Joe Gross here, books guy at the Austin American-Statesman. Every Tuesday, look for Austin 360 Recommended Reads, a glance at what I am reading and what looks good.
Book I am reading:
“Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan” by Alan Paul and Andy Aledort (St. Martin, 2019). An intriguing oral history of SRV: his family, his influences, the scene that made him and the scene he built. Look for a longer piece from me on this thing in August.
“The Boys, Vol. 1: The Name of the Game” by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson (Dynamite Entertainment, 2007). By now, a whole lot of TV fans are familiar with Amazon Prime’s shockingly good adaptation of this absolutely brutal superhero satire.
What is so canny about the show is the extent to which the program focuses not on what the COMIC BOOK was satirizing, which was tropes and teams from 70 years of American comics, but what a TV SHOW featuring amoral superheroes should reflect: the sinister nature of Hollywood fame, the endless, almost sociopathic greed of celebrity culture and the tropes of superhero movies rather than comics. All of this makes for a sterling translation of the source material.
All of that said, if you are looking to see what the source material was like, “the Boys” is an ultra-violent, incredibly entertaining read that is absolutely, positively not for children. It is probably not for most adults. But it is a blast and Ennis is, now and forever, one of the best writers of dialogue comics has ever seen.
Books out today (July 30) that looks promising:
“Chances Are...” by Richard Russo (Random House). Three old friends meet in Martha’s Vineyard to contemplate a vanishing that has haunted them for nearly 50 years. From the writer of “Empire Falls.”
“Atmosphæra Incognita” by Neal Stephenson. (Subterranean). A mere seven weeks after his latest epic, “Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell” drops, Stephenson returns with this sci-fi novella (no kidding, it’s only 104 pages). The man cannot be stopped, you can only hope to contain him.
Related: From the week of July 21: Lydia, Laura and Elvis
Interesting-looking comics out tomorrow (July 31):
“Paper Girls #30” by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson (Image). Double-sized finale to a fascinating series that ended up being an a sci-fi "Stranger Things." Probably not the best place to hop on.
“Powers of X #1” by Jonathan Hickman and R.B. Silva (Marvel). So, this series will alternate weekly with Hickman’s’ “House of X” to form a 12-issue story told over about three months. “House of X” set up some interesting new status quo’s for the book, but did not contain the moment of pure fist pump I was expecting. Perhaps this series will be different.
“The Green Lantern Annual #1” by Grant Morrisoin and Giuseppe Camuncoli (DC). Morrison’s take on GL is essentially what if Green Lantern was a weird-by-design strip in the long-running British sci-fi comic “2000AD,” a place wherein superheroes were never really the thing they were here. It is really odd and a lot of fun.
“Batman: Last Knight on Earth” #2 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capulo (DC). Snyder has proven himself to be one of the most bonkers (which makes him one of the best) super hero writers of our contemporary moment. His Batman work is one of the all-time great takes on the character; this is a sci-fi piece that also involves the Jokers head in a lantern because comics.