James Bowman (jeb1981) wrote,
James Bowman

Books I read in May 2016

Doctor Who: Sting of the Zygons, by Stephen Cole, 4/5 (B+)
A good solid Tenth Doctor and Martha story, of the sort that would have worked great on TV. The Zygons are particularly creative in their shapeshifting in this story, setting up some genuine mystery as to who can be trusted.

Darkwing Duck/DuckTales: Dangerous Currency, by Warren Spector, Ian Brill, and James Silvani, 4/5 (B+)
An entertaining finale for the Darkwing Duck and DuckTales comics, this teams together the casts of both cartoons against an appropriately major threat - the alliance of their biggest foes! There's cool stuff for fans in here, including some neat DuckTales cameos ("Agent 44" especially) and some interesting upgrades for the Darkwing villains. However, the story suffers a bit from packing so much in compared to previous volumes, and the last section wraps things up too quickly and neatly... but there's enough done well that it can be forgiven.

Doctor Who: The Cruel Sea, by various, 4/5 (B+)
A good set of comic stories from the all-too-brief era of the Ninth Doctor. The most memorable story is the one the collection gets its title from, which is one of the creepiest Doctor Who stories ever, and probably worth the price of admission alone (although I should warn that the ending doesn't make much sense). Most of these had actually been collected before in a Doctor Who Magazine special, but this book edition also includes some material from the Doctor Who Annual 2006, including " What I Did on My Christmas Holidays by Sally Sparrow", Steven Moffat's prototype for "Blink". Of all the Doctor Who Magazine comic collections, this is definitely one of the best. (B+)

Doctor Who: Short Trips - Companions, edited by Jacqueline Rayner, 4/5 (B)
An adequate collection of short stories, based around various companions of the first eight Doctors. Not bad overall, but not great either.

Comments on the specific stories:
The Tip of the Mind (Zoe): Pretty good, if sad, and with a few hiccups at the end.
The Splintered Gate (Ian): It's OK. Kind of unambitious, though.
The Man from DOCTO(R) (Harry Sullivan): Silly fun, with Harry playing superspy.
Apocrypha Bipedium (Vicki, Charley): I wanted to like this, but the stuff they did with eight-year-old Shakespeare bothered me. (If that makes me a grump, so be it.)
A Boy's Tale (Adric): Pretty good, some nice backstory on Adric and his homeworld.
Kept Safe and Sound (K9): Good if melancholy, although it probably could have worked fairly well as a non-Who story.
The Lying Old Witch in the Wardrobe (Romana): A weird exercise in unnecessary continuity.
Hearts of Stone (Adric, again!): Good, a rare sympathetic view of the character.
Distance (Barbara): OK, don't think her post-Doctor life really needed to be such a downer, though.
Qualia (Tegan etc.): An odd one, though it has some moments.
Curriculum Vitae (Polly): It's well-done, but again, not big on "and they lived unhappily ever after" stories for companions.
Notre Dame Du Temps (Anji): It's OK. Some interesting ideas, but also some that don't quite work for me.
The Little Drummer Boy (Sara Kingdom): Good, but sad.
Hidden Talent (Jo): A perfectly fine Third Doctor-era story, but a bit basic.
The Canvey Angels (Peri): Meh. (Peri is being a bit too nice to some of these people.)
Balloon Debate (multiple): Fun to see a bunch of the companions all interacting, although the author's biases were showing (especially with Mel).
A Long Night (Barbara): Short but very effective.

Sluggy Freelance: The Holiday Wars, by Pete Abrams, 4/5 (B)
A solid collection of strips from 2003 to 2004. The best is the title storyline, which epitomizes the best of Sluggy by giving such a silly concept an epic feel. (Though I feel like they could have stretched it out a little longer.) The short story at the end with Basphomy is good too.

Ghostbusters: Get Real, by Erik Burnham, 4/5 (B+)
A fun meetup between IDW's Ghostbusters and the 1980s Real Ghostbusters, with neat cameos from a number of other Ghostbusters! It was also an interesting choice to set the story during an actual episode of the 1980s series, even using the main villain from that episode. The best part, of course, is the banter between the two incarnations of the team, which did a good job showing the subtle differences between them.

Oh, and I don't normally comment about art, but I have to give the artist a lot of praise for his authentic reproduction of the art style of the cartoon. Even the original character designs fit right in. (He did miss a bit on the main villain, but the overall style is still intact, so it's OK.)
Tags: books, reviews

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