Showing posts with label graphic novel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label graphic novel. Show all posts

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O'Neill


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I happily reviewed Katie O'Neill's The Tea Dragon Festival back in August of 2017, and while I felt this one did not quite match up to the high standard that one set (I really enjoyed that one!), I still think this is a worthy read. It expands on the original story and adds new folklore, and has some interesting new characters.

The author's artwork is of the same high standard as before, but the story felt to me a little bit more meandering. I should say up front that I'm not a fan of series because they tend to be little more than a retreading of the original story. Like retreaded tires, they're not worth the money, and are typically boring to me. This was not one of those sequels I was happy to see. It did have some more story to tell that was new and different.

As I said before, the tea dragon story book is everything that the overly-commercialized 'My Little Pony' garbage ought to have been, but failed so dismally to get there. The tea dragon stories do get there, and by a different and far more interesting route. The little dragons are renowned for the tea they produce through leaves which grow on their horns and antlers. Those leaves contain memories which the drinker can share, but they cannot grow without a true bond between the Tea Dragon and its care-giver. And no, you cannot buy that tea commercially!

Rinn, the protagonist here, grew up with tea dragons and is used to their being around and their habits and foibles, but in this outing she runs into a real dragon named Aedhan, who has been sleeping for a very long time. This enchanted sleep is a mystery that begs to be solved, and Rinn is up to the job! I commend this story as a fun and worthy read.


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Stage Dreams by Melanie Gillman


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was an awesome LGBTQIA graphic novel about a cross-dressing southern boy (or maybe a girl) who goes by the name of Grace, and actually has some, and a lesbian stage-coach robber who goes by Flor. I was not sure of her heritage. She's described as Latinx by some, but to me, she had an American Indian look to her from what I saw, so maybe she was a mix of both? Not that it's that important in the big picture of the story, which consists of Flor kidnapping Grace during her robbery of a stagecoach, and eventually entering into an alliance with the latter, to steal from a function being organized by some southern gentlemen of military mein.

All I will say about that is 'the best laid schemes o' mice an' men...' and you know how it goes (or you ought to! It involves gang, aft, and agley). This was a sweet, fun story, easy on the eye and the ear, and I commend it whole-heartedly. The rather sepia artwork gave an antique glow to the novel, and it was a fun romp all the way through. You can find Melanie Gillman at pigeonbits on tumblr and elsewhere online no doubt. Her artwork has a habit of getting around!


The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This middle grade graphic novel is about a witch of color, with the curious and charming name of Moth Hush, of Founder's Bluff, Massachusetts, who is about to discover that her love of witchery isn't just a fad of hers! Eighth-grade bullies are what triggers her powers coming to the fore, and there's no looking back.

Yes, it's a bit trope-y that this takes place in Massachusetts. I'm a little tired of that, but I decided to let that slide since this novel had more going for it than your usual tedious trope 'Salem witches' rip-offs, which personally I find offensive on behalf of the innocent women who died because of blind religious hatred.

It turns out that Moth's home town has a history of witch-related activity, including a family of witch-hunters. Plus there is, as the blurb advises, a talking cat which some readers may find familiar (that was a joke - a little chortle in the cauldron!). There is also an enchanted diary, and a hidden realm - because you have to call these things a realm, right? Anything less simply will not do. But there is also conflict, a sort of tug-of-war between old and new, and Moth isn't the sort of person to back down and give up.

I liked the story and the art, although the character's noses seemed a bit weird, but I didn't worry about that. I enjoyed the story and the main character (I'm a complete softy for a strong female lead), and I commend it as a worthy read.


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Sector 7 Adventures - The Battle at Half Dome


Rating: WARTY!

This was a dumb-ass comic book that came with the Blu-Ray of the movie Bumblebee. I've always had mixed feelings about the Transformers so this was a good way to get into a discussion of the whole genre under the guise of reviewing a graphic novel - of more like a graphic pamphlet in this case. I used to review movies on this website as well as TV shows, but I ditched all of that to focus on books when it became more work than I had time to do.

