Showing posts with label super-powers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label super-powers. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Shuri Volume 1 The Search for Black Panther by Nnedi Okorafor, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire


Rating: WARTY!

It's no wonder I'm reading that TV and movies have taken over the SDCC, because comics just aren't cutting it any more, es evidenced by this one, and many others I've read of late.

The only thing I'd previously read by Okorafor, the writer of this graphic novel, was Street Magicks which was a collection of short stories by assorted authors, and hers was one I did not like. So perhaps it's not surprising that in the end, I did not like this comic, with art by Romero, and colors by Bellaire. The story is ostensibly about Shuri, the younger sister of King T'Challa of Wakanda, aka the Black Panther. It started very strongly, but then sort of faded into mediocrity. I hate it when that happens.

When T'Challa, as the Black Panther, was out of commission in the past, his sister Shuri had stepped up and took over the role, but when he disappears this time (flying a warp spacecraft of Shuri's design!), she feels very reluctant to replace him again, and instead of exploring that, or showing her determined efforts to find out what happened to him, the novel goes off in two or three different tangents which have nothing to do with her ambivalence or her brother's disappearance. It's never even explained why T-Challa has to fly this craft. Evidently T'Challa is from the Star Trek world, where he can't delegate and has to go on every single mission himself, which is utterly nonsensical, but it seems to be the way things are done in fiction!

The story just felt way too dissipated and disingenuous to be an engaging one, and the artwork was not appealing to me. There was a huge gulf between the cover art and the occasional full page image of similarly striking quality, and the very angular and rather simplistic artwork in the actual story where Shuri looked nothing like she did in those individual images. I had a hard time reconciling the one with the other because those full-page pictures really showed-up the mediocrity of the regular and very utilitarian work in the panels.

But while the art is a large part of the graphic novel and can help to make or break it, for me the story is always the most important part and if the story sucks, no amount of brilliant art can save it. But unfortunately, here the art wasn't brilliant and the story sadly betrayed the agency of Shuri because it put her constantly in need of others helping her and thius robbed her of any power. It felt like a sellout - like she couldn't handle things on her own with her macho bro out of the picture, so she needed others to come rescue her including the white savor at the end, in the form of Tony Stark. I was disgusted by that.

To me there's a difference between an ensemble story like the Avengers, and an individual story about one of Marvel's characters, and I don't mind if there's some interaction between one super hero and another in an individual story, but it seems like every Marvel comic I've taken a look at recently insists upon dragging into the story the entire Marvel stable. Enough already! If you want to do that, then make it an Avengers (or whatever team) story. Don't proclaim on the front cover that this is a Shuri story and then proceed to portray her as a maiden in distress requiring periodic rescue by other characters. When these other Marvel heroes flock into the story for no apparent reason and worse, serve no useful purpose, then you have to really wonder if the writer knows what she's doing.

The first of these was another female 'goddess' (so we're told). I'd never heard of her, but then I'm not steeped in Wakandan lore. The problem is that this goddess disappears and contributes zero to the story. She could, were she actually a goddess, have helped Shuri on her mission, but no! Why do go that route? So Shuri is sent into space in spiritual form and completely flies by the place where she's supposed to go - her brother's spacecraft.

No reason is offered for that failure and it makes no sense since it's her brother she's focused on, not the two guys she ends up with! She then finds herself battling a ludicrous 'space insect' which is sucking power from Rocket and Groot's spacecraft. What? Why would she go there? No logical reason - except that the writer evidently decided to include those two in the story to serve no purpose whatsoever! Shuri inhabits Groot's body - again for no reason - and starts chanting "I am Shuri" in complete disregard of the fact that such a phrase would be meaningless in Groot's language since the phrase, 'I am Groot' is actually not Groot's way of introducing himself!

The insect follows them back to Wakanda (of course, because why not?!) despite there being no reason at all why it would. It evidently feeds on electricity, and let's not even get started on how such a creature would even evolve in space before the advent of machines using electricity. This insect is evidently a direct rip-off of the Mynocks from Star Wars. Yawn. And since there's no air in space, why does it have wings? Again, no reason at all. It's possible to have fantasy and magic in a story and have it make sense within its own framework, but this author simply doesn't care, so then why should I? This was a poor story, indifferently illustrated and an outright insult to the Shuri character. I dis-commend it.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Birds of Prey Vol 5 Soul crisis by Christy Marx


Rating: WARTY!

After failing the previous volume in October 2016, I don't know why I went into this one. It was on close-out sale at the library, so it was cheap and it helps the library, and I'd forgotten how I disliked the previous one, and there's a movie of the same name due out in 2020 (which would be a great year to release a Vision movie wouldn't it? LOL!) that is about these same characters. It's directed by Cathy Yan, written by Christina Hodson, and stars Margot Robbie and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, as well as being produced by Robbie who originally pitched the idea to the studio, so I'm definitely interested in a strongly female-influenced movie about female super heroes. Anyway, that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it! But I didn't like this graphic novel any better than the previous one.

The story is the usual tired retreading of the Batman world where Assh'le Gul tries to take over the world. Why they cannot find a new villain is a mystery to me, but this constant bringing back of antiquated garbage is tedious. Why Assh'le even wants this has zero rational, and why there has to be a balance of light and dark is unexplained as usual. His opponent is this old chick who periodically renews and returns to a childishly youthful appearance which is a bit warped to say the least, given that she's several thousand years old, purportedly. Maybe her age is messing with her mind and this explains why she speaks in riddles. Who knows? Who cares, honestly?

None of this made any sense at all, not even with the flood of exposition and characters from all parts DC, indifferent artwork (which to give fair due at least didn't obsess on sexualizing every female it came into contact with, although it definitely wandered too far into that territory and without any need to), and a poor story by Christy Marx (who may or may not know that she shares a name if not a spelling, with a porn actress).

