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Art of He Man and the Masters of the Universe
Art of He Man and the Masters of the Universe
by Various
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $30.59
44 used & new from $24.16

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressive collection., April 30, 2015
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The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2015) was published by Dark Horse Comics in collaboration with The Power and Honor Foundation. It features copy by Tim Seeley, Steve Seeley, and James Eatock. With over 300 color pages, this is quite a book: it covers nearly 35 years, from the seminal 1980 toy concepts all the way up through DC’s current run of comics and beyond.

Arranged topically rather than strictly chronologically, this book provides the broad strokes of the art. If you’re looking for a history of the franchise, you won’t find it here. And while The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe isn’t comprehensive on any of its subjects, it does provide a representative sampling of everything.

The first two chapters cover the classic toy line, and the Mattel design memos and proto-versions of the characters are some of the most interesting parts of the entire book (How about that unproduced “Ball Buster” vehicle? Man, I miss the ’80s). There’s plenty of art here that was featured on the toy packaging, but no pictures of the toys in the packages or in the stores, so if you were hoping for that, caveat emptor.

Chapter 3 covers the minicomics. If, like me, you still have all yours, this section might not do a whole lot for you (and remember the minicomic collection is coming out in November). I don’t mean to nitpick, but there’s a pretty glaring error on p. 73, where a page from “The Search for Keldor” has a caption about “The Ultimate Battleground.”

From there, the book moves to Filmation, where the highlights are the storyboards and some interesting developmental designs for She-Ra (who has token representation throughout the book) and Hordak. It also comes with a little He-Man/Skeletor cel you can take out, which is cool.

Chapter 5 encompasses the ’80s comics, books, and magazines. There’s a fantastic collection of Earl Norem’s amazing paintings here, plus some pages from the unreleased Star #14, where He-Man’s wearing the Dolph costume and “Grayskull” is misspelled.

The most notable part of Chapter 6, which covers the live-action movie, is the design concepts by Ralph McQuarrie (of Star Wars fame). I’ve complained about William Stout’s designs for the movie, but holy smokes, this McQuarrie stuff is horrendous. Remember kids, no matter how bad things get, it could always be worse!

Chapter 7 covers New Adventures. Boo. The amazing, horrific highlight here is that before NA was produced, there was a “military pitch called H.E.M.A.N.” where He-Man “joined the US Army.” Remember, kids, it could always be worse!

The book moves on to cover the 200X series, featuring a lot of art you’re probably familiar with plus designs for new characters that weren’t used (none of them were missed), and then to MOTU Classics. This latter chapter feels less about the art and more about shilling the figures, although it redeems itself somewhat with the maps and diagrams.

The last chapter briefly covers the He-Man app game, He-Man’s Facebook page (the two most wasted pages in the book), and the current run of DC comics. It concludes with some techy and off-putting designs of indeterminate purpose (New New Adventures, anybody?), including a Battle Cat who can change into a person. Remember, kids, it can always get worse!

The book also includes a number of interviews interspersed throughout. Some are interesting, but others are just not good (minicomic writer Steven Grant: “I didn’t pay attention, I didn’t think about it, I don’t know, I can’t remember”).

In all, I could have done with more ’80s stuff and less new stuff (it’s about a 2:1 ratio as it stands), but you can’t please everybody, but I really can’t complain too much. And while there’s a little too much marketing and pandering at times in the last 100 pages, this is a very impressive collection.

Unless you’re the most hardcore of collectors, there’s likely a decent amount of stuff here that you haven’t seen before, and both the familiar and the unfamiliar make The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe well worthwhile for anyone who still holds a passion for He-Man.

The Promises You Keep
The Promises You Keep
Price: $2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A good first effort, March 9, 2015
The Promises You Keep is a 2012 novel by Karen Marie Graham. Here, a teacher grapples with a mystery surrounding one of her students as well as her own tragic past.