The first Transformer movie that came out back in 2007 was, I thought, really good - amusing, realistic (for the genre) and entertaining. The military battles seemed quite authentic to me (but what do I know?!) - certainly better than in too many military action movies I've seen. After that though, the movies began to go downhill, and for me they have never recovered, not even with two reboots (2014's Age of Extinction and its sequel which fared badly, 2017's Transformers: The Last Knight which I never bothered seeing, and the aforesaid series 'reboot' Bumblebee movie of 2018).

My biggest problem is that I can't take the premise seriously which means I have a hard time taking the movies seriously. They're flawed from the start, and admittedly they began as a kid's franchise - toys and then cartoons, but when they moved into adult/young adult movies, they became fair game, I think for some serious reviewing. The biggest problem is the colonialist attitude of American writers and film-makers in that everything is always about the USA. In one regard, it's understandable because these things originated in the US, but this fiction that all of this presents - that everything and anything of importance must take place here is provincialism at best and bigotry and isolationism at worst, and since the US is taking that path right now politically, I just think it's a bad time to be championing such a thing in fiction - like there's ever a good time!

So this leads to a race of robots that speaks American English and which comes to Earth for no reason. Let's face it, they're robots! They may need resources, but they do not need a planet which can support carbon-based life and which has an oxygen atmosphere, so why come to Earth? The Autobots (why do they already have an English name?) are supposed to be benign, yet they brought their troubles here and now Earth is suffering. That's not the act of a benign race! The Decepticons (again and English word meaning, essentially, evil!) follow them. Admittedly there was a reason for this in the first place, but once that was gone, then why the hell would they care where the Autobots go or what they do once they've left the home world? Why would the earlier Transformers come here at all in Earth's past?

Why are the transformers exactly like humans emotionally, behaviorally, and socially? They display the same facial expressions, the same emotions, the same need to talk rather than simply transmit by radio or some other means? Why are all of them built to resemble machines or animals you find on Earth? Even their home planet, Cybertron, has an Earth name! None of this makes any sense at all. Why would they have eyebrows and eyelids, and lips? Yes, obviously it's to humanize them, but none of this makes any sense subjectively.

Why do their weapons do so little damage to each other? The transformers are made from precisely the same finite set of known elements that the rest of the universe is, so how is it they can sustain so much damage? Why are there no EMP weapons in their world? Why didn't the damage done to Megatron in the first movie actually finish him off for good? And why does every Transformer have an Earth name?! Clearly the flaws are endless and while I was willing to overlook his for the first movie, the more they tried to add to the mythology in subsequent outings, the more laughable it became to me and the less interested I was in watching further editions of what is essentially just anthropomorphized robots fighting each other and causing horrific destruction wherever they go.

The presumption that the American military could go into a Muslim country on a whim in the second movie was shameful. I can't believe there wasn't more outrage over it, because it's this colonialist attitude that we can go wherever we want and do whatever we want, and permission, treaties, agreements and accommodations be damned which pisses off people and makes them want to hit back with terrorist strikes.

As far as this particular graphic novel is concerned, it's a microcosm of the larger problems. It's meant to be a prequel to the Bumblebee movie. Bumblee, one of the least capable Autobots, is sent to Earth for no reason at all, and of course is discovered by Blitzwing, but rather than utterly destroy Bumblee, all Blitzwing does is disable him. Why? Because Bumblebee has to survive, not because it makes any logical sense!

So in short, no. I saw Bumblebee in the theater because I didn't have to pay for the ticket, otherwise I would have skipped it, and I really wouldn't have missed much, because now Transformers have come full circle, going from toys to movie icons and now Bumblebee had brought them right back to where they're nothing but toys again. I'm done with Transformers.


Jackie Chan Adventures by Duane Capizzi, David Slack, Tomás Montalvo-Lagos


Rating: WARTY!

This was a small format graphic novel featuring two stories, "The Mask of El Toro Fuerte" by Capizzi, and "Enter...The Viper" by Slack. The artist in both cases was Tomás Montalvo-Lagos. The artwork wasn't bad, but the stories were really not particularly inventive or interesting, and worse, featured clichéd villains and uninteresting story lines. Why they're Jackie Chan adventures I have no idea because there's no kung-fu involved at all, not even vicariously. They were more like Indiana Jones adventures, but I guess Harrison Ford wasn't interested - either that or they couldn't afford to pay for the use of his name?

