Archive for February, 2016

The Final Issue


Friends, I’ve decided to shut the blog down.

As I’ve said more than once in the past, I don’t have a lot of love for this blog. Most days, I really kinda hate it. It doesn’t have a lot of readers, which isn’t that surprising, because almost all I write about is comics reviews, and no one really enjoys comics reviews. The only reason I do them so much is because they’re easy, and it’s much faster to knock out a couple reviews every other day than to do something more complicated.

And even saying reviews can be done quickly, they can’t really be done quickly enough. Working on the blog generally takes a few hours of work, and those hours could’ve been used more productively. Every day that finishing a blog takes ’til bedtime, I have to consider all the projects I could’ve been doing in that time — writing on more fun or substantial projects, reading books, even working on household chores. Those all fall by the wayside because I spend too much time blogging.

It doesn’t mean that I’m not feeling some regret and trepidation about quitting it. I’ve been working on this thing since June 2007, and that seems like a pretty long time to keep a blog active. I’ve written a few things I’m quite proud of, and I’ve always liked the idea of having a platform online where I could break out a good rant if I felt the need. But I also feel that the downsides of working on the blog now outweigh the positives, and it’s time to bite the bullet and shut it down.

I don’t plan on completely shutting it down, honestly — I’ll stop writing on it, but I’ll maintain it. Keeping the domain name ain’t very expensive, and I’d like to keep the site around, partly so the few cool things I wrote will still be around, and partly because I may someday feel like ranting about something. It’s always possible I may want to start blogging again someday, although right now, that seems awfully unlikely.

It’s been interesting to look back and think how much the comics industry — or at least my reaction to the comics industry — has changed over the past eight-plus years. When I started out, I was a complete DC fanboy and read very few books by Marvel. Nowadays, I read relatively few DC books — I’ve still never gotten over the New 52 reboot, and I don’t think the quality of the comics has leveled up to what it used to be. And I read a lot more Marvel books now, because they’re doing a better job of creating the diverse storytelling background that all publishers are going to need going forward.

And it has been really great to see the comics industry catching on — with the occasional neanderthal backslide — that they need to have better female characters to appeal to women readers. It’s also been great to see male readers reading comics with those female characters — great comics are always worth reading, no matter who the stars are. Now hopefully, the industry will step up their game even more on the diversity front. There have been improvements everywhere, but we can’t afford to forget that comics readers come in all ethnicities, all sexual orientations, all gender types. There are ways that the comics industry is pulling the rest of the entertainment world along into the future — I hope they can maintain that march forward.

I will miss getting to read along with y’all as we watch the ongoing robo-tragedy in “The Vision.” I’ll miss reading with you as we follow the fun in “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,” “Howard the Duck,” “Lumberjanes,” “Spidey,” and “Ms. Marvel.” I’ll miss getting to enjoy the creepy horrors with you in “Harrow County,” “Revival,” and “Alabaster.” I’ll miss discovering new wonders with you in the pages of “Silver Surfer,” “Astro City,” and “Atomic Robo.” I’ll miss following along with you as we learn what finally happens at the end of “Bitch Planet,” “Rat Queens,” and “The Wicked + the Divine.” I’ll miss discovering new and wonderful comics together with you, and watching where the comics industry may finally end up. But I reckon y’all are going to do fine without me reading reviews at you week after week.

So y’all keep spreading the good word about good comics. Read the new stuff, read the old stuff, read superhero comics, read all-ages comics and horror comics and fantasy comics, read literary comics and silly comics. Read comics you love, and evangelize about how great a good comic book is. You’ll be amazed who you can sometimes convert into a dedicated comics fan with the right bit of comics evangelization. But whatever you do, keep reading the good stuff, and don’t be afraid to have fun with your comics.

I’ll see y’all when I see y’all.

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The Most Marvelous Marvel


Ms. Marvel #4

Kamala’s brother, Aamir, has announced that he wants to get married to his girlfriend Tyesha. While Kamala is initially elated, her spirits fall when she realizes the newlyweds will still be living in her parents’ home, so she’s going to be more overwhelmed than ever, particularly with her grades falling and her duties as a superhero and Avenger getting tougher. But when she discovers that Bruno is running a new experiment utilizing 3D printed robots and rudimentary artificial intelligence, Kamala hits on an idea — she gets a couple of robot duplicates of herself that are just smart enough to repeat a few simple phrases and mimic her movements. Now she can be in more than one place at the same time! Things should work great as long as the 3D printer doesn’t go out of control, right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oh, mercy, glorious super-science superhero super-shenanigans! It’s a wonderfully well-told story with great art and absolutely grand humor. People, y’all are reading this, right? If you aren’t, you’re freakin’ crazy, and you need to go out and buy all the Ms. Marvel comics you can. Do not hesitate, people!


