Thursday, February 02, 2006

Clementure's Strange Encounter

Level 46 Gnome Warlock
Terenas Server
World of Warcraft

What an absurd figure I must have cast as I waited. Me, Clementure, a student of dark and forbidden arts, standing in the dark outside a peasant's hovel. What I'd spend for a day's folly could buy and sell this place three times over. Yet there I stood, a grim if not foolish sentinel.

"Sleep tight," the old man said to his granddaughter, from inside the hut.

I summoned a spell stone to hold in my hand, the shining crystal the only light as the peasant put out his lamp. Dark clouds overhead blotted out the stars. A warm breeze stirred through my bristly brown hair.

It was a night perfect for evildoing.

"The Reaper is waiting in the wind," the old man said, joining me to stand at my side and stare into the darkness.

Humans can be such a hysterical race, more slaves to their emotions than any other thinking people. Like this foolish old man, offering his soul to me for one night's guard duty. At my side, my summoned demon, Jahzam the Felhunter, stalked restlessly about. Perhaps he desired to be elsewhere, engaged in more rewarding pursuits.

"This Reaper," I said, patting my backpack to reassure myself that I was indeed armed with a healthstone and a soulstone, "why would he come here? Surely you have little of interest to any such mystical creature."

"You would find it hard to understand, gnome," he said, running his fingers through his iron-gray hair. "Your people think in terms of objects. What does this do, where does that go; you see the world as an engineering puzzle."

"Now hold on," I started to say.

"Even such as you, a master of foul energies, even you fail to perceive the larger picture. You think that x combined with y will always equal z. This logic is flawed. We are subject to greater laws than we know. Forces that we have yet to perceive control the very universe."

Even though the human towered three feet higher than me, I managed to look down my nose at him. "What religious humbuggery you spout, human. There is no limit to what gnomish ingenuity, and I will confess it; human resources, can accomplish. Besides, what does your twaddle have to do with the creature you so fear?"

"It is hard to explain. I will put it in deceptively simple terms: on this night every 100 years, the creature attempts to absorb the essence of an innocent. It must always be from my bloodline, and it must always be a female of purity. In this ritual, the Reaper gains eternal life."

"Even in Azeroth such nonsense is hard to believe. You are a fool to give me your soul for a myth."

The human smiled. "Think not that I give away my soul lightly. I am near to certain that neither you nor I will survive this night. For not once in five centuries has my family been able to repulse the Reaper. And now, my granddaughter is the last of my line."

The hairs along my extremely handsome ears twitched. This was a familiar sensation, it usually presaged a powerful use of arcane magics. "You had best get back to your hovel. Something is coming, what I cannot say."

Something was looming out of the dark night, something darker than dark. The old man put his hand on the rusty sword he wore on his waist. "Nay, Warlock, for I'll not live to watch what this creature intends to do to my granddaughter. I will die, or I will defeat it."

I turned to the old human. "This violates our agreement. If you die in battle, I will not be able to claim your soul; you must die at my hand."

He pulled his sword. "Tch! Surely we can wait to debate such technicalities. The Reaper is upon us!"

I cast my Soulstone. The old man looked at me in surprise.

"Go!" I shouted to Jahzam, and the doglike demon surged to the attack.

The old human, brandishing his blade, rushed in Jahzam's wake. The shape of the Reaper became more solid, forming from the very darkness. I had never seen such a thing; a demon, but a demon without the taint of the Burning Legion to it.

A hideous monstrosity stomped a misshapen, twisted leg onto the ground, sending tremors beneath my feet. My Curse of Corruption had no effect on it as the thing smashed Jahzam with a blow from a massive arm, sending my pet flying.

The barely discernable head of the Reaper turned eagerly towards the old human. The Reaper could smell the blood in the human, the bloodline that had feed it for five centuries.

With my Corruption having no effect, I cast a Curse of Agony.

"Ahhhhhhh!" the old man screamed, coming in sword first.