I dunno. The adventures were not the great. The first was about a magical lucha libre mask which gave extra strength to the wearer, and the other about some female thief which seems to have borrowed from a Doctor Who episode if I recall, but I really am trying not to! Admittedly these were written for a much younger audience than me, but even so they were pretty limp and despite being a fan of Jackie Chan, I can't commend this as a worthy read.


Genius by Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, Afua Richardson


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a graphic novel that took a trip into a reverse perspective after a fashion. Instead of black people being shot by the police, it was the other way around when a neighborhood in Los Angeles sets itself up as a no-go area for police, and fights violently back at any attempted incursions. The police are trying to figure out who is running this show and consider that it has to be a guy with a military background, when in fact it's just a teenage girl named Destiny Ajaye, who happens to have read a lot, including Sun Tzu's The Art of War. I haven't read that book (it is on my ebook reading list!), but I somehow doubt it has much to say about urban guerilla warfare.

However, I let that go because the story itself has much to say and it unpeels like an onion. It was engaging and had some interesting perspectives, although none that have not been raised before. The initial cops who were killed, it turns out were corrupt and into all kinds of shady things, and the girl who leads the insurrection has a bad episode of negative police interaction in her past. As the violence escalates and ever more force is brought to bear by the police, including calling in the National Guard, the reader has to wonder where all this is going to end up. Destiny has, through violent means, united several gangs and turned them into her own personal army, but are they up to taking on what's thrown against then or is this Destiny's Last Stand?

This comic series garnered some praise for itself and some attention having been released coincidentally during the time of the Ferguson, Missouri riots over the shooting death of Michael Brown which was stirred up by a combination of inaccurate reports of how he died and bloody-minded people. I consider it a worthy if disturbing read, but I can't get with it all the way because there was too much convenient happenstance in it for it to be realistic, and too much omitted, such as taking out several Nation Guard tanks by using sticky bombs as depicted in the movie Saving Private Ryan but without access to the anything like the comp B explosive they had.

The LAPD didn't use drones back in 2014, so I didn't expect that technology, but rooftop spotters? Taking out snipers from helicopters? None of this was explored and the police were made to look like complete idiots, which any police can do from time to time without any assistance, but they are not quite the reactive bunch of human 'drones' or ku klux klueless that they were depicted as here, which rather took away from Destiny's value as a master strategist.

That wasn't my biggest beef though. The biggest problem with it was once again the sexualization of female characters by comic book artists. Usually this lands at the feet of male artists, but in this case, we have another female artist who is selling her gender down this flood-stage river and I have no idea why. There was no sex in this story at all, so why is Destiny depicted as a this unnaturally posing, semi-topless Barbie-doll shaped bimbo? I would have complained - maybe even equally - had she been depicted as this bookish eyeglass-wearing nerd cliché too, or even as a Ian Fleming style 'flawed babe' with a scar or a limp or something, but surely there is a happy medium that could have been struck here? Why not simply depict her as a regular person?

Giving her an improbably narrow waist and pneumatic boobs does nothing to aid the story you're telling and in fact detracts from it badly. I live for the day when graphic novel illustrators don't have to be lectured about this and where male writers such as Bernardin and Freeman, and publishers such as Top Cow and Image automatically say no to such illustrations unless there's a really valid reason for using them.

That said, this is an interesting story so I decided to let that slide this time since it was only Destiny who was inexplicably depicted in this way. What this does mean however, is that I don't rate Afua Richardson as a valid comic book artist and I won't be inclined to read any graphic novel that she's had a hand in from this point onward, so no, I won't read the sequel to this: Genius: Cartel, not least of which is that I'm not a fan of retreading stories and selling them on as something new just to make a fast buck. It's bad enough that a $26 billion-earnings conglomerate like Disney is showing these days that all it can do is regurgitate without the rest of us jumping on its sadly derivative bandwagon.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima


Rating: WARTY!

