Tag Archive: comic books


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“Attack on Titan, Vol. 1”
by Hajime Isayama
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by Kodansha Comics
(first published March 7th 2010)

I can’t say I’m a big fan of Manga, I like most of the stories, but the books seem gimmicky to me. I love comic books, and I love a good story, but with Manga comics the books are printed backwards and it takes me about halfway through the book before I start to get the hang of reading right to left. I understand the original printings in Japan are written that way, but they could easily be printed in the same way books are printed on this side of the planet and nothing will be missed. When Western hemisphere books are printed in the other countries that read in the opposite direction they are printed to make it easier for the readers there. So to be geek chic when you find a good Manga they are printed to be read “backwards.” The only reason this happens is to be different, cool, or hip.

I had to overcome this bias because I had heard a lot of good reviews about both the “Attack on Titan” Manga books and TV series. When I started reading this book I hadn’t yet started watching the TV series and all I knew was that it was a survival series much along the lines of “The Walking Dead.” Yes it did take some time to get used to reading backwards, but once I started flowing with the story I was rewarded with a great story told in comic book form and using the tools of flashbacks, and weapon and tactics specifications all interwoven in the story. Again I say, I would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t have to retrain my brain to read backwards.

As for the story, it is a survival story set 100 years after the Titans have forced humanity to live behind walls. Humankind is down to just a few thousand people who live in a city surrounded by three concentric walls. The walls protect them from their enemies, the Titans. The Titans are humanoid giants that eat the humans alive. Untouched by the Titans for a century, humanity has become complacent. But Eren Jaeger, a trainee in the Army has had enough. While his fellow citizens are content to hide, Jaeger has the passion to take action to not only protect the city, but to learn what the Titans actually are. But on his first mission he comes face to face with horrors beyond his imagination and secrets from his own past that could shift the tides of war.

I have since started watching the animated TV series and am hooked. The story is phenomenal. I am glad I read the Manga first only because it introduced me to the TV series which I could have easily not watched and would have missed out on a great show. If they do reprint these to be read from left to right I will definitely continue to read the series, but until then I’ll just have to settle with the fact that I’m too old to be taught new reading habits.

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Audiobook Review: “MARVEL: The Ultimates: Tomorrow Men”
by Michael Jan Friedman
Multi-cast performance
Published by GraphicAudio
Approximate Running Time: 5 Hours

Once again the folks responsible for “A Movie in Your Mind,” GraphicAudio bring their audio production and vocal acting excellence to another Marvel Comics adventure. This time it is in the form of the Ultimates. For those not sure who the Ultimates are, let me clarify; back in 2002 Marvel comics did a little tweaking and re-imagining of the Marvel heroes in the form of the Ultimate Marvel universe. In this re-imagining the Avengers are re-titled as the Ultimates. The title ran through a couple of runs and this book is written to take place between volumes one and two.

First of all I have to get out of the way my glowing review of GraphicAudio’s extraordinary audio production. Their slogan is “A Movie in Your Mind,” and they deliver exactly that. With only their over-the-top super-realistic sound effects and original music, the products put out by Graphic Audio would be superb. However, they don’t stop there. GraphicAudio employs some of the most talented voice actors in the business. The actors’ abilities to capture the complete characters they are portraying in all of GraphicAudio’s books are uncanny. Those actors shine even more so in the superhero genre, bringing the characters to full three-dimensional life. Combining all three of these factors (music, SFX and vocal talent) GraphicAudio brings to life the comic book / superhero world.

Now let’s talk about the author, Michael Jan Friedman. Most of Friedman’s books are stories from the “Star Trek” universe. This book proves he is able to write some good superhero action. Much like the “Star Trek” based stories, there is a lot of build-up before the real action happens. Normally I would not think this works in the comic book realm of stories, but Friedman makes it work thus giving the reader/listener an intelligent comic book that has many threads running through it. All of these threads are loosely woven together but come to a common point to bring the story to an exciting end.

So what is this exciting end? Nope, I won’t tell you, no spoilers here but here’s what builds up to the intriguing ending; “Tomorrow Men” is the story of a group of men from the future coming back to the time of the Ultimates to help stop a terrorist group, Tiber, from taking hold of the world and ruining the planet. They are able to prove their claim of being from the future by revealing knowledge that only they could know, such as the device in Steve Rogers’ (Captain America) brain that was planted in case the super soldier serum drove him insane. They also seem to know the location of some of Tiber’s secret bases. Tiber has just come on to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s radar as a terrorist group making the “Tomorrow Men” more believable.

