Tag Archives: Harry Dresden

Review: “The Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin” by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, & Joseph Cooper

Title: Ghoul Goblin
Writers: Jim Butcher & Mark Powers
Artist: Joseph Cooper
Series: The Dresden Files
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Dynamite, 2013

After producing comic adaptations of the first two Dresden Files novels, the creators decided to go in a different direction: original stories starring Dresden instead of just adapting preexisting tales. Personally, I’m in favor of this decision, since my favorite of the comics so far was the prequel that was set before the series began. And thus we get Ghoul Goblin, an original adventure set several months after the events of Fool Moon, taking Harry Dresden away from the Windy City and all the way to Boone Mill, Missouri in defense of a family of orphans.

Nearly a century ago, Major Archibald Talbot had the spectacularly bad sense to insult and offend a cadre of Egyptian mystics, a lapse in judgement that led to a nasty curse being placed on him and his entire bloodline. Ever since, Talbots have tended to draw supernatural trouble like flies to a rotting corpse. Today, all that remains of the Talbot bloodline is a single family…and the last week has seen two of the seven orphaned siblings die under mysterious circumstances. Can even Harry Dresden manage to protect the remaining Talbots and lift the curse? You’ll have to read on to find out!

On the whole, I really enjoyed this. It fit well into the larger Dresden universe, referencing other events and maintaining its connection to the series as a whole without making you feel lost if you were a new reader. It was interesting to see a few future elements foreshadowed too, such as Harry’s fight with a creature that just might be first contact with the Fomor. The art was great, if not as striking as Ardian Syaf’s in earlier books. (I’ll stop whining about that someday, I promise….) Syaf did come back long enough to do the covers, though, so that was better than nothing I suppose.

CONTENT: Some R-rated profanity, but not too gratuitous. Minor sexual innuendos, nothing explicit. Some gruesome violence, with varying degrees of gore. Harry is a wizard, working with magic and spells. There are various degrees of magical and monstrous creatures in this universe, with varying degrees of connection to the occult. Take that how you will.

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Review: “The Dresden Files: Skin Game” by Jim Butcher

Title: Skin Game
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #15
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: ROC, 2014

You should probably know by now: I’m a huge Dresden fan. Jim Butcher has an uncanny ability to top his previous achievements each book, and this time is no exception. Obviously, this review will contain spoilers for previous books in the series.

Right. It was revealed at the end of Cold Days that Dresden had some sort of parasite in his head that was causing his recurring headaches, and that it will eventually kill him if left unchecked. Demonreach, the sentient island/monster prison located in the middle of Lake Michigan, can use its bond with Dresden to keep the parasite suppressed for the moment, which is why Dresden has been living there alone for the past year. Unfortunately, time is running out. If the parasite isn’t dealt with soon, Harry will die. Mab, queen of the Winter Fae and Harry’s boss since he accepted the mantle of Winter Knight to save his daughter, offers a solution…after he completes a mission for her. That mission? No less than helping one of his Archenemies pull off a heist from the vault of Hades himself. Nicodemus heads the Order of the Blackened Denarius, a group of thirty fallen angels who are each tied to a particular silver Roman coin (Yeah, THOSE coins) and form a symbiotic relationship with whoever holds that coin. The Denarians are locked in an eternal combat with the Knights of the Cross, a trio (usually) of knights who each wield a sword forged with a nail from the cross (Yeah, THAT cross) in the hilt. Harry has crossed the Denarians before, even owned one of their coins for a while, but so far he has always come out ahead. This time? This time he’s got to help Nicodemus get his hands on one of the holiest relics in the world, and refrain from any treachery until after their objectives are met. This time, there may be no way out….

You’ve gotta love a good heist. Ocean’s Eleven was good, but robbing the Underworld itself? That’s the ultimate challenge. Will Dresden and his temporary allies succeed? Can Dresden thwart Nicodemus plan without breaking Mab’s orders? And given Nicodemus’ track record for flawless honesty, what on (or under) Earth is the real play here? You’ve gotta read on to find out! I will say that this was every bit as excellent as you would expect, and I stayed up way too late multiple nights in a row reading this book. Dresden is as snarky as ever, and after the last several books it was good to see a bunch of his allies again. One of the main strengths of this series is the secondary characters, every one of whom is interesting in their own right. You’ve got Karrin Murphy, former cop and arguably Dresden’s closest friend. Michael, crippled former Knight and one of the few men on the planet who are truly and unequivocally Good. Waldo Butters, Chicago coroner and budding supernatural vigilante, also the current holder of Bob, the spirit of intellect who formerly served Dresden. For the past several books Harry has walked a lonely road, and it’s good to see his friends again. Now he just has to keep from getting them killed….

CONTENT: R-rated language, not gratuitous but still present. Strong violence, sometimes very disturbing. Some fairly explicit sexual content this time, but I would argue that it was included for good reason. Since the main character is a wizard, I think the “occult content” is a given, but I urge you not to let that discourage you from this series.