The Totally Awesome Hulk #3

Lady Hellbender, the Monster Queen of Seknarf Nine, wants to capture Earth’s greatest monster — Fin Fang Foom! Amadeus Cho, the new Hulk, is eager to help out — but there’s the issue of a cruise ship in distress nearby. Can he save the ship without losing control of his anger? And can he stop Fin Fang Foom with his brain and not just his brawn? And is Lady Hellbender really on the Hulk’s side?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a nice, action-filled comic that’s never shy about dipping into the humor of the situation. It’s great to see Amadeus remembering that he can use his genius to fight monsters and not just the Hulk’s strength. Also, dang it, I’m in favor of any comic with a good guest-starring role for Fin Fang Foom.

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Order of the Harrow


Harrow County #9

This issue — featuring artwork by none other than Carla Speed McNeil! — focuses on the Skinless Boy. A mysterious man comes through town and lures the young haint out of the house. He claims to be a cannibal, and he knows an awful lot about the ghostly kid than even the Skinless Boy does. The kid doesn’t know his name, and the cannibal says he does — and he shows the kid a home he claims was his when he was alive. The Skinless Boy puts his skin back on and tries to reclaim his life from the little boy sleeping inside — but you can never really go home again, can you?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, this is one of the most gloriously creepy and frightening horror comics on the stands. The cannibal — or the Boogeyman’s Boogeyman, as he calls himself at one point — makes a really wonderful new villain. And I was really jazzed to see McNeil contributing the artwork in this issue. Come on, y’all, you should all be reading this title.


Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird #3

The Asquith twins have finally cast their spell, despite interference from a bunch of supernatural ghoul/dogs — and Dancy Flammarion claws her way out of hell and out of the swamp. And just to remind everyone what a complete badass she is, the first thing she does after getting back on solid ground is kill a bull alligator — no clothes, covered in mud, and her only weapon a broken branch. After that, she wanders to the road, where she’s picked up by a kindly motorist. Ha ha, he’s not a kindly motorist, he’s sinister as all heck. He tells her that he gave her another ride back when she was alive before, and that was when he had a couple vampires riding in his back seat. The guy is shady as the night. But he takes Dancy to Selma, and she’s reunited with Maisie.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Finally, finally, Dancy Flammarion is back among the living and ready to start butchering monsters again. Fantastic atmosphere, particularly riding in the truck with the shady old guy. Ain’t many things as much fun as reading a good Dancy Flammarion comic.

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Stars Underground


Starfire #9

Kori and Stella are going to take a vacation with Atlee to her home, Strata, deep inside the earth. The travel down through the swamp in a see-through bubble for miles and miles — and when they finally arrive, Strata is pretty great — except for Kori suddenly getting sick and a monster despot invading the city…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an issue mostly devoted to people talking, so that’s pretty great. There were a lot of small, cool moments in here. Starfire’s caterpillar pal Silkie from the “Teen Titans” TV show finally appears in the comics, though his name is recorded here as Syl’Khee. Strata’s agent on Earth is disguised as a redneck Everglades river guide. Atlee’s family in Strata are depicted almost exactly the way they were by Amanda Conner in the old “Power Girl” series (which makes sense since she’s one of the writers). The only thing I didn’t like about it is that I just learned there are only three issues left before this series ends.


