Category: Book Review

Graphic Novel Review: A Secret History of Space

This graphic novel collects Issues 4-7 of Boom Studios’ Steed and Peel series based on the 1960s TV show, The Avengers. 

The four issues cover three separate story lines but there is a sense of them being tied together. The art is superb and really fits with the imaginative, often larger than life world of the Avengers as beautiful concepts are explored.

The first Issue features Steed and Mrs. Peal attending a masquerade ball with some dangerous intruders. It’s probably the simplest story in the book, but the art is very good, even though black and white are the predominant colors.

The middle issues are probably most speculative in the book in a plot that involves blackmail of high government officials, secrets from space, and time travel.

The final issue is typical of many actual episodes of the Avengers as Steed and Peal investigate a series of unexplained unwarranted suicides in a small Welsh town. The ending is a little quick, but the concept is well-realized.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable book for fans of the 1960s series. While being single issue stories does make the first and last issue slightly less complex than you’d otherwise expect, writer Caleb Monroe does a marvelous job capturing the spirit and feel of this classic series.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

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Graphic Novel Review: Steed and Mrs Peel: A Very Civil Armageddon

This trade paperback collects Issues 0-3 of the ongoing Steed and Mrs. Peel comic book series from Boom Studios.

These issues are written by an Eisner award winning comic writer and Mark Waid and get off to a strong start in Issue 0 with several people with high security clearances apparently doing Rip Van Winkle acts and waking up to find its the future and people from the future want their now “out of date” knowledge for “historical purposes.” The solution to this is clever and it feels like something that could have been expanded and broadcast in the 1960s.

The problem becomes that the next three are a single story arc where Steed and Mrs. Peel witness the seaming end of the world and end up in an underground bunker surviving thanks to the villains of the last piece. What’s going on is painfully obvious based on the first story and disappointingly the writing falls a little short of capturing the fun of the original TV series.

The book isn’t bad. The art is fairly good throughout and the first issue is enjoyable, however the three-part story arc in Issues 1-3 makes this a bit harder to get into.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.0

Book Review: Trent’s Last Case

Trent’s Last Case (1913) features amateur detective Philip Trent being called in to solve the murder of a business tycoon with many enemies and a complicated relationship in the tycoon’s own house.

Trent is  a departure from the thinking machines that dominated detective fiction of the time. He was an eccentric, a romantic, and a painter with a light touch and a good deal of humor. Still, he also has a sharp mind.

The case itself is a solid puzzle. Trent uses his deduction and wit to come up with a clever solution which proves to be wrong. We don’t learn who the murderer is until the very end, and the person who did it was someone you never would have guessed.

The story had a great impact on the future detective novels. There is a little bit of over-indulgent social commentary to wade through, particularly after the start. However, even after over a hundred years, the novel holds up well as a light and engaging read.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

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Graphic Novel Review: The Golden Game

The Golden Game collects two separate graphic novel stories featuring the characters of John Steed and Mrs. Peel from the 1960s TV show, the Avengers. The comics are set after Mrs. Peel’s departure from the TV show and were originally published in 1990 as three comic books by Eclipse and then reprinted by Boom Studios in 2012.

The first story, “The Golden Game” was written by famed comics writer Grant Morrison and takes up two thirds of the book. It finds Tara King (Mrs. Peel’s replacement) having disappeared, leading Steed to turn to his old protégé for assistance as they find a tie-in to a mysterious group of game player.

“The Golden Game” does feel like it could have been done on TV if they’d had the budget. The art by Ian Gibson is superb. From the colorful characters to the imaginative solution (complete with a world-threatening danger) to the final pages, everything about the story feels genuine to the era and very imaginative.

“The Deadly Rainbow” was written by Anne Caufield and finds Mrs. Peel reunited with her husband for a second honeymoon in a quaint English village after his return from the Amazon. However, trouble has followed them. There are some interesting character insights with Mrs. Peel trying to reassure herself that she was back with her husband and nothing crazy was going to happen, though of course it did.

The plot is a bit more outlandish, and it isn’t told with the same panache as “The Golden Game.” In addition, while the art was done by the same artist, the visual realization of this story is not quite as good as in the other tale. Still, it’s an okay story with a few interesting features.

Overall, this a nice collection with Grant Morrison’s story making the book a must-read for fans of the 1960s classic.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

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Audiobook Review: The Frightened Fish


In the Frightened Fish, a man travels around New York city panicking every time he sees a silver fish. The last time he does, it’s in front of the building containing the office of Doc Savage, which sets the Man of Bronze on the trail of a mystery that leads him to post-War Japan and a plot to take over the Earth.

The timing of the book is different from most Savage books, which are set in the 1920s and 30s. This story is set in the heart of the Atomic Age when a whole new slew problems have risen to test the man of Bronze. The story is shorter than the other Doc Savage novels I’ve reviewed, but I think the brevity helps as it gives the tale a bit more focus and the plot builds at a solid pace.

The set up is a bit artificial when you get down to the explanation which adds up to “supervillain ego” mixed the idea of being so desperate to make sure our hero doesn’t foil his plot that the villain reveals it to him. Still, the plot is clever enough, with plenty of intrigue and adventure along the way.

In this story, Doc Savage is a bit more gruff and occasionally abrupt with aides, but  he is also a bit more human and relatable as he even falls in love, something that shocks his aides.

Despite its difference, the story remains true to Doc Savage, while also managing to explore many interesting dynamics of the time and featuring a solidly memorable villain. This makes a great read for Doc Savage fans.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.0

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