So I did learn there's actually a guy in the Birds of Prey which I had thought was all female. There was an intriguing character named Strix, who was described as a "Talon" but about whom nothing was explained. Presumably anyone invested in this world would know who she was, but with all the other stuff being painstakingly and overly detailed, there wasn't a word about her? Bizarre. It turns out that a Talon is a member of the Court of Owls, which explains nothing to me except that I don't thinks it's a court of ordinary wizarding levels. Even when I'm told they're reanimated assassins, it still explains nothing. I guess it's on a strixly need to know basis?

So endless fighting. No one uses guns even though the fate of the world is at stake and this would be a simple way to solve the problem? That tells me these people are morons. They agree to terms of battle with the Assh'le? Sorry, no. Check please, I'm done. It's bad enough that two people are considering screwing over one or more other people within the team. Not for me. The weird-ass thing about the Birds of Prey is the obsession with color, birds, and cattiness. The bird kind of makes sense, except that a canary isn't a raptor, and "Jade Canary" is really just as much a contradiction in terms as Black Canary is! LOL! But I can see Black Alice and Blue Beetle given how obsessed the team is with beating people those colors.

There was this odd 'dream world' story tacked onto the end of the main feature, like they were embarrassed by it and wanted to get rid of it there rather than try to sell it on its own merit. It was really the final straw - literally, and not a paper straw either, but a plastic one that's enough to choke a turtle. I can't commend this at all. Christy Marx needs to take an originality class or step aside and let some new talent have a chance at this.


Jessica Jones Blind Spot by Kelly Thompson, Mattia de Iulis, Marcio Takara, Rachelle Rosenberg


Rating: WORTHY!

I've been almost, but not quite, universally disappointed when I've back-tracked from a movie or TV show to the graphic novel version. The last disappointment was Captain Marvel which I took a look at before I went to see the movie. The movie turned out to be probably my favorite movie of all time. The graphic novels far from it. So you can see how I might honestly fear taking that step this time, but having watched season three (and probably the last - at least on Netflix) of Jessica Jones, and really enjoying the whole show - far more than the other three in the defenders quartet, what can I say? I was jonesing for more (yes, I went there!).

So I pulled this edition out of the library and gave it a chance. I'm glad I did because when I took a look at it, I was pleasantly surprised for once. This was a good solid story - very much a murder mystery (with a few twists along the way) and though I figured out what was going on before it was revealed, which is unusual for me in this kind of story, I really enjoyed reading it, so Kudos to writer Thompson for restoring my faith in comic book writers! Kudos also to artists and colorists Iulis, Takara, and Rosenberg.

It's nice to read a graphic novel which doesn't sexualize the female characters (except for in this one scene, but I decided to let that slide). Jessica Jones needs no sexualization because she is sexy as hell from her can-do attitude, her smarts, her never-say-die approach (which was severely tested here - LOL!), and her sharp wits. All of that was on display this story, and it beats any improbably pneumatic super hero "girl" any time in my book - and evidently in this crew's book too, I'm happy to report. That said I could have done without the ridiculous birthday party garbage added as a short story filler in back of this graphic novel. It sucked and was painfully stupid. And no, it wasn't about Iron Fist.

The main story begins with Jessica finding a corpse in her office, and it turns out to be a woman who came to Jessica for help some time before, and then who disappeared, leaving Jessica with a 'pebble in her shoe' feeling of failure. She resolves - after being arrested for the murder, and then freed by Matt Murdoch - that she will solve the woman's murder as a professional curtesy to try and alleviate her failure in the Dia Sloane case to begin with. Just like in season three of the TV show, Jessica finds herself on the trail of a serial killer, but this one is targeting supers - good or bad, but all female. His first target is Jessica. You'll have to read this to see how that goes.

One thing I don't like about too many Marvel comics I've read recently is the inexplicable need writers seem to feel to drag in every single Marvel name they can find. It's pathetic and I was sorry to see that Thompson failed to skip that. This brings me to a pet beef about Marvel - particularly with New York City. I don't get why every super in the Marvel pantheon lives in New York City. Stan Lee said it was because you write what you know. I don't buy that as an excuse, but given that, the logical outcome is that NYC ought to be the most crime-free city on the entire planet - and clearly it isn't.

Worse than this, Jessica seems to get zero help from any of these supers in solving this case - a case where she herself came close to death. She has visits from Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Misty Knight, Doctor Strange, who is more like my parodied Doctor Deranged in this book, Elsa Bloodstone and others, and not a one of them lifts a finger to help her. What's up with that? So while this came clsoe to failing me, it held up well enough and for long enough that I consider it a rare worthy comic-book read.


Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo


Rating: WARTY!

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

Erratum:
p110 "I don't feel like taking right now " should be 'talking'

This is the first day I can post this because of an embargo, although I see scores of reviews already out there from other reviewers. Oh well! Anyway, Raven is a DC comics character who is almost the same age as the mature author of this YA graphic novel, but given that, and unlike authors unfortunately, comic book heroes never die and are paradoxically constantly reborn. Raven is being rebooted here yet again as a high-school senior and it's a major fail for reasons I shall go into shortly.

This is written by the author of Beautiful Creatures, something which it turns out, isn't a good idea. The story had annoying issues pretty much from the off, such as the whole vudu thing, which doesn't ever work for me. I just can't get with any spirit who can be bribed with spirits.