This was the second of two manga I looked at recently which featured a person with some sort of disability. In the other it was a person with a wheelchair. In this it was a girl who communicated by sign language. The main male character had been abusive to this girl when he was younger - making fun of her and so on, and now he was older he regretted it and sought to make up for his appalling behavior when he encountered her again, but the problem was that the girl still remained largely mute despite her sign language, and there really was no emotional content here. It was more like a comedy than a moving story and I couldn't stand it.

The girl was completely flat for me, with no emotion, and no fire. She never got annoyed, angry, upset, frustrated or anything. She was like this little magical paragon of Zen and so completely unrealistic that she was a nonentity - a hole in the story instead of a whole story. The guy was no more interesting, so I gave up on it in short order. Now, admittedly I came into this at volume three, but the thought of going back and trying to dig up volumes one and two to catch up was severely disabling for my psyche!

Besides, for a girl who was mute, having increasing volumes seemed painfully paradoxical to me! Certainly, I had no desire to go back and read the earlier volumes in this series when this one in particular had failed to stir me at all. I should say I've never been a fan of that style of Manga which features girls with such ridiculously large eyes, or in which all of the characters look decidedly western rather than Eastern. I do not know why they do this, but I don't like it. So in short I was disappointed in this and cannot commend it.


Real by Takehiko Inoue


Rating: WARTY!

I've not had a lot of success with Manga. Reading a book 'backwards' doesn't come naturally to me(!), but I've made it through one or two that have proven themselves to be worthy reads. This one wasn't. I'd thought it might be interesting given that it features a wheelchair-bound protagonist, but it's not a story about a person with a handicap. It's a story about basketball which happens to feature a person with a handicap. That's not the same thing and the book suffers for it.

Now I know you can argue that it should not be about the handicap - and I agree that far. You can argue that it should be about basketball, and I agree that far, but if you're going to write about basketball and just put one of your characters in a wheelchair and not write about that at all, then what have you done other than to gratuitously include a person with a disability merely for the sake of it? (And that's sayk, not saky! LOL!)

While the wheelchair shouldn't dominate the story unless there's really something weird going on, like a wheelchair version of Stephen King's Christine (which I haven't read), then the wheelchair has to have a role in the story just like any other character because it's either a character or it's a cynical and cheap attempt at diversity without having a thing to say about diversity. Aside from that issue, the story was boring. It didn't offer anything new and worse, it was hard to follow what the hell was actually going on here at times, so I ditched this pretty quickly, especially when skimming through more pages didn't offer me any hope that the story would improve.


Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec by Jacques Tardi


Rating: WORTHY!

I came to this via the Luc Besson movie. This first volume includes two stories: "Pterror over Paris," from which the movie was made, and "The Eiffel Tower Demon." The former is about a pterodactyl which magically pops out of a fossil egg in a museum in Paris, and begins to terrorize the city. The second involves the scary appearance of the demon Pazuzu, whom you might recall from The Exorcist. This demon is thought to have been conjured-up from the nether regions by a cult in the city of Paris which reaches into some of the highest levels of government, but all is not what it seems! In fact, I wouldn't mind meeting a demon like that! Oh wait, I did! And I married her! Adèle Blanc-Sec is equal to both challenges though.

The drawing is good and the script, set in and around 1911, is entertaining. While I enjoyed this particular volume, this is not a series I feel a huge compulsion to pursue. It was entertaining enough, but not completely engrossing and life is too short! Adèle Blanc-Sec is very much a female Indiana Jones, especially as rendered in the movie, so that was amusing and entertaining, and I do consider this graphic novel a worthy read.


Hinges Book 1: Clockwork City by Meredith Mclaren


Rating: WARTY!

This graphic novel was a fail for me because it was unintelligible. I had no idea, for the most part, what the hell was going on because there was very little dialog, no narration, and the images while engagingly drawn, were far from crystal clear in terms of what exactly was supposed to be happening in any given frame.

It was supposed to be a clockwork city, but none of these characters ever seemed like they needed winding up. The author seemed more interested in winding up the reader. The characters had visible joints in some images, like they were mechanical, but none in others. This one girl out of the blue is put front and center with no explanation as to who she is, where she came from, or why she's there.

