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

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Rating: WORTHY!

This was a graphic novel, apparently based on personal experience, about a twelve-year old girl going through typical 12-year-old experiences, except that in this case, she becomes fascinated by the so-called sport of roller derby.

Main character Astrid has been best friends with Nicole for what seems like forever, but comes the summer of their twelfth year, and they each want different things. Nicole wants to go to Ballet camp. Astrid, overwhelmed by her first trip to a roller derby, wants to go to derby camp. Her blithe assumption that Nicole will fall in with her plans means Astrid is in for a rude and unnerving awakening.

I'm not a fan of so-called sports that encourage violence and conflict, but this story was amusing enough that even while I disapprove of the sport, I'm willing to consider this graphic novel a worthy read. Astrid has to learn to stand on her own two feet with Nicole gone, and that's not easy on skates! Plus, she lies to her mother about the fact that Nicole isn't going to derby camp with her. The derby work is hard and Astrid is brand new to it, so it's a long learning curve for her, but eventually she picks up the rhythms and skills, and she finds her place.

The story, the second I have liked by this author, had humor and heart, and the art was pretty decent, so I consider this a worthy read.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Raven the Irate Princess Book 1 or something by Jeremy Whitley, Rose Higgins, Ted Brandt

Rating: WARTY!

Normally I would steer clear of a book, even a graphic novel, with a title like this, but I had come to this via its predecessor, the Princeless graphic stories about a feisty young princess whose self-appointed mission is to rescue all of her sisters who are distributed in various towers throughout the kingdom, the aim of which is to inspire princes to come and rescue them so the king can get them married off. I've given up on this entire series now not so much because it was so bad, although the stories were becoming rather monotonous, but because it was impossible to figure out in which order they should be read and my normally useful local library had the titling so messed up that it didn't help!

Take this one for example: it's listed as Book 1 Captain Raven and the All-Girl Pirate Crew, but it's not the first in the Raven story. You have to read the Princeless series to get her backstory. For me this was the biggest problem with this - that the arrangement of these volumes felt like a disorderly mess. But this one would do, I guess if you were only interested in reading the Raven stories. I just think the author and publisher could have done better. But why would they care?

In this story, Raven has a ship already (from a story prior to book one - go figure!), and now needs a crew, so she sets off into town to hire one, and promptly gets robbed by another woman. After a chase that goes on a bit too long, she ends up running into the cook from her father's pirate ship - when he was the pirate king and before her brothers screwed her over. She ends up predictably hiring the woman who robbed her and then a bunch of other women because she doesn't like the available men. That's about it.

It was entertaining as far as it went, but as I said in my review of the other volume I read along with this, it wasn't entertaining enough to make me want to read any more beyond this. This one, like the other one, barely enters into worthy read territory, and I found I was growing somewhat bored with this series as I was with the companion series: Princeless. I decided to quit while I was ahead and give this a negative and the other a positive to indicate mixed feelings! I won't be reading any more in either series.

Princeless Raven the Pirate Princess by Jeremy Whitley, Rose Higgins, Ted Brandt

Rating: WORTHY!

Normally I would steer clear of a book, even a graphic novel, with a title like this, but I had come to this via its predecessor, the Princeless graphic stories about a feisty young princess whose self-appointed mission is to rescue all of her sisters who are distributed in various towers throughout the kingdom, the aim of which is to inspire princes to come and rescue them so the king can get them married off. I've given up on this entire series now not so much because it was so bad, although the stories were becoming rather monotonous, but because it was impossible to figure out in which order they should be read.

Take this one for example: it's listed as 'Book 2 Free Women', but it's not the second in the pirate Princess series. It's the first. I don't think it's even the second in the Princeless series, although at this point I'm not sure. For me this was the biggest problem with this - that the arrangement of these volumes is a total disorderly mess. I can't find a definitive listing, although I admit I did not search exhaustively because I was so tired of looking by then and my local library did not help because there was no consistent naming strategy for the volumes! Thanks librarians!