Plus despite the reboot, the story offered nothing new - only tired and outdated tropes: the new girl in high school, the school bitch, the creepy guy who instantly latches onto her and is entirely inappropriate, her "instadore" response to him for no reason at all, and this despite several warning signs that the guy is a creep. Authors are just so obsessed with adding a "romance" (I use the term loosely) that they're quite evidently willing to do anything, including selling-out and otherwise cheapening their main character, just to get it on.

If you haven't read the comics before this and you missed the pretty decent TNT live-action television series (which is how I came to be interested in this comic), Raven's name is Rachel Roth - and no, we can't get away from DC's tedious alliteration! Sorry! Her new male friend's name is Tommy Torres! Barf! Her backstory is that she's a 'cambion' - the offspring of a demon and a human mother - some might call her the antichrist!

In this new rebirth, she's a teenager who survives an MVA that kills her prospective adoptive mother, and in another trope, robs Raven of her memory. She's taken in by an aunt. Why this didn't happen first - why she was about to be adopted by a stranger instead of moving in with an aunt who is family - remained a mystery, and no explanation for that was forthcoming. Since this is New Orleans, naturally, her 'aunt' is a vudu priest, and her aunt's daughter Max evidently has supernatural powers although there was little evidence of that here.

Max is short for Maxine, and I found myself wondering, "Who named their kids Tommy and Maxine, seventeen years ago?" No one I know of! Thomas was 36th on the list of most popular names in 2002. Maxine wasn't even in the top 100. Clearly the author, admittedly stuck with 'Raven', expended no thought whatsoever into the naming of her other characters, but these things matter, especially in a book about magic and demons! These are not even the original names from Raven's earlier incarnations: they were apparently dreamed up by the author.

On top of this, I have to say that Tommy comes off as a complete creep the way he's written here. He passes her a note in class essentially demanding that she meet him in the gym, and she passively goes along with it. She doesn't even know this guy. She hasn't interacted with him anywhere near enough to get any sort of vibe let alone a good one, much less be full-frontal crushing on him, so this debased Raven for me right from the outset.

It ruined the story, which was supposed to be about Raven trying to figure out who she was. As is so often the case in these YA efforts, the story instead became that of Raven melting like ice cream in the heat emitted by the torrid Tom cat. His grand gesture was to bring a bag full of candy bars to the gym rendezvous, like Raven was some sort of retard who couldn't figure out which she liked best on her own and so desperately needed this Tom foolery? This whole event had the vibe of some sick guy trying to lure kids into his panel van by offering them candy. It was downright creepy.

As if that wasn't bad enough, later we get a guy (who at first I had also thought was Tommy because of the average to below average illustration) asking Maxine for a kiss right in front of Raven in the school hallway, and neither of the two girls thought there was anything wrong with that. This is at the same time as Tommy is trying to 'move in on' Raven like he wanted to own her, yet she's never remotely suspicious about any of his behavior even though she's pretty much paranoid about everything else, and is also going through a time when she's hearing voices? It all felt unnatural and far too forced.

I have to confess, at this point, that it's possible, due to laxity in illustration, that I'm confusing one male character - Tommy - with another - a guy who has the decidedly odd name of 'name' backwards - Eman. The two looked so alike and were so interchangeable that I honestly couldn't tell the difference to begin with. Part of this problem was that the Eman (it's right there in the name how masculine he is: Eman and the Masters of the Wombiverse!) was not even a character in the story worth the mention, so rarely did he appear. It took me some time before I realized that I might have been confusing the two of them until I was about two-thirds the way through the novel, but even if it's true, it didn't make any difference because they were so interchangeable. All it actually meant was that there were two dicks instead of one and that Eman was just as bad as Tommy was.

As the school prom draws closer, one of the two (I guess Eman?) was going on and on about the girls buying roses (which are sent to the boys to ask them to the prom), and putting his arm around Maxine's neck uninvited. Despite being clearly told "No" several times, he keeps on trying to force the issue, offering to give them money or to buy the roses for them. Tommy was definitely a dick at this point, evidently willing to pimp the girls out, convinced that they do protest too much!

This wasn't remotely funny, and a female author - even a YA author - should know better than to do this to a female character - especially when she fails to have that female character react negatively to a clear #MeToo moment. This author is obviously out of touch and is a part of the problem. This is why I don't like YA relationships because they're usually so very poorly done - as badly as this one was. They're sending the wrong message in any era, let alone this one today.

I honestly don't know what the hell the problem is with YA authors; I really don't. They will gasp in horror when they hear of the latest abuse of women even as they're actively writing the next one in their latest book. The whole lot of them, with few exceptions, ought to be shipped-off to sensitivity training for sure. The problem is even spelled-out in this very novel, and still no one gets it. Max has made it clear to Enama that the answer is "No!" yet he will not, we learn, leave her alone. If Tommy had known Raven for years and they were friends, that would be one thing, but he doesn't. As he tells Raven earlier in the story, he's new to the school too. So no. Just no for either of these "relationships."

On top of all of this, we have the tired and antique trope of Raven tripping and pretty much falling into Tommy's arms. I felt almost literally nauseated at that point because it is so pathetic and such a tired and douche move by an author. He of course grabs her hand and almost drags her into the school like she's a child in desperate need of his guidance and protection, but I guess this is how this guy wants 'his woman': passive, compliant, and child-like, so he can own and manipulate her at will. This attitude is rewarded, because Raven falls for him, showing what a moron she is, too. Wrong message to send.

So the worn-out YA trope of the new girl in school, which I don't like because it's been done to death, and the ancient trope of a guy coming into her life to validate and rescue her, I can do without. New guys can be as much a curse on a story (particularly one by a YA author) as they can a blessing. In this case it was quite clearly a curse, unsurprisingly. Tommy was in no way needed for this story, and yet there he was. On top of those inexcusable issues, the problems Raven has with her memory seem curiously random: she can't remember her favorite song or candy bar, but she knows math and cooking?

