I'm also heavily into the Marvel MAX Punisher series, helmed by none other than Garth Ennis. Oh man, am I in love with this comic. Not only has Marvel done something novel by incorporating their most amoral vigilante into a world of zero superheroes, they do it in a style that is so uber-violent, fast-paced and visceral. Definitely not for kids. Aside from that, I am practically on the edge of my seat over the Immortal Iron Fist story. I knew something was up when they introduced all the previous Iron Fists, how they all died at age 33, so I was waiting for this plot point to hit Danny Rand. And it has. I seriously cannot wait to see what comes next. This is really my favorite Marvel series. Of all time? It just might be. If not Runaways, but the new writer still has some proving of himself to do, what with Brian K. Vaughan and Joss Whedon both writing for Volumes 1 and 2.
Novel-wise, can you believe this? I read NEXT by Michael Crichton and I was stupefied. It felt like, of all things, that book, Big Trouble, by Dave Barry. Why I am comparing a humor columnist's best-selling original story to a science fiction master like Crichton is because after finishing the final 100 pages of Next, it felt like a huge elaborate ensemble comedy. And it feels bad saying that about a guy whose books I have been devouring since I watched Jurassic Park at age 8 or 9, because damn he was compelling.
I mean come on, I get that the book is about genetic engineering, that in this story, scientists successfully combined human genes with birds and monkeys, and that as a result we have sentient chimps, orangutans, and parrots, but come on! The whole time I was reminded of that talking bird from that 101 Dalmations movie, the one with Glenn Close. Fucking comic relief! That is what the novel has been reduced to! And a chimp-boy who flings poop at the school bullies! Aargh I swear my mouth was agape the whole time. It was a total WTF moment. Don't even get me started on the bumbling private eye, or the spoiled rich nephew, or the rich dude cheating on his wife. I am sorry to say this but this has to be one the most contrived plots I've ever read.
In fact the only thing I can confidently recommend are the author's notes at the end of the book, where he presents the moral of the story, in argument form, regarding the progress of genetic engineering and where he feels things can and should be fixed.
But really, man. Just read Big Trouble instead. At least going in, you know it's a comedy.