Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Tithe, Vol. 2

The Tithe, Volume 2: Islamophobia is a book I'd been looking forward to reading for some time.  I went through a period of buying every Image Comics trade paperback that even remotely caught my eye, and this is one of them.  When ComiXology put Issue #5 through Issue #8 on sale for $0.99 each, I went ahead and purchased the issues that make up Volume 2.  Published on Image's Top Cow line, The Tithe, Volume 1 is the story of a group of hackers that rip off mega-churches.  Volume 2 sees Samantha Copeland, the main antagonist of Volume 1, working for the F.B.I.

This is a great story, one I won't spoil by going into detail about much of anything.  The coloring is superb, and Troy Peteri is one of my favorite letterers.  All that's left is to read the three-part series, Eden's Fall, which comes out tomorrow.  Happy reading!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Pluto, Vol. 1

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Pluto: Urasawa x Texuka, Volume 1 is a title I bought in 2014 from a library.  I'm a huge Urasawa fan, and pretty soon, I had all eight volumes of Pluto, complete with annoying library stickers.  Today, I finally started peeling off all those library stickers and more importantly, reading the books.  I have read some of the original Astroboy manga by Osamu Tezuka.  Part of the reason I didn't get into Pluto was that I was never a big fan of Astroboy.

Pluto is the story of seven powerful robots who are being killed, one-by-one.  Gesich is one of those robots, and he's a detective stationed in Germany, where many of Urasawa's stories take place (Monster takes place in West Germany, and Master Keaton has a number of scenes there).  The story only begins to unfold in Vol. 1, and of course you'll want to read all of this beautiful series, as I'm going to.  I've already started reading Vol. 2.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Arab of the Future

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The Arab of the Future is Riad Sattouf's autobiographical story of his life in Libya and Syria, starting with his birth in 1978 and lasting until 1984.  His parents meet in his mother's home country of France, where his Syrian-born father gets a PhD in history from the Sorbonne.  When Riad is two years old, his father gets a position as a lecturer at a university in Libya.  The job pays well, but the living conditions are less than ideal, so they temporarily move back to France.  His father looks for work in Europe but takes another professorship in the Arab world, this time in his home nation of Syria.

I think we all have a story to tell, a book to write.  I've written three books, but I don't know how much of myself is in them.  The first two are about alcohol and drugs, the third about sex.  My life is rather boring right now; the most trouble I get up to is the occasional date where I have to hide my tremoring hand or order coffee to cover it up with a caffeine addiction that doesn't exist.  Riad's story is real and serious, and it's a lot better than most comics I've been reading recently.  It makes me want to step up my game.  I love my Retrofit comics, which are often autobiographical, but this is a dialogue-heavy work that takes a good two hours to read.  Moreover, there is a sequel or two coming out eventually (The Arab of the Future 2 comes out in less than four weeks).  And when I say that this is serious and real, I mean that the people in the story can be violent.  It's upsetting, it's disquieting, and it's genius.

The artwork is mostly bichormatic, meaning that it's all black with one color added, blue for France, yellow for Libya, and pink for Syria.  There are exceptions, such as the Libyan, French, and Syrian flags, which are in their original colors.  Sattouf is a very talented artist, but what he excels at is the facial caricature.  He draws simply but with a startling ability to differentiate characters from one another, reminiscent of Shigeru Mizuki.

Star Wars: Darth Vader, Book 1

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Star Wars: Darth Vader, Book 1 contains Issue #1 through #12 of Star Wars: Darth Vader, so it's basically two of the paperback books.  Star Wars: Darth Vader, Book 2 comes out in February, and it will conclude the series, containing the "Vader Down" storyline, along with Volume 3 and Volume 4 of the series.  I paid $19 for a new Book 1 off a seller on Amazon, and Book 2 is $26 or so on pre-order, totaling $45 for 27 issues.  In short, it's the cheapest way to read Star Wars: Darth Vader, although you'll have to wait six months to finish the series, which wraps up Wednesday.