The “Tomorrow Men” help the Ultimates battle some of Tiber’s agents, but during the aftermath of the battle, Iron Man is accidentally sent to the future to find the truth about the “Tomorrow Men” and the truth about Earth’s future.

 

 

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Audiobook Review: “The Perhapanauts in ‘Monsters Among Us, or, Chimaera Wanna Tellya Somethin'”

Adapted from the graphic novel series The Perhapanauts by Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau by Todd Dezago and Elaine Lee

Full Cast Performance

Published by AudioComics Company.

Length: 51 mins

 

I have been a comic book fan for over 40 years (yeah, I’m that old) and have read them for as long as I can remember. Comic books are fun, exciting and even help in the development of vocabulary and reading skills. I knew an English professor that for part of the semester he would hand out comic books and have the class read them and point out the language used is much more than what you would expect. I never took his class but I’m sure it would have been a blast.

 

So as I grow older I seem to have less time for comic books. Many are available in digital format for reading on the computer and tablets, but even so, time is a limited asset. I have been a consumer of audiobooks for many years and have loved the fact that I can use my work commute, shower time, household chore time and various other times to “read” a good book. Thanks to a few very creative audiobook publishing companies, comic books can now be presented in audio format. One of the difficulties of bringing a comic book to life in an audiobook form is, well, let’s face it, the art work.

 

To make up for the lack of the visual aspect of the artwork many these publishing companies bring the comic to life with excellent voice actors, stunning sound effects and an all round aural ambiance that make these audiobooks as complete of an experience as absorbing the visual artwork of a comicbook. AudioComics Company does this so well that each time I see one of their creations come available, I jump on it and give it a listen as soon as possible.

 

This time around I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, I just knew it was an audiobook created by AudioComics based on a comic book. “The Perhapanauts” is a  comic book series featuring the creations of writer Todd Dezago (Sensational Spider-Man, Tellos, Young Justice) and Craig Rousseau (Impulse, Batman Beyond, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane). Adapted from the comics by Todd Dezago and Elaine Lee, the audiobook is a new story based on the existing comics.

 

What can you expect, well the Perhapanauts team is controlled by the organization called Bedlam, the team isbuilt around characters from cryptozoological tales. The leader is Big, a sasquatch, who has a super-genius I.Q. The rest of the team include; Chooie, a chupacabra, Molly, a ghost, Karl, a mothman and others.

 

In this audio premiere of the series a new member of the team is told of one of the past about the team’s mission against the shape-shifting Chimaera. While an exciting adventure about how the team uses their unique skills/powers to capture the Chimaera there is something else going on in the telling of the story. Very unique story with some great twists, turns and fun dialogue that make this a series that will get you hooked and wanting for more.

 

I have added the Perhapanauts comics to my list of to read comics, when time avails itself to me, but until then I’m going to be hanging on the edge waiting for the next in this series from AudioComics Company.

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“Green Lantern: Sleepers (Volume 3)”
by Christopher J. Priest
Multi-cast performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
Approx. 6 hours

I just love it when I get my comic books and audiobooks mixed and can enjoy the comics during the same situations I can enjoy my comic books. GraphicAudio has provided the means for me to enjoy both with their outstanding productions of DC comics’ novelizations of their heroes. It took me a while to get through all 3 books in this “Sleepers” collection, but the reason for that is I was milking the experience. I have heard all of the productions from GraphicAudio’s comics genre and didn’t want the experience to end. Luckily they getting geared up to release a new DC Comics product, so I won’t have to wait long.

The “Movie in your Mind” concept from GraphicAudio is always more than delivered, especially in these audio “movies” created from the graphic novel industry. GraphicAudio creates an entire ambiance that could only exist in the worlds where a ring created in mysticism could create a force for either good or evil.

With creatively orchestrated sound effects this book’s entertainment factor shot through the roof. The Green Lantern who is the focus of this audiobook is the Hal Jordan Green Lantern, and it occurs in the continuity where Hal Jordan has taken on the role of “The Spectre.” With the powers of The Spectre, Hal Jordan is able to exist in all points of all of time and space at once. Just put into your mind the ambient sounds that all of time and space would create. No matter how expansive your imagination I’m pretty sure it in no way it comes close to the artistically created special effects this audiobook contains.

