Book Report: Tom Clancy’s Op-Center

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When I used to work at a grocery store they had a spinner rack of books. Every now and then I would buy one because I love to read. This one it took me years to finally get to. I bought on the strength of the co-creator, Tom Clancy. I’ve heard all kinds of good things about his writing. He’s created books that were turned into movies and ideas that were turned into video games. He’s a pretty big name in storytelling. One of the books I picked up was Tom Clancy’s Op-Center, the first in the series, and later picked up a couple more as well as the first volume from a spin-off series, Net Force. I thought these would be interesting reads, even though I’m not usually into stories of political intrigue. I wish I had actually read this book before I bought the others.

It should be noted that various sources on the internet credited the author as Jeff Rovin, despite him only getting an assistance acknowledgement in the book itself. While the creators are credited as Clancy and Steve Pieczenik (his constant and rather controversial collaborator) there is no actual author listed on the book. If you want to see my chapter by chapter review of the book that I did for my other site, here you go. It will better explain why I didn’t enjoy reading this book but I will summarize my thoughts here.

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Book Review: He-Man & The Masters Of The Universe: The Newspaper Comic Strips

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In the 1980s one of the biggest toylines was Masters Of The Universe, a sword-and-sorcery fantasy series with a hint of science fiction with advanced fighting machines and Skeletor’s original origin being a space alien who wanted to open a doorway so his people could conquer Eternia, with himself as ruler. The lore changed over the years with the addition of DC Comics and later the animation studio Filmation, who added a secret identity for the hero, He-Man, and created a lot of what we know about He-Man, his allies, and his enemies. Additionally there were books, some of which came with adapting audio dramas, and of course the minicomics that came with the figures. Most people know about all of these, but did you know there was also a comic strip? I didn’t until a friend of mine bought me this collection for my birthday one year.

The Masters Of The Universe newspaper strips (He-Man added to the name later) was Mattel trying to find a new avenue to promote their toyline. While a pitch strip was created (which included the famed Stan Sakai among them) it was deemed too expensive but a new team would still arrive to bring the comic into existence. Jim Shull wrote the first story, with Chris Weber (edited by his wife, Karen Willson) taking over for the rest of comic’s run. Gerald Forton was the artist and Connie Schurr as colorist were there for the entire run. Despite having an international release the comic has gone largely unknown even within the fandom.

Enter Danielle Gelehrter, who talked Val Staples, head of the fan website He-Man.Org and a fellow collaborator on a Masters Of The Universe art book for Dark Horse Comics, into working on bringing the strips to a full collection. This required the effort of many fans who did know about the comics to find the original strips, translate the ones they could only find in Spanish or Greek (among other languages), create a font based on Forton’s handwriting for consistency, and convert it all to digital. Weber and Willson also helped out with the years they were able to keep on hand, and finally the strips were restored and put into the collection above. I’ve already reviewed the individual stories on my other site but this is a look at the book itself.

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Book Report: Kingdom Of The Dwarfs (original edition)

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cover for the illustrated book

I’m not typically a fantasy fan, which is odd given my all-time favorite movie is The NeverEnding Story. I do like the occasional dip into the genre but as a whole it’s not really my cup of tea. And yet I ended up with this book.

In the 1990s Comico was offering an audition kit, filled with the kinds of things you would need to audition to work at the comic book company. Out of curiosity and wanting to get into comics I ordered one since it was being offered through the usual comic catalog my local comic store at the time was using. It included samples of Comico’s offerings at the time, a way to show potential creators what they were looking for. None of the offerings really matched the kinds of stories I like to tell, and thus I never even attempted to send anything in for review. It wasn’t the same comic it was in the 1980s, when I would read issues of Robotech or other licensed properties. Not that they were bad stories mind you, just not the kind that interested me as a creator or even a reader.

Part of these samples was an illustrated book called Kingdom Of The Dwarfs, released in a comic book format but it’s not a comic book. There are no word balloons or comic panels. It’s a book with some rather amazing illustrations by artist David Wenzel, and written by Robb Walsh. I’ve been trying to get this review done for the past few weeks, not because it’s that large. It really isn’t. It is more a question of personal interest than anything else.

