Tag: San Francisco

Book Review – Plague Nation (Ashley Parker #2)

 

Plague Nation
Ashley Parker is back in another larger-than-life zombie thriller. Just when she thinks they’ve made headway in the war on the apocalypse, it goes… Well, it goes viral. Ashley, you’re not in Redwood Grove anymore.

* * * * *
“Why couldn’t it have been an outbreak of, say, bunnies or French bulldogs?”
* * * * *

In PLAGUE TOWN,” we watched Ashley mature into a self-assured young woman from a spoiled college freshman. But she’s still got her snark. It’s her coping mechanism, and she’s good at it.

This second installment is emotional. The Wild Card team members we follow are facing personal trials. They’re constantly in danger. They are going to make mistakes. Some will fall. And, in San Francisco, they’ll have to lay down all their terror and grief to save the nation.

Everyone has secrets. The zombie plague started somewhere, and it’s time to go straight to the source. With so much suspense, you know the big bad revolation is coming about Ashley’s love-connection.

Violence and gore are prevalent in the Plague series. It’s enough to make you lose your lunch. You’ve been warned.

* * * * *
I could also smell zombies, lots of them. It was no longer an occasional nasty-as* whiff, but rather a constant olfactory pall lingering in the air like the proverbial fart in a phone booth.
* * * *

Again, Dana Fredsti breaks up her narrative with exhibitions of poor editing and flashes of zombie conversion. The later are ment to reinforce the idea that the plague is spreading. I find the tidbits ill-timed and almost a complete waste of space. They add little information that could not have been given in another way. Worse, serial characters are introduced by this method in PLAGUE NATION, who are presumably important and yet never meet up with the Wild Card team. Winding up after all that at a cliffhanger ending leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The third novel should resolve some of the tangled mess, but I don’t have PLAGUE WORLD yet. Sigh.

Rating: 7/10 zombies
Series: Ashley Parker/Plague #2
Publisher: Titan Books
Pub. Date: April 9, 2013
Pages: 336

And you can find the PLAGUE TOWN, first in the Ashley Parker series installment from Dana Fredsti and Titan Books, reviewed by Word of the Nerd Online here.

 

 

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Review: Snapshot #1

Publisher: Image
Writer Andy Diggle
Artist: Jock
Release Date: Feb. 6, 2013

 

I make no apologies for my love of who I consider the dynamic duo of comic books, Andy Diggle and Jock. If you’ve never read The Losers, then boy are you missing out because it’s one of the smartest, most entertaining graphic novels you’ll ever read. And the movie ain’t so bad either! The Losers doesn’t do it for you? Fine. Do you like the current CW show Arrow? Well then, it may interest you to know that the basic premise of the show, and at least one of the villains, are based on Green Arrow: Year One by Messrs. Diggle and Jock? I see I have your attention. Well then, with two collaborations under their belt, what do you suppose they have in store for us the third time around? Not much, really. Just a murder mystery involving a hitman with a missing pinkie, a phone with only one contact, and a comic book store employee who probably wishes he’d never gone riding through Golden Gate Park. Ya know, the usual.

Meet Jake Dobson, a decent enough guy who works at Near Mint Rhino, a comic book store in San Francisco. As mentioned before, he’s riding his bike through Golden Gate Park when he happens across an abandoned cell phone. Applying the ancient rule of “Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers,” Jake and his buddy Steve talk shop at the store, make fun of “civilians,” and commiserate over Steve’s wife’s hipster protest group. Speculating over what could be on the phone, Jake manages to unlock it and finds a single contact, Bravura Acquisitions, and when he goes scrolling through the photographs he finds something he didn’t expect: photos of what certainly looks like a murder committed by a person with a missing pinkie. Before he can even process what’s going on, the mystery phone rings and Jake believes that an Agent Warren is on his way to collect the phone as part of an on-going investigation. Well, it’s true he’s there to get the phone but Warren doesn’t exactly want there to be any witnesses left behind. Jake manages to escape and takes the phone to the real police where he relates his story but gets thrown for another loop when the supposedly dead man in the pictures turns up to collect his phone!

There’s so much more to the plot, but it’s too good to spoil. In a sea of comic book writers, Andy Diggle always rises to the top as he manages to craft not just an intriguing mystery, but stories filled with engaging and likable characters – even the ancillary ones. Jake and Steve are a great example. The plot may be a murder mystery, but Diggle takes the time to get us invested in two out of the four characters we meet in this issue. Jake and Steve may be comic book geeks, but they’re not social outcasts. They drop the occasional reference here and there (my favorite being the Looney Tunes line) and other than their slightly dickish treatment of a “civilian” who drops by the store looking for stationary, they’re just two regular guys. A lot of that is in the dialogue. It’s hard to write dialogue that convinces you that a person is acting like…a person. When you’re used to superheroes spouting grandiose lines declaring their intentions all the time, there’s something refreshing about a dude talking to his wife on the phone and it actually sounding like a guy talking to his wife.