Spider-Gwen #5

While Captain America tries to track down the increasingly unstable Harry Osborn before he kills Spider-Woman, Captain Stacy has decided to take a meeting with Matt Murdock, sleasy blind lawyer and secret Kingpin of Crime. Murdock knows Gwen is Spider-Woman, and his offer to keep Gwen safe if she’ll serve as his foot soldier is sweetened when he orders his army of ninjas to attack Frank Castle. Can Castle survive the attack? Will Stacy give in to Murdock’s persuasion?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Actually, Gwen barely appears in this issue, but Cap’s search, Captain Stacy’s confrontation with Murdock, and Castle’s battle with the ninjas are outstanding high-drama tent-poles to hang this comic on…


All-New Hawkeye #4

In the present, Clint Barton is trying to rescue the Project Communion kids. He snows Maria Hill into telling him where they are — she reveals that they’ve just been kidnapped by HYDRA, and he gives chase with a few S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in tow. He gets to show off some nifty superhero stunt work, but things don’t really go to plan. Meanwhile, in the past, we get a look at Kate Bishop’s childhood. Unhappy with her rich-kid lifestyle, she’s also desperate for attention and approval from her father. But soon enough, she learns something that will change her opinion of her dad forever.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Cool to see Clint getting to do superhero stuff — you think Captain America is the only person who can dive out of a plane without a parachute? As always, Ramon Perez’s amazing art makes a glorious contrast between the present and the pastel past.

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The Ballad of Captain Jughead


Jughead #4

Jughead has become convinced that Principal Stanger and all the new teachers are secretly training everyone to become secret agents. Everyone else thinks this is ridiculous, of course. But with his suspension over, Jughead returns to school and is quickly chosen as the practice target for dodgeball practice in P.E. The resulting bludgeoning has him dreaming that he’s the infamous Slackbeard the Pirate, who is captured by a pirate version of Stanger. When forced to translate a map, he and Dilbert Doiley forge a fake map so they can grab the real treasure for themselves. The dream gives Jughead an idea — he enlists Dilbert to bug Stanger’s computer to find out what he’s up to. Does this perfect plan have a chance of succeeding?

Verdict: Thumbs up. We’ve certainly come to expect this series to give us a funny and clever story that still manages a great level of high drama, and this issue certainly doesn’t disappoint. For a kid worried that he’s being turned into a secret agent, Jughead sure is doing a great impression of a secret agent…


All-New All-Different Avengers #5

The Vision has upgraded himself to be able to display holograms — and he uses this new ability to get Ms. Marvel kicked out of the Avengers! And when Nova accuses Vision of treachery, he gets thrown out, too! The remaining Avengers soon find themselves fighting a minor supervillain called Equinox — but he’s manifesting time-shifted clones, and the Vision finally turns against the entire team. How can the Avengers come back from this?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I guess it’s just a Marvel mandate that the Vision is going to be incredibly creepy in every comic he appears in. I expect Ms. Marvel and Nova will be back quickly — I rather suspect this is part of some long-range plan by the Vision to deal with the current crisis. Oh, and one of the best things about this issue is the look at Kamala Khan’s Avengers fan-fiction.

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Tiny and Stabby


All-New Wolverine #5

Wolverine and her clone sisters Gabby, Zelda, and Bellona are on the run from Alchemax Genetics, which created the clones and wants them back. Zelda is dying as the nanites in her bloodstream start to tear her apart, so Laura breaks everyone into Hank Pym’s lab so she can steal one of his Ant-Man suits. The Wasp shows up soon and agrees to help — she and Laura are shrunk down to microscopic size so they can go beat up teensy-weensy robots. But Alchemax has finally managed to track the clones down, and someone isn’t going to walk away from this.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The action was, ehh, okay — I’d be fine with a moratorium for a few years on the fairly tired trope of getting shrunk to fight nanobots. But this is all wonderful just for Laura wearing an actual fer-realz Ant-Man suit and for Janet van Dyne calling Dr. Strange clear in another dimension just to bawl him out for teleporting crazy people onto her property without asking permission first.


The Ultimates #4

The giant monster fight on the cover does not actually appear in any shape, form, or fashion inside the comic itself.

The Ultimates have made it into the Neutral Zone, and the Blue Marvel has discovered an old friend waiting for them — Conner Sims, former friend turned crazed supervillain. As Anti-Man, Sims had enough power to hold off most of the superheroes in the world, and he’d been responsible for the death of Adam Brashear’s wife. So Adam, Captain Marvel, and Monica Rambeau head out into the void to — kill Sims? Save him? Not even our heroes are sure. Meanwhile, someone is recruiting the reborn Galactus to stop the Ultimates — and it may be someone far too powerful for anyone to resist.

Verdict: Thumbs up — but mainly because I always felt the Blue Marvel vs. Anti-Man confrontation needed more oomph to it. The rest of the story is, well, adequate.