I looked on in surprise as the old human ducked under a swing of the Reaper's arm, and landed a square blow, driving the sword into the Reaper's leg.

Not that it did the human any good. The old man desperately dove and rolled to avoid the next powerful attack from the Reaper. In the meantime, Jahzam had returned to the battle, coming up and chomping on the Reaper's leg.

As the Reaper turned on Jahzam, I began the three-second process of casting a Shadow Bolt. This powerful attack never fails.

So, of course, it failed. The Reaper was noticeably untouched by the black and purple ball of arcane magic. Jahzam was again knocked away. The old human was coming up at the Reaper with a kitchen knife for his next attack.

It was only a matter of time before the Reaper finished off Jahzam and the old human. I was next. It was time to pull out my hold card. As Jahzam went flying one way, and the old human another, I started the process of casting my Fear spell.

The monstrosity was nearly on me when I got the spell off. Finally, something worked on the creature. The Reaper was sent crashing into night, fleeing blindly from terrors only he could see. I went rushing after him, and Jahzam joined me.

I got in range and cast a quick Curse of Shadows. As soon as I could, I cast Corruption, and this time the spell took. The Reaper, still flailing about helplessly in the grip of terror, managed to come back towards me.

"Go!" I sent Jahzam to the attack.

Something gray flashed by me. The old man wasn't dead yet. The Reaper shook off the fear spell as Jahzam took a chomp out of his calf. The old man screamed then leaped for the Reaper's back. I concentrated briefly and got off a fiery Immolate spell.

It hit, rocking the Reaper. He turned angrily to me, but the old human was on his back, slashing the Reaper again and again with the kitchen knife. The Reaper slammed his back against a tree. The old man, in between the tree and the Reaper, was squished flatter than a Stormwind Gambler's last gold coin. The human slid limply to the ground.

The Reaper charged me, enraged by all the pain I had caused him. I hit him with a Conflag, and that spell hurt him, hurt him bad. But he wasn't dead yet. One blow from his twisted, powerful arm sent this Gnome rolling over the forest floor.

I was all but dead. The Reaper had nearly finished me with one blow. I pulled out my last and greatest hold card; Death Coil. This evil spell would give me a portion of the Reaper's health, and again terrify him for a few seconds. The Death Coil took; the Reaper ran off, again terrified.

I cast a Shadow Burn. The powerful spell hit the monster, and he fell. Jahzam limped over to the Reaper, sniffed him, then joined me.

I stood over the Reaper's corpse. That thing truly was ugly. I was glad it wasn't moving.

Then it laughed.

As I backed away, nearly tripping over my own robes, the Reaper seemed to melt in on itself. In the briefest of moments the ugly monstrosity of the Reaper was gone. In it's place stood a human, a strange, dark human. I'd never seen the likes of this creature in the Eastern Kingdoms, or Kalimador for that matter.

"Very good, Warlock," he said, brushing the dirt off his pants. "I haven't had such good exercise in centuries."

"What kind of demon are you?" I asked him, still backing away.

"Oh, just a pedestrian, average, uninteresting sort," he said with a grin.

"Stay back, creature. I will defeat you again."

"Now now, relax," he said assuringly. "Just let me have the girl, and this whole ugly business will be over."

"I've contracted to prevent that. So, to save both of us the inconvenience of further battle, why don't you just return to where you came from?"

"Oh, I'm afraid that isn't possible. I let you win that round, you should know. You will lose this time.'

I shrugged. "We shall see. But there's nothing you could say or do to make me violate the contract with the old man."

"What is this?" The old man asked, pushing his way to my adversary. He had invoked the Soulstone I cast on him, allowing him to return to life. It was a simple measure to protect my payment.

But those thoughts fled my mind. The old human, and the strange dark human were nearly identical in face and stature. The dark human smiled in amusement as the human and I gaped in astonishment.

"We are coming, Clementure," the dark human said. "Your Alliance and my people shall be allies."