She's told she needs an 'Odd' with no explanation as to what exactly that is or why it's needed. It's a small character like a child's plush toy, but is alive. Why she picks the one she does and why that's a problem isn't explained. Why she even needs a job and why she's so wrong for the jobs available is a mystery. For that matter, everything is a mystery and I quickly lost interest, because the biggest mystery was why the author wasn't interested in telling an engaging story. I had zero investment in the characters or the story, and I ditched it DNF. Life's too short. I can't commend this gray-scale graphic story based on about fifty percent of it that I read.


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle, Isaac Goodhart


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Illustrated beautifully by Isaac Goodhart, and written by Myracle, this graphic novel began for me in a disappointing way. Retreaded origin stories for super heroes/villains are so five volumes ago and are so common these days that they're tedious to say the least, but before I could become completely disllusioned with a world where robotic reboots are more common than original stories, this one turned around and drew me in. The characters were realistic and realistically drawn, and the main character wasn't any guy's simpering plaything. She didn't need a guy to validate her, which was a refreshing and welcome change.

At fifteen, Selina Kyle makes a deliberate choice to quit both her home and school, and live on the street, having come to the end of her tether with her single mom's endless parade of vile boyfriends. To steal a line from a popular movie, anyone who's anyone knows who she is: Selina Kyle is the girl who will become Catwoman. I was looking for some serious payback with that last boyfiend which I'm sorry to report never came, but maybe volume 2 will take care of that? One can but hope!

It's not long before Selena meets a criminal element, but these guys (and a girl) - who all have stories of their own - are not your usual gang-bangers or drug pushers. They're pretty much in the same boat that Selina is, and once she begins training in Parkour with one of them whom she meets by chance, she soon starts hanging with them, but is never really one of them. This story has depth and feeling and is very engaging. This is the kind of origin story I can enjoy, despite my weariness with such stories, and it made me want to read the next volume, like, now!

The only sour note it struck for me was the high school story - but I'm not a big fan of high school stories which are almost (but not quite) uniformly cookie-cutter tedious. Selena lives with her lower-class single mom. Buce Wayne is the orphaned child of a billionnaire. Yet they've known each other from childhood because they attended the same schools together? How is that possible? I'm sorry but it didn't work, and no explantion was even attempted to explain how it might. The Gotham TV show rooted in DC Comics' Batman world tells a much more plausible story of how these two people from such different worlds came to meet.

That failure aside though, this story was different, entertaining, inventive, and enjoyable. I commend it as a worthy read, and I'm very much looking forward to volume 2!


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Strangers in Paradise vol 1 by Terry Moore


Rating: WARTY!

I came to this by way of reading another graphic novel, Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, which I had enjoyed. They liked this series a lot, but we'll have to disagree on it, because I found it unappealing and unoriginal. This black and white line-drawing affair (illustrated decently by the author) is about the tangled relationship between Francine and Katchoo, who are roommates, David, who is interested in Katchoo (who appears only interested in Francine), and Casey, who married and then divorced Francine's ex, and later became interested in both David and Katchoo.

It felt like the TV show Friends, only rather desperately fortified with sex, and I never was a fan of Friends, which bored the pants off me, and not even literally. I felt that was one of the most stupid and fake TV shows I've ever had the misfortune to accidentally see a part of. I read most of the first volume of this graphic series, and found it completely uninteresting, with nothing new, funny, entertaining, or engaging to offer. That's all I have to say about this particular graphic novel.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Tale of Genji: Dreams at Dawn vol 1 by Waki Yamato


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Erratum:
"Beatiful black hair" on p220 Beautiful is misspelled.

The original Tale of Genji was written by someone with the honorific of Murasaki Shikibu. She was a Japanese writer and lady-in-waiting at the Imperial court during the Heian period, and she lived around 1000AD. She was strictly speaking not a 'Lady'. The 'Shikibu' referred to her status as a relative of a high ranking official in a ministry, so 'Lady' is an approximation. Murasaki seems to have referred to the wisteria plant and its color which the Japanese probably did not differentiate between.

