Agent Carter Delivers Action and Intrigue

Agent Carter poster 2Sometimes Christmas comes early. This year, it’s arriving a bit late. Since the announcement in May, I’ve waited impatiently for the debut of Marvel’s Agent Carter.

This show presses all my buttons. It’s set in the 1940s. It has a film noir look and feel. It has spies, gadgets, and clever bon mots. Most importantly, however, it has Haley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter.

Set after World War II, the series follows Carter, now an agent at the Strategic Scientific Reserve (S.S.R.), a precursor to the more familiar peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D.

In 1946, it’s clearly a man’s world. But that doesn’t keep Carter from making her mark. She makes it clear that she’s an agent, not a secretary, but that doesn’t help her when nearly every other member of the organization looks down on her.

When Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) is investigated by the government, he comes to her for help. Someone has stolen some of his secret weapons, and he’s keen to get them back before they fall into the wrong hands. But helping him puts Carter at odds with the S.S.R. and could mean treason if she’s caught.

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5 Comic Books You Should Be Watching on TV

The Big Board 2014

The 2014 Big Board. As you can see, Monday and Tuesday were busy nights for television!

As summer dragged on in the Heartland, it was difficult to believe autumn had arrived. I might not have noticed the change of seasons except for the change in the television schedule.

Each year my wife and I engage in a routine affectionately known as “setting up the big board.” We go through each of the major television networks’ fall line-ups and decide which new shows we want to sample and which old shows we will keep. We’re big fans of fantasy and science fiction, so we keep an eye open for genre shows whenever we can.

This year, the networks have brought some wonderful comic books to the small screen, with the much-anticipated The Flash, Gotham, and Constantine.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Anatomy of a Killer Soundtrack

Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol 1If you were to look through my music collection, you’d find — very quickly — that I have an overabundance of movie soundtracks. For years, my love of film and high-fidelity have converged in a mixture of pop music, classical scores, and the holy grail of movie music — title songs.

With the recent release of the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, which goes by the righteous title Awesome Mix Vol. 1, I’ve been thinking a lot about the music from this film and why it works so well.

Note: If you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet (and why haven’t you? Get out there!), be aware there are some minor spoilers here.

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The Tour de France is Like a Novel

In an interview with cycling commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, NPR’s Renne Montagne asked Sherwen what he liked so much about the Tour de France. This was his response:

“Well, I think it’s because it’s a bit like a soap because every day, every year, there’s a different story to follow and it gets weaved in like a book. In the first week of the Tour we start picking our way through the little stories that start to develop into what ends up being the great finale in the final chapters. And every day’s different, every mile is different, every hour is different. I think that’s what I enjoy. Plus you can weave in the beauty of France at the same time.”

~ From “‘Voices of Cycling’ Duo Has Shared a Mic for 29 Years,” from NPR’s Morning Edition (July 17, 2014).

It might not hurt to remember this as you’re plotting your next novel. Find the little stories that weave in to the big stories. Develop them into a great finale. And remember that the story doesn’t take place in a vacuum, so describe some of the beautiful scenery that surrounds the action.

A good novel should change through the course of its pages, unfolding each story, pacing every action, opening each new day with a sense that this is a unique moment captured in time.

Review: Astro City Vol. 9: Through Open Doors

Astro City Vol 9: Through Open DoorsComic book superheroes come in a variety of flavors. Over the years, I’ve been a fan of Marvel, then DC Comics, and then back to Marvel. But through the years, the Astro City series by Kurt Busiek and Brent Eric Anderson has been the closest thing to perfection I have ever seen.

The new Astro City hardcover, “Through Open Doors,” is a wonderful reminder why I have loved this series for nearly 20 years.

This hardcover includes issues #1-6 of the the third volume of the series, new to DC’s Vertigo imprint. And right from the start Busiek and Anderson (with beautiful covers by Alex Ross) bring the wonder, the normalcy, and the heroes of Astro City to life in a new way.

In issue #1 (“Through Open Doors, Part One”) readers are introduced to The Broken Man, whose mad ramblings guide the reader to interact with the story and help uncover the truth behind a strange door that has appeared on the river. When an alien called the Ambassador emerges from this door, he chooses an ordinary man to be his liaison to Earth. No super-powered heroes. No government representatives. Just a normal man named Ben Pullam, who was introduced to readers back in issue #1 of the original series.

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