"But, why are you the mirror image of this man?" I asked, looking back and forth between them, still dumbfounded at the remarkable similarities.

"He's one of us," the dark human said. "Hundreds of years ago we sent his forefathers here to learn of you and your ways. Once every hundred years we bring one of them back, to learn of you, and to add the new strains of blood to us. I am also of that bloodline."

"You say you are coming. What does that mean?"

He shook his head. "You'll know soon enough. That time is coming. It will be a good time, and an evil one. We will share an enemy, and even the legends of your Burning Legion cannot prepare you for what is coming."

The dark human turned to the old man. "Are you ready, brother?"

"Wait," I called out. "Why did you take that monstrous form and attack?"

He laughed. "We felt it a good idea to maintain the legend of the Reaper. We are learning of you, not the other way around. So a fantastic and unbelievable story of the Reaper is all you have ever known of us."

The old man knelt in front of me, to be eye level. I hate that, normally. "Please release me from our bargain. I had no idea of the truth. But now I have this chance to… go home. You understand?"

"Oh, go on," I said. "I had no plans to claim my price anyway." I told the little lie to make him feel better about breaking the deal. "Wait! What about your granddaughter?"

The two of them, standing together, began to fade away.

"I'm no babysitter!" I cried out.

The old man smiled, and was gone.

I stared in unbelief at the empty space where they used to be. What in the name of all the lands of Azeroth was I going to do with a human child? With heavy heart, I turned back towards the hovel.

"Well, hello," a voice said.

I stopped short as a beautiful blond human woman stepped from behind a tree.

"You, I am guessing here, would be the granddaughter."

She reached down and took my hand. "You are a brave gnome, who did his best to save my grandfather." She led me towards the hovel. "And bravery should be rewarded."

"Let me guess," I said, my steps suddenly much lighter, "you are not exactly a paragon of feminine purity."

Her light laughter was indeed pleasurable. "If you believe a monster is going to kill you because you are female and pure, what would you do?"

I grinned. The question was in the process of being answered.

"Now I have heard," she said as we crossed the doorstep, "that Gnomes have certain largish endowments to make up for their smallish stature."

"You shall see," I said, closing the door, with a big smile.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Strange Fate of Conti the Master Swordsman

The Strange Fate of Conti the Master Swordsman

Conti, dressed in the simple white cotton of those who harvested the cane in the plowed fields, stood in the doorway of the simple hut. Made of woods foreign to his far-off home, the grain and the scent of the wood only served to reinforce his feelings of loneliness.

A reptilian screech sounded from forest that lay off to his left. The beasts roaming the day, as fearsome as they were, were as nothing when compared to the creatures of the night.

Heavily treed hills formed a bench to the smoking mountain that seemed to tower over the entire island. A five mile walk through the dense and humid jungle would bring Conti to the beach. But since he did not want to be found, Conti never went where a passing ship might catch sight of him.

Dark clouds bunch together as a storm gathered. His beloved Ninevah saw many storms. Conti could not bear the memories of Ninevah the Fallen. As he turned to drop the bead curtain over the doorway, he caught movement in his peripheral vision.

A shaped moved in the rain; rain that approached like a curtain being pulled across the gently rolling land. No, the shape did not move in the rain, it lead the rain. Like a bridal train, the rain followed in its wake.

Having seen the doings of the gods, and having been a pawn in their games, Conti was aware that something not of the earth approached. The shape took form as the rain came closer.

The smell of the rain filled his nostrils. The woman filled his eyes. Brown skinned and black of hair, like the island women. Her body was full and well defined, well curved. She was nude, and Conti sensed that the nudity was her choice to demonstrate that since she was not a mortal, she had no need of mortal conventions. Her black hair flowed over her shoulders like the waterfalls under the mountain that Conti waded in when he explored the island. Her eyes caught his, and he could not look away.

She stood in front of him, as though granting him great favor with her very presence. Her hand stroked his cheek. Conti shuddered at her touch; her fingers were real, her flesh warm.