The New Avengers #6

The Avengers from the future have traveled to the present to stop Moridun the octopus space wizard, who has secretly taken over Wiccan’s mind. In the future, after he becomes the Demiurge, Moridun is able to use Billy’s powers to take over or even destroy the world. Can the future Avengers stop him now? And will the present Avengers let them do it? Or does Billy still have a chance to save himself and to save the future?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The future Avengers are really pretty cool — we’ve already met Danielle Cage, Luke’s daughter, as the future Captain America, but we also have a merman in Iron Man armor, an older Teddy Altman, and a tiny Nova. But the best stuff in this comic takes place inside Billy Kaplan’s head — and in the new revised future. If they wanted this to be the last issue, the last couple pages would make for a great ending.

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History Under the Mask


Truth: Red, White & Black

I’ve had a mind to review this one for ages, and African American History Month seems like a great time to do it. This was a seven-issue series published by Marvel back in 2003. It was written by the late Robert Morales and illustrated by Kyle Baker. It made a lot of racist douchegoblins really mad back in the day, so I figure it’s certainly worth reading.

Our setup here is that, after Steve Rogers becomes Captain America and Professor Erskine, the secretive creator of the Super-Soldier formula, is killed, the military is desperate to recreate the formula. And since they have almost no idea what was in the formula, they have to experiment with a lot of different concoctions, and they have to experiment on people they don’t give a damn about. So a bunch of black soldiers get recruited into the program, injected with variations of the formula, and die by the score.

“Why, that’s ridiculous! Black people would never be experimented on like that! All lives matter!”

To which, all you really have to say is Tuskegee. Which went on for 40 years, primarily for the sake of plain ol’ meanness.

Anyway, of the 300 men inducted into the new Super-Soldier program, only six survive, and are gifted with increased strength, stamina — and often, significant disfiguring mutations. They’re sent on dangerous missions against the Nazis, and over time, a combination of battlefield casualties and deaths from the unstable Super-Soldier formulas whittles their number down to just one — Isaiah Bradley. Frustrated by the military’s racist treatment and the inconsequential and foolish missions he’s been sent on, Bradley steals a spare Captain America uniform and takes the fight to the Nazis by himself — and he gets captured.

The story doesn’t take place entirely in the past — in the present day, Steve Rogers learns about the alternate Super-Soldier program for the first time and begins his own investigation of what happened to Isaiah Bradley. While he shuts down a number of racists who’d profited from exploiting black soldiers decades ago, he also discovers that Bradley’s ultimate legacy was perhaps even more amazing than his wartime career.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a great story, with outstanding action, characterization, empathy, and unpredictability. There are several points where you think the story is going to go one way, but it completely surprises you and goes the other.

It’s an intensely emotional book, too — not merely because the lead characters have strong emotions, but because the emotions are so realistic and raw. Early in the Super-Soldier testing process, the families of all the inductees are told that they’ve been killed — and many other black soldiers are actually murdered to cover up the crimes — and the toll on the families is covered extensively. The anguish that comes from these unexpected deaths is rendered amazingly well, and their pain is felt by the reader, too. It’s not just the writing here — Kyle Baker’s art really brings it home. Sometimes the sorrow is visible and unmistakable, and sometimes it’s hidden below the surface, but it all feels real.

Baker’s art is often very cartoony, which is initially a shock when you start reading. It’s very far from the Marvel standard, but for the most part, it’s something you get used to quickly. Baker is a cartoonist’s cartoonist, and it’s a thrill to see him work. His vision here is intensely important, too — you can tell the characters mean a lot to him, and he works hard to make everyone unique and interesting. His work is, like I said before, emotionally resonant, from the faces to the eyes to the body language.

The comic is obviously fiction, but Morales’ appendix at the end of the book is definitely worth reading. He details some of his research and outlines how some of the scenes in the story were inspired. For history buffs, it’s a good read and includes suggestions for other books worth checking out.

It’s a sad comic in a lot of ways. But it’s got its unique glories, too, in moments both crashing and quiet. It’s also not at all easy to find — you can’t get it from Amazon without paying $50 or more. But I found my copy a couple years ago in one of the local comic shops for a normal price, so do some digging around. You should also be able to find it digitally. If you can find it, you’ll be very glad you got the opportunity to read it, so go pick it up.

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Miles Ahead


Spider-Man #1

Well, I never read the previous Miles Morales comics, because I generally avoided the Ultimate universe once it got so pointlessly screwed-up. So a lot of this is backstory I’ve never been aware of, and some of it is stuff that I’ve learned by reading what other people have to say about it.

