The King in Yellow Tales ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@50%

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Title: The King in Yellow Tales
Series: The King in Yellow Anthology #3
Editor: Joseph Pulver
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Cosmic Horror
Pages: 249 DNF/125
Words: 77.5K DNF/39K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

Collected within this substantial volume of madness, murder, and spectral tragedy are tales of Carcosa, the characters that inhabit the KIY “Play”, and Chambers’ cosmic horror. Pulver’s tales adhere to Chambers’ core ideas and themes, and they retain all the mystery of Chambers originals. Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. has been acclaimed by many notable editors, writers, and reviewers, as the contemporary heir to Robert W. Chambers’ “King in Yellow”. Have you seen the Yellow Sign?

“‘The King In Yellow’ reigns over the labyrinthine crossroads between the grand indifference of the cosmic Outside, and the inner wasteland of the tormented mind, so it’s no surprise to find Joe Pulver’s saturnine face so frequently behind the Pallid Mask. Joe plies the fathomless depths of existential nightmare breathing music and poetry, and brings back strangely beautiful salvage. That he has so lovingly and deeply explored Chambers’ bizarre pocket universe without destroying the merest scintilla of its mystery is ample testament to his painfully sharp craftsmanship and terrible wisdom.

My Thoughts:

It turns out this was a collection of madness in the form of frenetic poetry and fragments of prose. I thought I could make it through, surviving on the prose but at the 50% mark I simply couldn’t take any more.

I was bored, confused and feeling like someone was grinding broken glass into my earlobes. Not the feeling I want when reading a book. Heck, not the feeling I want, ever.

After the previous book, this was doubly disappointing.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

In the Court of the Yellow King ★★★★✬

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Title: In the Court of the Yellow King
Series: The King in Yellow Anthology #2
Editor: Glynn Barrass
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Cosmic Horror
Pages: 289
Words: 99.5K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

These Harpies of Carcosa — W. H. Pugmire

The Viking in Yellow — Christine Morgan

Who Killed the King of Rock and Roll? — Edward Morris

Masque of the Queen — Stephen Mark Rainey

Grand Theft Hovercar — Jeffrey Thomas

The Girl with the Star-Stained Soul — Lucy A. Snyder

The Penumbra of Exquisite Foulness — Tim Curran

Yield — C. J. Henderson

Homeopathy — Greg Stolze

Bedlam in Yellow — William Meikle

A Jaundiced Light at the End — Brian M. Sammons

The Yellow Film — Gary McMahon

Lights Fade — Laurel Halbany

Future Imperfect — Glynn Owen Barrass

The Mask of the Yellow Death — Robert M. Price

The Sepia Prints — Pete Rawlik

Nigredo — Cody Goodfellow

MonoChrome — T. E. Grau

My Thoughts:

In the fantasy Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, there is a power called Saidin and Saidir. One half can be used by males and the other half by females. The male half, Saidin, was tainted by the Dark One thousands of years before the series starts. The main character, Rand, can use Saidin but is affected by the taint. He describes the experience as wrestling with fire and ice that is covered with a putrid oil. He never feels more alive than when using Saidin but the taint makes him sick and drives him insane.

That is how these two Cosmic Horror Series (Cthulhu & King in Yellow) seem to be affecting me.

I couldn’t stop reading this. The stories dragged along relentlessly. I felt like I had jumped into a river and that it turned out to be way more powerful than anticipated. There were times I was in the center, speeding along, but then there were times when the stories pushed me into the banks or slammed me into hidden rocks beneath the surface. By the end of this I felt battered, emotionally and spiritually. Yet I had never felt so alive either.

It was an extremely disturbing dichotomic feeling. I had to stop and really ask myself if I was capable of reading more of this stuff. While I acknowledge that I have changed over the years, is the change engendered by reading stories like these the kind I want to voluntarily submit to? Whether I like to admit it or not, what we put into our minds does affect us.