Graham does an impressive job of portraying her characters' emotions and feelings--ťthey feel real and genuine to a degree not commonly found in these sorts of books. Graham also does a nice job of handling her protagonist's serious issues while largely avoiding undue sentimentality or cheesiness.

Graham has great attention to detail, and in that respect, the book is quite immersive. Sometimes, however, the description is heavier than it needs to be, and the dialogue can sometimes be on the long and expository side.

Graham has some real strengths as a writer, most notably her handling of her characters internally. This is a legit first effort.

Southpole Men's Active Poly Birdseye Short, White, X-Large
Southpole Men's Active Poly Birdseye Short, White, X-Large

3.0 out of 5 stars Beware, February 16, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The fit is great but the white is super see-through.

Thank You, God, For Everything: A Nursery Rhyme Picture Book
Thank You, God, For Everything: A Nursery Rhyme Picture Book
Price: $2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Cute, February 2, 2015
This is a cute little children's book with a simple, easy rhythm. My four-year-old enjoyed it. She says: "I liked it because it had a baby and a mommy. And because it had flowers."

So there you go. Given the book's simplicity and the melody provided, I'd imagine it would be a good fit for even younger kids.

High Back Executive PU Leather Ergonomic Office Desk Computer Chair O10
High Back Executive PU Leather Ergonomic Office Desk Computer Chair O10
Offered by Pay Less Here
Price: $97.99
11 used & new from $89.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I'm no slouch handyman, but..., January 8, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Pros: Is a really sweet, majestic chair.
Cons: Attempting to insert the two bolts to secure the back of the chair may cause you to rage with a boundless fury for 30 minutes.

It also didn't help that one of the allen screws got stripped just from hand-tightening, or that I had to pop off the other caps on the sides to tighten those bolts (which require a different size allen wrench). I'm not super confident that this part of the chair is going to hold up well. But until that day, it's a very nice chair.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 22, 2015 11:31 AM PST

The Literary Murders
The Literary Murders
Price: $3.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and suspenseful, October 13, 2014
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I don't typically read this genre, but I enjoyed Bill Wetterman's The Literary Murders. It's genuinely suspenseful, and it really gets going once Mitty--easily the most interesting character in the book--gets actively involved in the plot.

Wetterman really seems to have done his research, and it's obvious that he's living vicariously (to a certain extent) through his characters--and the book has hints of a wry sense of humor on Wetterman's part that I would have liked to see more of.

In short, The Literary Murders is a solid and enjoyable page-turner.

My Chicken
My Chicken
7 used & new from $0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars My Chicken Is Feeble, October 7, 2014
This review is from: My Chicken (Board book)
Bad grammar on every page ("My chicken is smaller than me"). Weak rhymes. Pointless comparisons. Set in Comic Sans. My child was completely unimpressed. The art was decent.

It's Their House; I'm Just a Guest
It's Their House; I'm Just a Guest
Price: $5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and compelling, September 26, 2014
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"It's Their House; I'm Just a Guest" is Douglas Kent's memoir about his stint in federal prison.

It's an engaging read, both because of the subject matter it covers and because of Kent's naked honesty. It's compelling because of the magnitude of what Kent has dealt with in his life, and on top of this, Kent succeeds in drawing the reader into the frustrating world of wrestling with bureaucracy and workers who just don't care.

A number of the figures here--Kent's dad, his ex-wife, and some of his fellow inmates--are painted in tragic and compelling detail, and this is in large part what makes the book so engrossing. Kent portrays himself as a head-down, stay-out-of-trouble inmate, but even so, I would actually have liked to see a bit more of Kent's interactions with some of these people (the inmates in particular)--the interactions he includes tend to be the most interesting parts of the book.

Portions of the book are presented topically rather than chronologically, and sorting out what happened when can be slightly confusing at times. This isn't a major problem, but I would definitely have preferred an earlier and more detailed account of the crime Kent committed (his explanation is relatively brief and comes more than halfway through the book). At times, Kent includes more physical or procedural detail than the casual reader may be interested in, but this too is only a minor problem--the book still reads pretty fast, and on the balance, its strengths easily outweigh its flaws.