From beginning to end the creativity is not limited to sound effects. The musical score envelops the story and weaves in and out to create even more comic book superhero ambiance. Then to top it all off the voice actors performing the various parts in the book are stellar. Each character is portrayed with a vocal artist who is able to bring to life every aspect by completely capturing their entire psyches.

This story is one that surprised me. The surprise came in the form of a way to tie in all 3 volumes of this series. As I listened to the first two books in the series I saw how they were a little tied in with the common theme of some renegade yellow power rings created by Sinestro, but this book not only concludes the trilogy, it also ties it all together making one big package. While each of the books could be read/heard as separate stories, the concept works best when all are consumed together and in order.
The final volume of this epic trilogy, Sleepers, Book 3 features Hal Jordan, the most famous of Earth’s modern-day Green Lanterns and now the Spectre. The Spectre has all the abilities a god would have including, but not limited to, manipulation of time and space, control over all matter, invulnerability, and limitless strength. But just after the beginning of this story, Hal has been stripped of his powers, and it is now up to him to fight the clones of the villain Sinestro, set loose by actions in the trilogy’s first volume. In order to save the Earth, he may have to sacrifice himself by taking the Sinestro power rings on a one-way trip to the anti-matter universe. The rings take over some members of the Justice League and the battles ensue. Some great action in this book and brought to full 3-D life by Graphic Audio.

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“Civil War” (Marvel Comics)
by Stuart Moore
Multi-cast production
Produced by Graphic Audio
Approx 6 hours

Okay I have to start this review out with a confession. That confession is that I just experienced a six hour nerdgasm. Holy freakin’ cow, this audiobook just rocked my world.

Now that that is out of the way let explain a few things. I’m a huge Marvel Comics fan and have been for years. What makes me a fan is that all of Marvel’s heroes are realistic. Yes I know super powers aren’t real, but Marvel makes it so that the heroes have everyday problems and how they cope with those problems and fight for what is right is what gives them the everyman experience to which the average reader can relate. Iron Man/Tony Stark struggles with his own alcoholism, Spider-man/Peter Parker has to contend with high school (in the early years) and bullies, the Fantastic Four have family problems and Ben Grimm has to contend with being made of rock, never able to be normal. Being able to relate to the average comic book reader makes Marvel, in my opinion, the most enjoyable comic book publisher around.

Over a decade ago It was announced that a live-action Spider-man movie was going to be released and when this theatrical magic that was thrust upon us by Sam Raimi hit the theatres I was one of the first in line. Spider-man is my all time favorite, by the way. When the opening movie credits started I wept tears of excitement. Finally, my hero is on the big screen. By the end of the movie I was emotionally drained and pumped up at the same time. Not long after the release of the Spider-man movie I was forced to stop my weekly visits to the comic book store due to an economic downfall on my part and later moving to an area that had no comic book stores. I wasn’t able to go back to reading comics until just about a year ago.

During my comics hiatus I missed some exciting events in the Marvel universe. One of which was the mega-crossover event that is covered by this novel. The “Civil War” created a major schism between the heroes in the Marvel Universe. This schism is a lot like the events that happened after 9/11 and the following P.A.T.R.I.O.T. A.C.T. in the United States. Where people (heroes in this case) were forced to give up freedom for the nation’s security. After a major accident that occurs with some heroes and leaves a town in New England decimated and over 900 dead, the government decides that superheroes must become registered and screened before they can use their powers. Captain America does not believe that freedom should be surrendered, and Iron Man (who stands to make lots of money selling weapons to Homeland Security in the deal) thinks that this is what must be done to protect innocents. the superheroes are split on this and thus begins the “Civil War.” Those that do not register are hunted down and imprisoned.

In a curious note, this story can also be related to today’s issue of gun control. Where some events that have taken American lives lead to gun legislation arguments.

During my comics hiatus I had heard about this crossover and was extremely curious. I can’t say I was too excited because I hate those stories that pit hero vs. hero. But with the political aspect involved I was intrigued to see how each hero would react. I then decided when the chance came up I would find the trade paperbacks of this crossover and read them, this turned out not to be so easy for me. Then I heard a novelization of the event was coming out and I knew I’d be reading that, but just when I heard about the release of the novel I heard that GraphicAudio was going to do an audiobook version of the novel. I was psyched at this point and knew right away I was going to wait for that release. After nearly a year of constantly checking the GraphicAudio website, it was released and to make it even more exciting was offered a review copy. Pure excitement ran through me. Finally, I will hear some of the world’s greatest heroes as portrayed by the excellent productions of GraphicAudio.