The story takes place right after the Battle of Yavin, when the first Death Star was destroyed.  Vader is being demoted, stripped of his command.  In this story that takes place between the first two movies, he turns a political struggle into a military one within the Empire and against the Rebellion.  Of course, we all know that Vader comes out as the supreme military force in the galactic Empire, headed by Emperor Palpatine, who he eventually kills and before dying, himself, turns to the light side of the force.

If by some strange twist of fate, I have spoiled the ending of Star Wars for you, don't worry.  The Empire Strikes Back came out when I was seven, and I just didn't "get" that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker's father until I read on a Dixie Cup that my Aunt had bought.  It said that Darth Vader's real name was Anakin Skywalker and that he was the father of Luke Skywalker.

Anyway, I'd recommend this series to fans of Star Wars who read comics.  While Jason Aaron's Star Wars comics and Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire novel trilogy remain the gold standard for Star Wars fiction, Star Wars: Darth Vader is very good.  I find myself sub-vocalizing the dialogue in James Earl Jones's voice and hearing the "Imperial March" in my head.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

International Iron Man

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International Iron Man, Issue #6 is the story of how Tony Stark's biological parents met.  There's no Iron Man in this issue, just his parents; there's not much to talk about, so I'll make this a short (one paragraph) review, perhaps consisting of one long, unbroken sentence which I'm still writing despite it being way too long for this style of writing.  Did I mention I'm reading the C.K. Scott Moncrieff translation of Proust?  It has lots of long sentences, just like the original.

Anyway, if you're still reading this tripe, here's the basic story of International Iron Man: it mixes romance with adventure and intrigue.  If you're not down with that, try another title.  I like it a lot, but then again, I like romance comics and manga.

The Force Awakens #3

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Issue #3 sees BB-8, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Rey, and Finn in the Millennium Falcon, ready to find their way to the Resistance, but first, they must visit Maz Kanata's castle.  There, Rey learns the truth about Finn and comes into contact with Luke Skywalker's light saber...

Well, that's about all the story.  I can't imagine anyone reading this without seeing the movies, so I don't worry about too many spoilers.  In general, I try to give away a hint of the plotline, just enough so that people are interested.  If by telling what happens on page 4 is a spoiler, I'm guilty of that in most of my reviews.  With adaptations, it's a whole different story, of course.

This comic is fun.  I've only seen The Force Awakens two times, and I'm enjoying the comics more than I did the second time I watched the movie.  Somehow, despite seeing The Force Awakens a week after it came out, I managed to not know that Han Solo gets killed by his son near the end.  That scene really worked for me; the whole movie worked for me, although I think a third movie where they destroy a giant planet-sized weapon is a little much.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Blue Beetle Rebirth #1

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Blue Beetle Rebirth, Issue #1 is a title I bought based on the strength of the New 52 version of The Blue Beetle. I liked what I read of Jamie Reyes and his version of the Blue Beetle which was also featured on the animated series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I haven't read too many “Rebirth” titles - just this one and Green Lanterns - because I simply didn't want another resetting of the DC Universe. Worse yet, a lot of the great runs ended under The New 52, like Geoff Johns's Green Lantern and Palmotti and Grey's Jonah Hex/All Star Western. Scott Snyder is continuing his epic Batman series, but on Detective Comics, as Batman is going to be coming out twice a month.

But let's not be too hasty about Rebirth. It has gotten me to read two new DC titles, and I've never really read DC in comic-book format. The title itself isn't bad, although I'll take a hard look at the series before I buy Blue Beetle #1, coming out on September 28th. While there is some characterization, this issue is just your basic smash-em-up action story with nothing (so far) behind it. I am going to continue reading the title, but I'll have to decide whether to read it month-by-month at $2.99 each or read it in trade paperback form. I'm leaning toward the latter.