But on with the story. Oddball things seem to happen around Raven for which she has no explanation. She can hear the thoughts of classmates which doesn't freak her out as much as you might imagine it would. Curiously, wearing earplugs drowns out the voices. I didn't get why that was, since she was clearly not literally hearing them. Maybe the earplugs had a psychological effect? Who knows? This story isn't deep enough to go into things like that, since there's a hot romance to cold brew.

Later, from unwilling interactions with the annoying, trope school bitch, Raven discovers that she can also have a physical impact on other people, like making this same girl trip over or choke on some food after she's said something mean. There's also another voice which she hears from time to time, like it's her conscience or her advisor. "Raven? Can you hear me? It's Trigon.

This ARC copy (which in my case was an ebook) seemed odd to me in that there were red lines around the borders of the pages. I don't know if this is a development thing - part of the creative process which will be removed from the final edition, or if it's actually a part of the finished book. I just found them annoying. Gabriel Picolo's art work was curiously basic, too, like he didn't care enough about this project to make any real effort. I mean it was okay in that it serviced the text, but it was certainly nothing spectacular and as I said, it really made the two guys indistinguishable for the most part.

Why there were references to Dracula, I do not know, but Raven has a copy of Bram Stoker's novel and it has notes inside that are in her handwriting. We're told it was her mother's favorite book, but it had nothing to do with the story, so maybe the author wanted to try and add some sorely needed literary cred? It didn't work. Neither did the inexplicable dichotomy between Raven's failure to remember even simple things - a memory which doesn't seem to be returning - and this blooming and seemingly endless growth of her powers. It was a bit much. Plus it's so amateurishly one dimensional.

Raven seems to be using only the sense of sight, not that of smell, hearing, or touch (though it's touched on, so to speak, in passing). I imagine someone who has lost their memory would be rather more attuned to her senses, drinking in everything, and hoping the experience will trigger locked-up memories, but no, not really. Not here, anyway. Again, the story is too shallow and limited to explore something like that.

Next she's 'astral projecting' - so we're told - in that she was, while sleeping, able to see this sacrificial plea for help her 'aunt' made at the local cemetery. So, another power popping up out of nowhere for no apparent reason. Again, it seemed so random. Whenever she needs a magical power, there it is at her fingertips! And she's an instant expert in using it!

This leads to her aunt declaring that Raven's powers are developing faster than expected, only a short while after this same aunt claims she has no idea what's going on with Raven. How would she? She and Raven's mom were estranged for a long time, but that doesn't explain why the aunt, now seemingly so concerned, apparently had never wanted to get in touch with Raven after her mother had died, to the point where Raven was going to be adopted by someone else. None of this made any sense.

Rather like the movie Carrie, based on the tedious Stephen King "novel" of the same name, this one once again fails to be original, and uses the same trope of a climax at the prom. By this point I was only glad it was over and I didn't have to read any more. There are so many ways this novel could have broken new ground, liberated young super-powered females, and set standards, but instead, it chose to wallow in worn-out and threadbare YA trope with the requisite weak, female main character. It abused the main character every bit as much as those macho male-authored comics which star improbably pneumatic and skin-tight costumed super hero women, and call them girls, yet doing it this way is so much more insidious isn't it? This is why I can't commend this comic at all.


Friday, May 3, 2019

A Dark Inheritance by Chris D'Lacey


Rating: WARTY!

Read rather oddly by Raphael Corkhill, this was another audiobook which started out really well and then Le Stupide set in big time. I had thought I was going to get through it unscathed, but it was not to be. About two-thirds the way in, it went south with the ducks - and normally I like ducks. Some of my best friends are...not ducks, but anyway, to see them in the southbound lane was still rather sad. Duck asses are not the most engaging of sights.

The initial premise was an interesting one and the story changed up periodically so it did not quickly become boring, but the more I listened, the less the story seemed to have a plan to go anywhere. It wasn't until later that I discovered why. The main character was so passive as to be tedious, as was his momma! Worse than this, I discovered by skipping to the end after I'd given up on it, that this novel is part of a series, of which there is zero indication whatsoever on the book cover, so the publisher is outright lying to readers and I will not countenance that.

This explains why this novel never was interested in going anywhere. The author gave up that motivation when he decided to thinly-stretch material sufficient for one book into a trilogy or more. Michael learns nothing - not even how to control his ability, and he never does learn a damned thing about his father because this is not a novel, it's a prologue.

By accident, this semi-orphan with the uninventive name of Michael Malone discovers that he has the ability to not so much change reality as to be able to switch between realities in a multiverse. He can only do this at first when under stress, which is how he does it the first time. His new reality is always very similar to the old one with some minor changes, but the important thing is that he's supposed to be able to switch to one which conforms to some idea he has of the kind of reality he wants to live in.

Michael is seventeen. A kid of that age ought to be at a point in life where he has some self-motivation and some idea of what he wants out of life, along with a few grown-up thoughts here and there, but none of this is true with Michael who acts more like he's thirteen. He has no excitement or curiosity whatsoever about his magical power and shows no inclination at all to investigate it or to try to use it to put himself into a reality where his father is back with the family, and the villains are out of his life. He'd evidently much rather attend his own self-pity party.

These villains arrive suddenly in the form of a young French woman and an older German man by the name of Klimt. We never learn how they latched on to Michael, but apparently it's through his missing father who evidently had some of the same abilities as Michael does. Klimt wants to use Michael for some purpose of his own and holds the carrot of finding Michael's father and the stick of changing Michael's reality into something horrible. These people are from the "Unicorne" society and Michael at one point discovers he's been inducted into it while he was unconscious after an bike accident. Now he has now has a black Unicorne tattoo, which covers a spot in his skin where he has, he's informed, been injected with a microchip for the purpose of tracking him not only in this reality, but in others, too.