I was first introduced to GraphicAudio about five years ago through a DC comics audiobook. That production blew me away. The fights were all realistic, and the otherworldly sounds that can only happen in sci-fi or comics were so original that It seemed as though they had actually gone to a rift in space and recorded a superhero battle. I then started listening to every comic book audiobook created by GraphicAudio. At the time all they did were DC comics and even though I was a marvel fan I took them all in and just let the “Movie in your Mind” aspect of GraphicAudio wash over me. In fact because of GraphicAudio, when I did start purchasing comics again I picked up some DC comics and gave them a chance where I would have not done before.

GraphicAudio’s tagline is, “A Movie in your Mind,” and with every single audiobook they produce they deliver. With surreal sound effects and exciting music the illustrated artistry that is the main punch of comic books comes to life with sound. Once you experience this from GraphicAudio you will not be able to listen to an audiobook the same again.

On top of the excellent ambient sound, GraphicAudio has some of the best voice actors I’ve ever heard. Each actor portraying the heroes in “Civil War” captured every essence of the characters and the plethora of emotions, which really pulled out the basis which makes Marvel my favorite. The actors all related to the characters and made them sound like heroes with the nuance of everyday problems. I was ready to nit pick this aspect, being the big Marvel fan, but there was nothing done wrong. Every hero sounded exactly like I imagined, no wait, strike that, they sounded better than I imagined.

Once again I was so psyched about this marriage of Marvel and GraphicAudio that, again, I wept with excitement at the opening credits of this audiobook, and even doubly so when Spider-man fought his battles. I’m sure the other drivers in traffic would have thought me crazy if they happened to look over while I was cheering Spidey on in his battle.

All I can say is, no matter what your preference in comics, audiobooks or escapism, you must go out and get this audiobook and be ready to be blown away.  When this book was over I was physically and emotionally drained, yet pumped up.  Pumped and ready for more.

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“Green Lantern: Sleepers (Volume 2)”
by Christopher J. Priest & Michael Ahn
Multi-cast performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
Approx. 6 Hours

Yes I will fully accept the fact that I am a nerd, I love my comic books. I used to be such a die hard fan of comic books that I even picked a side. I was the hardcore Marvel comics fan, so much so that I wouldn’t even look at a DC comic. Later in life I learned, it was okay to like all the comics. I began reading some of the other publishers like; Image, Dark Horse, et. al, but when it came to DC I just felt like I was cheating for some reason. I liked to read The Flash, and Batman, but for the other heroes I just couldn’t make myself do it.

In comes my love for audiobooks and what lead me to where I am now. I used to make monthly road trips that would last about 8 hours and I would pass the time with audiobooks, on top of that my work commute was 30 – 45 minutes depending on Kansas City traffic, so there was more time for audiobook absorption. So I had more time for comics than audiobooks. Then to my amazement a few years ago I was introduced to GraphicAudio because of their production of some comic book novelizations into audiobooks. GraphicAudio was taking some DC comics novels and turning them into audiobooks, but not just an audiobook rather, “A movie for your mind.”

GraphicAudio uses a highly skilled team of voice actors, out of this world sound effects and ready-for-theatrical-release music and mixes it all in to make the superheroes come to life in full 3d sound and mental imagery. GraphicAudio has a great library of DC comics based audiobooks and I understand will be working on some Marvel collections soon (I can hardly wait for those productions). These productions are nothing short of amazing. When you think of comics you think of the great artwork that steers the story. GraphicAudio is able to take the comic artwork and bring it to your mind through sound. Their sound effects sound just as though they are leaping out of the pages of a comic, not the funny “kapows” and “blams” but with Earth shattering explosions, and the sound of Green Lantern’s aura that sounds as though it is surrounding you as the listener. GraphicAudio has created the perfect way to listen to comic books.

This audiobook is the second in a series written by Christopher J. Priest and each book is linked in a very cool way that makes it so as a fan you have to read or, in this case, listen to, all the books. I won’t give away how they are linked because it is a bit of a spoiler, and I don’t like to give out too many spoilers. This book covers the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott.