Black Butler XII

Black Butler XII sees zombies aboard a cruise liner, and that cruise liner hitting an iceberg.  The Aurora Society has found a way to reanimate corpses, but for what reason it is still unclear.  They do so by stimulating the brain with tiny waves, and the corpses turn into meat-hungry zombies, attacking passengers and crew aboard the Campania of the Blue Star Line.  The similarities with the Titanic are fairly obvious.  The Titanic was on the White Star Line, it hit an iceberg, and it had water-proof doors that failed.  Whether or not the Titanic was plagued by zombies is an issue for forensic archaeologists.

Throw in the Japanese myths of the akuma (Sebastian) and the shinigami (Ronald Knox and Grell Sutcliff), and you have a hell of a story, if you'll mind the pun.  Zombies aren't my go-to genre of manga or comics, but what makes Black Butler so great is the way it goes in and out of different genres of manga fluidly.  There are cooking sequences, zombie sequences, even a romance of sorts.  The sexual innuendos are hilarious at times.  Good stuff.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Black Butler XI

Black Butler XI, like the earlier volumes, is in five parts, each 35 pages long.  The first two chapters finish the arc where there are a string of murders at the Phantomhive manor; the final two chapters begin a new arc, the "Aurora Society;" the middle chapter being somewhat of a transition between the two.  The Aurora Society is a secret sect that looks to resurrect the dead using modern science.  You have to remember that in 1899, when the story takes place, there were huge advancements in science, and anything seemed possible for a little while.

Space ships, submarines flying machines, radio, electricity...  The late 19th century has spawned a genre dedicated to those seemingly unending advancements in science: steampunk.  One must look no further than Jacques Tardi's The Arctic Marauder for an example in the realm of comics.  I must admit to spending a lot of time in the Victorian Era (metaphorically), or in France, the belle epoch.  In America, that time has been called the Gilded Age, the dying time of the Old West, just before motorcars and subways.

In America, that time is characterized by the working class in literature, cinema, and television, but in England and France, the greatest stories were about the aristocracy.  I've written before about In Search of Lost Time, which I have been reading for the past month and a half.  Black Butler gives a very European take on the time, even though it is written in Japan.  I like this new "steampunk" arc.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Black Butler X

Black Butler X continues the arc where there is a series of murders at the Phantomhive manor.  Lord Siemens is dead, Mr. Phelps is dead, and apparently, Sebastian is dead, as well.  For the Siemens murder, everyone has an alibi but the Earl Phantomhive.  For the Phelps murder, everyone has an alibi except Sebastian.  For Sebastian's murder, no one has an alibi except Earl Phantomhive, Sebastian (who was dead), and a young professor and occultist named Arthur.

I first became acquainted with Black Butler when on a day in which Amazon.com had several manga volumes on sale, I read six different tankoban volumes, the best of which was Black Butler I.  I bought the first six volumes off eBay and eventually the first dozen or so volumes.  I got in the habit of reading monthly comic books and took some time off from reading manga and other trade paperbacks.  This is an error I have sought to remedy as of late.

While this volume does suffer from being without my favorite character, Sebastian, he is quickly replaced with the vicar, Jeremy Rathbone, who begins solving the murder and other mysteries by using a combination of wide knowledge and deductive reasoning, a la Sherlock Holmes.  I can see him becoming a recurring character a some point in the future.  Black Butler is currently going strong at 23 tankoban volumes and counting, so there have already been many opportunities for him to contribute.  The series is very good.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus

Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus is a collection of Bible stories adapted by Chester Brown.  For instance, "Cain and Abel" is written so that Abel defies YHWH, who had told Adam and Eve to work the fields.  Instead, Abel hunts animals and keeps them as chattel.  When Cain gives YHWH a burnt offering of vegetables from the field, Abel gives YHWH a burnt offering of flesh, the latter of which YHWH prefers.  This is a recurring theme in Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus, the story of the prodigal son who wastes his father's money but is loved by his father nonetheless.

The main theme of the book is that Mary, the mother of Jesus, sexually misbehaved, leading to Jesus' birth.  This is not a new theory; in fact, it is one thousands of years old.  What adolescent, upon learning the secrets of reproduction, hasn't questioned the veracity of Mary's story?  The idea is that the author of the Book of Matthew wanted to hint at Mary possibly being a prostitute or a sexually misbehaving woman by putting the names of famous prostitutes in Mary's genealogy.

