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The PTO Book Club – Entry #2

Books and Oranges

They go together like a horse and carriage…

This I tell you, reader – it’s not like you can’t – but, I really don’t recommend having one without the other. Therefore, we used our orange-peeling fingers to pick you something to read.

Time: To defy it or fix it, alternate paths or future possibilities……Legacy and destiny are obdurate, but we can damn well fight it!

The Dark Knight Returns: The Master Race #3 (of 8)

Batman
Released: 2016
Story by: Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
Pencils by: Adam Kubert
Inks by: Klaus Janson
Colours: Brad Anderson
Page count: 28
Publisher: DC

There’s been a lot of negativity surrounding Frank Miller’s latest venture; however, if you’re a fan of The Dark Knight Universe, you’ll be glad to hear that the latest issue provides much more of that sharp satirical bite of his previous iterations. Bruce is back and although his body has deteriorated even further, the fire within him still burns. The Master Race has so far been an interesting read as we see fanatical Kryptonians escape the bottled city of Kandor and wreak havoc on Earth. A lot of the events mirror what’s currently happening in our own world and although some critics have been quick to criticise the one dimensional villains, it’s understandable when considering the subject matter.

Quar and his Kandorian followers have gave the people of Earth an ultimatum; bow down and worship them as Gods, or expect complete global demolition. Many powerful images of suicide bombings and media coverage splatter the pages of this issue; however, it’s the iconic presence of a certain boy scout the really steals the show as Superman finally comes out of exile to protect his adopted planet. Unfortunately for him, an unexpected twist reveals itself at the end of the issue. Batman hasn’t taken centre stage just yet, however, just like Superman, we certainly feel his presence towards the end of the issue which only gets us more excited for the next. Carrie Kelley shines as Bruce’s successor as she not only seems a competent vigilante, but a headstrong and *respectable role model for many readers.

*(It’s refreshing to see a woman character who isn’t scantily clad with tits and arse on show.)

Batman 2

Adam Kubert and Klaus Janson do a great job on pencils and ink which pays homage to Frank Miller’s artwork, keeping the visuals in tone to TDK Universe, and Brad Anderson’s colours give the whole thing a dark, foreboding feel. It seems to me as if this whole arc has come from the mind of Frank Miller, with Brian Azzarello doing much of the dialogue whilst reigning the whole story in. Usually when it comes to Frank Miller, you’d come to expect a car crash of emotion, from one extreme to the other, however, The Master Race seems to have more of a sturdy, level headed approach. Personally, I do hope that the gut punching, raw emotion is let loose later on in the story, however, most readers will be glad to see Bruce Wayne back in a less demented frame of mind. Recommended for the hardcore Miller fans and those who are curious to see what Azzarello can bring to the table.

Recommended by Jonathan Edwards

 

Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die

Machine of Death

Released: 2010
Page Count: 452
Author: Multiple, but edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki

Machine of Death is a collection of stories with a simple concept; a machine now exists that, with a simple drop of blood, can tell you how you die. However, it’s just a few words, and those are up to interpretation. A slip that says “Old Age” could mean dying surrounded by family at the age of 102, or it could mean getting shot in the face by a 88 year old when you’re 22. Vagueness at its literary finest.

Anthologies are a soft spot of mine – short stories become a staple in life when you are so busy that bathroom time is the only time and place slow and quiet enough to get some reading in. With that in mind, Machine of Death is an excellent book to for such endeavours. The concept itself is simple, but opens the imagination and is told in many different ways. Authors ranged from choosing comedy, action, horror, and drama, giving readers a taste of pretty much every style, and, unlike many short story collections I’ve read, nearly all the stories are amazing.

Layered and deep, Machine of Death will stay with you and have you asking, “Would you use the machine?”

Recommended by Sylvia Maixner

Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers
Released: 1987
Page Count: 263
Author: Robert Heinlein

Space marines have been no stranger to science fiction, with several tabletop and video games basing their entire worlds around the concept. Starship Troopers stands out in this genre however, being the book that truly defines the concept. The book begins with the troopers dropping onto a planet to wreck havoc amongst the native population. These first pages are full of bombastic action, with flamethrowers, mini nukes, and power armor. Heinlein’s writing doesn’t challenge, but rather steps out of the way for the reader’s imagine to render the action. Every scene plays out like a Hollywood movie and the book is all the better for it.

For all of the action and fireworks, Heinlein dedicates a large portion of the book to the politics and training of the young men that join the titular troopers. These sections serve as a needed breather in the middle of the book and offers insight into Heinlein’s idealized future where citizenship must be earned through military service and the world is run by one centralized power.
The utopia presented in Starship Troopers has become somewhat of a Rorschack test for one’s political leanings, being interpreted as a militaristic fascism or as a gold standard for a world government. Either way, the book challenges one’s notions of what a future could look like with the right technology. Because of all this, I return to the book regularly, picking it up in downtime to reread the fight in the tunnels or battle against the “skinnies”. If you are a fan of sci-fi or any type of military fiction, this should be at the top of your to-read list.

Starship Troopers 2

Recommended by Grey Maixner

Earth X

Earth X

Released 1999
472 pages
13 issues
Written by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross
Pencils by John Paul Leon
Covers by ALex Ross
Published by Marvel

Imagine the Marvel Universe turned on its head. Norman Osborn is the President of the United States. Reed Richards has assumed the identity of Doctor Doom. Thor has been turned into a woman by Loki’s trickery. Galactus is actually Franklin Richards. Storm is the Queen of Wakanda.