Michael shows zero anger at this, zero curiosity about how he can disable the chip, and no amusement at how pathetic it is that this secret society blatantly advertises its existence with this unusual tattoo. This was my first adverse reaction to the story. If this had been a middle grade novel, then I could probably have countenanced this , but for a young adult novel it was pathetic at best. There are ways to write that do not make your characters look limp, or stupid, and your story amateur, but this author is apparently too lazy or unimaginative to think of them, hence his penchant for writing series with uninventive titles. That coupled with the laziness and lack of imagination inherent in writing a series is enough to avoid this author like the plague from now on. I expect a lot better from a university-educated writer. Or maybe that's the problem.

It got worse when the story began to drag with little-to-nothing happening. At one point Michael is hit by a car when riding his bicycle and ends up in a private hospital where the doctor is of course Klimt, and the nurse is this same French girl. On top of this there are two police detectives investigating the car accident, yet they are literally grilling Michael over matters that are totally irrelevant to what happened and neither Michael nor his mother objects to this line of questioning. That immediately said "Dumbasses" to me, and it's where I quit being interested in this purportedly young adult, but more like middle grade or younger story.

I skimmed to the end, and discovered that the book has no resolution whatsoever, and so is merely a prologue to volume two. I don't do prologues, and I do not accept books like this one. I would have rated this negatively for treating readers like mushrooms (keeping them in the dark and feeding them bullshit) if it hadn't already failed me. The book is poorly written and is a rip-off. I dis-recommend it.


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

Thor Ragnarok by Jim McCann


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a Disney-style audiobook based on the Marvel Movie of the same name. While I detest Disney's all-powerful mega-corporation status, and their lack of credit for the work people do on books like this, I do confess I'm a fan of the Marvel movies, and I was curious as to what they had done with this story which was aimed at younger children. In this case, the rewrite of the movie script was credited - to comic book author Jim McCann and the reading to narrator MacLeod Andrews who did a fine job.

It tells the story of Thor's battle against the Ragnarok beast, thinking he's won when he hasn't, of his return to Asgard to discover his mischievous stepbrother Loki has been impersonating Odin, and Odin's death, which permits the imprisoned sister Hela (whom Thor never knew he had) back into the world, and of her fight to take over Asgard and Thor's resistance to it - after he escapes confinement on a planet where the 'owner' captures tough visitors to make them fight one another for entertainment. It features the Hulk, and Valkyrie - an estimable addition to the Marvel pantheon of heroic women.

Apart from being tamed appropriately (and having some portions changed more than seemed necessary) it stuck to the story in the movie so it would make a decent read for young children who for whatever reason are not allowed to see the movie. So I commend this as a worthy listen.


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.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Cowl Vol 2 The Greater Good by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, Rod Reis


Rating: WARTY!

I didn’t like this. It was too much of a rip-off of Watchmen: set in earlier times in the 20th century, a death of a super hero, an investigation. That might have been fine, but the problem was that it did not have the characters that watchmen had. The super heroes here had no life to them. They were boring. If I had read volume 1, I might have found more investment in it, but I doubt it. The story by Higgins and Siegel was dragging, and there was nothing of interest (to me) happening, especially since the super heroes were out on strike(!) and so there was no super hero-ing going on to speak of. It seemed stuck in a rut, and the Reis‘s artwork was nothing special either. I cannot commend it based on this experience and I have no interest in pursuing this series at all.

And what a trite title! Cowl? Could they not have come up with something a bit better and more original?


Friday, January 11, 2019

Despicable Deadpool Bucket List by Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli, Christian Dalla Vecchia, Scott Koblish, Ruth Redmond


Rating: WARTY!

I'm a fan of the movie universes created by Marvel and DC - if you can call that latter a universe - so obviously more of a fan of Marvel than DC, but Wonder Woman is still the most kick-ass female hero so far in those movie worlds. Comic books have never been my thing. Even as a kid I was not a great fan, although I read quite a few. Since I left that phase of my life, they've mostly felt too juvenile for me, although I've read a few recently which transcended that problem. Comic books in general still have some big fish to gut before they can fry them, sexualisation of females being the prime one.

But that wasn't the problem here. The thing here is that there's nothing more asinine than two people locked in a supposed life-or-death struggle and exchanging quips throughout the fight. It's utterly ridiculous, but it's de rigueur in comic book hero fights. It occurs twice on the early pages here, once between Deadpool and Rogue, and once between the merc with a smirk and a villain who was too laughable to take seriously. And whose name didn't even register.

Not that there ever is an actual life-or-death struggle in comic books because no matter how "final" a demise is, the character always comes back whether they're good or evil. It doesn't matter, so the story itself didn't matter when you get right down to it. It's a farce and not even amusing in the best tradition of British farce.

Comic books are a Buddhist's worst nightmare - trapped on the eternally cycling wheel of suffering, and while a good Buddhist would never espouse this, the only solution is to kill off the villain! Don't lock them up in the same prison they already escaped from fifty times before. Slay them! Burn their bodies to ash! Seal the ash in lead, put that urn on a rocket, and fire it into the heart of the sun! End of story. Invent a new and different villain for next time instead of resurrecting the zombie villains of yesteryear. Quit taking the lazy way out.

Frankly, it really is boring to have the same hero battle the same villain over and over again, or if not the villain, then the villain's evil daughter - or some other relative. These writers need a new shtick. The Joker is a joke. The Mandarin is as toxic as Agent Orange. Find fresh villains for goodness sake! It's reached a point now where one universe isn't enough for the comic book writers and they have to bring in other universes/parallel worlds for no other reason than that they can lazily repeat the same stories, but with non-different characters.