No one knows her real name, but some suspect she may have been Fujiwara no Takako. She was married for two years before her husband died, and later retired from court with her daughter. In between those times she wrote an ongoing 'novel' about a fictional character in the Heian court, known as The Shining Prince, and commonly referred to as 'Genji'. This guy was a bit of a playboy (as this pull-no-punches manga reveals), who having lost his mother early in life seems to have pursued a need to replace her with a lover who had her qualities.

He fell in love with his stepmother, something perceived as forbidden, but she's not the only one. Every few pages he finds another woman who inspires powerful feelings, yet every one of them seems inappropriate for one reason or another - that she's an older girl with whom he grew up, so there are sibling feelings involved, or that she's a lower class woman who lives in a small house in the city, and on and on. It's like he can only love she who is decidedly wrong for him to love!

I enjoyed this story and I'm now inspired to actually go read the original (in translation of ocurse! LOL!) that's been sitting on a shelf to my right as I sit typing this, for several years. The author published this manga some time ago and it has been rereleased to coincide with the opening of “The Tale of Genji: A Japanese Classic Illuminated” at MoMA in NYC. To prepare for writing it, Waki Yamato traveled to the locations where the Heian court had existed and visited museum exhibits to see the kind of clothing they would have worn.

She even was able to don one outfit and have photos taken so she could see how it hung and moved. The effort was worth it, because the artwork is beautiful. My only problem with it was that the drawing style tends to render characters to look very much alike and it was at times confusing and a little harder to follow the story when one new character after another was whisked in and out.

The design of the book was a bit confusing too. This was an ebook, which slid up and down the screen on my pad, not left to right. It began at the front of the book rather than at the rear, as many manga do, yet the page had to be read from right to left, not the western left to right, and this was really confusing to begin with because some of the panels made little sense until I figured out what they had done here! Also page numbers are not visible, and there is no slide bar to navigate the whole book so you can't tell at a glance where you are in it. You can only see page numbers if you tap the screen twice or during the actual swiping form one page to the next.

This was also a bit annoying, especially since, in swiping up to the next page, if you accidentally started too low on the page it would bring-up my iPad's nav bar which then necessitated a tap on the center of the screen to dismiss it. That was also annoying! So not the best design for an ebook, but I'm guessing it was as usual, never designed as a ebook, but as a print manga which was then crammed into ebook format without much thought to practicality. Publishers really need to get on the ball with this and decide what it is they're publishing these days! A book cannot be all things to all formats! That aside, though, I really enjoyed the story and the art, and I commend it as a worthy read.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Catwoman Vol 1 Copycats by Joëlle Jones, Fernando Blanco, Laura Allread, John Kalisz


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a nicely done comic, written and illustrated by Jones in partnership with fellow artist Fernando Blanco, and colorists Laura Allread and John Kalisz. I liked this version of Selina Kyle: perky, confident, realistic, and not overblown into some pneumatic caricature. The writing was sensible and fun, and the artwork excellent.

She would pre-fur to live in relative obscurity at her new scratching-post away from Gotham, but unfortunately Catwoman cannot find the peace she seeks because of a cat nipping at her heels - or rather, several of them. There seems to be a veritable plethora of cat-women here. Why? Is it some sort of Meow-Too movement? Will the real Selina please stand and arch her back?

Making a feline for the answer, the real Catwoman stray-cat-struts her way boldly into the fray to tear down this caterwaul and see what's on the other side of it. I commend this as a worthy read.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Captain Marvel Down by various contributors


Rating: WARTY!

The last, thankfully, of the four Captain marvel graphic novels I foolishly thought to read. All four were DNFs, and as of this one I am off Marvel comics altogether until and unless they offer me a seriously good reason why I should read even one more. DC isn't any better, just FYI. This one at least wasn't set on a dumb space station, but it was still as bad.

In the airless vacuum of space, Captain Marvel apparently has no trouble breathing or at least holding her breath, and no trouble speaking out loud - and being heard by others! Yet in this story, set under water, she needs a breathing apparatus? WTF???

So, underwater and of course she has to be set upon by sharks which as you know are hungry 100% of the time and always for humans. Barf. The artist needs to learn to draw shark teeth.