“Sleepers Book Two” tells the origin story of how Alan Scott and how he came to fight crime as the Green Lantern. The other aspect of this story that makes it unique is that the Golden Age of comics occurred during World War II, and while nations were at war this super hero was fighting bank robbers not Nazis. With that aspect a question is formed, “Why doesn’t he go wipe out the Nazis, with all that power he yields?” Well eventually the Green Lantern, Alan Scott, does go overseas but once he does he meets up with Malvolio, a Green Lantern (at least at first appearance to Alan) who can help Alan discover what it means to hold the power of the Green Lantern. The beginning of this book explains the origin of Malvolio and the nice part of this is that the reader/listener knows that Malvolio is not a good guy and only the worst can be expected.

In the beginning of the book it is revealed that Malvolio is a 17th-century supervillain, actually an anti-Green Lantern who wants to take over the world. The Guardians imprison Malvolio, but he escapes and makes it back to Earth just in time for WWII. Malvolio decides to cut a deal with Hitler that endangers the entire Allied campaign in Europe and the Pacific. Not one to think small, he is determined to eliminate the entire Green Lantern Corps, destroy Earth, and decimate all other worlds that have ever had the protection of a Green Lantern.

Great origin story, great production and great super-powered battles make this a must hear audio book from GraphicAudio.

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“The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury”
by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
read by Fred Berman
Published by MacMillan Audio
Running time: 10 hours

For the year 2013, I’m declaring February Zombie month. This is the month when the phenomenal TV series, “The Walking Dead” starts back up to finish up season 3 this month, I have just caught up to issue #106 of the comic book series and I have just finished listening to the second audiobook written as a companion to the series. I am ready for more zombies.

The two novels written in this series coincide with the comic books and not the TV series. The first novel was “Rise of the Governor” and the sequel to that novel is this one “The Road to Woodbury.” Both novels follow the stories of two characters that were introduced early in the comic book series. The first one covered the Governor and how he became leader of the settlement called Woodbury. In the comics the Governor is much more brutal than the one portrayed in the TV series, at least so far. This time around we are told the backstory of Lilly and in part, that of a lesser characters, Bob and Martinez. In the comics Lilly is the one that puts a bullet into the head of the Governor after the attack on the prison. At first those only knowing “The Walking Dead” through the TV series may see this as a spoiler, but anyone that has read the comics knows, the TV series has branched off in directions that stray a bit from the comic book storyline enough that the TV series can go anywhere and it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen.

The bulk of this novel is the development of the character of Lilly. When I read the comics I didn’t think too much about her character. In fact, I considered her pretty much a lesser character, but with a major role. Someone had to kill the Governor, really he had to die, so she was chosen. Apparently she was enough of a character for Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga to tell her story, and I’m glad she was. This book is a great survival story like all of the stories from all forms of “The Walking Dead” multimedia experience, but what made this novel even better for me was zombie clowns and circus performers. More on the zombie clowns later.

Before I summarize the meat of this book, I’ve got to first talk about the reader, Fred Berman. Mr. Berman does an outstanding job of bringing this book to life. Not only does he provide each character a voice, but he is able to make all the emotions and actions of the characters come out in their voices. At times it nearly seems like this is a multi-cast performance. This book is a full audio experience thanks to the voice talents of Fred Berman.

“The Road to Woodbury” starts out with a group of survivors setting up a tent village putting together all their efforts to stave off the zombie apocalypse. The center of this makeshift survivor campground is a circus big top tent, left behind when the plague hit. Now, if you are like me, then you probably see the problem with this from the start. I had to wonder what was going on, why on Earth would anyone think a tent village would be safe in a zombie apocalypse? The flaw is soon discovered when a herd of zombies attack and some children, which were under the care of Lilly are under attack, while most of the others in the group are out scavenging for food and supplies. Lilly manages to save three of the four, but when the oldest of the kids gets spooked and runs away, she soon meets her demise under the chomping teeth of zombies.

The father of the children becomes distraught and begins beating on Lilly, breaking some ribs and fracturing her jaw, seeing this, a man who is somewhat of a love interest, Josh Lee Hamilton, comes to her rescue and beats up the man. The problem is that all of Josh’s pent up frustrations come out and he kills the man. The people in the tent village discuss this and decide to exile Josh. Lilly is furious with this and while in no condition to do anything, she decides to leave with Josh. Possibly seeing what is to come, Lilly’s high school friend and her boyfriend, a stoner couple who spend the apocalypse getting high, decide to go with them. Also deciding to leave is former Marine medic, now never sober, Bob Stookey.