In short, "It's Their House" is a compelling book, and if you're at all interested in what life in prison is like, you'll probably find it well worth your time.

Price: $7.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite album of 2014, September 18, 2014
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This review is from: Heroes (MP3 Music)
"Heroes" (2014) is the seventh studio album from Swedish power metal band Sabaton. There was initial apprehension given that the band turned over four members after "Carolus Rex," but fear not--Sabaton's songwriters remain and are at the top of their game here. "Heroes" is easily my favorite Sabaton album, it's my favorite album of 2014, and it's become my go-to album whenever I do cardio.

With the exception of one track (see below), Sabaton is all heavy metal business here. This is a short, brisk album--there's no padding on any of these songs, there's no symphonic or guitar wankery, and no song overstays its welcome unduly (only two songs are over four minutes). Sabaton gets in, they blow it up with catchy choruses, and they get out and move on to the next one.

Style-wise, Sabaton hasn't really changed at all, but in addition to some of the best songwriting they've ever done (if "Night Witches" doesn't replace "Ghost Division" as their show-opener, they're really dropping the ball), they freshen things up a bit with an interesting variety of arrangements (see, e.g., "To Hell and Back," "Inmate 4859"). There's been a shift in the lyrical focus--to individuals and small groups in war--which makes the songs more personal and accessible.

If there's a knock on this album, it's that "The Ballad of Bull" (which isn't terrible) is something of a tempo killer, and Broden's voice on a piano ballad isn't the best idea. And the bonus tracks--"7734," a remake from "Metalizer," and "Men of War," a cheeseball tribute to Manowar--aren't as strong.

There are a lot of highlights here--my favorites are "Night Witches," "No Bullets Fly," "Smoking Snakes," "To Hell and Back," "Resist and Bite," and "Hearts of Iron."

In short, Sabaton is essentially doing the same thing they've always done, only better than they've ever done it. If you love Sabaton, you'll love "Heroes," and if you're new to them, this is a great place to start.

12 tracks, 44 minutes

DC Universe Vs. Masters of the Universe
DC Universe Vs. Masters of the Universe
Price: $9.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mo Giffen, Mo Problems?!, September 6, 2014
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DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe collects the eponymous 2013-2014 six-issue mini-series written primarily by Keith Giffen and illustrated primarily by Dexter Soy. Here, Skeletor has fled to Earth, where he plans to drain the world's magic--until a greater threat forces everyone to team up. (Also included is DC Comics Presents #47 (1982), which, for classic He-Man fans, might be the highlight.)

This is a Masters of the Universe-centered story--non-He-Man fans probably won't get much out of it (unless, perhaps, Justice League Dark gets you excited). But given Giffen's previous work on Masters of the Universe, it's unexpectedly unterrible, especially for a crossover.

Oh, it's full of the problems that plague Giffen's MOTU writing, including tons of inane bickering and plenty of characters lapsing into "hip" teenager-speak. But to those of us who have been travailing through DC's MOTU comics, it's worthwhile for its backstory and its tolerably satisfying conclusion of the red skull arc.

It's not all sunshine and bunnies, though--there's plenty of stupidity. This is most glaring in the middle act, where, while the reader is patiently waiting to hear how [MAJOR DC CHARACTER] isn't really dead (come on, that's not a spoiler), everyone in several Justice Leagues who isn't named Batman is an idiot. (MOTU character: "Excuse me, can we have a rational conversation?" DC hero: "Rah! Fight you!" Repeat.) And even when cool things happen, dumbness is right behind, grasping at the heels--but we really can't get into all that without some significant spoilers.

Soy's art is pretty good here, and a good fit--not too dark, not too cartoony. He also gives us quite a few more backgrounds than we usually get in these MOTU comics. Assuming he's not responsible for Skeletor's new look, I've got no beef with him.

So then: while DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe is chockfull of flagrant dumbness, it isn't as bad as I expected.

(See the full spoilerific review on my site.)

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