"You bear the mark of another," she spoke. Her voice was a powerful as the summer typhoons, yet as gentle as a caress from a falling leaf.

He reached for her hand. "I am nothing."

"Destiny weights on you, Conti Ovamber," she allowed him to pull her hand away. "This is no cause for sorrow."

"You must know my destiny, for it was my god that first revealed it to me. I'll not raise to it or accept it, not the merest step will I take."

The goddess laughed, a sweet sound that rippled like honey flowing. "You think you can hide here? There is no hiding, sweet Conti. You of all people know this."

Conti released her hand, instantly aware of the loss of contact with her. "Why have you come?"

She took his hand and led him into the simple hut. She pulled him down onto the straw mat that lay on the floor. "Life, Conti, I bring you the gift of life."

Conti closed his mouth as the goddess laid back. As his suddenly nude form lay along hers, the warmth of her skin shot fire through his body.

As her lips pressed against his, Conti possessed the goddess. As she rose to meet his thrusts, he smelled the rain. He could hear it spattering on the wooden floor near the doorway. Then her brown eyes became the world.

# # #

Conti opened his eyes, and sat up. He felt that familiar weight, indeed, the very presence of his sword at his waist. The sword he had flung into the sea years ago.

His heart fell. Gone was the hut. There was no sign of the goddess. The tumbled walls of Ninevah lay all around him. Great granite buildings lay in ruins, faint shadows of scorch marks marring them yet. Weeds grew through cracks in the paved road. Ivy covered what walls still stood. Conti hear a bird call out, and felt the weight of a crow as it landed on his shoulder.

"Come," he heard the goddess say from behind him.

He turned to face her, the crow squawking but staying put.

"Why!" Anger near to rage spilled out through his voice. "Why bring me here, to see my greatest atrocity yet again?"

The goddess was white and fair, dressed as a high lady of Ninevah. The ladies that his army had raped and slaughtered when Ninevah fell.

She held out her hand. "Come."

He finally took the offered hand, and her touch again thrilled him. He allowed himself to be led to the fallen gate, and out to what remained of the great western dock.

"Look," she said.

A ship was in the bay, a ship with three masts, a ship that danced on the shining waters.

"Your heirs come. It is only fitting that you go out and welcome them to their new home."

Conti fell to his knees. The crow complained, then launched itself into the air and was gone.

"Choose life," the goddess said.

Before Conti's eyes, she disappeared. Conti smelled rain for a moment, and then that too faded.

# # #

A group of uniformed men climbed out of the longboat they tied to a crumbling piling. A woman, bearing stripes of ranks on her shoulder, led them along the shore to where Conti awaited. Her eyes flicked up and down Conti's tall, strongly built form.

"Welcome to your new home," Conti said, a tear leaking from his right eye. "May you be wiser than we were in this inheritance."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Graphic Novel Find: Bone by Jeff Smith

A Graphic Novel Find: Bone by Jeff Smith

We've come across a real Graphic Novel find. Many of you have probably already read the Bone series by Jeff Smith. When we picked up the first issue, "Out of Boneville" at Walmart, we nearly put it back down. A story about three little "Casper the Friendly Ghost" looking characters does not have immediate appeal. However, we were in the unfortunate position of trailing around after the wife and daughter as they were shopping, and anything was appealing to break that monotony. So we read Out of Boneville as a remedy to the hard floors and mindless overabundance of cheap consumer goods that is Walmart.

We're glad we stuck with it!

Bone is hard to describe in a pithy manner, but we'll try. Fone Bone, Phony Bone, and Smiley Bone, a trio of cousins, are these curious creatures known as Bones. Stark white, rounded, and nearly featureless, the story opens with them in the desert outside of Boneville. Phony Bone's latest get rich quick scheme had predictably backfired, and the three cousins had been forced to leave their hometown in a hurry.