The group of 5 leave the tent village and find an abandoned gas station. Josh and Lilly head out scavenging for food, actually Josh has in mind to hunt down one of the many deer in the area, when a herd of deer are spooked their direction, fleeing from something the deer run right past the two humans, soon Josh and Lilly discover the horror that has the deer spooked. It is at this moment that the creepiest scene in any zombie story ever occurs. The zombified members of the circus which the members of the village were using the big top tent, is leading a herd of undead heading straight for Josh. The authors describe in detail the characters that are now flesh eating zombies from this circus. There are clown zombies, the fat lady zombie, acrobat and contortionist zombies and many more. Just take a circus and freak show from the early days of touring circuses and turn all its members into zombies and have them travelling in a herd toward the survivors. Yes it gets creepy.

Later, while regrouping and trying to decide what to do next, the tent village seems to come under attack. Not knowing what is going on but seeing the flames and hearing the noise from the tent village it can’t be good. A couple of vehicles approach the gas station as they are fleeing from the village, but do not stop and ram into the station destroying the outcasts’ shelter.

This sends the outcasts on the road again and after walking dead encounters they come across an abandoned Wal-Mart superstore. Gathering what is left of the looted store for survival supplies the group is confronted by a group of men. The leader of the men, Martinez, tells the group of a town that is full of survivors working together to ensure they all survive. Thinking this too good to be true, but tired of being on the road the group follows the men to Woodbury and meet the Governor.

The group discovers that Woodbury is not all it seems to be. An evil is lurking beneath the town and at the cost of lives the Governor is becoming more and more brutal.

Along with the book “Rise of the Governor,” “The Road to Woodbury,” is a great addition in the world of “The Walking Dead.” Whether you are a fan of the comics, the TV series or both these books should be added to your must read now list.

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“The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor”
by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
read by Fred Berman
published by MacMillan Audio
Approx 11 hours.

Not sure where it all started but I’m really loving this new love of zombies. I do know that a lot of the newfound love of the undead is brought about by the multi-media incursion of the works of Robert Kirkman and “The Walking Dead.” What started out as a simple black and white print comic book has developed into a television series, a couple of novels, a social game as well as many other games available as apps. “The Walking Dead” series is not one of those simple horror films about zombies eating brains, the ongoing story tells the story of survivors and their day to day struggles. The stories all cover politics of a world with a sudden loss of a central government and how to reform social order, or whether that social order can be reformed, all this while trying to avoid being eaten by a horde of zombies.

What really grabs the public’s attention in this is the collection of very human stories that could be anyone, all the characters created in this series are human, make mistakes and have emotions that make the situation very real. Then throw in some adrenaline pushing horror into the mix and you have a well rounded story that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

One of the storylines in the comics, and currently running in the TV series is that of the “Governer” and his brutal way of maintaining the peace. In the comics we meet the Governor after he has already established his community in Woodbury. His actions are very brutal, like chopping off limbs of people if they don’t see things his way, forcing prisoners to fight zombies and his keeping a little girl zombie locked in a closet and treats her as though she is still alive. But what made the Governor the way he is. I know when reading the comic I thought, my gawd, how can someone be this brutal and insane and yet still have a community allow him to lead?

That’s where this book comes in. When the book was originally released back in 2011, I wanted to read it and had it on my list, but never quite got around to reading it. When it was released in audiobook form later that year, I thought, now’s my chance to grab on. But my list was overpopulated and I still didn’t get around to listening. Now I find out there’s somewhat of a sequel to “Rise of the Governor” released called “The Road to Woodbury” I now have no choice, I can’t fall too far behind. So I latch on to this one and have a copy of “The Road to Woodbury” on top of my stack for the next listening. So that is my journey to getting here, let’s talk about the journey of the Governor, but before I do, after listening to this thrill a minute novel I can see why it took a whole novel just to tell the Governor’s story. It seems that it doesn’t just happen overnight for someone like him to become brutal and insane, even in a zombie apocalypse.