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Review: “The Dresden Files: Storm Front (GN Adaptation)” by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Ardrian Syaf & Brett Booth

Title: Storm Front Vol. I: The Gathering Storm/Vol. II: Maelstrom
Original novel by: Jim Butcher
Adapted by: Mark Powers
Artists: Ardrian Syaf (Vol. I-II) & Brett Booth (Vol. II)
Series: The Dresden Files
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Dabel Brothers, 2009/Dynamite, 2011

Okay, I’ll just say this up front and get it out of the way: you should totally be reading the real books, not these graphic adaptations. However, I’ve read the real thing, and so now have no compunctions about reading the graphic novel. To clarify, this is a graphic novel adaptation of the first novel in the series, published in two volumes and reviewed here as one unit.

When the Chicago PD have a case they don’t know how to explain, they give it to Karrin Murphy and the Special Investigations division. When Murphy thinks there may actually be something supernatural going on, she calls in the only practicing wizard in the Chicago phone book–Harry Dresden. This time, there’s a couple of corpses in a gore-splattered hotel room, their hearts exploded from their chests mid-climax. One is a high-class hooker, one of Madame Bianca’s girls. The other is the right-hand man of Chicago’s local mob boss. This was obviously the work of a powerful wizard–the problem is, Harry’s the only one around who fits the bill. Now Harry has the council watching his every move, and any attempt to recreate the spell used to kill the hitman and the hooker may be enough to seal his doom. On the other hand, if he can’t figure out what happened, the city will soon be gripped in a war between the mob and Madame Bianca’s vampires. In addition, he has another seemingly-unrelated case to distract him, and a beautiful tabloid journalist vying for his attentions. Can Harry unravel these tangled plot threads and figure out what’s going on? Go read the book and find out!

Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve read the original novel this is adapted from, but this seemed incredibly faithful. Jim Butcher seemed to think so in his introduction, anyway. The writing was good, which can partially be laid at the foot of adapter Mark Powers but I think belongs mostly to Jim Butcher’s original novel. The art, however, is the reason I picked this up in the first place–keep in mind, this is adapted from a book I’ve already read, so it wasn’t too high on my priority list. Ardian Syaf, the same artist from the prequel Welcome To The Jungle, continues his stellar work here. Characters I’ve been reading about for years jump off the page almost exactly how I imagined them, and I have to say it’s been a great experience. Where the first volume  falls short is in it’s bonus story in the back, an adaptation of the first ever Dresden short story Restoration Of Faith. It wasn’t a particularly strong story to begin with (by Butcher’s own admission), and the graphic treatment isn’t kind. It’s adapted by Grant Alter with art by Kevin Mellon, and it just doesn’t stack up. Important information is never given, a character just appears out of nowhere when it’s time for him to show up with no introduction, and the villain’s defeat is almost incoherent–if I hadn’t read the story before I would have no idea what happened in those two panels. The art isn’t particularly horrible, but it’s not good either. I would almost tell you not to bother with this so-called bonus story, and just find the original in Butcher’s Dresden anthology Side Jobs. Midway through producing the adaptation, it appears the original publisher (Dabel Brothers) either went out of business or sold the property to Dynamite. This obviously delayed some of the production, and artist Ardian Syaf got a better offer from DC. You know, one that actually involved working and getting paid instead of waiting for the paperwork to be settled. I don’t like that he left, but I can understand it. The powers that be replaced him with Brett Booth for the remainder of the second volume, and I suppose Booth did okay. Had he been on the book from the beginning, I would have been fine with it. As it stands, however, the switchover was jarring, unannounced, and a little disappointing. Will I keep reading these? Of course! It’s still Dresden….its just that Syaf’s art was what pulled me into this in the first place, and now that’s gone.

CONTENT: Mild language. Some gory violence and creepy creatures. Some non-explicit sexual content, including a set of corpses still locked in a very sexual position and some discussion of prostitution. Occult-wise….Harry’s a wizard. You know up front what you’re getting into with this one….

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Review: “The Dresden Files: Welcome To The Jungle” by Jim Butcher and Ardian Syaf

Title: Welcome To The Jungle
Writer: Jim Butcher
Artist: Ardian Syaf
Series: The Dresden Files
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Dabel Brothers, 2008

I’m a huge fan of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. You may not have picked up on this, since there’s only really been one book in the series come out since I started doing this review blog, but I await each new release for this series with a fervor previously reserved for new Star Wars books. For me, the start of the series was the Dabel Brothers comic miniseries Welcome To The Jungle. Conveniently, this miniseries/graphic novel (depending on whether you’re reading the individual issues or the hardcover collection) acts as a prequel to the first novel. Now, whether you’re a longtime Dresden reader or are only just discovering the distilled pure awesomeness that is this series, I highly recommend tracking down a copy of this one.