Now, don't let Phony's larcenous nature taint the other cousins. Smiley Bone is part moron, part wise man, and all entertaining. Fone Bone, the hero of the piece is a decent, courageous and sympathetic little guy. As you read through the graphic novels, you come to love every one of these characters.

The trio becomes separated, and Fone finds himself at Thorn and Grandma's house in a valley he finds after crossing the desert. Ah, Thorn; she's drawn to make any male wish he was Fone Bone. She's young, engaging, and very fetching. She's also the sleeper heroine of the piece. The simple farm girl is soon thrust into her destiny, and as the reader tagging along on her journey, you'll hang on every panel in the graphic novel. Fone falls deeply in love with her, and so did this reviewer.

Jeff Smith feeds out the story at just the right pace. As the Bone cousins are embroiled in the lives and destinies of the valley residents, secret after secret is revealed; each secret only opening another mystery. The story is funny, its engaging, its breathtaking, its dramatic, and you'll be picking up the next novel as you finish the previous. It is that good. Do yourself a favor, get all the Bone novels at once, you'll be sorry if you have to wait to see what happens.

The characters are engaging, you discover that even the larcenous Phony Bone has his noble qualities. (Once you get to know Phony you pity the people he's among and wish you could warn them that he's there!) The villains are numerous and well done. You'll love and hate the rat creatures. You'll discover that much of the trouble brought on the valley is self-inflicted. Most of all, you'll get to experience a great story.

The Bone saga is family friendly, and it's well done. Indeed, we consider it to be in the very royalty of graphic novels, it's among the best. Bone demonstrates a mastery of the storytelling art. Finally, Bone alone is enough to justify the existence of the 'oversized comic book' format that is the graphic novel!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fun Stuff

Fun Stuff

Here's some fun stuff to pass along. Anyone remember Lowell, the goofy maintenance guy on the old TV series "Wings"? Lowell, Thomas Haden Church, was the goofy, skinny, maintenance engineer and janitor of the tiny commuter airport.

My favorite scene of his was when he was searching for a cool nickname. His likewise goofy friends all had cool nicknames; he wanted one as well. While he was pondering his nickname options, the owner of one of the airlines came along and said "get to work, slackass".

This hit Lowell like a ton of bricks. Poising his hands just above his waist, he tried out his new nickname; "Slackass!".

Well, Slackass, er, Thomas Haden Church, has apparently snagged the role of the Sandman in the upcoming Spiderman movie.

He's bulked up quite a bit, as you can see if you ever watched Wings. Way to go, Slackass!

Something else fun, the trailer for the next Underworld movie:

This is fun and exciting popcorn movie-making at its best. If we ever get Judgment Day made into a movie, we want it to be right in this vein.

Ok, that's the fun stuff for today. Soon we'll have more to pass along on the Queen of Thieves and IF graphic novels.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Clementure Level 34 Gnome Warlock

Level 34 Gnome Warlock
World of Warcraft
Terenas Server

Today I, Clementure, Gnome Warlock Novelist, was babysat. Ah, beloved and fallen Gnomeregan, what pain I have to see you in such straits. For as I contemplated the entrance to my racial home, the addled and poisoned leper gnomes attacked me upon sight.

The fallen creatures are no match for one as I, who has studied and mastered much of the dark arts of the Warlock. But it gave me great pain to end the days of my fellow gnomes. I can only take solace in the fact that the poor creatures were suffering, and I eased their passage.

My entrance to Gnomeregan thus accomplished, I slid down the two levels of steel aisle ways that are a testament to the skill and art of my people, and to the great elevator that allows entrance to Gnomeregan proper.

As the elevator began its descent, a human hunter and a gnome mage joined me. With a quick conversation, we agreed to tackle the dangers of overthrown Gnomeregan together.

Upon study, I discovered that the human hunter was of the highest order of accomplishment for his kind, indeed, he was an elite. As great as the dangers of Gnomeregan are, they would be nothing to him.