“The Rise of the Governor” begins with the story of brothers Brian and Phillip Blake and Phillip’s daughter, Penny, getting together with their friends, Bobby and Nick and trying to escape the havoc which is the dead rising and eating the living. Doing everything he can to protect Penny, Phillip gets the group loaded in an SUV and seek safety. Following all the TV and radio broadcast instructions to head to Atlanta where a survival area is supposed to be in existence. The first stop the group makes is in a gated community called Wiltshire Estates. Readers of the comic will find Wiltshire Estates familiar as one of the stops for Rick Grimes and his crew, the main characters from the Walking Dead comic and TV series.

Wiltshire Estates appears to be safe and after settling down in one of the homes, the group finds themselves settling in and raiding the nearby houses for supplies. The group begins to reinforce the fence around the community too keep the cannibalistic corpses out. Soon the numbers of walking dead become too much and a weakness in the structure allows the dead to invade. Bobby gets attacked and bitten by a zombie in hiding and soon dies. Before he turns Phillip shoots him in the head. Distraught by the loss of a good friend the remaining group make their escape and continue on to Atlanta, but not before Brian makes a sign warning of the dead inside.

When they arrive in Atlanta they find that the safe zone is a myth and that Atlanta is overrun by millions of zombies. They are trying to escape a horde when they are flagged down by a woman who leads them to safety in an apartment building. The woman is April Chalmers, who is holed up in the first floor of the building with her aged father, David, and her sister Tara. They again think they may have found a place to settle and begin growing a garden on the roof and making escape routes among the buildings as well as routes to scavenge for food and supplies. When David dies of natural causes and turns into a zombie, it is up to Phillip to “kill” the zombie David. Tensions mount between the men and the women, and Phillip does something stupid which results in Tara holding the group at gunpoint forcing them to leave.

Once again the group is on the run trying to survive. They find motorcycles and plan on heading to the Gulf of Mexico to find a place to live out this apocalypse. Along the way Brian keeps getting glimpse and feelings of people following them. Chalked up to paranoia the group ignores his stories. Soon they find themselves in a villa conveniently located on top of a hill and in the middle of a peach orchard which, while they are weaponless, seems like a safe place. The only problem a group of ruthless outlaws soon find the villa and force them to leave. The battle that ensues is one of the most tragic described in the series, this is where Penny gets bitten by a zombie and is turned into one herself.

This is the turning point where Phillip becomes brutal, he fights back with a vengeance and manages to keep alive two of the attacking party, the rest are all killed and destroyed. The two are kept alive in a barn where only Phillip can enter. He tortures the two captives on a daily basis because they are responsible for the death of his Penny. Phillip also has another sign of snapping in that he is keeping Penny alive as a zombie tied to a tree. When Nick and Brian discover what is going on in the barn they kill the two captives, who by this time are begging for their own deaths. Phillip keeps them from killing Penny and eventually they decide the villa is no longer a place to be.

Travelling further the group comes across the community of Woodbury, where no one cares who comes or goes. The group set up in an apartment and the darker side of Woodbury becomes known. The town seems to be run by a group of National guardsmen who charge admission for anyone wanting to watch the car races at the local dirt track. When Brian can’t pay the admission a gun is placed in his mouth as the brutality and bullying ensues.

Phillip sneaks Penny into the apartment and soon begins feeding her fresh cuts of human flesh to the horror of Brian and Nick.

At this point the book becomes very brutal and the Governor takes command but there is a huge twist in the tale that will leave the listener/reader amazed. When the Governor finally takes over the town of Woodbury is destined to be the town seen in the comics and the TV series, but like I said, there’s a twist. Check it out and be ready for a super thrill ride in zombie-land.

The reader of this book, Fred Berman, does a superb job of capturing every thrilling second.  He is able to express the emotions, the attitudes and even at times make the book feel like a multi-cast performance.  His vocalizations of all the characters is perfect.  In fact there were times when I would just get thoroughly lost in the story thanks to his vocal expertise.

True Hideaway Geeks #23 “Terror in the Neighborhood”.

This week Gil T. & Shawn discuss more nerdy stuff, such as Marvel Avengers Alliance social game, Arrow, Revolution, Fringe, Haven, Wreck-it Ralph and more nerdy stuff.