On that topic, the artwork was, as usual indifferent, that is until chapter two when it went seriously down the crapper. I never used to think I was artist enough to do a graphic novel, but now I'm of the opinion that anyone can do one if this level of "artistry' is acceptable. This was written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Christopher Sebela, and illustrated by Dexter Soy and Filipe Andrade, and none of it was up to snuff.

The plot was a tired, retreaded Bermuda Triangle story with bizarre robots (which were absent on the space station you may recall), now resurrecting themselves and which of course required Captain Marvel to turn all Dwayne Johnson (barf) instead of being Captain Marvel. It sucked royally. Captain Marvel is rendered repeatedly by these female writers into a pair of fists, no brain required. No woman required either, since there is nothing in these stories that would have to be changed if the female were erased and a male character substituted in her stead.

I don't normally do covers because the author typically has nothing to do with the cover unless they self-publish, but in this case I have to ask, if this is set in the ocean, why does the cover show Captain Marvel in space??? This had to be one of the poorest, dumbest comics I have ever partially red, and I refuse to remotely commend it.

It was awful, as were the other three of this quartet I happily didn't pay for, since I had them from my excellent local library for a preview of Captain marvel. Fortunately, I have more faith in the artists who write and otherwise create Marvel movies, otherwise I would have been turned-off the Marvel Cinematic Universe permanently by this trash. If I might borrow the words of Blue October: into the ocean end it all, into the ocean end it all, into the ocean end...all, good bye! Captain Marvel deserves better.


Captain Marvel Rise of Alpha Flight by various contributors


Rating: WARTY!

Well at this point I think I am done reading Marvel graphic novels. They are nowhere near as entertaining as the movies, in fact not well written at all and illustrated accordingly. I was very disappointed. The first problem being that Earth's Mightiest Her" is onfined to commanding a space station. WHY??? It's like having your prize race horse pulling a plow, or your best performing race car working for Uber.

I thought that with these four graphic novels being written, at least in part, by female authors (in this case, Tara Butters, along with Michele Fazekas, with art by Kris Anka), they might have something new and different to offer, but these were no better than the male ones. Again, a grave disappointment.

Despite being set in the future, there isn't a sign of robotics or AI in sight. What happened? Was there a technology apocalypse? Evidently not since these people are on an advanced space station - one shaped like a spinning top. Why people show stations designed like that in books and movies escapes me since there's no explanation offered for why it had to be designed this way!

I almost forgot what this one was about, but then, unfortunately, I remembered. There is an alien workforce on the station, taking charge of waste management. Why? Did we forget how to recycle? We've known that since Apollo days! And if there needs to be waste management, why are aliens from scores of light years away doing it instead of robots or humans on this station in close Earth orbit? Any why did an alien race which is starkly divided (as we later learn) into alphas and slaves, get hired in the first place? Did no one do due diligence? If Marvel had been doing her job as station commander instead of getting her fingers into every pie she could, maybe she would have noted this and prevented all that came later.<.p>

I'm sorry, but stupid characters, dumb-ass plots and indifferent artwork do not a great story make. This is garbage, manage that! I'm done reading Marvel superhero comic books until and unless I feel a huge compulsion to pick up another one.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Mighty Captain Marvel Band of Sisters by various contributors


Rating: WARTY!

My next foray into the world of Captain Marvel should have been a good one since it was both written and drawn by women, but this made no difference to the asinine portrayal of a female character, to her sexploitation in the form of improbable hourglass physiques, open crotch shots and leading with the breasts shots, and to the moronic storyline. What the hell is wrong with these female comic book creators??? If a renaissance in how women are portrayed in graphic novels isn't going to start with them when and where the hell will it start?

Margaret Stohl (lousy writing) and Michele Bandini (sexploitative art) are the guilty parties here. The story is nothing but one long fight - and in space, where a startling number of super heroes are able to breathe unaided. There's no reason a woman shouldn't be able to kick ass, but if all you're going to do with your female super heroes is have them behave exactly like the male super heroes traditionally do, then what the hell is the point in fussing about whether females are represented in comics or on the silver screen???!!! They're just men with tits! And thereby hangs a tale!