Thankfully I don’t have to make that decision right away. I’ve got another month before I cycle back to this cosmic horror duology.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Myths, Part II (Spawn #15) ★★☆☆☆

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Title: Myths, Part II
Series: Spawn #15
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

The Clown’s story continues. Medieval Spawn survives the Violator’s blast, but he is horribly disfigured. Even in this state, however, he is able to best Violator with the help of his living suit’s imprisoning tendrils. The Violator’s severed head is hoisted aloft as a grisly trophy of their demonic battle. Ironically, the woman he sought to protect from the Violator is sickened by Spawn’s true form and flees in flight.

The Spawn lays in an alley peacefully resting. When the owner comes out mad that bums in his alley are begging and foraging for scraps, the owner physically pushes Spawn around. Spawn is fed up with people trying to tell him what to do. He beats the man down and barks that this is now spawn territory. The man cowers away.

In Queens, New York, Terry Fitzgerald lays awake, terrified as the mob’s men have threatened his family again and he doesn’t know what to do.

My Thoughts:

So this whole “Myths” story was standing St. George and the Dragon on it’s head. With the Violator being the dragon and Medieval Spawn being St. George. It really pissed me off that the Princess runs away from Medieval Spawn when he reveals his tortured form. I can understand that she doesn’t want to get all “Hugs & Kisses” with him but to run away from him after he’d saved her life and killed the Violator that was torturing her? It also raised the question, to me, of WHY was Medieval Spawn all burnt up too? It doesn’t happen to every Spawn because we saw the fat child killer who became a Spawn candidate still in “prime” condition. And speaking of Medieval Spawn.

Below is an illustration of the fantastic work that McFarlane can do, when he wants to. It is a great illustration of the talents he has. The problem with it is that it simply makes the times where he rough sketches things in that much more noticeable.

Part of me can understand not doing this level of work for every panel but at the same time, why not? Why isn’t McFarlane putting out his best for the whole issue? Why does this particular spread get the love treatment while Terry in his boxers looks almost like a crayon drawing at the end?

Between everything that I’ve experienced with this comic in these 15 issues, nothing has made me want to continue. I don’t like Spawn. I don’t like his human Al Simmons. I don’t like the 2 cops. I don’t like the badguys and I don’t like Wanda. I don’t like the city or the situations and I don’t like the universe portrayed. So I’m done with Spawn. 15 issues is enough of “testing the waters”. Any more testing and I’d be asking for Jaws to come chomp me up into little itty bitty pieces.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Myths, Part I (Spawn #14) ★★☆☆☆

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Title: Myths, Part I
Series: Spawn #14
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

The Clown, being a master of self-promotion, tells the story of a long-ago clash with Medieval Spawn to a small lot of alley kids. He portrays the ancient warrior in the worst possible light and describing him as evil. He takes creative liberties explaining he was the hero of the story. During a battle, a kick from Spawn’s horse sends Violator flying, something snaps inside him and he unleashes a gout of mystical fire. The Violator cackles in triumph over the smoking form of his fallen foe.

Spawn curses himself for letting his emotions get the best of him. Now that Chapel knows he’s still alive, he can no longer remain a shadow. People may discover he’s still alive and come for him.

My Thoughts:

We get the Violator, still in clown form, telling a group of boys a story about his battle with another Spawn 800 years ago. The words he says are at complete odds with the pictures drawn so you know he’s lying out of his teeth. It would seem another Spawn had defied Malebolgia, thus giving us the hint that our Spawn might be treading in the footsteps of another like him.

I have to admit, I don’t think I’m going to make it to the end of the year with this series. It is just too stupid. I’ve mentioned this before, but Spawn is supposed to be a Special Forces kind of guy. He doesn’t let his emotions rule him but so far, that is ALL he’s done in all 14 issues. One stupid mistake or decision after another because of his emotions. It’s not that I want him to be emotionless but I don’t want to see him ruled by his emotions and McFarlane doesn’t go down that route.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Flashback, Part II (Spawn #13) ★★☆☆☆

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Title: Flashback, Part II
Series: Spawn #13
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

Spawn recalls playing a baseball game and breaking his ankle. All he can remember is how beautiful she was and how they made love until the sun came up the next morning.

