The DC Comics Action Figure Archive

Although newspaper comic strips and animated cartoons and comic books have inspired tangible tchotchkes ever since the Yellow Kid first showed up, it was only in 1964, with Hasbro's introduction of the G.I. Joe doll, that the modern-day "action figure" was born. Molded from plastic with "articulated" joints, featuring a variety of accessories, the action figure has become the infinitely variable template for the depiction of any number or real and imaginary characters. In Scott Beatty's The DC Comics Action Figure Archive, we are treated to a colorful panorama of the DC plastic pantheon, an inclusive, collector-friendly listing of all the action figures authorized to date by this publisher. Beatty offers catchy sidebars that discuss mostly matters of rarity. He provides one-sentence biographies for many of the more esoteric figures, although the non-fan will remain baffled by the hermetic and recondite nature of the characters. Of course, the Big Three depicted on the cover -- Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman -- are household names and account for 40 pages between them. But it's not always the most famous hero who receives the best design. For instance, minor heroine Mademoiselle Marie, with her fashionable WWII partisan outfit, is just gorgeous. My one complaint about this feast of eye candy: alphabetizing characters by first name, such as placing Jimmy Olsen in the "J" section. Perry White would be scandalized! -

July 26: On this day in 1602 "A booke called the Revenge of Hamlett Prince Denmarke" was entered in the Stationers' Register by printer James Robertes.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).