I took some comfort in this, yet a note of discord sounded itself. Fallen and overrun by our enemies it may be, Gnomeregan was still a place of the gnomes. It seemed somewhat wrong to have this near demi-god put his will over this place. But I quickly banished such feelings, there was a job to do and absurd sentimentality would surely lead to my death.

There was a traitor in this city, the most hated enemy of gnomekind, and I meant to bring the traitor to account. Yes, this is a lot for a journeyman Warlock to take upon himself. And yes, fate sent that hunter and his mage companion to me. I wasn't going to waste this opportunity. Even if it was better left to those with more power than myself.

"Venture to Gnomeregan and kill Mekgineer Thermaplugg. Return to me, High Tinker Mekkatorque, when the task is complete." A simple and straightforward statement from the High Tinker. But who am I to refuse the call of our most exalted gnomish leader? So thus I set out to assassinate the traitor, the enemy of all gnomes, the gnome who opened the shieldgates and allowed the troggs, and dark iron dwarves, and other enemies into the very heart of my city.

As the elevator finally came to a stop, I summoned my succubus, Agethea, to my side. Her beauty and overly charged sex appeal hide the deadly and gleeful killer that she is. Sometimes she even frightens me. But with a powerful hunter already in our party, the lumbering but underpowered presence of the voidwalker is made superfluous.

We had to cut our way through the first wave of leper gnomes just to make out way up the ramp into the tram station. I hardened my heart to the slaughter. These fallen ones would be avenged.

My fellow gnome in the party was mostly silent. Perhaps her thoughts were as profound as mine. Or perhaps she admired my many fine gnomish qualities, and was considering approaching me for mating. Still, my mind was focused on the mission at hand, and I believe hers was as well.

Many terrified gnomes ran past us as we made our way up the ramp. Long abandoned, there are still pockets of sane gnomery to be found in the great city. I felt honored to assist in their escape. Most such made their way to the great dwarven city of Ironforge, where the Gnomeregan Exile League would make arrangements for them.

I felt nearly useless as we cut down several troggs in the tram depot. The great technological wonders of my city always take my breath away. The hunter was so good at what he did, that I was of little help to him. So I had time to enjoy the scenery.

As the trogs fell, my fellow gnome and I looted them of the loot they had taken from my city. The hunter spurned all loot, possessing such great gear as to only find inferior offerings in the loot. Perhaps it was just me, but I also took it as a token of respect on his part. He would help slay our enemies, but the great treasures of Gnomeregan he would not claim.

We cut down the glass-lined hallway where once happy gnome families watched the trams rush by. Now evil, foul trogs danced on the remains of a ruined rail system. We put many such out of their misery.

The hunter would throw out his traps, then use his multishot to summon several enemies. This gave me the chance to use Rain of Fire; and as the hunter sliced and diced the trogs, I rained fiery destruction down on them from above. It gladdened my heart to see trog after trog fall. Had it been up to me, every trog on the planet would die a swift, unseen death.

We finally came to a small respite. A tribe of gnomes holds a level of the city, and they welcomed us as we arrived through their doors. They even allowed us to use their machines to decrust and clean up the odd geegaws we had looted on the way. A short rest was freely accepted here.

We said farewell and good luck to the gnome holdouts. Someday, when the city was cleansed of the presence of the befoulers, these gnomes would be the genesis of a new gnomish race in this place.

Down hallways we went, past the remains of our awesome mechanical creations. In many places the radiation unleashed by Thermaplugg had perverted the mechnostrider-riding guards, and we were attacked on sight. We cut them down as mercilessly as if they had been trogs.

The dark irons dwarves were the next foe we faced. Allies with the trogs, these evil cousins of the Ironforge dwarves had conspired with the trogs in the overthrow of Gnomeregan, and received no mercy from us.

If you are thinking, perhaps, that all this is too easy, then you are correct. Many before us had attempted to assassinate Thermaplugg and had failed. I can only account our swift success to the efforts of the hunter, whose prowess was irresistible.