Spawn decides to focus on finding the man who killed him, Chapel.

At Youngblood headquarters, Badrock is on guard duty but distracted by video games. When Spawn trips a silent alarms, he finds Chapel along with teammates Diehard and Shaft. Spawn teleports himself and Chapel to Botswana to complete his fight.

Terry Fitzgerald finds it hard to fall asleep. Now that two men have harassed him, he knows he’s on a watch list which is hard to get on. Yet he can’t figure out why they’d be checking into him.

Twitch Williams and Sam Burke rejoice in their investigation finally being lifted for the murder of Billy Kincaid.

In Botswana, Chapel recalls the orders from Jason Wynn to take out his target when things got hairy. Snapping back into the present, he wrestles with Spawn and exchanges punches. Spawn drives the point home by disfiguring the Chapel’s face with a horrific brand, that resembles the facial warpaint he wore when he murdered Al. As Spawn leaves Chapel, he activates the Youngblood tracking mechanism.

Eight hours later, Shaft and Badrock arrive and ask what Spawn said to him. With a disgusted and angry look, Chapel simply replies with, “Nothing” as he gets on their plane to leave.

My Thoughts:

So Spawn hunts down the guy who killed him originally. He infiltrates the Youngblood’s headquarters (Youngblood’s were Image’s version of the Justice League or the Avengers), teleports Chapel back to where Chapel killed him and proceeds to pummel the ever living daylight out of him. Spawn uses his magic to give Chapel a skull face like his old costume and then leaves him to be found.

The fight boiled down to a couple of punches thrown and the two of them angrily exchanging macho “I’m tougher than you” stupid talk. It was actually kind of embarrassing to read. It also brought home the point that McFarlane is deliberately writing for teenagers. Instead of showcasing Spawn getting some good intel from the badguy the focus is them fighting and Spawn getting his revenge. I’m sure in future volumes Spawn will use the intel from this guy but it will be of the “remember when I beat the crap out of my old killer, well, he told me….” variety.

On a complete side note. I’ve never read the Youngblood comics but after this little introduction I definitely won’t be. I get the “grim and gritty” vibe from them and I’d bet my bottom dollar that the comics are filled with questionable morals about human life and heroism in general.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Flashback, Part I (Spawn #12) ★★★☆☆

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Title: Flashback, Part I
Series: Spawn #12
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

Spawn is drawn to the top of the Church again. He ponders how the devil twists people’s souls with his secret weapon, people’s weakness to love. He recalls only being in a church once, which was to marry Wanda. He recalls Terry being there and how he was his best friend. How could Terry betray him and marry Wanda he wonders.

In Washington, D.C., CIA chief Jason Wynn is told by his henchmen that Terry is the number one suspect of compiling damaging information against his bosses and stolen goods. He orders his henchman to have several henchmen make the point clear that he knows about Terry’s secret dealings. He then tells the henchmen to watch him to see where he goes once he’s scarred.

In New York City, Spawn dresses in civilian clothes as he goes to visit Wanda’s blind Granny Blake. He tells her there is an afterlife and he expects her to reach Heaven. He leaves without the heart to tell her that he made it to Hell.

At New York City Police Headquarters, Twitch and Sam discuss how they are now on probation for what happened with Kincaid. Sam mentions it would be a good opportunity to follow up on the lead of the man in the red cape they spotted at Billy’s. He’s heard that he may have been involved in the bum incidents as well.

In Queens, New York, Wanda, Terry, and Cyan walk home to find several of Jason Wynn’s henchman waiting there. One remarks to Terry that he has a nice family and it would be a shame if anything happened to them.

Elsewhere, the bums celebrate the safety Spawn has given them. The celebration takes an ugly turn when a bum tries on Spawn’s mask, only to be nearly strangled by it. Spawn pulls it off and warns them he has no control over his suit and that the suit will attempt to protect itself.

