marlowe1: (Teddy Bear)
91. Ms. Marvel No Normal by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona - This is the storyline that introduced Kamala to the world as Ms. Marvel and while the first issue is taking great pains to establish the character (she's a Muslim. She likes to smell bacon. Her parents are strict. Her best friend wears a hijab but by choice. Someone gives her alcohol and she gets angry when she finds out) that sometime seem a little overwhelming, all the wonderful stuff about Ms. Marvel was already in that first issue as blatant as the story was about establishing most of her personality (the fan fiction stuff and the fact that she wanted the big boot version of Ms. Marvel costume are wonderful and they never lost their charm under Wilson - although there's a Spiderman comic where it seems forced). So what else is there to say about this comic beyond how much you really should read it? I don't know, but I do think that Marvel is having a bit of a renaissance with character driven story telling instead of the old fashioned fight the bad guy superhero stuff and I rally think that this is the title that started it.

92.One Punch Man vol 2 by Yusuke Marata - In between reading this book and writing this review, I caught the show on Netflix and damn, it's great. Can't believe I missed this book until now but that's fine. I get to catch up on it. So this starts out with the story of the secret genetically modified group that Saitama just trashes and then realizes that he missed bargain day at the supermarket. Also the anti-work terrorist group makes up the end and they seem like broad parodies of student groups and a little too broad. It's fascinating in the same way that watching old 70s shows about "women's libbers" is fascinating. The conversation is entering society but people are purposefully missing the point (and this is the conversation about why we all have to work so fucking much. And apparently China is getting into the game as well as Bojack Horseman is popular among the "funeral culture" that considers Pepe the Frog in his original peeing all over himself form as an icon). Anyhow there's a super awesome killer dude who destroys that group and then Saitama just wants to stay out of it. That's the plot. The big faced crazy bug eyed fighting is also the draw but you can get that in a lot of manga. This is special.

93. Moon Knight: Lunatic by Jeff Lemire & Greg Smallwood - Just because I said that Marvel is going through a bit of a renaissance doesn't mean that they aren't putting out shit. This one came out last year and it's that old fucking trope of the main character waking up in a mental institution and being told that he's totally schizophrenic and everything in the series is just bullshit. It can be done well I think or I suppose or maybe theoretically you can see all the characters in a different light, but it's fucking old. It was old when Buffy did it and disgustingly inane when Smallville did it and there was a superhero vs. zombie series where it was kind of fun but only because I hadn't read the rest of the series. And this time I don't give a fuck about Moon Knight. There are some comic book characters that are established as part of the universe but weren't really famous when I was reading comics. When I was a teenager I think there was an attempt to start a Moon Knight comic and I think it was in the cool trippy shit genre of story telling that Marvel liked to do alongside Moonshadow and Blood, or maybe it was just normal. Anyhow I don't remember Moon Knight so this is supposed to sell me Moon Knight.

Instead it gave me some bullshit about Moon Knight being a dude who had a very elaborate fantasy life but is really a mental patient. But oh no, wait, he's actually Moon Knight and he's being fooled. Because that's the way these things always go.

94.Spiderman: Miles Morales by Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli - Like Steve Moffat, I sometimes defend Bendis but it's usually a weak defense that goes along the lines of he's not THAT bad. In both cases, there are enough great moments and stories to appreciate him when he's good. Bendis was great with Powers but utter shit with Civil War. I think that Miles Morales was his character when he was doing Ultimate Spiderman and it's fun to see Miles Morales in the Marvel Universe but please for the love of G-d LET SOMEONE ELSE WRITE THIS CHARACTER!!!!

I didn't mind this titles until the grandmother showed up. I even liked the fat friend who knows his secret identity and is his best friend. That seemed to be the character from the new Spiderman movie like revamped Peter Parker went and stole Miles Morales' best friend in the movies. There was even some great stuff about him trying to balance school and work and even the changes in illustration styles from realistic to cartoony were pure joy, especially when Morales meets Parker Spiderman and wants approval.

Only these good points made the crappy parts that much crappier. A blogger gets really excited that Morales is black because his costume ripped and while that echoes the diversity discussions we've been having about genre, it still seems like it's way too obvious to really be done well. Ok ok ok Bendis, you are writing a minority superhero and you've been doing it for a long time. Take your cookie and make the story work.