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Book Report: The Death And Life Of Superman

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Let’s talk about comics for a moment. This isn’t a comic but it is a novelization of one of the biggest storylines in comics. It’s one maybe you heard of: the death of Superman. During the 1990s there were four Superman titles (not counting miniseries, one-shots, and specials plus his appearances in other titles), each with its own writer. The writers would get together and hash out story ideas. But one was rather bold–let’s kill Superman!

At the time there few villains who could stand up to Superman on a physical level. The only one most of you have probably heard of is Darkseid due to recent live-action TV and movie appearances, or maybe you know some from the various cartoons over the years like Bizarro or Metallo. (There has never been a good live-action Metallo but the animated ones can really kick hero butt.) Most of Superman’s foes would have to challenge him mentally. For all his great powers there are ways around them, which is something I discussed in a vlog once on my other site. This is why Lex Luthor (a mad scientist with an obsession with proving his intellectual superiority above every one in the old days and an evil businessman wanting power and respect even if he didn’t deserve it nowadays) is Superman’s arch-enemy despite lacking even a quarter of Superman’s physical power. He challenges Superman to use his superbrain as much as his supermuscles.

But what about someone who could not only go Mano-a-Mano with the Man of Steel but win in a fist fight? That intrigued the writers and they eventually came up with Doomsday. While his origin would wait for a later story I’ve already reviewed, he was a brute of a monster whom Superman would defeat but at the cost of his own life. Of course he wouldn’t stay dead because at the time he was DC’s most popular superhero, and even today when Batman appears to have the top spot he’s still what people think of when they think of a superhero. His power set is almost clichéd at this point. But the story doesn’t end with Superman’s death, and his resurrection would only come after mourning and the debut of new heroes.

We aren’t looking at the actual comic however. This is the novelization by Roger Stern, one of the writers of the three arcs and already known for his novels as well as his comics. While I haven’t read most of the comics in question, I do wonder how the novelization compares to the original. If you want to read the individual chapter by chapter reviews I have them on my other site. This is an overall look at the book itself.

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Book Report: Fantastic Voyage novelization

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Previous book reports have looked at novelization, novel adaptations of movies. This practice doesn’t get much love nowadays because of home video, television, and streaming services but before all of those they were the only way to relive a favorite movie unless it showed up in theaters again. Novelizations still interest me though because they’re often based on the latest possible draft of a script. There are often changes between the final script and what the author had available and it’s neat to spot those changes and wonder what came from the early draft and what the author put in to pad the book out or just personal choice.

When I saw the Fantastic Voyage novel on a bookshelf at my grandparents I was curious to read it. While at that point I never saw the movie I grew with the cartoon, the intro of which I’ve posted above. Granted the cartoon bares little resemblance to the movie but I didn’t know that at the time. Additionally the concepts of the movie have been homage and parody fodder in so many sci-fi and kids shows that I was kind of required to see the original story. However, it wasn’t my book and these grandparents lived two towns away. After they passed away and we were going through their stuff and I managed to procure the novel and saw the name on it: Isaac Asimov, one of the masters of science fiction. Not thinking he would “stoop” to a novelization I planned to read the book, but never got the chance until sometime into my adulthood…where I noticed it was in fact a novelization. So I decided to wait until I saw the movie.

Recently I was finally able to see the movie (if you want my thoughts on it that review was the first installment of my Finally Watched article series over on my other site), which meant I could finally read the book and do my usual “Chapter By Chapter” review. Now that this is complete I can finally do a review of the book as a whole rather than focus on each individual chapter.

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Book Report: The 1st Phase Shifters And The Omega Capsule

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Before I start, here’s an update on the latest phase of the Comic Organizing Mega-Project. All went well, I found the comic I wanted to, and now I just have the final integration to do as soon as I can get to it. Also I found a few comics I may want to pull from the oversized library because I already remember not liking them. So that’s a positive event. And now on to this week’s book review.

Over at BW Media Spotlight I just finished a “Chapter By Chapter” review of The 1st Phase Shifters And The Omega Capsule, the first of thus far two books by Theresa Broderick. It wasn’t an easy review, because Broderick also happens to be my mother’s cousin, so I had to be respectful since she’s pretty much family but still give a fair but honest review of the book. If you want to know my thoughts during the 17 chapter reading session (although on a few occasions I actually combined chapters) here you go. This is an overview of the book and what I thought of it.

