Strange, Setup, and Hilarity

I really do have to wonder how far in advance Anne Rice planned some of these books, or if she just makes new shit up whenever she wants to write another installment to the Vampire Chronicles.  I’m trying to decide if Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis is the strangest entry yet, or if that still falls to Memnoch the Devil or one of the other mid-series entries.  (For the record, I despise Memnoch the Devil and it’s one of the few books in the series that I don’t own.  I don’t yet own Prince Lestat because I haven’t seen it in mass market paperback yet and am still holding out hope for such a thing.  The newest book isn’t even in paperback yet, so you know why I don’t own it.  This copy’s from the library – I picked it up Monday morning before going into the city.)

Seriously though, it’s insane how much stranger things get.  There’s an unwritten rule of thumb that shit gets weird around the third or fourth book in a series, and it generally holds true.  I haven’t the faintest idea how far into the Vampire Chronicles we are today, but I’m pretty sure it’s over ten.  This is far from the first time that Anne Rice has taken us way out into left field, but every time she does, it’s even crazier than the last.  Ancient Egyptian vampiric origins, sure.  Bodystealing, I guess?  Traveling to Heaven and Hell, or at least a perception of it?  Whatever.  Aliens?  Um…what?

It’s one of those instances where nothing in the entirety of the preexisting series can possibly prepare you for this reveal.  Frankly, I doubt that anything predating Prince Lestat even considered aliens, and that this is part of a newer direction.  I say “newer” because the Replimoids seem to have some similarities to the Taltos seen in Blood Canticle.  There may be as much information or more in the Mayfair Witches series (linked to and crossing over with the Vampire Chronicles at some points) but I’ve never actually read any of those.

In reading this book, I noticed that both Louis and Nicki (long deceased) are referred to as lovers Lestat’s had.  It strikes me that this term was not used in the earliest volumes especially, and even in more recent books wasn’t used as often.  I could be wrong about that, but I suspect that the growing acceptance of homosexual relationships has allowed Rice to more openly state these things in her novels.  Not that you couldn’t pick it up, after all, I do refer to this series as being porn.  It isn’t built around the act of having sex or idolizing a perfect body, but it is still written as porn.  Very good porn, with a fantastical flair to it, but still porn.

When I finished Prince Lestat and the Brat had finally become the annointed and acknowledged overlord, I sat back and wondered where Rice could possibly go next, now that she’d crowned her favorite character.  Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis answered that she could still take things up a notch, to a new level that we hadn’t even considered previously.  And now that this tale’s complete, I have to sit back once again and wonder what she’ll come up with next to keep the money flowing.

I’m not saying that the books aren’t good or that I won’t read any others that come out.  It’s just that, as I said earlier, many of the more recent books give the impression that she’s making up some new facet of her world for each new installment, and retconning what she needs to in order to assure her readers that it’s always been canon.  This leads to what we can call “DBZ syndrome.”  That is to say, once you have this seemingly all-powerful character, how can you possibly put them in enough danger to make the reader worry?  After all, they’re pretty much invincible!  Which means the author needs to keep making up ever more powerful threats with increasingly bizarre and tenuous explanations.

Realms of Atlantis isn’t nearly as bad as DBZ ended up – yet.  If the trend continues, I can assure you that that’s where it’ll end up.  For the time being, I’ll admit it’s a very good read.  I can just feel my credulity being stretched nearly to the breaking point.

Technically I read Anne Rice before going to bed.  But since I finished it well past midnight, that makes it one of today’s reads, not yesterday’s.  And it being Saturday, you know that gives me plenty of opportunity to read and read and read.  And also to run errands, such as stopping at the comic shop to pick up the new issue of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  I wanted to get Pink #5 as well, but it’s apparently not out yet. Guess that means this six issue mini series will be taking about a year overall to be released?  I honestly have no idea what’s going on in the background, but it’s clear that something’s there.

Anyway, I opted to start by rereading MMPR #9 first, since it ended on something of a cliffhanger and because it makes me giggle and I wanted to read it again.  It turns out that this was unnecessary, because issue #10 steps back from the plot.  Instead, we get a focused look at Billy.  He’s your typical science nerd and while he loves being a power ranger, he’s got some confidence issues that he’s trying to overcome.  Based on what’s happening in the main plot, I suspect he’s going to have a chance to be the hero he wants to be soon.  This particular issue then exists so that we can share in his sense of accomplishment and payoff when it happens.

Moving on, I opted to get another book out of the Pile, which meant rereading its predecessor first.  That would be Crossfire, a graphic novel from The Looking Glass Wars series by Frank Beddor.  This takes place after the events of the main series (trilogy: The Looking Glass WarsSeeing Redd, and ArchEnemy) and sees Alyss having to deal with all the delightful politics that are part of a ruler’s everyday life.  We also meet Ovid Grey, a Millinery dropout (read: expelled) who is probably one of the most amusing characters of all.

I am…not a fan of the art style found here or in the Hatter M graphic novels (that set takes place concurrently with the early chapters of The Looking Glass Wars and shows Hatter Madigan’s quest to locate Alyss).  It’s very messy and ugly to look at.  It’s often difficult to distinguish exactly what is going on, and sometimes to tell one character from another as well.  Which makes it somewhat annoying that a more realistic style is shown on the cover – false advertising, really.  By nature, I prefer a crisper graphic style because it’s far easier to read, and because my preference in all forms of design is for something cleaner.  It’s why I like working with logo design – because the goal is to create something simple, distinctive, and with very few colors.  So…messy graphic novels make me unhappy, but by the time I get a third of the way into Crossfire I’m so caught up in the story (and Ovid being hilarious) that I forgive it and keep reading.

Then I moved on to the brand-new Underfire, part two of two in this set.  Happily, we have Ovid again, on another impossible mission.  But this time, he gets to pick a team.  He’s not particularly thrilled by the idea until he learns that he’s choosing from misfit Card Soldiers who were originally kicked out of the House of Cards for supporting Redd, and were only reluctantly welcomed back in order to be guinea pigs for a revolutionary new program.  Ovid likes misfits like himself, as you can guess.

While not as long or developed as CrossfireUnderfire is a solid little story about the band of misfits saving the day.  It has many of the tropes you’d expect for such a tale, but still manages to add in those truly Wonderlandian aspects that you’ll find nowhere else.  I still don’t like the art style, but I was willing to overlook it as soon as Ovid reappeared.

I also liked the nod to Stan Lee.  It wasn’t subtle, so if you read this, you’ll see it.  But I loved the sarcasm.

“Because any man of SCIENCE can clearly solve any SCIENCY problem, RIGHT?!”

Lior, your sarcasm made my night.  But I still like Ovid more.

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