I didn't read all of the notes, afterward, and acknowledgements, which are lovingly lettered, as they were in Brown's previous work, Paying for It.  I didn't skip them either.  I found them as tedious as they are necessary, and someday I hope to read through more of them.  I'm no tyro when it comes to Bible studies, although my interest in the Bible has waned over the past decade.  My opinion is that you find what you're looking for when you dig too deeply into it, rather than the truth.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Spider-Gwen, Vol. 0

Spider-Gwen, Volume 0: Most Wanted? is a title I bought for two reasons.  Spider-Gwen was the breakout character of the SpiderVerse storyline, which I've read some of, and Jason Latour is writing it.  Gwen Stacey is the daughter of Police Chief George Stacey who in another universe lives with Peter Parker and Aunt May.  In this universe, Peter Parker is dead, and Gwen Stacey was bitten by a radioactive spider.  She has a cool white-and-red outfit and a rock n' roll pedigree.  She plays with the band The Mary Janes as the drummer.

This title has energy; it's good.  Frank Castle is a hard boiled cop, and Matt Murdock is an evil mob lawyer for Kingpin.  I first became a fan of Jason Latour when I started reading Southern Bastards a little over a year ago.  Marvel has done a great job co-opting the top independent/Image talent and putting them to work on fresh, new titles, to the point that I actually read more Marvel than Image right now.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Green Lanterns #5

Green Lanterns, Issue #5 comes out every two weeks, so it's been only two months since the title started.  It's the story of Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz.  If you're like me, you became a fan of Baz at the end of Geoff Johns's famed Green Lantern run.  I haven't read all of Johns's Green Lantern, but I've read the first third and the final sixth, if that makes any sense.  Issue #5 is the fifth installment of the "Rage Planet" arc, where the Red Lanterns have created hell on Earth, and for some reason Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are the only defenders of Earth.  Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and the other Green Lanterns are off having some other adventure, and the Justice League is powerless against the Red Lanterns.

As I've said for the past four issues, I think this is a great title, although Jessica Cruz is too trim and sexy to be a former home-bound agoraphobe.  Simon Baz is a powerful Green Lantern whose willpower has spiked a couple of times, giving him new powers.  The offset nature of their power makes the situation work.  I do like getting comics every week, but I would like to get back to reading more trade paperbacks and omnibi.

In general, whenever you get out of the habit of reading, which I do for a couple of days or even a week or two from time to time, go back to something easy.  For me, that's new comics in floppy format.  I know I'll get through one of them in 15 minutes or half an hour no matter how much text is in them (with exception for a few prose-based works).  To make a long story short, I saw a neurologist yesterday because of a shaky hand and got a diagnosis of Essential Tremor (the condition Charles Schultz has).  I decided to not let it slow down my life in the least.  I went on a date last night, and here I am, doing a review.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Star Wars, Vol. 3

Star Wars, Volume 3: Rebel Jail is in three parts.  First is a seemingly throw-away story about Eneb Ray, who stars in Star Wars Annual, Issue #1.  Although it is written by a different author and realized by different artists, it has much of the same feel as Jason Aaron's Star Wars.  Star Wars, Issue #16 through Issue #19 are the main arc, "Rebel Jail."  Princes Leia and Sana Starros take Dr. Aphra, a high-level Imperial operative, to a Rebel stronghold where they keep prisoners, a jail.  Finally, Star Wars, Issue #15 is at the end of the collection because it's completely unrelated to the other stories.  It's more about Luke as a kid with Ben Kenobi watching over him.