So let’s start from the top. Miles Morales is the Spider-Man from the Ultimate universe, and he now lives in the main Marvel Universe. He’s not alone — his family is here, too, including his mother, who actually died several years ago. Some of his friends are here, too, including his best pal Ganke. But all is not rosy in Miles’ new world — he’s not doing well in school, and he has to cut class to go fight supervillains.

And the latest supervillain is a doozy. By the time Miles shows up on the scene, he’s already beat the stuffing out of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Vision, and Scarlet Witch. His name is Blackheart, and he’s a huge and absolutely terrifying demon — and he’s way out of Miles’ league. So why does he beat it so quickly? And why does that make Peter Parker so angry?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of cool character work on Miles and his supporting cast, and the action is good, too. My lone quibble — this is the first Marvel comic I’ve seen in ages that didn’t come with an intro page summary — and this one really needed it for people who weren’t more familiar with Miles.


Captain Marvel #2

Carol and the members of Alpha Flight explore the derelict spacecraft that crashed into the space station last issue. It’s dark and spooky and unpleasant, and there’s goo everywhere, and some dead aliens, and way too many automated defense systems. Even when they get back to the space station, the trouble isn’t over. The enemy attacking them is probably aboard the ship — and Captain Marvel sustained more serious injuries from the ship’s defense systems than she thought…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic horror-movie atmosphere on board the spacecraft, and it’s great to see Alpha Flight doing more than standing around looking purty.


Klaus #3

Lord Magnus’s men sic a bunch of dogs on Klaus, but his wolf Lilli scares them off. By the time the guardsmen make it to the square, they find Klaus’ footprints and Lilli’s pawprints — and they start worrying they’ve got a werewolf on their hands. The captain orders his men to watch every door, so Klaus will have to find another way to get toys to the poor children in Grimsvig. Meanwhile, children are sending their wishes up chimneys, Magnus’s wife is keeping secrets, and there’s something horrible hiding inside the mines.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, fun art — but with another four issues to go, we won’t finish this Santa Claus origin story ’til summer. That’s just poor planning, y’all.


The Vision #4

With Viv recovered and back home, it seems that happy days are back for the Visions — but Virginia still has her mysterious blackmailer holding the secret of the Grim Reaper’s murder over her head. Most of the kids at school don’t like Vin or Viv — except for Viv’s lab partner, Chris Kinzky, who Vin beat up after she was injured. But Chris likes Viv a lot — which is going to make it really uncomfortable when it turns out that his dad is the blackmailer…

Verdict: Thumbs up. As creepy as always — and now starting to read as much like a Greek tragedy as anything. There’s no way anyone is getting a happy ending out of this, not a chance in hell.

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Lounge Lizard


Spidey #3

Poor Peter Parker has money troubles — and even worse, Aunt May does, too. But can he do anything to help when all his free time is taken up by school, being bullied, and fighting supervillains? And speaking of supervillains, the Lizard is back, and he’s growing a ton of mini-lizards in an attempt to take over the world. So where does Spidey have to go to track down the Lizard’s lab? The sewer, of course. And who does he run into down there? Even more mini-lizards and one great big angry Lizard. Can Spider-Man make it back to the surface alive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art and a fantastic, classic story. This comic is just wonderful, and it’s weird that it doesn’t get a lot more attention.


Howard the Duck #4

So Howard — now the Living Nexus of All Realities — has been captured by a cosmic baddie called the Stranger, but he’s quickly rescued by a woman named Scout, who is the new Herald of Galactus. But actually, she isn’t — she’s just a human who mugged Alicia Masters for a bit of the Silver Surfer’s metal so she could get cosmic powers. In fact, she’s a Galactus fangirl, and the Big G doesn’t think much of her. But the Silver Surfer rescues Howard, briefly, and even gifts him with enough of the Power Cosmic to turn him all silvery and nakedy. He and the Guardians of the Galaxy rescue each other — and then it’s right back into the clutches of the Collector.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s entirely fun, and it’s great to see Howard with some real power for once, even though we can expect it to last maybe two pages in the next issue…