Anyway this volume, wherever it comes, deals with Raven and her crew of women setting sail to go after Raven's evil brothers. I read this a while back and only just realized I never reviewed it, so while I did want to say I found it a worthy read, it only just fell into that category, and my review will be a bit vague since I recall only the gist of it. Higgins and Brandt did the heavy lifting with the art which was pretty decent, while Whitley did a bit with the writing.

Raven has to deal with all manner of villains on this island they arrive at, and that's pretty much it! I do recall it was entertaining, but I started running into the law of diminishing returns, which is inevitable in any series, and which is why I tend not to read very many of them. It's rare for one to truly engage me because there's typically too much sameness, too much repetitiveness, and very little innovation once a writer has locked their self into a series. This is why I'll never write one! While this was okay, I read this and a companion volume, but didn't feel any urge to continue reading because it wasn't that great!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Princeless Vol 6 Make Yourself by Jeremy Whitley, Emily Martin, Brett Grunig

Rating: WORTHY!

This was billed as 'Part Two' and I was unaware of there being a part one. This is when I decided to quit reading this series because it's far too hard to try and keep track of which volume comes where. If there are two parts, isn't that two separate volumes? I mean all of this is the same story, so it's completely arbitrary as to where it's split! Just list them numerically in the order they should be read, and don't inexplicably branch off into a completely separate story that retains the same name. It's not rocket science.

Why publishers have such an issue with issues is beyond me. Do they not want people to have a good reading experience? It would be perfectly simple to label these quite clearly an unambiguously according to the order in which they should be read - but that would actually benefit people so why in the name of all that righteous would Big Publishing™ ever do such a thing? They're not interested in helping people. They're interested in profiting and that's it.

So this will be the last of this series I read, but it was not because this particular (half-)volume was a bad one. It was entertaining enough, but as I mentioned in a previous review, the sameness doesn't go away, and by this point this showing-up in an obscure local to rescue a sister, running into problems, then emerging victorious has become a ritual. It's not thatentertaining! It's certainly not original at this point. Plus for the first time I did not like the 'sister' (in this case endlessly-arguing twins) being rescued. So while I consider this a worthy read, I do not have the patience or time to continue with this when so much else begs to be read. Again writing was by Whitley, and art by Martin and Grunig.

Princeless Vol 4 Be Yourself by Jeremy Whitley, Emily Martin, Brett Grunig

Rating: WORTHY!

So on goes the story. These will be my last two of the Princeless/Pirate Queen mess of comics, not least because it's far too hard to keep track of what order one should read them in, but more importantly, this is a case of diminishing returns. The more of these that I read, the less entertained that I am, sorry to report.

Not that these last two were unentertaining by any means, but this is a problem with series. They're really the same story told over again with a different tweak each time, and that's not that entertaining to me. At some point I lose interest. This is why I shall never write a series myself. The last thing I need is to bore myself with my own writing!

So this episode it's off to rescue the middle sister of the Ashe family, Angoisse. Her sister Adrienne and her indefatigable colleague Bedelia plunge fearlessly into the swamp, lose their dragon, and confront zombies and a vampire who is intent upon capturing Adrienne and returning her to her royally-pissed King of a father for a reward.

As usual there are surprises awaiting Adrienne, and as usual she wins out. But her sister isn't the same as when Adrienne last knew her. Now if only they can beat the dread Grimorax, maybe they'll have a chance! This was amusing, and a little bit different, which is what kept me entertained, but even in this I could feel the same-ness creeping in. However, it is most definitely a worthy read: decent script by Whitley, and great art by Martin and Grunig

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Princeless Book 2 Get Over Yourself by Jeremy Whitley, Emily Martin, Kelly Lawrence

Rating: WORTHY!

I came across these books purely by accident in my local library and pretty much have started falling in love. The writing (by Whitley) is good and amusing, and M-ART-in takes fine care of the ART. Colors by Lawrence are also excellent. Naturally when you're relying on your local library to get this new stuff (new to me anyway) you can't always be sure you get it in the right order - or read it in that order either, for that matter.