If you've read Volume 1 and Volume 2, you know how good this series is.  If you're not reading it, and you're a Star Wars fan, you're missing out.  The humor and the timing are absolutely top notch; this is great storytelling, up there with Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire trilogy.  Although that no longer has a chance at becoming canonical, one of Zahn's characters, Grand Admiral Thawn, has made his way to Star Wars: Rebels.  Sana Starros, it has been mentioned, might be a part of the upcoming Han Solo movie, so there's hope.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Punisher #4

The Punisher, Issue #4 begins with the Punisher driving through a firefight with a young girl - Juniper, the daughter of a man he killed - riding shotgun.  Juniper is nine years old, and her father uses her as a booby trapped human shield in the previous issue.  And if that's not enough drama, a D.E.A. helicopter is taking shots at both the Punisher and the people who are chasing him, members of Condor, a high-end gang producing and selling EMC, a super-soldier drug that makes people stronger, faster, and impervious to pain.

There's precious little dialogue in this series, and no narration to speak of.  The drawings speak for themselves.  Thus, it doesn't take as much time to get through as Green Lanterns or one of the many Deadpool comics.  It's a lot like Hyperion, another comic from the Marvel line that I enjoy despite it not being a "name" title.  The accuracy of the portrayal of the weapons is top notch with a few discrepancies which have been noted by others but are too minor for me to notice.

The Punisher has become one of my favorite Marvel characters as of late, although for the past month or two, I've mostly been reading comics in floppy format.  Every time Becky Cloonan, Steve Dillon, and Frank Martin's The Punisher comes out, I remember that I should be reading The Punisher Max by Garth Ennis and his team.

Green Lanterns #4

Green Lanterns, Issue #4 has been on my to-read list since I bought it the Wednesday before last.  Issue #5 comes out in three days, so I decided to get to steppin'.  Issue #3 ended with Jessica Cruz becoming overcome with rage and becoming, in effect, an agent of the Red Lanterns.  Worse yet, the Red Lanterns are bringing a Rage Seed to Earth, which they hope to make into their new home world.  With billions of inhabitants, many starting to show signs of rage, it's an ideal place to seed rage and build their Hell Tower.

It must be a hell of a lot of work to get two comics out per month.  Sure, I know that some comic artists do more than that, but there's no rest for the weary with DC or Marvel, really.  The writers and artists who do three titles at once get the chance to take some time off if they need it, while DC and Marvel creators simply don't.  Green Lanterns isn't the A team of the Green Lanterns Corps, but it's a great comic, and I'll continue reading it.

Empress #5

Empress, Issue #5 is the fifth of seven issues, and it sees the main characters separated and in disarray.  The children are going to be sold as slaves, but unfortunately for their would-be slavers, they have the children locked up in a room full of seemingly useless old junk.  Captain Havelock, the Empress, and Tor are on the run, with the Emperor hot on their tail and a tribe of savages about to use them as a sacrifice.  I bought the variant cover.

I say the same thing in almost every review of The Empress, and I'll say it again.  Stuart Immonen is awesome.  This is just an all-around classic yarn about a family trying to escape a tyrannical father.  There are a few things I wonder about, like how all this story gets wrapped up in seven issues.  I think that there must be an Empress 2 and perhaps even an Empress 3 and beyond.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Old Man Logan #10

Old Man Logan, Issue #10 continues the story of Old Man Logan in Japan.  Then, he and Maureen are captured by the Silent Order.  Maureen doesn't know about Logan's healing factor, and she and the Silent Order find out about it at the same time.  Now, Old Man Logan is in a well after surviving four days worth of attempts at murdering him.  Also, Deathstrike is the captive of the Silent Order; she has acted as their bait to catch Logan, as they weren't exactly going to fight the X-Men to get him.

I love the symbolism of the well, reminiscent of the work of Haruki Murakami.  For those that haven't read his work, he uses wells in a number of his books and short stories, culminating in the well scenes in The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, where the main character climbs into a well to get psychic powers.  There's also a lot going on that one might miss on a first reading.  On page 13, "then," Logan makes a fist as the Silent Order are attacking him, and it's colored in red.  Then he loosens his fist, and it's colored in blue, meaning that he could have pulled out his claws, but he doesn't.  Very fun.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Civil War II #3 and #4

Civil War II, Issue #3 features a death of a famous meta-human; I'll tell you that much.  He gets killed by... well, I won't tell you that, and that person goes on trial for murder.  Of course, Civil War II starts with the discovery of an Inhuman who has visions of the future.  In Issue #1, someone dies.  In Issue #3, a major character in the Marvel universe gets killed by another major character.  Issue #4 resolves the case against the major character who kills the other major character.  Dang, that sounds awkward.  Celebrity trials often end the same way.  O.J. Simpson walked once but ended up in jail for life.  What happens in this case?  And by the end of this issue, Civil War II has begun.

