Yay. I got paid this week.

So I got some books.

Before I get to that, let me pass comment on Unknown Man #89, the Elmore Leonard book I finally finished reading months after starting (due to forgetting where I had put it – pocket of winter coat it turned up in).

It's not the best of his I've read, but it is the earliest back I've gone so far. It features the Jack Ryan character from The Big Bounce (and source of Tom Clancy's character's name), and awful lot about alcoholism that borders on the preachy. The alcoholism does play a clever part in the plot though, and it ends in the sort of ending you expect from Leonard. Which is to say the carefully thought plots and machinations of characters smash up against those of other characters in a tangled mess of people who aren't as smart as they think they are.  It does the miss the neat trick of later books, where the true winner of a story turns out to be the minor character who may not have been the smartest guy in the book, didn't think they were smarter than they were. If this was later Leonard, you'd have expected the character of Tunafish to somehow come out on top.

So what did I buy?

Golgo 13 Volume 4.

Yes, this is the one with English Rose. The one where Golgo 13 kills a thinly veiled Dodi Al Fayed. In Paris. In November 1997. It's is glorious trash that only Golgo 13 can do. The other story involves President Ford hiring Golgo to go into outer space and shoot space things.

Monster Volume 5

Here's something I keep forgetting to mention. Urasawa's art in Monster really, really, looks like Tezuka's when he draws Tenma directly side on. It's slightly disconcerting, and I can'r remember if he does it in 20th Century Boys or Pluto. Not quite as gripping as Volume 4, but the stuff with Lunge near the end is kind of twisted. Like a Leonard character, his misplaced confidence in his own ability causes all sorts of bother.

The Essential Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1

The Essential series is nicely filling out with seventies material now, and while there are volumes out there that are more “essential” that I don't have, I was kind of in the mood for some seventies trash mixed with wild ideas/social commentary/satire. And Sal Buscema art.

I used to dislike his art when I was 14 and into Todd Macfarlane's Spidey, but now I can appreciate it for what it is – really tight consistent art.

Story-wise, you start with Gerry Conway's over-egged Stan Lee-aping, a few issues of Archie Goodwin, before you get to the meat. Bill Mantlo.

Mantlo brings with him his Deadly Hands of Kung Fu character, White Tiger and opens with a tale of civil unrest as Empire State University threatens to close night schools, potentially shutting out minority students. It's a relatively subtle mix of social commentary and superheroics. But this is Mantlo, and we don't expect subtle for long…

And we get… Brother Power and Sister Sun, leaders of the Legion of Light, a thinly veiled parody of The Unification Movement. Who here are secretly led by The Hate Monger. And this being Mantlo it's the incarnation of The Hate Monger with the most convoluted past and most unlikely to be found in a Spidey comic. PLUS, he manages to find time in the same storyline to introduce Razorback, a man who dresses like a pig, has the mutant power to be able to drive any vehicle and appears to have been designed as a Marvel “fad” hero to cash in on CB radio's popularity.

It is awesome.

Oh and this volume also has the introduction of the Hypno Hustler too!

There's also some filler work from Chris Claremont and Elliot S! Maggin, the latter is probably the first work I've read of Maggin's and I really liked it. I should really look up his Superman work now, as I understand it is thought well of.