By that I mean the character is supposedly different, but not really, and so we get the same stories warmed over with a different color palette. Winsome repeat is all they seem to have. This is why I quit watching The Flash TV show because every season was an exact repeat of the previous season: a "new" villain just like the one from last season - evil and faster than The Flash - and Flash had to defeat him, and always did. It was tedious.

The most annoying thing about this particular volume is one that seems to be common in Marvel's arena: writers cannot produce a comic about a super hero these days that doesn't grandfather-in a host of other heroes and villains from the Marvel stable. So we have Deadpool, who I love in the movies, supposedly going through a bucket list of items, each of which is apparently a cameo appearance of other notables from the Marvel world. Although I confess I did find Stevil Rogers amusing.

Deadpool cannot die. This is a given, so at least they're owning that fact of comic book super hero life up front, but why he thinks he's in a position necessitating a bucket list is a mystery. This was volume 2 and I didn't read volume 1 because celestials forbid that a publisher should actually inform the reader right there on the cover of which volume in what series this is! So maybe it was explained, but let's run with it, ready or not.

So anyway Deadpool starts out fighting Rogue, who he evidently had a thing with in a previous volume. Rather than sit down and talk, they start smashing the hell out of each other. That's a great plan for a relationship isn't it? Never once did she consider bringing along a collar from the Ice Box and snapping that on him to take him down. Nope! They smash-up everything around them and take no responsibility for it. It's like Sokovia never happened. And given comic book penchant for redux up the wazoo, maybe it didn't in this particular universe.

So the story is that a male writer has a female hero take the brute force approach rather than an intellectual or cooperative one. You know, someone did a study of comic-book violence in terms of who perpetrates it, and it turns out that the super heroes are more violent than the super villains. How did that come about? It's reported at https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-11/aaop-gi102218.php. But I digress.

Rogue has apparently acquired many powers, including the power to fly and hover, as well as to recover from what would otherwise be debilitating - if not death-dealing - injuries. Good for her. After Deadpool escapes her, he takes on a complete nonentity and has Marvel guest star The Collector pick him (or her) up and cart them away; then it's Marvel Guest Star Captain America putting in an appearance to star in a redux of the Deadpool origin story where he gets pinned to the cement by a large, shaft of steel. Who says male super heroes aren't sexualized?!

After that we get a visit from Colossus and Kitty Pryde, which frankly sounds like the name of a cat toilet product. I'm sorry, but there really was no story here. It was all one long and tired cliché, and I refuse to commend something as unimaginative as this.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Summit The Price of Power by Amy Chu, Federico Dallochio, Will Rosado, Marika Cresta


Rating: WARTY!

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

I've casually followed this series from its inception and while it started out well, it quickly fell into the routine for such stories, offering nothing spectacular or even new. Put together by a variety of writers and a plethora of artists, the stories have been patchy at best, and the more I read, the less thrilled I became with it.

It's always tempting to read one more in the hope that it will turn around, but whenever I do, it fails to impress, so I think with this particular volume I'm done with the series because it really did not bring anything new, exciting, or even interesting to the table, and the series now has a strong odor of repetitiveness and lack of fresh ideas. On top of that, when you marginalize and diminish your main character, you have to see that this isn't a good thing for your story.

In this volume we had the potential for a strong female character in the form of Val, and with that and a female writer, I really had hoped for a lot more than I got. Val wasn't given anything to do. She was more like a tool or an experiment than a hero, so instead of super-heroics, we got a lot of sitting around and talking, with Val being sent out a couple of times like a soldier with new body armor to see what would happen if she got shot. I saw no entertainment value in that, and I can't recommend this as a worthy read.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Phase Two by Chris Wyatt


Rating: WORTHY!

This is an audio retelling of the wildly successful movie Guardians of the Galaxy that came out in 2014. Read pretty decently by Chris Patton, it was pretty much a word-for word copy of the script, with some minimal description tossed in, but unlike the movie, it isn't even PG-13 rating - it's more like a Disney animated film rating, so all questionable comments and references are omitted or re-worded. Other than that it's a pleasant listen for anyone interested in the Marvel universe.

I'm not sure there's anyone out there who is even moderately media-aware who doesn't have an idea what this movie was about, but if there is, then briefly, the story is an origin story of the formation of the Guardians, from a rag-tag band of misfits, disaffected revenge seekers, con-artists and thieves, into a genuine family of caring team-mates who don't actually save the galaxy (that comes in volume two!) but who do save a planet and defeat a brutal psychopath known as Ronan the Accuser.

The story starts with the young Peter Quill, so terrified by his mother's impending death that he won't hold her hand. Instead he runs out of the hospital only to be 'beamed up' into a space craft. The story then resumes twenty years later with that same Peter, now a mature (or maybe not) man who calls himself Star Lord, and who is on a mission to recover an artifact, which he tries to sell outside of the outlaw group who captured him all those years ago. His mission fails.

Oh, he gets the artifact, but he's captured when he tries to offload it, and he's tossed into a brutal space prison with three other villains, two of whom are the bounty-hunting team of Rocket and Groot. Groot is an alien species superficially resembling a tree, but who has legs and arms and the ability to speak and regenerate, although all he ever says is "I am Groot" in various tones which represent what he really means. Rocket, created by Marvel writers based on an old Beatles song (Rocky Raccoon) is a genetically-modified talking raccoon, whose experimental test designation was 'Subject: 89P13'. Now he's highly inventive, agile, scheming, and dangerous.

