Lou Pride’s I Won’t Give Up, Ex Machina (Comic), and The Venom Business – Quick Takes

I Won’t Give Up by Lou PrideI won't give up

Chicago bluesman, Lou Pride, played clubs around the country for over 40 years. When he released this album in 2000 he was already a veteran. From its packaging, the album looks like a homemade vanity project but, when you put the record on the stereo, the tracks sound big and full. His lyrics reveal swagger and confidence.

The title track is, as you might expect, all about preserving in the face of adversity. Being a club act can’t be an easy life, “People try to tell me I ought to get a job,” he complains. That might not sound like bragging, but it is. I stumbled across this album when my wife brought it back from work at Space in Evanston.

I couldn’t love it more. It’s a manual on how to be an excellent front man.

Ex Machina (Vol 1 & 2) written by Brian K. Vaughn, art by Tony Harris
Ex Machina

The first issue of Ex Machina ends with maybe the best last-page reveal I’ve ever seen. That said, after reading the first two volumes of the series, I have to say it’s one of Vaughn’s lesser works. Though it delivers some unexpected ideas and the origin story makes for an exciting ongoing plot, the politics that are the book’s real differentiator, the part of the plot that sets it apart from other superhero comics, don’t get enough panels to do the debates justice.

The Venom Business by Michael Crichton (Writing as John Lange)Venom business

I like thrillers and pulp, so I was excited when I started The Venom Business, which really does open well. But the wheels came off quickly and I regretted finishing it. My three maincomplaints are:

1. The stakes were not clear, so characters motivations shifted from scene to scene

2. Three female characters in it appear to be almost exactly the same person

3. Overall, it didn’t deliver on the gritty noir-ish adventure it hinted at. There’s limited business and even less venom.

I know this is just one of his books and, honestly, I’ve liked plenty of his pieces that were adapted for movies and TV, so your mileage may vary. But life is short and there are so many excellent books out there, so I don’t think I will give him another shot.


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