These are just a few of the mind-bending changes in store in this dystopian future tale. The embryo of a Celestial, hidden on Earth, has mutated the entire population of the planet. Formerly normal humans have extraordinary powers. And those who already had unusual abilities become something else altogether. Banner and the Hulk have been separated. Hawkeye has enough arms to wield three bows. Namor can’t leave the ocean without bursting into flames. Iceman is stuck in his frozen form, and must live at the North Pole.

If you love the “What If?” stories, or have ever wondered what the world of superheroes might look like in 50 years, I highly recommend this brilliantly written and illustrated epic graphic novel.

Earth X 2
Recommended by Jennifer Huneycutt

 

11/22/63

11
Written by Stephen King
Released 2011
849 pages

The movie rights for this time-travel tale were bought before the book was even released. ‘Twas a brilliant move to trust Stephen King’s good word. 11/22/63‘s Jake Epping/George Amberson found his way back in time, as he will find a way into your hearts.

High school teacher, Jake, taught GED classes at night. The janitor whom all the kids teased because of his lame leg and wit, was a student. The final paper to pass was “The Day that Changed My Life.” “‘It wasnt a day but a night. The night that change my life was the night my father murdirt my mother and two brothers and hurt me bad. He hurt my sister too, so bad she went into comah…..'” Hoptoad Harry Dunning wrote. Mr. Epping gave him an A+. After the graduation, Jake took him to Al’s Diner to celebrate.

Al’s Diner was Jake’s routine dinner. $1.19 for Al’s Famous Fatburger, why wouldn’t he? It was a wonder why the kids called it Al’s Famous Catburger. But after finding Al aged several years from when he just saw him the night before, he learned how he could afford keeping his prices so low. In his pantry was a rabbit hole to 1958. On his last trip, he decided to travel a little further past the butcher shop. But he couldn’t make it to 11/22/63 to prevent the assassination of JFK. So he came back, where only two minutes have past, to recruit Jake for the mission.
Jake fell in love with 1958, where he was now George Amberson. He got caught up with, not only the quaint feel of the times, but also the power to change those times. But the past is obdurate. According to Chris Cooper, who plays Al in the Hulu miniseries, “If you f*** with the past, the past f****s with you right back.” George stopped Harry’s dad from killing his family, but it took him a few tries, resetting the timeline each turn.

Jake found himself living two lives: Mr. Epping, the time-traveling, Lee Harvey Oswald stalker in Fort Worth, and Mr. Amberson, the English teacher who fell in love with the librarian in Jodie, Texas, the home of Jim Ladue; “State Championship in 1960! We’ve got Jim Power!”
F***ing with the past caused Jake and George to clash. Will he have to choose between Sadie Dunhill or Lee Harvey Oswald? Of course, the past would choose Oswald. Especially if the Yellow Card Man has anything to do with it.

Recommended by Allen Dean Lyons

 

Batman and Robin Volume 1: Batman Reborn

Batman and Robin

Written by Grant Morrison
Drawn by Frank Quitely
Issues 1-6 of Batman and Robin
page count: 168 pages
Published by DC Comics

So this week I have for you guys is a Batman story. However, there’s a twist! Dick Grayson, the original Robin, is Batman, and Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne, is Robin! In contrast to the stereotypical dark brooding Batman and light cheery Robin, this story gives us a light, cheery Batman and a dark brooding Robin! Dick has had to take over for his mentor following his apparent death in the Final Crisis, and has chosen Bruce’s recently discovered son, raised his entire life as an assassin, to be his sidekick. Dick takes it upon himself to set his mentor’s son on the right path while dealing with the pressures of living up to his mentors legacy.

The story develops both characters very well, showing the conflicts and issues between the two conflicting personalities early on as well as the pressure of living up to a man whose legend and legacy are near impossible to live up to.

The art by Frank Quitely is also very well done, he can create some beautiful scenes, or creepy ones, as the story necessitates, and he provides a great tone that contrasts the typical art you see in a Bruce Wayne story brilliantly.

Batman and Robin 2
This story is very well done, and if you are looking for an alternative version of Batman to explore, or are simply a Dick Grayson fan, then this is a book I HIGHLY recommend.

4.8 out of 5 Boy Wonders

Recommended by Antonio Rivera

Bitch Planet

Bitch Planet
Released: 2014
Number of Issues: 6
Ongoing
Written By: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Valentine De Landro
Published By: Image Comics

Do you like the 70s exploitation genre? Do you like hard boiled bad ass female prisoners ready to fight the guards and system that will stop at nothing to keep them down? Then Bitch Planet is a dish catered to you. Bitch Planet comes from Image Comics that has great art, great characters and a great storyline.

Bitch Planet 3

Bitch Planet follows a group of women locked up in the maximum security satellite named, you guessed it, “Bitch Planet”. This comic holds no punches back when it brings up topics of sexism, rape, and a man ruled society bent on keeping others of the XX chromosome down as a lower class. This comic is screaming to be made into an R-rated film and would be a welcomed departure from the typical hero in spandex deal. Find your local comic book shop and run to catch up on Bitch Planet.

Bitch Planet 2
Recommended by Mark Salcido

 

 

Pay your late fees from last time, so you can check these out. Then tell us what you thought of them down in the comment section below. But you can’t be too loud.

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