This is fun stuff.  I like seeing Carol Danvers in a starring role; I bought three of the Captain America trade paperbacks starring her a year ago and enjoyed them.  She has shorter hair than she does in those comics, and she appears less feminine.  If I had any complaint, it would be that the artwork makes her look like she's had major botox or something.  She's constantly scowling, but she doesn't have a line on her face.  Ah, maybe I don't remember what it's like to be young.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ringside #6

Ringside, Issue #6 returns after a short hiatus, the story of an old, broken-down former wrestler - Danny Knossos - who is forced to work as a leg-breaker for a gang.  Issue #5 ended with him agreeing to work as a heavy, and Issue #6 begins with him six months into the job, being persuaded to work a full year.  Meanwhile, Reynolds, the young wrestler with a promising future, is saying goodbye to Davis, Knossos's friend who's still in the business.  Davis is getting promoted.  

I bought Issue #1 of Ringside on a lark.  I'm a pro-wrestling fan, and I love comics, especially Image Comics.  The next week, I went to the store and bought Issue #2 through Issue #5 and read them all.  I really think this series has potential for three reasons: 1) Hardcore wrestling fans, who are the target audience of this series, love comics.  2) Ringside gives an insider's view as to what it's like to be in the business, thus appealing to said target audience.  3) It's a damn fine comic with the potential to run through 30 issues or more.  

Kill or Be Killed #1

Kill or Be Killed, Issue #1 starts off with a masked killer rampaging his way out of an apartment with a shotgun, killing everybody he comes across, while narrating the evils of the world.  Then it goes to the killer's young adulthood, seven years earlier, when he's on a bus with a girl, who's being harassed by a group of strangers.  She's not his girlfriend.  In fact, his best friend is dating his roommate, and she's not the best friend out there.  He tries to kill himself and fails.  A demon appears in his room, telling him he has to kill people, or he will die.

I was hooked from page 1 of this double issue.  Brubaker, Phillips, and Breitweiser are one of my favorite combinations in comics, along with Bendis and Maleev, plus a few others.  Sure, Brubaker gets most of the credit, but just as Prince and David Bowie were great, part of what made them great was the way they picked the people who they collaborated with.  Phillips is a long-time partner of Brubaker, doing the artwork and the lettering.  Breitweiser has been on the Brubaker-Phillips train since the second or third TPB of Fatale.  I love the way she uses almost pastel-like blues, purples, and greens.

There's quite a bit to read in this issue, with a fair amount of dialogue but a considerable amount of narration.  The narration is arguably the best part of this comic: "psychopaths run for President."  I wonder if he's talking about just Donald Trump, or if the plural is more than just a stylistic choice.  Anyway, although this comic came out a week ago, there's still time to get in on the ground floor of it.  Buy it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Civil War II #2

Civil War II, Issue #2 starts with a dramatis personae, featuring the Ultimates, the Avengers, and the Inhumans.  The Ultimates and the Avengers are random gangs of superheroes, but the Inhumans are a specific breed of meta-human.  They all got their powers through exposure to the tetrigen mist.  Karmela Khan, Ms. Marvel, was initially identified as an Inhuman because she got her powers through exposure to the tetrigen mist, but there's a genetic component involved that I haven't followed closely enough, so she's an Avenger.  Ulysses is the kid causing all the trouble, and he's an Inhuman.  Tony Stark wants him in his custody so that the Inhumans don't use his powers to prevent crimes.