“Batman: No Man’s Land”
by Greg Rucko
Full Cast Performance
Produced by Graphic Audio
Total Running time approx. 11 hours (separated in two volumes)

It never ceases to amaze me as to how GraphicAudio brings audiobooks alive. Their thrilling sound effects, outstanding voice actors and incidental music truly create what they call “A Movie in Your Mind.” I’m an avid comic book reader and I have read novelizations of comic books. The thing with comic books is that you have great artwork helping to push the story along and when reading a comic based novel the reader has to use that imagination to fill in the graphics. It can lead to some great adventures because the imagination has no boundaries. However, some of the best features of comic books are the beautifully drawn panels of the heroes in action. When reading one of the novels I miss those features. GraphicAudio has produced many different genres of full cast production audiobooks, but my favorites by them by far are the comic book based productions.

Through the great acting, sound effects and music, GraphicAudio fills in the gaps left behind by not having that stunning artwork. For example, in this novel when the Joker slaps a victim with a rubber-chicken filled with a hard substance you not only get the slam of the impact that is so real you nearly feel just listening, but you also get the sound of a cracked jaw and some comical sound effects that would naturally have to occur when the Joker is involved. Very realistic sound effects are not the only thing that keeps this (and other GraphicAudio productions) aurally stunning, there are also the great actors doing the voice work. Each actor playing their part is able to fully engulf the character whether it is Commissioner Gordon, Huntress, Oracle, Nightwing, Robin or the Dark Knight himself each character is portrayed by an actor that is able to fully represent the full impact of the character through audio only. Everything is represented in the voices in this production, emotions, the back story of each character and the thoughts behind the words are all brought to life through the extremely talented voices.

My favorite from this story has to be the actor portraying the Joker. One of the difficulties in bringing to a performance a well known character that the listener/fan already has a preconceived notion as to how that character sounds. With the Joker many great actors have brought the Joker to life through television or the movies, Ceasar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and in the animations Mark Hamill a dedicated fan will probably have their favorite and will always compare that voice to any newcomers. Richard Rohan the actor who portrays the Joker in this production captures all those great Joker performances and wraps them up into one superb package that has now become my favorite Joker. To top that off Rohan also does the voice for Bruce Wayne/Batman and at no time in the performance can you tell it’s the same actor.

So what’s this book all about? I will say it is one of the most interesting Batman storylines I’ve read. It contains a huge mix of Superhero action, loyalty, friends and family. This story mixes in some great Batman villains such as, the Joker, Harley Quinn, the Penguin and Two-face, some great heroes Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, the Oracle and even a bit of an anti-hero in the Huntress. So yes, this book is pretty much a who’s who of Gotham City. Putting all those characters together and then throwing in an appearance of Superman’s arch-rival, Lex Luthor, and you have an awesome story of crime and community in “Batman: No Man’s Land.”

After an earthquake hits Gotham City, leaving thousands dead and millions more wounded, the U.S. Government decides it cannot throw away anymore money at the crime infested city. What happens is all bridges connecting Gotham to the mainland U.S. are destroyed and the city is declared No Man’s Land. Upon leaving Gotham someone at Arkham Asylum left the doors open. Now Gotham City is run by gangs led by the baddest of the bad villains. The Penguin has staked out his territory and has actually a nice black market business of bringing food and supplies into Gotham City. Poison Ivy has set up camp in Gotham’s version of Central Park and pretty much stays to herself (and her plants) while Two-face has carved out his niche. One other “gang” is in place calling themselves the Blue Boys. This “gang” is led by Commissioner Gordon and consists of the Gotham City police that were dedicated to their city. Gordon is trying to tame Gotham back into a civilized city by using some tactics that he would not have used when officially serving as the police commissioner. All this is going on while the Batman seems to have gone missing.

Gordon manages to reclaim lots of territory just as Batman comes back, but by this time the anger toward the Dark Knight is enough for Gordon to no longer want his help. Batman finds that this “new” Gotham is a bit more to handle than planned for and having to battle his own ego, finally calls in Nightwing and Robin and enlists a new Batgirl. Just as the battle is being won Lex Luthor comes in and starts buying up parts of the no man’s land for his own purpose, but under the guise of goodwill and charity. Bruce Wayne begins his battle of paperwork to fight Lex and just when the Government looks like it will allow Gotham back into the nation the Joker begins his most hideous Joke and the fate of Gotham’s future will be battled between the Joker and Batman.

Awesome Batman story performed in a larger than life production that every comic book fan must hear. Whether you are a Marvel or DC fan this will rock your world.

Speaking of Marvel, in 2013 GraphicAudio will begin releasing some audiobooks based on Marvel storylines. Being a HUGE Marvel fan, I can’t wait for those releases.

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