When the Chicago PD have a case they don’t know how to explain, they give it to Karrin Murphy and the Special Investigations division. When Murphy thinks there may actually be something supernatural going on, she calls in the only practicing wizard in the Chicago phone book–Harry Dresden. This time, there’s a dead guard at the Chicago zoo. Throat ripped out by a beast with maniacal strength, blood everywhere…including the gorilla cage, which is why the official story is that the gorilla did it. But something doesn’t fit…namely, the gorilla was still in his cage with the gate locked when the body was found. Now unless Harry can figure out just what went down the innocent ape will be euthanized and the killer will go unpunished, free to pursue his or her devilish plot….

I can’t praise this enough, honestly. The writing is pure Butcher, as good as you would expect from having read the Dresden Files novels. There’s all the wry asides, self deprecation, vile monsters and supernatural action that Butcher can throw at you, with the added bonus of being able to visualize the characters and situations. The visual element of the story is really put to full use, especially in the sequence where Harry is running through his list of creatures capable of the violence at the zoo. Also, Harry is freaking tall! It’s one thing to have him tell you this, but to see the way he towers above all the other characters is pretty fun. This is completely consistent with the books too, which is nice. I’m not a huge fan of the collection cover, honestly, which is why I went with the cover to one of the individual issues for the top of the post.

CONTENT: Mild language. Violence, sometimes disturbing and bloody. Mild sexual innuendos, nothing too explicit. Occult content….well, Harry’s a wizard. There’s quite a bit of magic, usually operating through Harry’s pseudo-latin spells. My favorite is “flickum biccus,” his spell for lighting the candles about his apartment. There’s a Black Dog, from Celtic mythology, mention of vampires and other stock fantasy creatures, and the implication that Greek mythology has at least some grounding in reality.

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Review: “Cold Days” by Jim Butcher

Title: Cold Days
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #14
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Penguin, 2012

SPOILER ALERT! This review contains spoilers, not for Cold Days  but for the two previous books, Changes and Ghost Story.

Harry Dresden was the only professional wizard in the Chicago phonebook. But a lot can happen over the course of three books….First, the Red Court vampires kidnapped his daughter (whom he didn’t know existed) and tried to sacrifice her in a spell that would wipe out her entire lineage–including Harry and a number of the senior wizards of the White Council. Which was about when Harry fell and broke his back, paralyzing himself at least for the short term. In order to gain the power to save his daughter, Harry sold his soul and accepted the position of Winter Knight for the Winter Court of the Fae. Power corrupts, and the power of the Winter Knight is about as corrupting an influence as you can find–and Harry is well aware of the monster he would make if he allowed it to happen. No sooner is his daughter safe and sound than Harry finds himself on the receiving end of a high-powered sniper rifle….awakening months later to find himself a disembodied spirit. He doesn’t really have time to get used to it though, because something is stalking Chicago’s spooks. To make matters worse, Chicago has become a very scary place without its resident wizard to deter the baddies and Harry’s friends are all in very real danger. Even as a ghost, Harry can’t resist putting himself between his friends and danger….but at the end of the day, crisis averted for now, Harry awakens once more in his own body. He’s been comatose for months on his island, being tended by the island’s conciousness Demonreach and the Winter Queen, Mab. Turns out, she won’t let her new knight go that easily….

Harry lives! He’s been nursed back to health in the depths of Arctis Tor, stronghold of the Winter Court and his new boss, Mab, the Winter Queen. He is hers to command, at least so far as she can convince him is necessary. And her first job for him? Killing Maeve, her daughter the Winter Lady. This doesn’t make sense on multiple levels, as a mortal simply does not have the power to kill an immortal except in very rare and specific situations, none of which are scheduled any time soon. To make matters worse, there’s something wrong with Demonreach, the island Harry has a complicated connection with. If he doesn’t find a way to prevent it, half the Midwest is going to become a crater. To make matters worse, Harry is only now becoming aware of the true face and purpose of what he has been referring to as the Black Council. It is not at all what he has thought it is, and anyone could be compromised. All of the allies he trusts think he is dead. He can call on the power of the Winter Knight, but even if he is able to avoid becoming a monster that may not be enough to tip the scales in his favor this time….

The crazy thing about the Dresden files is how the author, Jim Butcher, manages to make each book more epic than the last. I finished this book less than two days ago and I’m already jonesing for the next installment. May it come quickly….I am very anxious to see how events play out following that ending.

Content: This is rated R. The language is occasionally harsh, but not gratuitous. The violence can be brutal, but fits the tone of the book. Harry Dresden inhabits a very dark world, and it gets darker with every book. He tries to be a force for the light, but sometimes he has to settle for lessening the darkness. There is a fair amount of sexual content, again, not gratuitous, but present nonetheless. Obviously, this book contains magic. I am very impressed by how respectfull of Christianity Butcher is, however, and I encourage you not to dismiss this out of hand.

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