This is book 2, and I should have read it after the other volume I got, so that's on me. What's not on me though is the confusion by the author starting a series within a series. Some of the books are subtitled 'Raven the Pirate Princess', and those are intermingled in the library listing, so it was a real pain to sort out not only in what order these should be read, but also which were of one series and which of another. Life ought to be a lot simpler than this. No wonder people end-up takine automatic weapons into crowds when life is like this - and this sure as hell isn't the most egregious example of life's frustrations; it's just one of many minor ones, but many a mickle maks a muckle dontcha know?

That pet frustration aside, I really enjoyed this volume in which Adrienne and Bedelia take their dragon Sparky on a road-trip (road? Air-trip) in search of Angelica, who ain't so angelic, but who is Adrienne's sister, and who bills herself as fantasy land's most beautiful.

Unfortuantely, it appears that Angelica is in no need of rescue and probably would prefer to be left alone with her swelling crowd of admirers, but that's not the only problem since the King has hired a group of poseurs, aka knights(? Maybe?) to track down and kill the knight he believes is responsible for Adrienne's death. The problem is that the night who "killed" Adrienne is actually Adrienne herself, as part of a dastardly escape plan. The plot quickens. Loved it. Commend it. Haven't had this much fun since Bad Machinery and Rat Queens which is hardly surprising since this appears to be a cross between both those series. Now I'm on my own quest to find more.

Princeless The Pirate Princess Girls Who Fight Boys by Jeremy Whitley, Rosy Higgins, Ted Brandt

Rating: WORTHY!

Written by Whitley, with art by Higgins and Brandt, this began as a Rapunzel rip-off about the rescuing of a purported princess (she'd deny it) from a tower. Her hair, unfortunately, was nowhere near long enough, but the escape was affected anyway, and they were on their merry way. The 'pirate princess' was desperate to take over the nearest pirate ship, especially since it was being run by her brother (although he was not on board). I was sorry one of the trio dropped out and spent the rest of this volume napping, but that's dwarves for you.

Most fun sentence: "We kept company for a few moments before she continued eastward while I ate and watered my horse." I've heard the phrase "I could eat a horse," but the way this was worded, she actually did eat a horse. And then watered it. That takes some doing....

Loved it though. A fun romp. Commend it. Looking for more.

Hellcat Careless Whiskers by Kate Leth, Brittney L Williams, Rachelle Rosenberg

Rating: WARTY!

I have to say of this that I found the title far more entertaining than the content. I'm sorry to have to say that, but there it is. The story didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, and there really wasn't much happening. This is the only one about this character that I've read and it isn't the first one in the series, so maybe it loses something for that, but to me it wasn't appealing at all. I liked the Hellcat played by Rachael Taylor in the Netflix series Jessica Jones far more than ever I liked this one, who was rather lacking in substance.

That was the entire problem: it was nothing but a ping-pong game between Hellcat and her rival who was chewing up the scenery and not in any entertaining fashion at that. Hellcat's followers were being subsumed by her rival (whose name I completely forget) and as soon as hellcat would manage to liberate one, another would get sucked in due to some magical ability inherent in her rival's claws. I actually was liking her rival better than the hero quite frankly, but that's a relative liking. Nothing of interest was happening, and overall I didn't like this at all or find it entertaining or engaging. I can't commend it. At least I can say it got a negative OC rating (i.e. there were no open crotch shots in this comic) - but then it was a female vehicle so that didn't surprise me).

Zatanna's Search by arrested-adolescence writers and artists

Rating: WARTY!

Zatanna the female magician starts out right on the front cover in fishnet hose, so though it's technically not an open crotch shot, I didn't need to go any further into this comic book to fail it. The crotch shot is completely obviated by the cover itself. FAIL. Her legs are entirely out of proportion to the rest of her body as well. Just sayin'. Art or porn?

Spider-Gwen Radioactive apparently written by adolescents

Rating: WARTY!

I was impressed by Spider-Gwen in the hugely successful animated move Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which made over four times its budget and will, so I've read, spawn at least two sequels/spin-offs. This comic unfortunately, is a FAIL because the OC rating for this graphic novel was 46. That means that it took only until page 46 for a gratuitous open crotch shot, which admittedly is better than many I've looked at recently, but still unacceptable. The art crew? Unsurprisingly, it was almost entirely male.