The third party is Gamora, another alien who was adopted by super villain (or is he?!) Thanos, whose self-appointed mission is to wipe out a random half of the universe in order to provide better living conditions for the other half. He adopted Gamora after killing her parents, and she became his trained assassin, but she's now decided to betray him to bring his murderous scheme to a halt.

These four meet the final member of their team in the prison. He's Drax 'the destroyer' (although he looks nothing like a navy ship...) who has a personal vendetta against Thanos and Ronan because they killed his family and he wants to kill Gamora, but Peter talks him out of it and the five of them join up to sell this artifact that Peter recovered, which turns out to be one of the six Infinity Stones which have been in existence from the start of the universe. Thanos wants them to complete his mission, Ronan steals it to pursue his own mission, and the Guardians are the only people who can stop him!

No one ever explained, neither in the movie nor in this novelization, why it is that Thanos isn't smart enough to know that with all six Infinity Stones, he can remake the universe however he wants without killing anyone! I guess he doesn't have the stones.... It's a pity one of these stones wasn't called the Smart Stone - with the ability to make people think critically and rationally.

So, fun stuff and a lot of laughs. The audio doesn't have the same magnetism and charisma of the movie, but it's a decent substitute and I commend it.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Silk Sinister by Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee, Veronica Fish, Tana Ford, Ian Herring


Rating: WARTY!

Okay, one more and then I'm done with this disaster! This was one more in a trilogy of Silk graphic novels I had from the library and they were universally disappointing.

The story was pathetic and the plot non-existent, but talking of sinister, as in left-handed, the artwork was even worse. It had so many hands all over it that it was itself all over the place from simplistic, but passable art to downright juvenile efforts that a child might have drawn - or at least that you expect to see in children's books, not graphic novels at this level. I don't consider myself to be an artist by any means, but having seen this work I now believe I could do a graphic novel if I chose to and not feel inferior - not to these artists anyway! For someone as critical of me as I am, that's saying something.

In the extra pages at the back, which feature variant covers and which I normally have little time for because they're so self-indulgent, I was arrested by a portrait done by Woo Dae Shim. It was listed as a 'hip-hop variant' although I didn't get the connection, but it was nothing short of amazing and if that had been the art standard for the entire graphic novel it would have been awesome even as the lackluster writing and the sad plot let it down. And you have to wonder about a comic book that has people work on it by the name of Fish and Herring. Do they work for scale? Just asking!

In this story Silk is working for villain Black Cat, but you know she really isn't, so no surprises there. The thing is that Black Cat really isn't evil here, so no surprises there, either. Of course petty Peter Parker has to poke his prying proboscis into her affairs yet again despite her telling him to leave her alone - and more than once. So, uninventive, unoriginal, and creepy in parts: nothing to see here folks. I DNF'd it and didn't look back. It's more sick than silk and not in a good way.


Silk The Clone Conspiracy by Robbie Thompson, Irene Strychalski, Tana Ford, Ian Herring


Rating: WARTY!

Given what a huge clone Silk is of Spider-Man and all the other spider 'heroes' Marvel has cloned, is this title an in-joke at Marvel?

I've pretty much said all I had to about this trilogy of graphic novels written by Thompson, illustrated by Strychalski and Ford, and colored by a Herring. This particular novel was about people being cloned, so there's nothing new there. I couldn't figure out why it was an issue. I mean I can see how it can be an issue in real life, but I'm talking about why it was so in this comic book world, because the only one whose story was gone into was J Jerk Jackass Jamison, and he was thrilled to have his wife and kid back.

I readily admit that I was not paying sufficient attention because I was bored with the comic, so maybe I missed something, but I finished the comic without feeling like I missed nothing but he time it took me to page through it. It wasn't inventive, fresh or new and it offered nothing to excite the senses. I saw this as another good reason why this series was cancelled. The only Clone Conspiracy here is the cloning of Marvel heroes instead of inventing new ones, and the regurgitating of tired Marvel villains instead of creating new ones.

Silk is Spider-man with tits, period (that too, which never seems to affect female super heroes does it?!), and even then the real Spider-Man is stalking her all over the place. If you're going to give a series to a female hero, then for goodness sake let her have her own series and don't keep pointing out how weak she is by showing how she has to be shored-up, demeaned, and validated by peter parking or the Spastic Four.

And finally, if you're going to draw an Asian, make her look Asian! I have no idea if Silk, aka Cindy Moon, actually is Asian, and the reason for it is that she looks so westernized that the pretense that she's in some ethnic group other than your standard comic book Caucasian super hero, is farcical. The Chinese are a sixth of the Earth's population! The Indians are another sixth. Non-whites are the overwhelming majority of Earth's population! Deal with it Marvel (and DC)!

I do not recommend this series at all. And there's still one more volume to go!


Silk, Volume 0: The Life and Times of Cindy Moon by Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee, Annapaola Martello, Tana Ford, Ian Herring


Rating: WARTY!

This was a classic example of Marvel's cluelessness in comic books. While building a powerhouse of a movie industry, in their comic books, once a sterling example of inventiveness and original story-telling, they have faltered and slipped, and tripped and fallen. In my opinion, the reason for this is simple, and it's the same problem DC has: that inventiveness and original story-telling has gone. Instead we get the same villains over and over and endlessly over again, matched up against a different super hero to the one they originally danced with, like this is somehow going to make everything new and fresh. No, it really isn't. It doesn't help at all that none of these collections have anything on them to identify in which order they should be read.

Worse, Marvel is introducing ridiculous new characters with no originality whatsoever. Instead of coming up with brand new super heroes, they present clones of existing ones which are warmed over cookie-cutter non-heroes and which offer nothing for the reader that hasn't been done to death already.