The book must have a fan base. The first book, which is out of print as of this review, goes for surprisingly high prices on Amazon. Barnes & Noble, and eBay where you can expect to spend around $100-$500 for it. The second book is also out of print according to Amazon. That’s not bad for a young reader’s book. At least I think that’s what it is, since Broderick is known for writing children’s books before writing this one and the chapters are rather short. That doesn’t stop the story from being good. I can enjoy a shorter book just as easily as a longer book. It just takes less time. But was that the case here?

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Book Report> Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire

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I have that big comic organizing project (or the next phase anyway) to start, but I have some unfinished business to complete first.

star-wars-shadows-of-the-empire

Going through my comics is relatively easy. I read two a day from my oversized collection, and if I see one I never want to read again, it goes into a pile until I can figure out how to get rid of them. Most comic shops don’t need comics from the 1980s and 1990s. Especially the 1990s. I review them on my other site. Novels on the other hand take longer to go thought. I read a chapter a week and post a “chapter by chapter” review of that book. And this one would long since been done, but you all know how last year went.

Well this year I finally finished a book I started reading when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters and now it’s getting done as Star Wars: Rogue One is probably close to done with its theatrical release. So the question is whether or not this is the third book to potentially leave my library, joining Total Recall and The Black Stallion’s Ghost, or if it’s one I really want to read again. Well, you can read the reviews of each individual chapter and read along with my review, or you can just see the final review here. Your call.

Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire

Written by: Steve Perry

Published by: Bantam Books (paperback edition: April, 1997)

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Book Report: The Black Stallion’s Ghost

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Black Stallion's Ghost

When I was a boy my mother enrolled me in the Weekly Reader Book Club. Every month we got a different book from different genres, a newsletter and a Superkernel comic book, which sadly I have none left of, just a poster. Not having a set genre in a kids book club is a good thing. While some of the things I’m drawn to today I still was back then there was still room to open up to other genres and try to build up my interests. I just eventually fell into sci-fi and superheroes with some exceptions.

One of those books you see above, The Black Stallion’s Ghost. I had heard of the movies but I hadn’t seen them. I’ve never really been drawn to horses. Once they put me on a pony and I didn’t like it. I don’t know if it was my fear of heights or what but they had to get me off pretty fast. Anyway, this book is one that’s haunted me (no pun intended) all these years. See, one time I tried to get my mom to read it to me. Unfortunately, I also couldn’t stop peeing so I kept running back and forth to the bathroom. Eventually she gave up and it sat ignored in my book collection until recently. When my mom got really sick I saw this and felt the need to complete some unfinished business. Sadly, she passed before I could complete it, the downside of the “Chapter By Chapter” review series on my website being how long it takes to finish a book. I just finished it this week if you want to take a look at the more detailed reviews, but there are spoilers attached so be warned. This report will be without spoilers and give a general overview of the book and my final thoughts on it.

The Black Stallion’s Ghost by Walter Farley

publisher: Random House (1969)

I did not get this book in 1969. I wasn’t even born until 1973 so I’m guessing that they had these around since it would say if this was a later edition, right?

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Merging Libraries

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bookshelf04

My love of reading is something my mother encouraged, and I’ve gained a lot of books, something I want to trim down because there’s more than I have time to read, which means it’s not only taking up a lot of space but there are books going unread, which is a crime unto itself. However, there’s a project I need to start undertaking this week which will increase my collection, but for a good reason.

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Book Report: Star Trek: Enterprise – The First Adventure

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Star Trek Enterprise novel

Another of my other site’s “Chapter By Chapter” series finished up, and once again it’s time for a full review. This is not based on the series with Scott Bakula, by the way. In fact, this novel came out before Star Trek: The Next Generation. This is supposed to be the first ever voyage of the Enterprise crew we all know and love–Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, Rand, Sulu, they even get a Checkov cameo in there. We’ve seen other possible origins in official channels as both the comics and the JJ Abrams reboots have done their own version. The question is how this one stacks up. First, the stats:

Star Trek: Enterprise – The First Adventure

by Vonda N. McIntire

Pocket Books (September, 1986)

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