And then we get the broadly stereotypical Hispanic Grandmother who is trying to whip her grandson into shape with tough love. She could have been a decent character in another writer's hands but Bendis just feels lazy like she's completely one note and just there to get in Miles' way. Even when Kamala shows up to see if he wants to patrol (a clumsy cameo if there ever was one since what the hell is she going all the way out to Brooklyn to "patrol" with Miles? And no, nothing I've seen in either characters makes it believable that she's got a crush on him and wants to date him) she's just kind of there to support his Tough Hispanic Grandmother. And then she disappears - back to Jersey City. I read another story with Kamala in Spiderman that's even worse when it comes to capturing the character but I think that Bendis' weakness is even more obvious when you realize that Morales comes off as a much more interesting character when he shows up in Ms. Marvel than he does in his own title. Not even going to compare cameo Morales to cameo Kamala because cameo Kamala is the worst, but G. Willow Wilson should find many equally talented writers and just take over the whole damn company.
marlowe1: (Spinning Tardis)
61. Sex Criminals Vol 3: Three the Hard Way by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky - It's very strange to call a book sex criminals these days. Back in the 70s, you could be transgressive with the phrase because a sex criminal could be anyone from Oscar Wilde to Roman Polanski and since the 70s came out of a repressive 50s and challenging 60s, there was a great deal of confusion over what was accepted as a sex crime. This remained pretty much the same into the 80s where the flip side of the equation happened where all the sex crimes were terrible. AIDS paved the way for a lot of acceptance of gay people only after Reagan murdered them by not taking the AIDS crisis seriously. But the 70s was a time when NAMBLA could make an argument that they should be accepted into Pride Parades and outright predators like Jimmy Savile joked about all the teenage girls that he was raping in a wink wink nudge nudge manner.

So now even Rush Limbaugh gets that the difference between sexuality and sex crime is consent. Of course, he doesn't outright accept that belief.

I write about the title because I don't remember much of the book beyond the fact that these people can stop time by having sex. And then they commit crime, so they are sex criminals. The only memorable chapter is about an agent who is asexual and how lonely that felt growing up since everyone else was having a great time and she just couldn't be bothered.

62. Terrible Virtue by Ellen Feldman - I did not think that I would like this book as much as I did. Margaret Sanger is still a divisive figure even among people who love her overriding mission. There's that combination of ignorance and the certainty of her enemies that has tarnished but even though 90% of the "Margaret Sanger was a genocidal Nazi creep" talk is bullshit there was the kernel of truth in the fact that she did like eugenics and she did promote it. Not all eugenicists were the psychopaths that inhabit historical dramas these days who are busy sterilizing teenagers and denying health care to black people (can I mention right here that The Knick is a slog through a hellish cultural judgment where all the assholes win every time?). So even though she is being political when she asks for black leaders to help her distribute birth control and birth control information throughout the black community because she doesn't want to be accused of genocide and that got taken out of context (as in she really is in favor of genocide and just wants to cover her tracks) there are other things that can't be taken out of context.

This book doesn't necessarily give us both sides of the Sanger debate but it does change perspectives to the point that one perspective is Sanger telling her story and the other one is her family, friends and lovers grinding an axe at everything she's done wrong. Her lawyer mocks her for wearing black dresses like a nun even though he admires the strategy of hiding her free love tendencies. Her children are neglected and her husband is left by the wayside. And yet it really makes for a compelling narrative even as it circles around the plot.

63. Radioactive Spider Gwen: Greater Power by Jason Latour & Robby Rodriguez - This one plays more with the alternate universe Spidermans. Peter Parker is still dead in her world but Harry Osborne became Green Goblin in order to take revenge. Spiderwoman shows up and is pregnant (and really fun). Daredevil is an evil lawyer for Kingpin and Frank Castle is in the cops but he's still obsessive. There are also more lizards. The part that I really liked was how she actually has a heart-to-heart talk with Harry Osborne about how they are both guilty over Peter Parker. It's really pretty damn good and finally Gwen gets a personality.

64. Sandman Dream Country by Neil Gaiman - Sandman still holds up. I do have less affection for Gaiman these days because I read his short story collections and they were clever but not decent. But the Sandman comics are still amazing. This is the one with Calliope being held prisoner as the muse of a horror writer who experiences great literary success from raping a muse in his attic. There are some very pointed bits about how he always thought of himself as a feminist and the question "where do you get your ideas?" floating around. It's a writerly fantasy from a writer who was still a fun cult writer at the time. The beats of the story of the success almost overwhelm the horrific aspects, but then again that fantasy of writing anything you want including epic poetry and screenplays and being successful and richer at everything with everyone asking how you did it is a fantasy in every amateur writer's head. Anyhow there's also teh Midsummers Nights Dream story and the cat story. There's also the one where the character from Doom Patrol is very sad. And dies. I didn't like that one.
marlowe1: (Teddy Bear)
32. Ufology by James Tynion & Noah Yuenkel - I liked this book. I didn't get this book. I liked this book but it felt like Lost in the middle when there were all these great mysteries and like fuck if you were ever going to figure them out. There are aliens who keep wearing the bodies of humans and there are a lot of fires and something has something to do with the past. I find it very strange mostly because it appears like it's a standalone book even though there seems to be some kind of a long series with a bunch of sequels to explain it. I think I would have liked it better if it felt like a complete story and not some attempt to create a multi-part series.

33. The Flowers of Evil, vol 3 by Shuzo Oshimi - I see this one as having potential even though it does present the classic male fantasy dilemma of two gorgeous women just totally want to be with him. One is really sad and not fleshed out at all and the other one is pissed off. The pissed off one is the more interesting one of course, and so when he decides to leave town and go over the mountain, she's the one he goes with. But then the boring crying one comes along to bring him back. The back cover blurb says that this is much more true than most books where teenage boys are tortured by angry over-sexed teenage girls. I did not know that this was a genre.

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Tim Lieder

July 2017

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