The Only Good Indian – Stephen Graham Jones
Oh look, it’s the second time in a row Stephen Graham Jones has shown up! WHAT A COMPLETELY COINCIDENTAL CRAZY RANDOM HAPPENSTANCE. I had no idea this was going to happen!
If you’ve only got time for the elevator pitch, here: ten years ago this Last Saturday Before Thanksgiving, four young Blackfeet men went hunting elk, where they knew full well they weren’t allowed to, and they made a terrible, stupid decision that forms the first link in a chain of tragedy that will pull them back into the past one horrible, bloody hoofprint at a time. It’s a paranoid, sad, sweet, unexpectedly hilarious and profoundly spooky tale of atonement and parenthood and a people attempting to find their way when their place in the world was taken from them and Nature Taking Revenge (Maybe), and without spoiling anything I’ll say that if I had read this prior to reading Night of the Mannequins I would’ve made some very different, very incorrect assumptions about the nature of the story I was reading.
Like look I could spend another 400 words telling you why if you read one new book in 2021 it should be this one, but I’ll leave it at this: I finished The Only Good Indians and immediately asked my wife if I could read it to her at bedtime. If it’s good enough for her, beloved reader, it’s good enough for you, because she, love her though I do, refers to almost all things as being “not even that good” and she loved this.
Conan: Battle For The Serpent Crown
Upshot: Conan finds himself in Las Vegas he knows not how, and gets caught up in a big ol’ Marvel-ass adventure with a cast that rotates every issue, featuring Black Panther, Namor the Sub-Mariner, newcomer Nyla, and Mefrigginphisto in a struggle for the fate of the titular Snakeycircle. It’s a Very Good Circle, you guys! Everybody wants it for their serpentine spirographs, lest their mamas’ fridges like blank and bereft. Cue the fracas-conga.
I’m sorry to say it’s no good for this citizen! And I think I know why: part of the appeal to me of Conan, the half of this equation to which I am more attached by a significant margin, is that he’s got no time for bullshit and will happily slice in half any man, monstro, magic or Martian that gets in his way. He’s low-fantasy, which naturally requires that the foes and dangers he faces have to be not necessarily mundane, but of the same power-sphere, if not power-level. He can get the better of an ancient alien security system or eldritch critter enshrined in a mad cult’s temple because, I reiterate, those problems can be chopped in half. Know what can’t be chopped in half? MEPHISTO, WHO IS LITERALLY THE ACTUAL DEVIL IN MARVEL COSMOLOGY. So, one might reasonably ask “What is Conan, who trod the jeweled thrones of the earth beneath his sandaled feet but is very definitely just a mortal, non-magical human man, good for in this situation?” The answer: NOT MUCH, GANG.
I don’t like to be unkind, for I am a Common Wuss, and there were things to like about this series; for me, most of them were “Conan is unfazed by modern technology and customs and relies on punching, the universal language”. I could read that shit all day. Maybe for someone who was more excited about the Marvel stuff than the Conan stuff this would’ve been a better experience, but for me these are just two great tastes that taste better on their own. Your mileage may vary, naturally, and I mean no disrespect to the artists and writer, but for my part I’m gonna stay out of of town until the Son of Cimmeria is no longer the Barbarian In Residence at Thulsa Doom’s Palace Las Vegas.
Score: 5/10 Slot Machines With Beefy Fist-Holes Through Them
I nearly blew right by, in my hurry to the subway