I'm definitely hooked after two issues, and I'll buy Issue #3 and Issue #4 in two days, when I buy comics.  I don't think I'll go too deeply into the crossover event, however.  I do like the way Marvel handles crossover events, unlike DC, which simply pushes an event through all the titles affected, whether they make sense or not (see my review of Superman-Wonder Woman, Volume 2, which was ruined by a crossover event that made no sense unless you read the entire event).  Marvel, instead, just adds comic titles relating to the event.  There is one aspect of the crossover event that I'm not a big fan of.  Marvel has put "Civil War II" covers on comics that have nothing to do with Civil War II, like International Iron Man, Issue #3 which only has one line relating to the event.  I bought the "Medusa" variant cover.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Weavers #3

Weavers, Issue #3 is third in a six-issue limited series I like for several reasons.  I started reading it because I liked Simon Spurrier's Cry Havoc on Image Comics, which produces comics of such quality that I'll basically read anything they publish.  Weavers is published by Boom! Studios, which produces a number of titles I like, including The Woods.

Weavers, Issue #3 is a fun little issue.  There's intrigue, there are betrayals, and I love the artwork by Dylan Burnett and colorist Triona Farrell, not to mention the letters by Jim Campbell.  My favorite part of Campbell's work is where he uses the "silent" lettering for Mr. Silence, the main enforcer.  Sid is an enforcer, and the story's mainly about him.  He's got misgivings, but he hasn't betrayed the Spiders yet.

Civil War II #1

Civil War II, Issue #1 is a title I hadn't planned on reading.  I didn't really like the original Civil War, and I bought Jonathan Hickman's Secret Wars in hardcover but never broke the shrink wrap.  The Avengers, the X-Men, the Inhumans, and basically all of the heroes on Earth-616 are fighting an extra-dimensional giant robot - the Celestial Destructor - and its minions.  Just as the robot is about to wreak havoc, the Inhumans send it back where it came from with little fuss.

Carol Danvers - Captain America - wants to find out how they knew who was coming and how to send it back to where it came from.  Their secret?  A boy named Ulysses, who can see the future before it happens.  Jean Grey tries to read his mind but cannot secure a link; his mind is closed to her. Captain America wants to use Ulysses's power for good, preventing crime before it happens.  Iron Man wants to stay away from using Ulysses's power at all.  Hence the conflict.

I actually had it in mind to buy a bunch of DK III comics and catch up on that title, as I've only read the first issue, but I bought the first two issues of Civil War II instead.  So I guess this is where I choose my side.  Is it a thrilling, genre-defining tour de force, or is it a bad ripoff of The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick, who I'm a gigantic fan of?  I'm leaning toward the former, quite frankly because the drama is real.  Characters really die.  Brian Michael Bendis?  I'll read anything he writes.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Autumnlands #12

The Autumnlands, Issue #12 starts with one of the Galateans telling Dusty, Learoyd, and Bertie about their creation and their purpose.  They are rock-women, androids, built to entertain their master but mostly to gather energy from the lava fields.  As their master - and later other masters - gave them less and less work to do, they began reading; they learned that they were slaves.  Eventually, the new masters stopped coming, and that's where the trouble started.  Some Galateans chose to end their lives, giving off energy and polluting the streams, making the Goat-men sick.  And that brings up one other question: do the Galateans have anything to do with there being less magic in the Autumnlands?

The Autumnlands is my favorite fantasy series going on right now in any genre.  I'm not a big fantasy guy, but this is really something special.  As Learoyd says of the Autumnlands, "I thought it was a dream, at first.  It comes off goofy, all badgers and warthogs in fancy robes and shit.  Like a kid's story.  But there's just as much shit here as there is anywhere, isn't there?"  I noted that the cover shows Bertie (the Goat-man) running away from the temple along with Dusty and Learoyd, but the comic shows Bertie in the temple as it is destroyed, supposedly.  A deus ex machina?

