At Chapters and Indigo stores there is something called the “Bazaar.” It is their bargain section, the sale rack of the book store. It is filled with random stuff, over stock, memoirs, damaged items, and books that are simply unreadable. But every once in a while you get lucky and find something great in there. A lot of digging, flipping, and perusing is necessary to find that diamond in the rough.
I have been spending a lot of time in that section of the book store trying to find something to keep my mind occupied until I find a “job” or something that will pay me enough to sustain my preferred life style. It takes me a long time to choose anything because I do not want my little pocket change to be spent on something unreadable. I want value for my $5. The last time I spent a couple of hours in the store I picked up 2 books that were well worth the money I paid for them.
The first one was “52” by Greg Cox. It is actually a book based on a DC Comics series. I can’t afford comics so I buy the adaptation to keep me in the loop. It takes place after the Infinite/Final Crisis and the trinity of Earths greatest heroes have disappeared. In the absence of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, other heroes have stepped up to keep the peace.
Booster Gold, a hero from the future, and his sidekick Skeets has taken on the task to keep Metropolis safe. But he isn’t in it just to save people but for the fame and the money. He knows when and where disasters are going to hit because of all the data stored in his robotic partner. But things start to go wrong, he humiliating falls from grace, and a new secretive hero suspiciously appears just in time to take his place.
In Gotham City, former police detective Renee Montoya is recruited by the question to investigate a new criminal syndicate that has infiltrated the city. Intergang’s power is rapidly growing as they persuade the wayward to join their ranks. But there is more to them than just petty crimes and soon the fight is joined by Batwoman.
For 52 weeks other heroes join to keep the peace around the world as many a villain take advantage of the missing greats.
“52” is well written. I found myself engrossed in the story as I was reading finding it hard to put down. Even if you are not a fan of comic books or know little about the heroes it isn’t necessary for this. Everything is explained and every one is introduced. Scenes are well described without becoming dull or confusing. Characters have depth and purpose and you do feel for them when something goes wrong or right.
The little I have been following DC recently I have noticed an increase in the violence and blood present in their comics. This book was no different. There were brutal descriptions of heinous acts that were worse than the bloody images in the “Infinite Crisis”. It leaves me to wonder if in the comic they actually showed the beatings, bodies being ripped in half, and sacrifices or if they were just referenced.
The one thing that bothered me about this book was the final showdown.
The final villain was Mister Mind and he is a butterfly. Yes, let that sink in. It was no ordinary butterfly, a “genuine chronal butterfly” that grew at an accelerated rate, but a butterfly nonetheless. I am not sure what the writers were thinking about when they came up with that idea. I was reading, it was close to the end, I was all into it and then I read “butterfly” and it totally made me chuckle disrupting the flow of the story.
The second book was “Sharp Teeth” by Toby Barlow. It is the story of gangs of lycanthropes (aka werewolves) running around LA vying for supremacy. Unlike werewolf lore these beasts can change whenever they want. They change form to suit themselves or the situation viciously and brutally dispatching the people who get in there way. In the midst of this are a police officer and a dog catcher. Colleagues of Anthony’s keep disappearing or dying and detective Peabody is sent to investigate the mysterious circumstances. They both know there is something not right about the strange dogs and men that seem to just appear. But they cannot say exactly what.
This book is just awesome. It is not written in sentences and paragraphs but lines and verses like poetry. The phrasing is sharp, intriguing, and cryptic making the mood of the book heavy and mysterious.
Barlow takes the scenic route to tell this story. He weaves in and out through the different characters and their histories to create a complete well thought out story. Some of it is told in the now, some as memories, some just meandering thoughts but they are all seamlessly put together.
He describes scenes in detail but uses very few words. No matter the situation intense, sexual, violent he effortlessly conveys the scene. The words he uses are succinct creating a vivid image in your mind without being drawn out.
I think I may have been lucky coming across these two books. Hopefully the next time I spend hours searching through the piles of books I come out with something as worthwhile.