At last, the confrontation that I long for: Thermaplugg himself. The traitor had not wasted his time since making himself ruler of fallen Gnomeregan. His evil devices were numerous, and he had other defenses as well. He had taken every measure to ensure his safety. Even with our stalwart hunter, the chances were slim that we'd survive this encounter.

The battle was joined. The hunter rushed to confront Thermaplugg. I and my fellow Gnome confronted and defeated the defenses and the smaller minions of Thermaplugg. All too soon, it was over.

Thermaplugg lay dead at my feet, slain by the hunter. The gnome so responsible for the death and misery of an entire race was dead himself. This vengeance left me curiously empty. I knew the High Tinker would greet news of my success with great rejoicing. But I was less than joyful at my victory.

As I stared at the dead villain, I wished I was a necromancer, so I could raise him, and they slay him again. And again.

The hunter left quickly after that, no doubt other matters had to be attended by him. My fellow gnome and I held hands, and said a prayer for the fallen in this place. Then I touched my hearthstone and was away. I had to report to the High Tinker.

It was with a full but heavy heart that I made my way through Ironforge to the High Tinker's throne-in-exile.

After you achieve your heart's greatest desire, what is left?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Another Judgment Day Review

Speaking of reviews, Michael Parker has reviewed Judgment Day on his blog: Mike is very kind to the book, and we think he's brilliant!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Graphic Novel Round Up

Graphic Novel Round Up

A couple of the graphic novels reviewed today take a rigid and settled mythology, and allows us a peek at possible alternatives that could exist. What's more rigid than the Marvel or the DC Universes? They typically have twenty years of publications that are supposed to fit into five year or less of real time.

And if the writers dare forget that Doc Ock once sneezed onto Aunt May's dining room tablecloth in Amazing Spiderman #236, legions of fans will write furious letters of correction.

That's just one of the reasons we enjoy these alternate history sorts of things. They can break out of continuity. Another reason we like them is that the writers can cut loose; they can do what the want with the characters. Imagine, you could turn Spiderman into a tights-wearing ballet dancer who is always in the chorus, never a headliner. Oh, wait, he's that already. Oh well, we hope you get the idea.


What if the Marvel Universe existed in the year 1602? That's the intriguing premise of this lavish, if slow, graphic novel.

The novel is somewhat epic in scope, it rambles all over Europe and North America. And it is intriguing to see such well-known characters and Nick Fury, DareDevil, Peter Parker, the Fantastic Four, and a dozen others wearing lacy ruffles and complaining about the tea service.

Ok, they don't do that, and this graphic novel is a bit slow, it lacks the usual percentage of superhero slugfests, preferring to focus on character and the intrigues of plotting.

We recommend it. It's fun to read, and we liked the familiar characters in their unusual circumstances.

Kingdom Come

Instead of the past, this DC graphic novel takes Superman and what is more or less the JLA into the future, when they've pretty much retired. (Hey, who said that Kal- El was going to get old and gray?)

A nasty incident years before left the whole gang with no taste for doing their thing anymore, and a new breed of superheroes took over. The problem is, these new heroes are more into battling each other and establishing a pecking order than they are actually helping people.

The old guard has to come out of retirement and take a hand at setting things right. Opposed to this are the usual nefarious corporate and government interests, and, nice twist here, Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor.

This one is also fun. Its worth the time and $$ to read.

Hardy Boys

We found a Hardy Boys graphic novel. This, we were thiking, is going to be good. Then, alas, we opened it. (Yes, we made THAT proverbial mistake!) The story was full of fun derring-do, esprit de corps, and a fun mystery to track down and solve.

But the art was anime style! Yuck! This most quintessential of American legends just didn't work looking like Pokemon. Pass on it.

QOT Note

Yes, Queen of Thieves is still progressing. We've just submitted a killer outline to the studio. We'll see what changes they want, and if they will finally greenlight writing the script. Stay tuned.