In this latest edition of Deathlands, Edo Van Belkom returns for his 2nd foray into the series.
In short, it was a little better than his first try, Skydark Spawn, but Edo needs to ante up and step up to the proverbial plate - big time!
Though not as lame as Andy Boot's tales, Black Harvest actually had some good ideas, along with a well overdone formula storyline, that was at least readable enough to finish.
Essentially, this is a standard fare Deathlands of old, though a very slight trend upwards from Boot's last one, but not as good as the last issue, SHAKING EARTH.
The good points to this latest DL? They are few, unfortunately.
1: Jak gets wounded, and gets hooked on a strong drug.
2: Doc falls in love.
3: Characters are not too bastardsized.
4: The black market of DL drugs, (which hasn't ever been done to this level), made for a decent background story here.
The bad points? Wow, where to start.
1: Lame as hell muties. Edo, you really need to brush up on what constitutes a mutie here! A group of people with simple sores doth not make a mutie. Good God in heaven, that was it!?
Weak man, just bloody weak. You mean to tell me that in this day and age of so many talented writers, that this one couldn't simply come up with a colorful new mutie? Hell, even using a tried and true one that Laurence James created would've been better than this lame excuse of one!
That, in itself, could have made this story a bit better. But alas, it wasn't to be...
2: No colorful post-holocaust scene setting and/or weather patterns here?! Why has this been seemingly utterly forgotten by the new writers? Nick Polatta did a good job of at least utilizing this back in BLOODFIRE. And it set a solid good old standard much needed here.
Where's the freezing cold or the nuke-blasted heat? Or ever-changing weird weather patterns to set an interesting stage? Not once did Edo write in whether this mid-west area was either. It was simply there. DING, DING! Wake up writers! Laurence James was awesome at scene setting in this DL world. Lordy, I miss that guy. He could paint you a bleak as hell picture, actually taking the reader right there. And also paint a beautiful picture when the group ran across them.
3: Way too many 'easy ways out' here. From firefights to reloading ammo, there were way too many timing problems here that were easily taken care of. One is more than enough in any given story. But here there were too many permeating this single story.
C'mon, GE! Grow a set, and let these writers - or someone! - get somewhat back to some tried and true formulas that worked in the past, which made this series great and quite unique.
And that's letting some of the older characters to either die and/or move on. Gain some new blood, for crying out loud! Laurence kept it fresh for a while doing that.
And also gain some new weaponry! Why must they keep the same old crap? What, for continuity sake? Oh, please!! That has already gone out the window.
I truly hope that in the near future, these group of writers, (namely I'm talking to Andy Boot and Edo here!), seriously consider the bold new avenue that Mr. Alan Philipson has tried taking this series. With both SHADOW WORLD and BREAKTHROUGH, he has taken the DL to some new heights. I love this kinda new breath of fresh air adventure writing.
C'mon, don't be such fools. Take more risks. Take us readers to new heights in action/adventure reading by utilizing everything that Jack Adrian and Laurence James started, and at times, only touched upon!
Such as time trawling or chron jumping. Why not build a kick-ass story on those cool ideas? That's almost totally unused new and dark territory writers! Take it and run with it.
In short, Black Harvest is nothing really new. If you like a quick and breezy action/adventure read, I suppose it is passable. But some of the action was laughable. But it is Ok.
At least I didn't throw it in the trash or send it back to GE, like I've done in the past starting with SALVATION ROAD.
In all truth, it is really a rad-blasted shame that these two writers are taking this great series that started this sci-fi/fantasy type phenomenal universe - and are trying to turn it completely to weak, utter trash.
C'mon, you guys! You writers are geting paid here. And we hard-liners are slamming you two. Step it up a few notches, will you? I know you can...if you just try a tad bit harder.