James Bowman (jeb1981) wrote,
James Bowman
jeb1981

Books I read in July, August, September 2016

Catching up on the last few months...

JULY

The Essential Doctor Who: The Time Lords, edited by Marcus Hearn, 4/5 (B)
A decent "bookazine" overview of the Time Lords as seen in Doctor Who throughout the years. The various interviews with actors and other creators are probably the best part.

Booster Gold: 52 Pick-Up, by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz, 4/5 (B+)
A solid superhero series that puts a new spin on the character of Booster Gold. Instead of a hero overtly seeking fame and fortune, Booster has to become a secret defender of the timestream, while still pretending to be the jerk the world thinks he is. Combine that with some interesting trips into DC's (pre-reboot) history and fun yet heartfelt characterizations all around, and you have one of the better series to spin out of the Infinite Crisis era.

Booster Gold: Blue and Gold, by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz, 4/5 (B+)
While anyone who's read a time-travel story about saving someone who's meant to die knows how this story is going to end, it's still an interesting ride, and you still feel for Booster trying to delay the inevitable. The OMAC-dominated alternate timeline has some interesting twists, even if a few of the bad things get noticeably repeated for different people. Fortunately, the ending softens some of the downer blows from the rest of the story.

AUGUST

One Piece: Skypiea 28-29-30, by Eiichiro Oda, 4/5 (B+)
The first half or so is about the same as the previous omnibus, adequately entertaining but lacking in urgency. However, once the story focuses on Eneru himself, things improve a lot. Eneru isn't a complicated villain - a super-powerful megalomaniac with a god complex - but there's an elegance in his simplicity, and his ego makes it all the more satisfying when our heroes take him down a notch.

SEPTEMBER

Transformers Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging, by Bill Forster and Jim Sorenson, 4/5 (B)
Pretty to look at, and extensive, but I was disappointed that there wasn't more work put into describing the background of the art.

The Ultimate Spider-Man 100 Project, by various, 4/5 (B)
A neat little collection of Spider-Man artwork.

The Fantastic Four 100 Project, by various, 4/5 (B)
A neat selection of charity-driven pictures of the FF and much of their supporting cast and enemies.

Transformers: Escalation, by Simon Furman, 4.5/5 (A-)
Furman's reboot of the Generation One era continues with some interesting twists and intrigues, as the Autobots face off against both the Decepticons and a human organization with its own plans for the Transformers...

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye Volume 4, by James Roberts, 4.5/5 (A-)
Another solid installment, with the series' trademark mix of fun (the shore leave with holo-avatars) and darkness (everything with Overlord), backed by interesting characterizations. Some lingering questions are answered, and new ones raised (what's up with Ultra Magnus?). All in all, a great read.

Dungeons & Dragons: Out of the Abyss, by various, 4.5/5 (A)
Probably the best adventure path produced since the launch of D&D 5th Edition, Out of the Abyss combines together old-school Underdark adventure tropes with a touch of the weirdness seen in later settings like Planescape.

The first half of the adventure introduces our heroes, who escape from drow imprisonment, only to discover that the demon princes of the Abyss have been summoned into the Underdark. The dangerous, corrupting effects of this summoning become obvious as our heroes try to get back to the surface. Along the way, they evade drow trying to recapture them, and hit a number of interesting locales, including the duergar city of Gracklstugh and the deep gnome city of Blingdenstone.

The second half sends the heroes back into the Underdark, on a mission to investigate the demon-haunted Underdark and, eventually, engineer the demon lords' banishment back to the Abyss. Even more interesting locales appear during this section, including the stone giant library of Gravenhollow (my favorite in the book) and the drow capital city of Menzoberranzan.

Even more so than the previous 5th Edition adventures, Out of the Abyss encompasses an entire campaign for a D&D group. In addition to the solid plot, there are a number of unusual scenarios to play out (not just the usual hack-and-slash), many fun NPCs, and tons of side quests to interest players. Beyond even that, the book serves as a terrific sourcebook for Underdark adventuring, providing lots of detail about the wildlife, cultures, and societies of the underground. Throw in a number of new magic items and monsters (including stats for the demon lords themselves!) and you have one of this edition's best products. Green Ronin deserves much praise for this fine work.
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