Did Marvel's universe really need yet another spider character to add to the half-dozen spider characters already out there? No! Yet regardless, Marvel brings us Silk, which I am happy to report has been cancelled, and deservedly so because it's a classic and shameful example of Marvel's increasingly rampant self-cannibalization. The blurb tells us that writer Thompson "fills this new story with his unique blend of antics and feels" No. He doesn't. He gives us the same warmed-over garbage.

Here's how clueless Marvel is: Marvel's senior vice president of print, sales, and marketing, David Gabriel reportedly said, "We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against." Let's not get into his own inability to create intelligent dialog as judged by that mangled sentence, and note that he also said, "That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked." There's a reason for that: the characters are not really new, David, and the stories sure as hell are not! Then he lied: "And let me be clear, our new heroes are not going anywhere!" - except into the trash can as this series has proven!

New? No! Exciting? No! Ideas? No! Silk is Spider-Man with tits and that's all she is. How is she different from Lady-Spider...or SP//dr...or Spider-Girl...or Spider-Girl of Earth-11...or Spider-Gwen...or Spider-Ma'am...or Spider-Woman...or the Jessica Drew's Black Widow spider character? The short answer is that she isn't. So she lived in a bunker for ten years. Was it ten? Who knows! It's hard to say with comic books.

She was bitten by the same Spider that bit Peter Parker. Wait, wasn't he bitten in August 1962? That would put Cindy Moon, aka Silk, in her sixties, but instead, the decade-in-a-bunker seems to have rejuvenated her so she looks like a seventeen year old! But wait, if she's seventeen now, that would have made her seven when she was bitten! How then could she had been on the school field trip with Peter Parker who was in high school? Or is she twenty-seven now? See what I mean? It's an insanely confused world and it contributes nothing to original story-telling or to original super-heroics.

As if that wasn't bad enough, instead of getting a female writer to write this, we get the usual white male writing an ethnic female and IT. DOESN'T. WORK. MARVEL! That's not to say that no white guy can ever write about women of color or vice-versa, it's just to say that having a house rule (which is the only explanation I can think of that fits the facts) that their comics are almost exclusively written by white nerds is a recipe for disaster - a disaster that Marvel is reaping with the failure of titles like this one.

Getting the same old guys to write the stories means we get the same old stories. Getting new writers with new perspectives and original ideas means better stories - we would hope. It would certainly mean more original stories. You can't judge by looks admittedly, but Robbie Thompson, the writer here, I have to say looks exactly like a stereotypical comic book geek! At least the artists were women so that helped avoid hyper-sexualized female characters. Instead we just got sexualized ones.

And the story was tired. We got old villains in this series (yes, Doc Ock, I'm looking at you, when I'm not looking at Black Cat), and Peter Parker poking his peck of pickled perspectives in every few pages which stunk of stalking. Can you not let the girl be? Oh, and how original, new and exciting this is: it's set in New York City! Where all the other Marvel heroes are.

I have to ask, seriously, how can there possibly be any crime at all in NYC, home of Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, the Fantastic Four, Hellcat, Sam Wilson, She-Hulk, Captain America, Wasp, Cloak and Dagger, Misty Knight, Moon Knight, Hawkeye, Silk, Punisher, Daredevil, Iron Fist (I'm surprised Deadpool hasn't weighed in on that name), Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, et al? Even Howard the Quack lives there. It has more super heroes than ordinary people. There can be no hope for a villain there. Why are all the villains not going to Miami or Chicago where there are no super heroes whatsoever?

What's that I hear? It sounds like crickets, Marvel. Now there's an idea! Cricket Girl! She lives in Tucson and is an Eskimo woman. Her Nemesis is Termite Tomboy and she hails from South Africa. No, wait, a cricket versus eusocial insect story was already done in A Bug's Life....

I can't recommend an unoriginal story like this. Unfortunately, I got three of these volumes from the library so I still have two more to plow through. Wish me luck!


Monday, October 1, 2018

She-Hulk. Vol. 1, Deconstructed by Mariko Tamaki, Nico Leon, Dalibor Talajić, Matt Milla, Andrew Crossley


Rating: WORTHY!

This is where my understandably one-sided love affair with Mariko Tamaki began! She wrote this and it was illustrated well by Nico Leon and Dalibor Talajić, and colored beautifully by Matt Milla and Andrew Crossley. This comic book was a worthy read. She-Hulk was problematical and a potential disaster when she was first conceived, apparently by Stan Lee during the TV run of The Hulk, so copyright would stay with Marvel and not with some TV production company in case they decided they wanted a female version!).

Lawyer Jennifer Walters (what is it with Marvel and super heroes who are lawyers?!) became a rather more subdued version of the original Hulk when she had a blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner (who was the original Hulk of course). By subdued, the effect in her is to become stronger and to turn green, but to retain her own personality and smarts, something which the Hulk isn't known for.

Despite it being named volume 1 (I wish they would not do that), this is not the original run of the comic; this version is well-along in the overall life of She-Hulk - post Civil War 2. With Bruce dead, his cousin trying to cope with that and find her place in the world. Her own original comic ran only for two years at the start of the eighties and after that she was reduced to guest appearances in other comics until more recently. It's nice to see her revived, and with a female writer who happens to be one I've grown fond of lately.

She-Hulk took a few pages out of Deadpool's book in one of her later incarnations, breaking the fourth wall, and mimicking cultural icons such as Demi Moore's bare-bodied, pregnant-and-in-the-magazine-cover pose. She-Hulk wasn't pregnant but held a beach-ball strategically! In this volume though, she's well-behaved and quite subdued. That doesn't mean it's all Jennifer all the time, by any means. The comic told an intelligent and believable story and I enjoyed it. I commend this one and will look for more of this series.