Spawn suddenly experiences another flashback. He realizes that the American flag he keeps seeing in his visions represent his killer. The grim reaper he keeps seeing he realizes is the face paint of his killer. He keeps finding himself drawn to not just the church, but the chapel. He identifies his killer as Chapel.

My Thoughts:

Finally, things move forward a tiny step. I cannot imagine what kids went through who were originally reading this one issue each month. With this issue it would have been a whole year’s worth of comics, and for what? We know Spawn was a special forces guy who was betrayed and was brought back to life to work for a demon. Oh, and that he wuvvssssss Wanda. Dear spacecow, that’s hammered at us in every single issue. Just in case we forgot I guess.

I will say that it was nice to be introduced to another villain, one with a skull face mask, who apparently is the one who killed Spawn in the first place. And we meet their former boss. So, Bad Guys, Assemble! Throw in a couple of Power Twin Rings and we’re ready for a real fracas.

I was talking with SavageDave in the comments of the last issue of Spawn and it made me realize I think I’m going to try to hang onto this series until new years. Then when I’m evaluating what to do for 2022 I’ll make a firm decision to continue this series or not. I’m also trying to not be as hard nosed about the books I read as it affects me in other ways too.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Infernal Express (Adventures of the Royal Occultist #3) ★★★✬☆

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Title: The Infernal Express
Series: Adventures of the Royal Occultist #3
Author: Josh Reynolds
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 199
Words: 68.5K



Synopsis:

St. Cyprian is coerced into taking the remains of Dracula and giving them to the Turks and jannissaries, Dracula’s ancient enemies. A cult of Dracula wants the remains for themselves so as to raise their lord from the dead. The jannissaries also want the remains as they don’t trust St. Cyprian to be able to keep the remains safe from others. And finally, the secret vampire society wants the remains so they can lock them away and keep Dracula from ever rising again. Oh, and Lucy Harker, a half-vampire, thinks she’s the only one who can deal with her daddy’s remains.

All of this ends up taking place on a train towards Constantinople, through land barely over World War One. St Cyprian is an idiot and gets infected by Dracula so he has to contend with enemies within and without. Eventually he, his protege Ebe and Lucy get the remains to a sacred monastary with a pool of holy water. St Cyprian cleanses himself from the vampire taint and then throws the remains of Dracula into the holy water, which while not eradicating him, will hold him captive.

During all of this Dracula shows St Cyprian a future where the Old Ones have returned to Earth and humanity is on the brink of extinction, not from fighting the Old Ones, but from worshiping them. St. Cyprian has seen this vision in the previous stories so he knows Dracula isn’t making this up. So St Cyprian must find a way to prevent this future without allowing a monster like Dracula to use it for his own ends.

My Thoughts:

Another fun entry in the Royal Occultist series. At the end of the book was the prologue and chapter 1 of Book 4, which was untitled. When I contacted the author, he told me there had been issues with the publishing company so book 4 was never published and he didn’t know when it would be. I’m guessing rights were involved.

This was extremely action packed from beginning to end and it did make me wonder how St Cyprian has lived as long as he has. He certainly doesn’t seem to know half of what he should and as for him trying to teach Ebe anything, that girl seems to think she doesn’t need any teaching. It’s frustrating to read about but also so true to life.

I thought Reynolds did a good job with handling the Dracula lore in such a way that it fit right into the Royal Occultist world but also putting his own unique spin on it. Making Dracula a being that is on par with the archangels in terms of power was clever.

With no more books, I’m done with this series. It was light and fun and if Reynolds ever writes more, I’ll be reading them.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Home (Spawn #11) ★★☆☆☆

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Title: Home
Series: Spawn #11
Author: Todd McFarlane
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comic
Pages: 25
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Imagecomics.fandom.com

Spawn wakes up in the alley. His homeless friends Boots and Billy worry about him as he keeps moaning about some aardvark.[1] Spawn tells his homeless friends that he finds a need to protect them and his home, in the same way Boots protects the only thing he has.. his boots.

Soon a woman screams for help, as Spawn hears explosions nearby. He finds the woman but is unable to saver her in time as he takes a hit that blows through his body. Everyone is shocked when Spawn stands back up with a basketball sized hole through his chest.

