John LeCarré, the Vision and Stormwatch: Books Read (#SFWApro)

OUR GAME by John LeCarré is a much broodier post-Cold War novel than Secret Pilgrim as the protagonist, retired spymaster Tim, discovers that not only has his former protégé run off with Tim’s woman and £37 million in embezzled funds, police and British Intelligence suspect Tim of masterminding it. This starts very slow, picks up steam gradually, and never entirely successfully — Tim’s obsessive desire to save his former asset is rationalized by their being inextricably linked at a deep emotional level, but I never bought it. And the LeCarré protagonist tormented by his faithless significant other is almost a cliché. That said, I still found the book  a compelling read, and LeCarré focuses on the problems of Russia’s breakaway states (this involves Chechnya’s neighbor Ingushetia) well before the rest of the world (and he’s clearly disappointed we didn’t get the era of lowered international tensions he was hoping for in Secret Pilgrim).

visionscarletwitch1After the Vision married the Scarlet Witch in the 1970s, the android and the mutant eventually moved to the suburbs and started a family, with the usual problems bedeviling their efforts to be normal (cover by Rick Leonardi, all rights to current holder). In  THE VISION: Little Worse Than a Man by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, the android tries it again, but this time with a wife and children he’s apparently built himself. This was more entertaining than I expected, even though I think the earlier version was more interesting — the android-tries-to-be-human shticks here are so familiar, this might as well have been Next Gen’s Data (this may also reflect that this just isn’t my version of the Vision). And the ominous ending frankly struck me as a stretch. So readable, but with a poor aftertaste.

STORMWATCH: The Dark Side by Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda is competently done, but much more unsatisfying. Stormwatch is (so I understand) the New 52 reboot of Wildstorm’s JLA-riff, The Authority, and as several critics have said, it’s hard to see what purpose they serve in the same universe. Sure, they talk a lot about how they’re totally not super-heroes, but they obviously are, so what’s the point? And while Cornell makes the team and its members’ powers clear even to someone who’s never read the original, the character stuff doesn’t work at all: all the struggle and clashing over who’s going to be in charge is quite uninteresting when I don’t know the players (the interactions of Midnight and Apollo, on the other hand, play just fine). So a nice try.

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