Cable and X-Force Onslaught Rising by various adolescents

Rating: WARTY!

This comic gets an OC rating of 19. That's the page number I quit reading at because that's where the first illustration of a female appeared with her legs wide open for no reason at all except that the artists of this trash are quite evidently perennially adolescents. Open Crotch on page 19 says it all.

Almost as bad was the artwork in general, which was so scratchy it made me itch - for less. There was nothing attractive, elegant, or anything about it at all. It had bared, gnashing teeth and fighting on every other page. The only chops it had were drooling, and it's not remotely entertaining at all.

X-Force a Force to be Reckoned With by assorted delayed-adolescence writers and artists

Rating: WARTY!

This has an OC rating of 26 - that is, it took only until page 26 for a female to be portrayed with her legs wide open to the viewer. Hilariously, the one thing the woman is saying in that same panel is "Never!". Any OC (open crotch) rating is a fail for comic book and graphic novels, and the lower the number, the greater the failure. This book is a fail regardless of whetever else it thinks it has to offer.

The entire creative cast for this book was evidently high testosterone, adolescent males so this surprises me not a whit, but the interesting thing is that if this was rated on male open crotch shots instead of female, it would have an even higher rating of 1, meaning the very first page had an open crotch shot of a male. That's the lowest rating you can get nrxt to a zero for such an image on the cover. In 1998, a study at the University of Central Florida of 33 video games found that half of them depicted violence against women or sexually-objectified them. Do we really want comics going down that stinking, testosterone-laced alley? No wonder female comic book buyers are in the minority.

So the novel is a fail, but I also have to say that the drawing was poor for my taste. It was too 'scratchy' - like if you load an image into a computer art app and sharpen it up too much? That's what the artwork looked like in this book. I didn't like it. I didn't like the characters, either, especially not cable, and the story was boring. These characters were fighting every other page. What the hell is wrong with these morons who write these books? Do they think endless fighting equals a story? More to the point, what the hell is wrong with the morons who read trash like this? WARTY, period.

Domino Killer instinct by Gail Simone, David Baldeón, Michael Shelfer, Jesus Aburton

Rating: WARTY!

Given that, apart from the writer (Simone) who apparently has little influence or simply doesn't care, this is entirely the work of evidently adolescent males (drawn by Baldeón and Shelfer, colored by Aburton), this graphic novel didn't surprise me at all to see that its rating in my new system was a very poor 22 (the lower the number the worse the comic book). What this means is that the book only made it to page 22 before it showed a female character (in this case the main one, and in her underwear) in an image with her leg legs wide open facing the viewer. It took her fewer pages than that to get her into the frilly underwear she apparently favors when working.

From now on regardless of the story, any graphic novel/comic book that gratuitously shows that kind of an image (and I can't off-hand think of an instance where it wouldn't be gratuitous), it's an immediate WARTY rating on my blog. The story wasn't that great anyway. I skimmed through it from p22 onward and it was the same kind of crap we normally get in Marvel comics - and probably in DC comics too. It's supposed to be about the main character Domino, but every step of the way, every known character in the entire Marvel universe puts in an appearance to help the poor helpless girl out, so the story really isn't about her at all when you get right down to it, it's about how many Marvel characters we can fit into her story and how helpless, disempowered, and devalued can we make her on the way through it.

I expected better from a female writer. I got exactly what I expected from a male art crew. In short, this graphic novel sucked.

Suee and the Shadow by Ginger Ly, Molly Park

Rating: WORTHY!

Written by Ly and illustrated by Park, this book was a regular-sized comic book, but with hard covers and it was quite a fat tome to boot. I really enjoyed it. Both the writing and the artwork were excellent. Suee is a strange, but engaging and rather fearless child, unless you count her fear of making friends. Because she's at a new school and so reticent about socializing, she begins rationalizing her behavior by telling herself that she doesn't need friends and anyway these people (pretty much all other humans) are not right for her.