Old Man Logan #9

Old Man Logan, Issue #9 starts the new arc, "The Last Ronin."  Like the other issues, Issue #9 takes place in two timelines, two Earths; they are known simply as "then" and "now."  "Then" is actually in the future, on another Earth, while "now" is on Earth-616 in the current time, with an older James Logan. On the other Earth, Logan and Maureen are hunted across North America, so they go to Japan.  On Earth-616, Logan is looking for Deathstrike in Japan.  He finds her, but not in the way he imagines.

Jeff Lemire has always been able to say as little as needed, leaving out words or phrases when lesser writers (such as myself) would put them in.  It's something I've always wanted to improve in my writing, and I've learned a lot from Lemire over the years, starting with Essex County.  And like usual, the realization by Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo are on point.  I love the timing of the double cross on page 4, the way the whole panel turns red just as Old Man Logan figures out that he's in danger.

Friday, August 5, 2016

International Iron Man #5

International Iron Man, Issue #5 starts off with a young Tony Stark (pre-Iron Man) at his father's funeral, drunk, talking with Nick Fury.  Then it skips forward 20 years to Bulgaria, where Tony Stark as Iron Man is tracking down his parentage, and he just happens to be at the Gillespie compound, where his former lover, Cassandra, thinks she's holding him hostage.  After that's sorted out, he finally finds out who his true birth mother is, and he gets to meet her.

This is a great series, chalked full of romance, adventure, intrigue, and mystery.  In fact, Issue #5 is my favorite of the series so far, although I really like Issue #1, which introduces the situation and Tony's romance with Cassandra Gillespie.  Throughout the series so far, page-space has been split between 1996 and 2016, creating a nice contrast between the young, emotional Tony Stark, and the much less emotional (it would seem) Iron Man.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Swann's Way, The Graphic Novel

It's hard to pin down exactly what I love so much about Proust, especially since I'm a scant book and a half into his great novel, In Search of Lost Time.  Charles Mingus famously said, "it's easy to sound weird," praising the making of the complex simple, as Bach did.  Marcel Proust wrote the prototypical 20th-century novel in a style all his own.  I'm reading the C.K. Scott Moncrieff translation, which is faulty in some ways, but it is known for capturing the style of Proust, with his long, flowing, beautiful sentences.  Proust talks of memory, of time, but mostly he talks about people.  You fall in love with his characters, which come to life in volume after volume.  

In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way, The Graphic Novel is the work, primarily, of Stephane Heuet, a French comic artist in the bandes dessinees (Franco-Belgian) tradition.  He has worked on adapting In Search of Lost Time for almost two decades, and it is only in 2015 that Swann's Way, the first volume, has been available in English.  Arthur Goldhammer translates not Proust but Heuet.  Proust in any language is not suitable for comics, one would think, because of those aforementioned long sentences.  Heuet takes Proust's language and codifies it, abbreviating it into sentences that can fit into ordinary text boxes.  Goldhammer then makes it palpable for the Anglophone audience.

I've seen several reviews of the Swann's Way audiobook by readers who were introduced to Proust through Heuet's comic, and Goldhammer argues that one of the principal audiences of this graphic novel is people who are too intimidated by Proust to read In Search of Lost Time in its original or translated form.  Well, guess what?  Even the graphic novel is intimidating.  It's huge, to begin with, and I read it for an hour, only to get a mere 50 pages into it.  The artwork is classic ligne claire, stunning and a triumph.  Heuet does things only the discerning reader or fellow artist would appreciate, like staggering panels by mere millimeters, so that the reader knows which way to read without thinking.

Anyway, what Heuet has done is create a gift to all fans of Proust.  Of course, it cannot be a perfect adaptation without being thousands of pages long.  And who would read it then?  The length is excellent in my view, a solid four-hour read (compared to 15 to 20 hours for the prose book), at just over 200 full-sized pages.  It has a lot of text for a graphic novel, a LOT of text.  I would compare it to one of my favorite novel adaptations, Ringworld: The Graphic Novel.  The adaptation of Ringworld is six or seven hundred pages in two manga-sized volumes.  That adaptation, on the other hand, tries to include everything that is in the book, nearly, at the expense of color.  Swann's Way: The Graphic Novel is lavishly colored, as seen in the attached photographs.