The attacker, Boomer, runs off into the night and Spawn secretly chases him to find out where he came from. He finds the Nerds Gang headquarters where the Nerds discuss hating their rival gang the Creeps Gang.

Spawn finds he is outclassed and outmatched in guns and retreats. Spawn uses his military and strategic planning to goading each side into a final confrontation.

The plan works perfectly, leaving only the Nerd enforcer Byron still standing – until Spawn arrives. Unable to penetrate Byron’s armor, Spawn teleports himself inside and rips his way out, reducing the villain to a bloody head.

My Thoughts:

This comic series is really suffering in comparison to both Asterix AND Bone. While it doesn’t seem quite fair to compare this to Asterix, which is twice as long and not released “on schedule”, Bone is just as short. The art is rough and sketchy with very rough outlines in many cases and even Spawn gets the rough treatment if he’s not showcasing some sort of Spiderman swinging pose.

Then you have the “story”. Some gang warfare is happening in the alley where Spawn and his group of bums live and Spawn sets up both gangs against each other and then kills the lone survivor. It did nothing to further Spawn’s supposed investigation into who he was and didn’t advance any plot point that I could see. I am getting a bit impatient at this point with just how much McFarlane is dragging out the storyline.

It is making me wonder if it is this particular franchise or something about monthly released comics that just doesn’t work for me. It might be a bit of both too.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The King of Plagues (Joe Ledger #3) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@30%

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Title: The King of Plagues
Series: Joe Ledger #3
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 492 / 160
Words: 151K / 50K



Synopsis:

DNF@30%

My Thoughts:

By the 30% mark Maberry had used the term “hate crime” 15 times. I quit reading when he used the term to justify a muslim special forces guy beating people so badly that they ended up in the Emergency Room because they used words he didn’t like. It’s called Free Speech, for good AND bad. When you start telling people what words they can and cannot say or use, you have entered the Deep State.

So adios Maberry, you confirmed my fears about you and I’ll be avoiding you like the plague from now on.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

The Jade Suit of Death (Adventures of the Royal Occultist #2) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Jade Suit of Death
Series: Adventures of the Royal Occultist #2
Author: Josh Reynolds
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 190
Words: 70K



Synopsis:

St. Cyprian is hired to recover an occultic artifact for one of his acquaintences. Said artifact has been stolen by a group of thugs who appear to have the power of controlling a demon. Turns out one of the occultic clubs has decided to use whatever power they can grab to change the course of history and to make Britain an Empire in perpetuity.

The jade suit encases an original werewolf and the acquaintence was hoping to study it to see if he could cure himself, as he has been bitten himself.

St. Cyprian and his assistant must track down the jade suit and stop the splinter group from peforming an equinox ceremony binding the werewolf to the leader of the group, thus allowing her nigh unlimited power. Of course they succeed.

My Thoughts:

This was another great entry but also brought to light something that had been niggling at me in the first book. Reynolds kind of rushes his endings. The buildup is fantastic. He sets things up great and does a good job of describing everything leading up to the end but the climactic battle and the aftermath, it’s always gone through extremely quickly. I have to admit I suspect it comes from his franchise fiction writing. It really reminded me of how a lot of the Forgotten Realms books/series ended. Other than that, I was perfectly satisfied with how this story went.

The idea that the “plague” contained by the jade suit was out of control lycanthropy was really interesting and definitely turned the expectations of the reader, ie, me, on its head. The inclusion of the “Hairy Hands” and Baphomet as well as the splinter group of rogue occultists definitely made for a full house when it came to villainy. In a lot of ways it didn’t seem so much that St. Cyprian overcame the villains as that he performed magical ju-jitsu and used everyone against the others. He came across as the Millennial Ideal of lets work together instead of the Gen X of One Warrior Overcoming All Odds.

A larger overall threat was hinted at but I’m not sure that Reynolds will be able to pull that off with just one more book. I guess I’ll just have to read it and find out 😀

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.