March 9th, 2007

Viking Spongebob

Six Reviews:

_Manhunt_ by James L. Swanson
Popular History at its very best. Swanson exhaustively recounts the twelve days that John Wilkes Booth was sought after his assassination of Lincoln. Gripping and complete, and Swanson has a very engaging and informal prose style. It was a very illuminating and exiting read that went into great detail on a well-known matter, like _April 1865: The Month that Changed America,_ bringing out many things to think about and that weren't commonly known before. Despite the fact that you know what's going to happen, it is still suspenseful and thrilling.

_The World of Vikings_ by Richard hall
Hall, in charge of the York Archaeological Trust, includes the latest theories and archaeological research in this slick book. It is isn't released officially until the end of March, but where I ordered it, they had copies in February. As they said, when you're Stephen King, release dates seem to matter more than if you're talking about Vikings. Quite a few decent chapters, with sidebars that are even more interesting, and plenty of great illustrations. It's a Brit publication and you will probably need to order it in the States, but Amazon--now--has a copy. Advance reviews called it _Exploring the World of the Vikings,_ which is apparently the title of a kid book and confusing to bookstores' search machines :\

_Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil_ by Jeff Smith
Shazam is the title for the original Captain Marvel, which has floundered as the publishers try to find an approach that works. There is another mini-series going on, and it's crap. Smith, the writer/artist of the incomparable _Bone,_ gives a whimsical reworking that is true to the original while still being contemporary. I'd like to think that curmudgeonly CCBeck would like it, but then he's dead, and I'm not, so take my word for it. I love it! The second volume of a series of four prestige format albums just came out. A great and welcome relief from the usual Marvelized crap, but certainly not your up of tea if you think that the X-Men is the height of graphic narratives.

_Showcase Presents..._ various creators and titles
DC's counterpart to the Marvel Essentials series, featuring 500-page b&w reprints of classic silver-age stories. Again, probably not to your taste if you were weened on Lifield and McFarlane, but a nostalgic romp for older comics fans. I have a short list of titles I would like to see reprinted: Bat Lash, Blackhawk, series from the original Showcase (such as Nightmaster, Creeper [& other Ditko efforts] and Redhair) and of course Sugar & Spike. Hell, I'd love an over-priced Archive edition of Sugar & Spike!

_Flashman on the March_ by George MacDonald Fraser
The latest in Fraser's immaculate historical novels featuring that Victorian cad and bounder, Sir Harry Flashman. Any of the series is great, and it's just as great to see Fraser, at around 80, still producing quality work. I'm still waiting for the account of how Flashie fought on both sides during Gettysburg...

"300" the Film
I just got back from it. Nearly as stylized as the "Sin City" film and probably as violent but fewer castrations and less white blood. It was a wild ride, an excellent film and a treat for the eyes. The only bad thing was I kept having visions during the film of all the people who are going to show up at Pennsic this year in red capes and leather posing pouches...