C2E2 Comics Hoard: 2013 Books #18,19, 20 and 21

A couple weeks ago, I went to C2E2, a comic book convention in Chicago. It’s a relatively new con – just four years young. It’s definitely a step up from the longer-running Wizard World, just in terms of publishers, artists and guests they get. Which, unfortunately for my wallet, makes it that much easier to splurge on books.

I ended up coming away with four trade paperbacks, which is a solid afternoon or evening of reading material. Rather than do full-blown reviews of each, I’ll do a sentence or two review that lets you know exactly what you need to know.

The Walking Dead Vol. 16: A Larger World
– Even though I love this series, it’s failed to explore new territory in the past few trades. While it took a whole trade to get there, I think 16 is going to push the series back into interesting territory. Rick finds a new group of people to distrust, but in finding them, he may have discovered a way to create a world that’s truly safe. This was still slow, but I was satisfied with the ending.
3 of 5 stars




The Walking Dead Vol. 17: Something to Fear – If they’re setting up another arc on par with the Governor with Negan’s character, I’m in. This issue was brutal, reveals just how difficult Rick’s vision is going to be to achieve, and reminds us of how hard the choices in this world are. This trade felt a lot closer to the stories that made me fall in love with the series, so hopefully they continue to play with these themes.
4 of 5 stars





Lucid Vol. 1 – This story felt extremely disjointed to me, nothing more than a series of wise-cracking characters with shallow motivations and dark sides. When I flipped through the book at Achaia’s booth, the art and concept seemed interesting, but this is just one of those books that falls apart upon closer inspection. I don’t know if they’re planning on serializing this with more stories, but I probably won’t be back to check it out.
1 of 5 stars





Syndrome: The polished art in this book is really well done – it’s not genre-bending or boundary-pushing, but just plain solid, traditional execution. I found quite a few of the characters intriguing, especially the art director and the actress, but at the end of the book I was left wanting more from them. The concept behind the book is that a researcher and Branson-esque billionaire are trying to cure the evil side of human nature, and their methodology is ripe for lots of great storytelling, but at the end of this book, I felt like the ending was abrupt and trivialized the plot, in a way. Again, not sure if this book will continue with more arcs, but I’ll definitely check it out if they do.
4 of 5 stars

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Seven: 2013 Book #17

4 of 5 stars

You’d think the year’s best collection would fare a little better than most anthologies, simply because all these stories are supposedly “good.” At the end of the day – it’s still an anthology, all centered around the theme of what the editor thinks is “best.” Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of great writing here, and even the ones that didn’t resonate with me still had beautiful prose. And I did enjoy a lot of the stories here, and the editor, Jonathan Strahan, really packs them in.

Overall, I felt like there was too much urban fantasy, magical realism and dystopian sci-fi. Strahan even comments on this in the prologue, acknowledging that sci-fi is in a state of flux – in the past, sci-fi has always been about what we could achieve, humanity bringing out the best in itself via science.

The future we imagined is here, and there are no jet packs.

What’s to say the next twenty years will be different? The tone of this book is decidedly bleak, and the vast majority of the stories are either dystopian sci-fi or post apocaliptic sci-fi. Thinking back, there are very, very few of these stories that would fall into what I’d call Fantasy, and even those are in the urban fantasy / magical realism sub-genre. All this is very “hot” right now, and the editor may have seen his job as capturing a snapshot of what happened in 2012. If so, he probably did a bang up job. However, I’ve got to believe there’s more sword and sorcery fantasy out there. Stuff that feels more medieval, dream-like and epic in scope. I’d even settle for just plain high or low fantasy, but those sub-genres are largely missing from this book.

My favorite story by far was “Two Houses” by Kelly Link. It had an eerie, bordering on horror-ish vibe to it. This sci-fi fiction about a team of deep space explorers reminded me a ton of Prometheus (which I liked, incidentally.) and a few other horror stories with twist endings that I won’t include here so as not to ruin the ending for you. The story does a phenomenal job capturing the feeling of isolation and grief with the imagery surrounding the characters as they move through the spaceship and deal with the loss of their sister ship is haunting. I also enjoyed how Link explored how even though these two ships have been disconnected by a vacuum for years, when the other ship disappears, it has profound effects on the crew. Even though there was a lack of a physical connection, the implied emotional connection was just as powerful.

Collections like these are a must for any fan of the genres. Just because I wasn’t feeling this year’s as a whole, doesn’t mean there weren’t some phenomenal works of fiction.

Buy The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Seven