Jake also makes for a great protagonist because he’s got all the qualities of an everyman involved in something he doesn’t quite understand. He does everything that any one of us would do in the same situation, his only sin being the unfortunate decision to take a phone lying on the ground in the park. But just because he’s smart or capable doesn’t make him brave or heroic. Jake displays several shades of his personality throughout the issue. He’s snarky, indecisive, confused, and cowardly. He’s human and that’s what makes him an instantly relatable character. Grounding Jake in this way makes his reactions to the escalating circumstances of his current situation easier to digest. Of course you’d beg for your life when a gun’s pointed at your head! You’d make a deal with the Devil if it meant staying alive! Considering how the issue ends, it’s anyone’s guess as to what Jake will have to do to break free of a really bad decision he made that morning.

But I’d be remiss not to talk about the absolutely gorgeous art provided by Jock. And it’s all Jock in this book. Nary a colorist in sight. Instead, Jock keeps everything in black and white, showing us just how powerful an image an artist can produce with just black ink. Jock has always put a greater emphasis on the eyes of characters as the true conveyers of emotion. If you removed the dialogue entirely, you’d still be able to follow the story by looking at the characters’ faces, especially their eyes. And I love, love, LOVE the composition of this book! Everything pops from the page and Diggle and Jock keep guiding you merrily along the panels until there’s a gun pointed in your face that seems to defy all comic book conventions. Like I said, beautiful!

Final Thoughts: For the love of God, read this! You wouldn’t want Warren coming after you, would you?

Is There More To WonderCon’s Migration Than Meets the Eye?

The WonderCon website banner

Friday marks WonderCon’s first day in Anaheim, its new, temporary home for 2012… a notable migration from the San Francisco Bay Area, where it’s been held since 1987.

The convention’s supposed to return to its old residence in 2013, but if WonderCon’s a hit in the new place, will its owners really move it back and ditch a lucrative location? And is there more going on with this migration than the public’s been told?

Inquiring nerds want to know, and they’ve been wondering for a while. The Hollywood Reporter reported last fall that Comic-Con International, the organization that runs WonderCon, was moving it because the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco, where it had been held for years, would undergo construction during WonderCon’s scheduled March 16 – 18 dates. WonderCon had a record attendance of 49,000 in 2011, according to the Reporter, indicating great growth, so convention owners had to make a decision: either cancel the show for a year and break momentum or move it somewhere else.

By now we know their decision. The new location’s on their website, and they discuss it in a press release there, but official disclosures haven’t eased some folks’ worries.

Conspiracy theories abound, and here’s a big one. An article in The North County Times shed light on speculation that WonderCon’s organizers want to test the new Anaheim location as a trial run before moving San Diego Comic-Con to the same spot. If WonderCon does well there, then Comic-Con International, which runs both cons, will have the proof to support a Comic-Con migration from the San Diego Convention Center to Anaheim.

There’s been talk of Comic-Con’s possible relocation for a while. Its previous lease with the city of San Diego originally expired this year, so for the past few years, media outlets speculated that Comic-Con International might move its biggest convention to a new city starting in 2013. Los Angeles and good ole’ Anaheim put out bids for the con, but Comic-Con International announced that it was keeping the convention in San Diego through 2015, and the news silenced quite a few people.

Until now.

At least one person thinks that WonderCon’s move this year is bogus. If the Moscone Center won’t work, why not just move it to another building in the same city? Surely San Francisco has more than one place that’s big enough. The North County Times article quoted a commenter named Ryan on Comingsoon.net who wrote, “The Moscone Center isn’t the only venue in SF where they could hold it. There’s more to this move than just Moscone being renovated.”

Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer was quoted in the same story denying those allegations.

But what would he say to this theory? What if Comic-Con International is repositioning WonderCon as an overflow venue for people who can’t get into Comic-Con because the tickets sell out so fast these days? San Diego Comic-Con has grown in attendance rapidly over the years to about 125,000 people, and these days, so many people go online to buy their tickets simultaneously that the tickets are gone within minutes of being released. It’s a nightmare for fans who get squeezed out.

For now, it’s anyone’s guess. These theories could prove true, but they are just theories. There’s no proof that Comic-Con International is up to anything sneaky with these moves.

We can’t tell what’s going to happen in 2013, but here’s some good news for those who want San Diego Comic-Con to stay in San Diego: the city council has approved a $500 million expansion of the convention center, but it would require a tax on hotel room, so hotel managers will vote on the decision in April.

We’ll probably have to wait to find out what Comic-Con International’s plans are, but no matter what happens, WonderCon and Comic-Con will always be going on somewhere, regardless of the city. All you’ve got to do is sit back, pay attention, and keep your eyes peeled for when–and where–your next favorite con is going to be. The location won’t matter as long as you can have fun.

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