marlowe1: (Spinning Tardis)
76.All New Captain America: Fear Him by Dennis Hopeless, Rick Remender & Mast & Geoffo - In the 80s, superhero comics found their adolescence. So many heroes were angsty and trying to do the right thing and living in a world with very clear messages. The messages seemed pretty deep if you were a teenager but were pretty blatant is you weren't. By the 90s superheroes regressed into the power fantasies with way too many damn mutants all over the place and Superman running out of stories so they decided to kill him. Somewhere in the last couple decades, they finally grew up and started telling stories that went beyond the power fantasies.

Ok. I'm still a little surprised that I like superhero comics again. Who knew what a little character development could do?

So anyhow, this one has Sam Wilson fighting a supremely silly villain who might as well be a clone of the Scarecrow villain from Batman. He even has the silly mask and the freakout juice. The heart of the comic though is Sam and Steve's son (who is Nomad, I guess) running around the sewer systems and finding a colony of runaway kids. The part where Sam agrees to leave them alone while tripping balls on the fear juice is quite great.

77. One Punch Man 10 by Yusuke Murata - There's a joy in One Punch Man fucking around with the narrative tropes of the genre. No matter how dangerous or nasty the villain becomes, the ending is right there in the title. This is the first one I've read and I immediately put the rest of the series on hold at the library. Sadly, they don't have them past this collection yet so I will have to wait awhile to find out how our hero fares in the big martial arts contest where he's in disguise. But the first part where Garo is the monster who is beating all other heroes is the best setup until he just runs into our hero at a grocery store and Saitama goes "what are you bothering me for" and knocks him out as if it's no big thing. This joke might get old but not yet.

78. Powers: Gods - One of the insights into Raymond Chandler is that his mysteries are often not mysteries at all. No matter how much corruption Philip Marlowe digs up, the answer the to mystery is often just the client or the daughter of the client. The world is still a mess but the mystery itself is simple. Most of the Powers stories fall into these patterns. There's someone dead at the beginning, a lot of investigation that hints at a huge world of corruption and conspiracy, and then the killer is just some guy. Sometimes there's a big world changing event (like the Superman character killing a bunch of towns) but mostly it's a simple solution to a mystery with complex implications. The first few series were about superheroes as rock stars (including one where it turns out that the superhero just had a heart attack while fucking a groupie) but after the series went to Marvel the rock star metaphor went to a straight detective story.

So this one is totally a Raymond Chandler type with the background of superheroes who are powerful enough to be Greek gods, or at least they claim. Damocles is dead and the rest of the gods are not forthcoming. Hades is fucked up and Hecate is living in a church. There's a lot of talk about how gods can be superheroes as this is a takeoff on the Marvel titles. Artemis dies and who the fuck knows what's going on. And then a couple of humans who took the superhero juice that makes them crazy were super pumped and killed the rest of the gods. For revenge. For a rape. And a cover-up.

The epilogue seems more like an afterthought to lead to Bureau than an actual ending. Everything is done and then the last goddess alive in the pantheon gets pissed and tries to flood Chicago. All the big heroes disappear and the cops become FBI agents.

79.Captain Marvel: Rise of Alpha Flight by Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters - I just looked up the writers and found out that they were the producers on Agent Carter. They also wrote Dollhouse episodes. This was still pretty dead. I don't really like Captain America that much and putting her on a spaceship to negotiate with a kill spaceship that recognizes her as Kree because of her symbol and then gets all genocidal is too Babylon 5 for my taste. Interesting to see Alpha Flight but they got boring since I was reading the John Byrne run.

80. Ms. Marvel: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson and Jacob Wyatt - Kamala Khan is the best. Actually Ms. Marvel is why I am trying to read Captain Marvel and being bored all over again the Carol Danvers. Maybe Ms. Marvel is why I don't like Captain Marvel because damnit Captain Marvel screwed up as a mentor. This continues the Inventor/Mr Edison who is half-bird and also using millennials as batteries there are plenty who think that they are useless (political points tend to be obvious in the comic just because they are still looking for teenage audience). But the sight gags are great. The part where she gets Lockjaw to protect her and she's hugging him for her parents is adorable. And how many superheroes run into Wolverine and start talking about their Wolverine fan fiction?
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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