That's not really her problem though. She's a very independent young woman and doesn't pine for the company of others. No, her problem latches onto her right after she visits this one rather scrappy and dark room in the school, and she hears someone calling in there and ventures inside. From that point on, it seems, she finds herself the host of a rather different shadow from the one she normally sports in bright light. This shadow has a will and agency of its own and seems to appear most-readily when she's annoyed.

After some negotiation, the two seem to get along, but there's something not right, not only with the weird shadow, but with other kids in the school - particularly the ones who are bullied. After a while they seem to turn into rather zombie-like people. Not the brain-eating variety, but the shambling, lifeless variety. And like Damien Mocata in Dennis Wheatley's The Devil Rides Out, they have no shadow.

At first, Suee pretends she has no interest in these events, but as her own shadow bothers her more and more, she finally snaps and determines that she will figure out what's going on here and fix it! Unless her shadow companion takes her over first, just like other children seem to become taken. By this time she has two recruits who will help her and the three of them eventually do overcome these problems and in doing so learn something about bullying and friendship. I loved this story - particularly the shadow - both the drawing of it and the repartee - and I fully commend this graphic novel as a worthy read.

America Fast and Fuertona by Gabby Rivera and assorted artists

Rating: WARTY!

Presumably because the writer is Latinx, there's the occasional Spanish phrase or word in here which isn't translated, and that's the way it should be, because the contest gives it all you need. Fuertona though, means forceful or strong, in case you wondered. I got this because I thought it was about a female Captain America and in a sense it is, because I understand from some back-reading that America Chavez - in that endless asinine merry-go-round of every Marvel hero subbing for every other Marvel hero, She does don his mantle at some point, but that didn't happen here.

Given the strong Latin influence, I don't get why she's American. Why not simply make her Mexican or have her hail from some South American country? It made no sense to me, but that's the way comic books all-too-often are. She has to be an American hero because god forbid we should ever have a hero come from some other country! And if we did, the insular American media consumers would have about the same interest in this as they did in the MIB International movie!

So anyway, she's attending a school for super heroes, which again made no sense, especially since she was always sneaking off to do her heroics without so much as a by-your-achieve. To be fair, in this case, she does have some cause since the new head of the school is a villain - they went out of their way to make that painfully obvious. I'm surprised they didn't name her Adolfa.

What bothered me wasn't so much the story which was pretty much par-for-the-course for a comic book, but that the artists, several of whom were female, went out of their way to portray America and the chief spandexed villain ("Exterminatrix" seriously?) in as tightly-clad, bare-skinned, and pneumatic a manner as inhumanly possible. That's a fail for me. So was this comic book which gets a wart-rating of five per square inch. What's the point in introducing a diversity of super heroes if all you're going to do with them is make them exact clones of all the previous heroes??? Look for my up-coming OC rating for graphic novels starring female characters!

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Rating: WORTHY!

This is a sequel to Zita the Spacegirl which I reviewed recently and loved. This one is equally loveable. Zita is irrepressible. I didn't know, when I read the first one, that Zita was actually invented by a fellow college student of the author's named Anna, who would go on to marry him. Paradoxically, Zita was older when she was first conceived than she is now, and the art was much more basic. She then transmogrified into an adventurer a bit like, I guess, a space-faring version of Jacques Tardi's Adèle Blanc-Sec. I'm not sure I would have liked her like that, because I much prefer Zita in the incarnation I first came to know her, which is this early middle-grade femme de feisty.

In this adventure, Zita, who we left thinking she had saved her friend and dispatched him home safely in the previous volume, is brought to trial in a kangaroo court which disappointingly isn't held by kangaroos, but by an alien villain and his hench-robots. His purpose is to recruit people by foul means (fair isn't an option with this guy) and set them to work in his mine in search of a crystal. He doesn't care that removing it will collapse the asteroid which bears the mine, and kill the indigenous life forms which look like lumps of coal with startling white eyes. Why a mined-out asteroid would collapse remains a bit of a mystery, but I didn't let that bother me! This is more sci-fantasy than sci-fi!