The hilarious thing about being in space wasn't the fact that they could breathe as though there is air out there. It was the fact that there was no physics out there. At one point Captain Marvel punches this villainous dude and he shoots off backwards, but she remains in place, unmoving. Apparently one of her super powers is to suspend Newton's third law of motion. That's fine, but what I had a hard time trying to figure out was how Captain Marvel managed to maneuver in space where gravity isn't a fact in free-fall, friction is essentially non-existent, and she has no rocket assistance! Then I figured it out! The answer was revelatory!

There are no page numbers of course - it's a graphic novel after all so why would anyone want to reference a page? But counting each leaf as one page, this scene took place after page nineteen. There was a full page spread on the left and on the lower right, a full breast spread as Captain Marvel's Mammaries took pride of place in the center of the panel. They were huge. Now turn that leaf and six more, and on the left there's another full-page spread, but this time Captain Marvel has no mammaries at all! Do you see? She is really flat chested, and her 'boobs' carry compressed air, which is how she maneuvers in space! The air shoots out through her nipples allowing her to jet around, Clearly that second frame caught her when she was in need of a refill! Now it all made sense to me!

Not.

So hopefully it's needless to say, even if it needles to say, that I was out of there. Captain Marvel DNF'd again. I have two more to go through, and I am hoping - but have little faith - that they will offer me something to marvel at. This one is warty, period.


Captain Marvel Civil War II by various contributors


Rating: WARTY!

Because of the impending advent of Captain Marvel on the silver screen, to which I'm very much looking forward despite its shamefully long-overdue portrayal of a lead female Marvel superhero, I decided to pick up some graphic novels on the subject from the library to read ahead (after a fashion!)! I was sorely disappointed. I got four of them and the first two were complete duds. I'm glad I didn't read the Marvel graphic novels before I saw any of the movies because I would never have gone to see the movies had I imagined they would be as roundly dissatisfying asa the novels.

This one was a series following Captain Marvel's involvement in Civil War from which she was omitted completely in Phase 3 of the Marvel movie universe. Unfortunately it wasn't the first in the series, but that doesn't matter because I'm judging it only on the quality of this particular volume, not the whole series, and the quality sucked. It was poorly written by Ruth Fletcher Gage, Christos Gage, and the average to indifferent art was by Kris Anka, Marco Failla, Thony Silas, and Andy Owens, which might explain the patchy quality.

Apparently Carol Danvers was romantically involved with Colonel Rhodes of Iron Man associations, and he's either dead or severely wounded. it was hard to tell with the poor writing. Captain Marvel - billed as Earth's mightiest hero - is somehow under the thumb of a bunch of asshole guys dictating to her - to Captain Marvel - what to do. Never once did she flare up at these condescending and patronizing jackasses. The story was only this all the way through - and the occasional fight. It was boring as hell, and a waste of my time. I should bill Marvel for my reading time since I took no pleasure in it.


Queen Bee by Chynna Clugston


Rating: WARTY!

Why a female author would want to denigrate women by creating a graphic novel about two high-school girls being outright bitches to one another is an utter mystery to me. I thought there might be some wising-up and resolution here, but the only resolution was to continue this garbage into a second volume. Even the teachers are painted clueless which is an outright insult to teachers. It's stinking trash. My opinion and advice is to treat it as such. I'm done with this author.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

A Story About Cancer With a Happy Ending by India Desjardins, Marianne Ferrer


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a wonderfully well-illustrated (by Ferrer) and written (by Desjardins) short story about a fifteen-year-old girl who is diagnosed with leukemia. I was unable to discover if this is a true story or not, but in a more meta sense, it must be, because there are remarkable recovery stories, and this was one of them.

The story begins with the girl heading into the hospital with her parents to learn the verdict on her latest round of tests, and she is preparing herself to be told when she will die. As she walks the uninviting hallways of the building, she recalls episodes from her life that have taken place since she was first diagnosed.

She remembers her best friend, and her boyfriend, and her parents behavior and reactions. And of course, there's a happy ending! I thought it was beautifully done and gorgeously illustrated, and I commend it as a great story (even if not strictly true). It's honest and positive, and perhaps would make a sweet gift to a young someone who is going through a similar experience.