Tuesday, 27 June 2017

So I Read.... Dark Knight 3: The Master Race


BE WARNED: Spoilers ahead but with good reason.

Frank Miller's original Dark Knight Returns story is, and always will be, a classic in my mind and many others out there. It has many standout moments, such as the final fight with the Joker and even with Superman himself. The Dark Knight 2 was a good follow up, but not as good as the original, such is the case with most sequels. Its best moment was introducing Lara, the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman, and laying the foundations for an interesting character.

Now we have Dark Knight 3. Earth is invaded by a large group of Kryptonians intent on world domination. Batman and Robin emerge to help defend the planet with the eventual aid of Superman and Wonder Woman, but Lara is turned against the heroes, leaving the odds stacks against them.

I really wanted to give this series a glowing review, I really did, but I found myself more annoyed with it than anything else. First off, the lateness of this series was stupid, it started way back in November of 2015, and the final issue (9) has not long been released. Granted that the issues are bigger than normal comics, and have a minicomic in the middle, but I found myself having to reread previous issues to remind myself what happened. Wonder Woman felt like nothing more than a reserve character until she and the Amazonians joined the fight near the end, Lara felt like nothing more than a spoilt brat with her conclusion in the story feeling pointless, and there was even a damn Trump reference.

Then there was a number of variants.
Jesus Christ, I still have a job to believe the amount of them that were actually released. At the time of this blog piece, there is 164 of them, not counting the regular versions. The values of some of them are beyond stupid and, to save time I will not go through all of them, but a variant of issue 9 is currently valued at $650.
Why?

I might bring myself to reread the whole thing from start to finish and maybe I'll have a better opinion of it, but right now I'm disappointed. When a series such as this suffers from being as late as it was, with a stupid amount of variants as it has, it does leave a bad taste in my mouth. Am I being too harsh? Maybe. But with a number of people that were working on it, they could have at least got it out on time.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

So I Listened to.... Denied a Chance.


I don't think I would have ever come across this lady and her story had it not been for a random retweet that appeared in my timeline one day. I follow a few people who believe in the right to carry arms in the USA, one has even shown me her guns via Skype, and one retweeted a tweet from Nicole Goeser which caught my attention. She had tweeted about the loss of her husband, shot dead in front of her by a stalker, in a gun free zone. I saw that she had her book coming out at the time and tweeted that I was sorry for her loss and that I hoped the book did well. Later, I saw that she had liked the tweet and said to myself that I should buy the book.

I remembered about it a while later and decided to check on Audible to see if the book was on there. Sure enough, it was,  I purchased it and sat down to listen. The book covers her last day with her husband, his brutal murder, and what she went through afterward before the eventual trial of his murderer. I found myself really feeling for her throughout the listen and even after the audiobook had finished, she went through something nobody should but took a strong stance against it.

Gun control is obviously a part of this story as well is the ridiculousness of "gun free zones". I believe in the right to carry firearms and would if I could, but here in the UK, it is a totally different ball game. Goeser herself has given talks about this a few times now and I hope she continues because a bad person will always find a way to get a gun; a gun free zone really won't stop them. One thing that certainly should be taken away from this is that Goeser complied with the law by locking her gun away on that fateful night, because of that the law failed both her and husband.

The audiobook is narrated by Ann M. Thompson and she does a good job of it. At first, I was going to criticize the fact that her tone rarely shifted but then I realized that perhaps it was intentional. This really is not a story that could or should be dramatized and her approach to it is a respectable one. The run time for the audiobook is just over three hours, short but this really isn't a tale that can be dragged out at all. Goeser makes her points with no beating around the bush and does not waste time on filler of any kind. It is one of the best arguments for carrying a gun that I have heard yet.

Check this one out. It is not only a strong lesson in firearms and the weakness of the US law, but it also makes another point that recent events in the UK can back up.
Guns do not kill people. People kill people.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Ol' Painless is Waitin'.

Saturday was a good day for me.
My editor, Brian Niemeier, returned my corrections for my book and I began to have at it with them. I thought it was going to be a painful process, where there were errors or corrections needed, Brian had highlighted them and placed an icon for me to click on. Once I did, the icon would explain what the problem was and offer a correcting suggestion. I began to get worried when more icons appeared in the following pages and I thought to myself "This many mistakes? Oh man, I stink at this," quite often. To my delight though, a lot of these were compliments on what I had written and believe me, they were not only a confidence boost but they added a drive to keep going. Even better, other icons were for comical jokes or reactions to something I had written that struck a chord with Brian, such as:

When a character cannot find the energy to read a complicated document, Brian wrote: "Like a Scalzi novel".

When I wrote about food or drink he liked, "Oh man, you are really making me hungry/thirsty".

When my main character insulted someone, "sick burn!"

When one of my characters said "oh boy", Brian made a Quantum Leap joke.

These little moments gave me a kick to keep going and I cannot tell you how much it helped through this process. However, like a laser blast through my midsection that knocked me down, the real problem presented itself later.

Brian pointed out that some of the scenes or chapters in the book were ones I needed to either edit down or take out completely. It was a hard thing for me to hear but his reasons were solid, they slowed the book down too much. In my efforts to learn from the mistakes I had made with Nomads, I had overcompensated with Penance and it was showing. I decided that as I was half done with the corrections, I would finish them and then put myself through the task of cutting out what was not needed as it seemed the right thing to do.

That night, I did not sleep very well as it played on my mind a lot. I had become really attached to the story and really couldn't see where I could make these cuts. The next day (the day of writing this) I found myself coming at it more critically and the scenes that I could cut became a little clearer to me. I know it will still be hard, but I promised myself that I would get this as right as I could. Thankfully, Brian's style of editing has been a real helping hand here and I will always remember that.

Thanks, Brian.