Zita meets her usual assortment of oddball alien friends - but even more-so in this outing, it seems - and she attempts to escape, but even when freedom is within her grasp, she can't help but go back and lend a hand to an alien she noted earlier who is being sorely-abused. Since this graphic novel was published just over four years after a Doctor Who episode titled The Beast Below, I have to wonder at the author purloining this idea from Stephen Moffat, but maybe the latter purloined it from elsewhere before that and so it goes. Writers can be a very derivative bunch can't they? Especially if they work for Disney. Remake much? But as long as suckers will pay, they'll be delighted to keep suckering them in won't they - innovation be damned?

But this story was amusing, entertaining, and made me want to read it to the end, so I commend it as a worthy read.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Swans in Space by Lun Lun Yamamoto

Rating: WARTY!

I suppose I should remind readers up front that I'm not a huge manga fan. Reading backwards isn't my choice, but I can do that if the story is worth it. the problem is that the stories all-too-often aren't worth the effort of reading unnaturally. This was one such.

The premise was amusing and entertaining enough, but in the end it's the story. I can read a story which has no plot if the author writes well enough. I can't read the perfect plot if the story is written badly, uninventively, or boringly. The premise here is that a young girl is chosen in school by a classmate for testing for what seems to be UPS in space, although it's also space police - or maybe something else? I dunno and that's part of the problem. The scope of their 'duties' is so vague as to be limitless.

What were these people supposed to be doing and why are girls taken out of school to do it? No explanation. Their travel results in time-dilation, so their return is only a minute or two after they left, but they have subjectively experienced the entire time - even if it's many hours - that they spent doing this job, which consists of flying spacecraft. These craft are designed to look like swans for reasons which are unexplained - assuming they even exist.

The girls come back already exhausted and still have the rest of their own school day to finish. It's beyond credibility that something wouldn't go wrong, and it's hardly surprising that this girl who recruits the main character into this life is totally shallow. Her brain is probably fried from the insane hours she's been forced to keep.

Even that might have been manageable if the story itself was worth the reading but it wasn't. It was so bad that just a couple of days later I've completely forgotten it. They didn't really do anything that a decent drone couldn't have done, so again: point? None! If there had been something - anything in the story to give it some oomph, then the rest of this ridiculous situation might have been overlooked. I can even get with whimsy if there's a compelling reason to, but there really was nothing to see here. I can't commend this garbage as a worthy read on any level.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Rating: WORTHY!

This was a fun book for younger middle graders and pre-middle-grade. Zita is outdoors playing with her friend when they find a meteorite crater in a field, with a small meteorite in the bottom of it. There's something sticking out of the meteorite which has a large red button on it, and you know you have to press the button if it's large and red. Zita doesn't listen to her friend, and she presses it, and suddenly a rift in space opens and her friend is pulled through it. After some miserable and desperate recrimination, Zita realizes she has to go through the rift and get him back.

The other side of the rift is very much a United Nations kind of a planet (or maybe not so united - more untied really) with aliens of all sorts, mechanical and meat, and the planet is under threat. Within a short few days, an asteroid is due to strike the planet wiping out everything on it. Zita can't be bothered about that. She has a friend to find and she heads out in her newly-created super hero-looking outfit. She was sort of befriended by a humanoid scientist who is also hosting a giant creature that looks exactly like a mouse, but is the size of a small horse, complete with saddle, and which Zita rides.

From this point on, and heading into the foreboding rust lands, Zita picks up a bevy of oddball alien associates, two of whom are mechanical, one of whom isn't, and finally tracks down and tries to liberate her friend, but there are surprises and betrayals in this story, so you never quite know who your friends are or who the villains are, or when your protective military robot will break down. None of this fazes the intrepid and fearless Zita at all, Not even a phaser fazes Zita, and she kicks buttons and takes names.

This was a playfully, and beautifully-illustrated book with a fun story that I enjoyed despite it being way out of my age group - or was it?! I commend it fully and will look for more from this author.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Polly and the Pirates by Ted Naifeh

Rating: WORTHY!

