?”  Yes, there is a lot of social and political criticism, but there’s also an underlying story involving mysticism that never really rises to the surface in any meaningful and satisfactory way.  I generally enjoy Vertigo’s offerings, but the plot of Greendale was a bit too heavy-handed and vague for my taste (which is a strange pairing).

The art is very pleasing, the coloring is fantastic, the dialogue isn’t bad, but the overall story failed to entice.

Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk – A Book Review

Tell-All is about a nearly forgotten Hollywood starlet, her personal assistant, and a younger man who seemingly pretends to love her in order to write a “tell-all” book about their relationship, right up until the moment he kills her.  It is a book that really evokes two strong reactions from me.

The first reaction is one of appreciation and commendation.  Tell-All is a radical departure from Palahniuk’s past work, and I appreciate authors who strive to do something different, especially when they’ve fostered a certain loyalty amongst a specific group of fans.  Furthermore, Tell-All, in the true spirit of its stars, name-drops like you wouldn’t believe.  The technical term for what Palahniuk does is called “allusions,” and he has at least five allusions on each page, in bold print, daring you to disregard them.  Admittedly, most of them I didn’t recognize as they were (apparently) the names of past, well-known actors and actresses.  I also want to mention that Tell-All is funny, but it’s the kind of funny that doesn’t seem funny at the moment.  After you’ve finished the book and gone about your business, it seeps into your mind, and then, as you’re doing something else, you realize just how funny a particular scene was.

Unfortunately, the other reaction is not as positive.  Tell-All is a simple plot, and it tends to get repetitive rather quickly.  And as much as I appreciated the sheer determination to include as many allusions as possible, they sadly became distracting pretty fast.  Tell-All was very slow to start, and there were several moments when I wanted to throw in the towel.  I really and truly didn’t care about any of the characters in this book.

All-in-all, Tell-All is not a particularly enjoyable work, but I do greatly admire Palahniuk for writing something unlike anything he’s ever done before, and I also respect the fact that he completely dedicated himself to the idea of including as many allusions as possible.  To depart from his normal offerings is to risk upsetting a committed, previously established fan-base, and I believe that is both brave and artistically honorable.

Check Out Jude Landry’s Cover To My Latest Book!

Jude Landry is someone who will be revered one day as an artist … mark my words.  Originally a friend of a friend, I asked Jude almost two years ago if he’d design the cover for a book that I planned to release.  Because I  loved his previous work, I knew Jude would come up with something fantastic.  And so he did.  Best of all?  I like to think we became great friends in the process.  Behold Jude Landry’s cover to Andropia:

Be sure to visit Jude Landry’s website and look at his amazing work by clicking HERE!

And don’t forget, you can use PAYPAL to order a signed copy of Andropia by clicking HERE!

My Newest Book – Andropia – Arrives Soon!

I’m ecstatic to announce that my latest book, Andropia, is due to arrive in just a few short weeks!

Andropia is the world’s last city, a utopia for its citizens known as Andropians.  They exist to please the Maker, he who created them in his floating Citadel.  Andropians cheerfully question nothing as they go about unnecessarily purifying air, cleaning water, and raising livestock.

When Isaac arrives from the Citadel, his many questions lead other Andropians to compare him to the deviant Amelia.  Soon Amelia and Isaac’s paths cross, and she persuades him to help rescue their people.  For she long ago discovered a suspected harbinger of destruction, an object that could mean the end of life as they know it.

Isaac and Amelia invade the Citadel and confront the Maker, but nothing could have prepared them for what they learn and their final fates.

To get your signed copy of Andropia, simply follow the link:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=KYL4N7D8D4XHG

or send $13.95 to:

Scott William Foley
P.O. Box 174
Normal, IL  61761

The shipping is free, and because the book won’t hit the market for a few more weeks, please allow up to six weeks for delivery.  As soon as they are available, I’ll mail you your copy without hesitation.

If you’d like to read the first few chapters, click on this: Andropia Sample Chapters!