Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The Marvel Encyclopedia- 70th Anniversary
2009 Revised Edition (Advanced Review Copy)
by Tom DeFalco, Peter Sanderson, Tom Brevoort, Michael Teitelbaum, Daniel Wallace, Andrew Darling and Matt Forbeck.
Celebrate 70 years of Marvel Comics with The Marvel Encyclopedia! Fully updated with new images and text, this one-volume encyclopedia contains more than 1,000 of Marvel's greatest-from well-known characters such as Spider-Man, the Hulk and Wolverine to lesser known heroes and villains. An essential book both for new fans and for those who grew up loving the comics, The Marvel Encyclopedia is full of artwork, stats, and history for every character in the Marvel Universe. Updates on characters include information from the story arcs of Civil War and Annihilation, and brings fans up to date with the aftermath of Secret Invasion.
This is a massive tome of all things Marvel. Seriously. It’s a 50 pound hardcover of comic book awesome! Ok, maybe not 50 pounds, but it’s a bullet stopper for sure!
I’ve been a fan of Marvel Comics since I was a kid and the comics took a massive jump to a whopping 35 Cents! Comics have changed so much over the years. More than I knew before delving in to the Marvel Encyclopedia. Holy CRAP! This book delves in to every character, major and minor That I have ever heard of and many I hadn’t. It gives all kinds of details on origins, secret identities, story arcs and issues they are showcased in.
As always, the artwork is stunning. There are several large entries for special groups and events like The Avengers, The Death of Captain America, Civil War, The Gods of Asgard and the many variations of The Hulk.
One of the nicest things about the Marvel Encyclopedia is that you can catch up on a lot of the important story arcs. For example the X-Men entry explains several of the more convoluted plots and ties them together nicely (Story A ties also to House of M and Story B dovetails in to The Illuminati and then in to Civil War). I’ll be honest…I haven’t been able to keep up with all the titles Marvel produces for many years. Actually I only ever kept up with a few at a time and then picked up tie-in issues where I could. I usually missed out on several awesome stories until the graphic novels came out. One thing that’s extra nice is that with the Marvel Encyclopedia you know how and where to find all the best parts of each series like the Mutant Massacre, Coming of Apocalypse and the Secret Wars.
This is a fantastic collection of Marvel Comics lore. As awesome as this tome of knowledge is, I think it is the art that makes it really pop. Every single page is heavily laden with art from the respective series’; easily over a thousand images of heroes, villains, sidekicks and monsters. This is a fantastic book.
How do I rate it? 400 Pages of hardbound Marvel Comics goodness! ‘Nuff Said.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The Ghost King: Transitions Book III, By R.A. Salvatore
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast (October 6, 2009)
“When the Spellplague ravages Faerûn, Drizzt and his companions are caught in the chaos. Seeking out the help of the priest Cadderly–the hero of the recently reissued series The Cleric Quintet–Drizzt finds himself facing his most powerful and elusive foe, the twisted Crenshinibon, the demonic crystal shard he believed had been destroyed years ago.”
I think one of the coolest parts of writing reviews is not only getting to read a lot of material, but to really get in to the nuts and bolts of how that material is “assembled”. In this case I have been fortunate to read a LOT of Forgotten Realms novel by R.A. Salvatore as well as others such as Paul Kemp. Having read all the “Drizzt Novels” to date, I can say with certainty that the author has improved his craft greatly over the years.
R.A. Salvatore, like any writer clearly has a deep relationship with many of his characters. While some writers are able to outline and crank out material in a mechanical fashion more often then not they go through a sort of adventure of their own; discovering the world and characters as they write. It’s like a journey for the characters as well as the writer. In doing so the author learns to love and hate characters and tries to share it with us…the readers.
I think it is a measure of success when the author is able to manipulate the heart-strings of the reader, and R.A. Salvatore has done a masterful job at this over the years. Some times more than others, I admit it. I don’t expect a baseball player to hit a home run every time at the plate. I don’t expect a writer to write “the perfect novel” every time either. Stephen King is a good example of this.
R.A. Salvatore has been building up steam throughout this whole series. Transitions. In the Transitions series we are seeing the tale of how Faerun is going through some massive changes. Much of the face of The Forgotten Realms will be different afterward. At the heart of this are changes in direction and flavor of D&D 4th Edition and the 4e Forgotten Realms setting.
Like it or not, love it or hate it, Wizards of the Coast owns D&D and the setting that these novels reside in, and they have mandated change.
Our intrepid author is responsible for writing novels explaining how we get from the Forgotten Realms we have all known for the past 25 years…to this new setting.
What does that mean for the author? It means that in the jump in time that occurs the vast majority of humans and short-lived races will have died and left some sort of legacy (or not). Many of the characters which have been so lovingly crafted will die. That means core protagonists (and antagonists) will be no more.
R.A. Salvatore in this series has been building this up, and I have to say, he has most certainly delivered.
Without spoiling the story for you, I’ll say that all the protagonists and antagonists have a rough ride through the story. The Spellplague is up-close and personal in this novel. Actually, previous to this novel I thought the Spellplague to be a little trite. A game designer’s tool to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Salvatore put a “human” face on it, made it personal. Now I get it. Now I understand it and accept it and in the process understand how we can leave the previous edition’s Faerun for the new future.
I can’t help to feel sorry for the author in this. You can certainly feel the pain. You know something is coming. It’s like watching a train wreck…you just can’t look away. This is a book of heroism in the face of impossible odds. Acceptance of fate as well as stoic denial of it. It’s about loss…and hope.
There is only so much I can say about it. Usually I can drone on and on about this or that in a novel. Not this time. You have to read it for yourself. It’s good. Seriously. Probably R.A. Salvatore’s best work. I cried like a baby. It took several tries to get through the last dozen pages.