A-Force #2

The giant monster called Anti-Matter wants to destroy Singularity — and anyone else he can, too. He gets Medusa good and angry, and she uses Inhuman technology to teleport him to the moon. Singularity then teleports Medusa and She-Hulk to Japan, where Nico Minoru is trying to live a normal life. Of course, Anti-Matter returns, and Nico manages to “un-make” him — but this is still a temporary solution, because he will re-form. They all meet up with Captain Marvel, then go looking for Dazzler, hoping she can hit Anti-Matter with more light than he can process, giving them the opportunity to study him quickly and learn what his weaknesses are. They find Dazzler playing roller derby, and she’s a lot more punk-rock and a lot angrier than she used to be. But can she help fight off the monster?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This issue is a lot more fun than the first. There’s a lot more action, much more fun dialogue, and cooler characterization. It’s also great to finally see Nico and Dazzler again. (Do you think there’s a database in the Marvel offices to keep track of all the magic words Nico uses, since she can use each one only once?)

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Dark Dungeons


Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic over Role-Playing Games Says about Play, Religion, and Imagined Worlds by Joseph P. Laycock

Long, long ago, back in the ancient junior-high days, I played Dungeons & Dragons. This was back in the old boxed set era — what I still think of as the glory days of D&D — and I’ll freely admit it was a weird game. Most game sessions involved exploring underground dungeons populated by nothing by seemingly random collections of monsters living in squalor but surrounded by treasure. Wizards weren’t allowed to wear armor or carry weapons more significant than a dagger, and their spells disappeared from their minds as soon as they were cast — unless they’d memorized the same spell more than once. And there was some sort of armadillo that had somehow evolved the ability to cause metal to rust.

But the weirdest thing of all was how many people believed that playing a game of pretend could cause you to worship the devil.

I was lucky, because while my parents surely thought D&D was weird, they never believed it was evil, and they never told me I wasn’t allowed to play. But there were lots of people who bought into that ridiculous story. But why did people believe it? Why did people push it? What were they getting out of pushing something so utterly deranged?

That’s what this book is about — why was there a huge moral panic about D&D (and roleplaying games in general), why were people so eager to believe that bookish teenagers were devil worshipers, who were the people helping to fan the flames, and what benefits did they gain from inventing conspiracy theories that made no rational sense?

Laycock’s book is exhaustively detailed, detailing the history of the game and the panic from the beginning, setting down the names of a vast number of conspiracy theorists, and analyzing not just the motives of the theorists, but the many ways they were actually very similar to the teenagers they were targeting.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Let’s start out with this, though — this isn’t an easy, two-nights-to-finish pop-psych skimmer. This is a pretty serious academic work. There are hefty chunks of the book devoted to professorial discussions of play, religion, and the imagination. Those may sound easy and fun, but when you’re analyzing the research into these academic areas, they can be a bit of a slog to get through. There are pages of this book you may have to force yourself to get through, particularly if you’re not well-versed in these academic areas.

This may sound like a bad thing, but it ain’t really. You learn stuff going through these sections, and learning this stuff helps you appreciate Laycock’s analysis later in the book. This is the nature of academic works, and it don’t make it bad just ’cause it ain’t easy.

What are some of the things we learn in Laycock’s analysis? One of the key discussions is about play and imagination — particularly when it’s healthy and when it’s unhealthy, and what happens when people can’t tell the difference between their imaginations and reality. I don’t think it’ll come as a great surprise to anyone who’s followed this phenomenon before, but there are some serious similarities between D&D players and the conspiracy theorists who persecuted them. D&D players played at being brave heroes battling against monstrous horrors to save the innocent. And the conspiracy theorists like Patricia Pulling, William Dear, and Jack Chick also played at being brave heroes battling against monstrous horrors to save the innocent. Now which ones do you think knew they were playing a game, and which ones do you think had mistaken their game for reality?

Even then, there are some items in here that still surprised me. I never really imagined there were people who were actually opposed to anyone using their imagination — because imagining things means thinking of things that God didn’t create. And this distrust of the imagination actually extends back centuries — some Greek philosophers didn’t trust fiction or the arts at all, and even Thomas Jefferson hated novels because he thought books should only convey things that were true, not falsities and fictions.

There’s so much more I could go through — because there’s a lot of excellent stuff to learn in this book. If you’re an old-school gamer with a taste for the hobby’s history, if you’ve got an interest in moral panics, if you love learning new things about how humans use and abuse play and religion, you’ll probably really enjoy this book. Go pick it up.

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