Sequels, Prequels, Science, Ninjas, and Madness: Five Reviews
Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness, Story by Roberto Orci and Mike Johnson,
Script by Johnson, Art by David Messina and Marina Castelvetro (IDW)
In an attempt to replicate the smash success of J.J. Abrams' first Star Trek film, IDW
once again produces an authorized prequel to the new film Star Trek Into Darkness. On a routine
survey mission to Phaedus, the crew of the Enterprise find themselves immersed in a planetary civil
war. Kirk and Spock grapple with the Prime Directive when someone long thought dead reemerges. From
a story conceived by Star Trek Into Darkness writer Orci and regular comic series scribe
Johnson, Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness delivers a complete and powerful story, immersed in
Star Trek lore and littered with abundant clues about the new feature. The graphic
novel achieves its primary goal of creating excitement for Star Trek Into Darkness.
How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial by Darryl Cunningham (Abrams)
Science writer and cartoonist Cunningham effectively uses the comics medium to expose controversial
ideas and concepts. With comics, photographs, diagrams, and text amazingly free of scientific jargon,
Cunningham painstakingly debunks nutcases and challenges skeptics. The moon hoax, homeopathy,
chiropractic, the MMR vaccination scandal, evolution, fracking, and climate change fall under the
author's cool, critical analysis. While the intelligent and witty Cunningham ruffles feathers from
both sides of most of these debates, How to Fake a Moon Landing promises an entertaining and
important piece of investigative science journalism.
Dial H Vol. 1: Into You, Written by China Miéville,
Art by Mateus Santolouco, David Lapham, and Riccardo Burchielli, Cover by Brian Bolland (DC)
Reminiscent of the late 1980s second British invasion titles from the likes of
Grant Morrison (Doom Patrol, Animal Man), Jamie Delano (Hellblazer), and Peter
Milligan (Shade, The Changing Man), the Hugo and Nebula winner
China Miéville makes his comics writing debut with the surprisingly
apolitical Dial H Vol. 1: Into You. Nelson Jent, unemployed and out of shape, discovers that
dialing H-E-R-O at a mysterious phone booth will transform him into a unique, short lived, superhero. Each
new spin creates a new persona with a new set of powers. Miéville playfully manipulates the originally
Silver Age comics concept by interjecting some truly bizarre and different heroes: Boy Chimney, who
literally spews black smoke out of his stovepipe head; Captain Lachrymose, who derives strengths from
others tears; CONTROL-ALT-DELETE; and countless others. Jent discovers someone who also uses a H-Dial
and helps him master the strange powers. After a slow start, Miéville and artist Santolouco find their
creative rhythm as they slowly uncover the history of the mysterious dials. Sadly, the lack of much needed
political commentary, especially from the avowed Socialist Miéville, diminish the impact of the otherwise excellent comic.
Fruit Ninja #1, Written by Mark Finn, Art by Marcelo Ferreira (Ape)
Best known as the author of the World Fantasy Award nominated Robert E. Howard
biography, Blood & Thunder, and a member of an early internet publishing coop, Clockwork Storybook,
Mark Finn originally garnered attention as a writer of humorous comics, primarily with his unusual creation
Punk. Finn successfully returns to these roots as he brings the popular Fruit Ninja game to
digital comics. The first installment "Jin Men Ju Tree Part 1" introduces a group of young Fruit Ninja
trainees and their sensei Gutsu. Using this as a framing device, the teacher relates the story of the emperor
and his quest "to find the fabled and mystic thing that rhymes with orange." Finn relies on puns, the
enthusiasm of youth, and physical tomfoolery in this fun tale for children. Ferreira's quasi-manga style
art expertly complements the script.
The Manhattan Projects, Volume 2, Written by Jonathan Hickman,
Art by Nick Patarra with Ryan Browne (Image)
The second installment of Hickman's extraordinary secret history begins immediately after the climatic
conclusion of the previous volume. The physicists of the Manhattan
Project meet their Soviet counterparts in a twisted vision of the Cold War. Hickman and artist Patarra seamlessly
merge the eschewed visions of Oppenheimer, Einstein, Feyman, Fermi, Von Braun, Gröttrup and Daghlian within
the exceedingly cracked reality of the 1950s. Ritual sacrifices, orgies, super science, magick, violence,
gods, and betrayal litter the ever increasing surrealist landscapes
of the The Manhattan Projects, Volume 2. The Manhattan Projects remains a must read for those that like
their science fiction fun, off-kilter, and a hell of a lot different.
Special thanks to Austin Books and Comics.
Copyright © 2013 Rick Klaw
Professional reviewer, geek maven, and optimistic curmudgeon, Rick Klaw has supplied
countless reviews, essays, and fiction for a variety of publications including
The Austin Chronicle, The San Antonio Current,
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy,
Moving Pictures, RevolutionSF,
Conversations With Texas Writers, Electric Velocipede, Cross Plains Universe,
Steampunk, and The Steampunk Bible.
Coming in March 2013 from Tachyon, he is editing The Apes of Wrath, a survey of apes in literature
with contributions from Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Franz Kafka, Gustave Flaubert,
Joe R. Lansdale, Pat Murphy, Leigh Kennedy, James P. Blaylock, Clark Ashton Smith, Karen Joy Fowler,
Philip José Farmer, Robert E. Howard and others.
Klaw can often be found pontificating on Twitter
and over at The Geek Curmudgeon.