After the disappointment of Princess Ugg, I might not have read another Naifeh novel, but this one was already in the works, so I ended up reading it and was glad I did. I don't believe in pirate treasure stashes. I don't think pirates were the kind of people to hoard their loot. I think they spent it as fast as they stole it, and while I'm sure there were some who set themselves up in a new life after a piracy voyage and never went back, I think the majority just spent all they had, and then went right back to sea to go after some more.

This story is cute and a little bit different in that polly, a new girl at a boarding school where young girls sometimes foolishly fantasize about pirates, is actually the daughter of Meg, the pirate queen. When Meg's pirate crew come looking for Polly, it's out of desperation. There's a map (there's always a map!), and the pirates think perhaps Meg's daughter is the very one who can find it for them. Now since this is Meg's loyal crew who were presumably with her when she hid the treasure, you'd think at least a few of them would know exactly where it was, but no! Hence Polly.

I honestly don't believe there ever was a legitimate pirate map either for that matter. Why would any pirate commit their precious knowledge of their treasure (assuming there even was any) to paper or parchment or whatever? It would be foolish and go against the very grain of a pirate's character! Besides, pirates were largely illiterate and relied on sound memory to supply everything they needed to know to get from A to B and plan their pirating. They had no need of the written word or the drawn map.

But they kidnap Polly thinking she can help them retrieve this map and at first she's completely against it, but then she becomes involved and sneaks out of school at night to go on adventures. It's a bit of a stretch to imagine that she can, like Santa Claus, get it all done in one night (or eventually, in a couple of days' absence), but this is fiction after all - and pirate fiction at that! So Polly becomes ever more involved and eventually she does find the map but the treasure isn't what the pirates thought it would be. I thought the story might continue with a second map that had been hidden in something they found in the treasure vault, but the story pretty much wrapped up after that.

This is a series as far as I know, so it's possible there are other volumes which continue the story (maybe with that second map, assuming there is one), but just as Polly seems done with pirating after this adventure, I think I'm done with Naifeh now. It was a bit oddly-written. Naifeh isn't English and so doesn't quite get the lingo down, and much of it is rather anachronistic so his attempts to make it sound period were a bit of a waste of time. He doesn't know what 'The Sweeney' is for one thing. The term wasn't in use back in the classical pirate era. The Sweeney is rhyming slang: Sweeney Todd - Flying Squad, referring to a division of the London Metropolitan Police. Obviously that didn't exist in the old era of piracy and neither did the stories of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

It was a bit much to think only a young girl could open the treasure vault since most pirates probably had a young boy or two on their crew who could have done the same thing, but overall, I enjoyed this tale. It was a cute and fun story, and while it was nothing which made me feel any great compulsion to search out other volumes, assuming they exist, I did enjoy this one and commend it as a worthy read.

Friday, July 26, 2019

An Olympic Dream by Reinhardt Kleist

Rating: WORTHY!

This was a sad, sad graphic novel telling the true story (as near as such a rendering can reasonably get to the truth), about Samia Yusuf Omar, Translated from the original German by Ivanka Hahnenberger, this tells in a 150 or so pages in black and white line drawings, of how Samia competed and came last in her heat in the 2008 Olympic Games and yet garnered for herself cheers louder than the winner did.

Always game, following her dream, plucky to a fault, and never allowing brutality and indifference to dampen her spirit, she decided she wanted to get to the 2012 Olympics in London, and the only way to do that under a brutal, women-repressive regime that an extremist Islamic group brought to Somalia, was for her to flee the country and go through Sudan and Libya, to get on a boat to Italy and beyond.

She did all of this, often alone and usually without much money, always being brutalized by the savage and avarice-driven scum who preyed on these poor refugees that certain equally savage and misogynistic presidents would callously turn away at the doorstep, Samia made it onto a boat which promptly ran out of fuel. Fortunately a passing Italian ship spotted them and began to haul them aboard, but Samia fell into the ocean and drowned before she could be pulled out. Yes, there are more important things in the world than plastic straws, but why would anyone with real power be bothered with these "shit-hole countries".

I commend this as a worthy and essential read about what happens to people who reside in brutal countries where there's no oil 'to make it worthwhile going in'....