Jun. 19th, 2017

marlowe1: (Maggie)
65. Raymond Chandler: The Detections of Totality by Frederic Jameson - I did not completely understand this criticism. I loved it, but I did not see everything that he was talking about with it. I think it was beyond me. I do like the insight that Raymond Chandler uses space in an innovative way and the fact that all the Philip Marlowe books end up at the beginning with some member of the family. But by the time we get to the butler doing it (ok, it's usually the daughter or the husband), there are so many bodies that the world has been completely changed. This explains why The Big Lebowski is such a welcome addition to the Philip Marlowe canon, where the mystery outright doesn't matter but it's so great to inhabit that world (Poor Donny). Basically this is a book that I am going to have to put back on my shelf and come back to it later. I think that my emotional connection is to second guess all of my choices in the detective book that I've been writing for years, but that entire book is a second guess since I started it with an excuse to engage in some toxic masculinity and somewhere in the revisions realized that I hated that type of human being and why imitate Chandler? So definitely recommend this one, but I can't discuss it until I re-read it.

66. Batman Arkham Knight Genesis by Peter J. Tomasi & Alisson Borges - This is a fairly forgettable comic book that is set up as a prequel to a video game. I don't play video games so I don't really get that much out of it, or more importantly I can't appreciate the greater world. I guess this is its own story and trying to judge it from its own story perspective is that it's not so bad. It's the story that they've been building up with Jason Todd back from the dead and really pissed off. There's also a great deal of material about how he doesn't like Bruce Wayne all that much but there are some father issues going on. Also Joker shows up, but just does the Joker thing.

67. Ms. Marvel: Civil War II by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa & Mirka Andolfo - There are two wonderful stories bookending this volume and one tragic one that makes up the title story that it feels like a major tonal shift. The first story is about a science fair where Kamala's friend Bruno blows everything up in order to beat the kids from New York and just makes trouble. Also Miles Morales is the leader of the New York kids and Nova is in there somewhere. So the fun superhero material that has been the most charming part of the series comes forward but it's evolved from Kamala from the ultimate fangirl of all the other superheroes to Kamala as an associate with Spiderman and Nova with all three trying to preserve their superhero identities.

Ultimately the Bruno material becomes the plot aspect that becomes important in the next story. While the Civil War II story is about Kamala losing her faith in Captain Marvel due to the precognition program that is way too close to the drug war strategies that saw millions of black teenagers in jail instead of college (while their white peers skated past all those indiscretions without too much consternation), the Bruno aspects are the tragic heart. In fact, all of Kamala's friends come to the forefront in this story and while they are all complaining that she is a big hero and doesn't have time for them, there is a serious Buffy the Vampire Slayer aspect where the big heroine is not a heroine on her own but in her relationship to her friends. It's the fact that one of her friends might blow up the school even though he doesn't mean to hurt anyone that drives the plot. Anyone else and you might think that this is some kind of terrorist story and ask why he shouldn't be locked up, but in this case the friend is just hurting and coming to dumb decisions which are dealt with when his ex-girlfriend (who was the resident bitch of the early stories) explains that she isn't into him because she is a lesbian and decided to be honest.

And not to draw too much of a parallel with Buffy but Bruno becomes the Xander of the group when he is the one who is guaranteed to be an idiot and try to blow up the prison. Bruno spends days in a coma and when he comes out of it, he's permanently damaged and wants nothing to do with Kamala. This is definitely the Buffy season 2 ending (damnit, Ms. Marvel is NOT Buffy. Stop finding parallels) where Kamala has to go on her own. Meanwhile the story with Captain America and her pre-cog crime fighting is resolved by trapping her into a particular situation where she has to confront Iron Man who also experienced the same loss. Basically, Kamala is the main character of the story, but as far as Iron Man and Captain Marvel are concerned, she's a walk-on character. More than the fact that Captain Marvel is crypto-fascist, the way that Captain Marvel figures that Ms. Marvel is her mini-me drives them apart.

The last story of this book is an immigrant goes "home" story where Kamala goes back to Pakistan and sees her extended family. It's got some wonderful material about how she feels even more out of place because instead of the Pakistani girl in New Jersey, she is suddenly The American in Pakistan. Material about how they are toning down the spices and how she doesn't understand local politics so how is she going to be a superhero in this town are pretty amazing. The local politics one might be a little too much of a point being made after all, how many American interventions were about good intentions and faulty knowledge?

68. The Invincible Iron Man: Reboot by Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez - I actually don't remember the plot. I guess Iron Man is trying to stop an old girlfriend from killing a bunch of dudes because of magic, but mostly I remember Tony Stark referring to Dr. Strange as his Awesome Facial Hair Bro. It's a dumb joke but it's nice to see these character moments. The movies have rendered Iron Man a lot more interesting than he was when I was reading comics as a kid. Tony Stark is going to be the selfish guy trying his best to be a decent human being and not being such a self-involved cretin. I suppose you could say that Tony Stark is the modern man, uncertain about his past and trying to build up a masculinity that isn't based on the toxic masculinity, but maybe that's too deep. Mostly Iron Man is Robert Downey jr. Just deal with it. The movies have given comic book writers the template for what to write instead of vice versa. Also Dr. Doom is hanging out for reasons that are probably going to come up later.
marlowe1: (PIGGY!!!!)
69. Faith: Hollywood and Vine by Jody Houser and Francis Portela - This is a comic book that I admire more than I like. I actually wonder if that's an issue for me. There are various movies that I admire and I wonder if I would like them as much if I didn't admire the way that they serve as a corrective for a problem that is plaguing Hollywood movies. Movies like In a World, Dear White People and Spare Parts are all enjoyable movies that I suspect I would not recommend so much if they weren't outright working against a lot of baggage. In a World has a funny female character breaking the glass ceiling and refusing to be slut shamed (and a love story that is basically two characters who just like each other and want to give it a chance.) Dear White People has interesting black characters who are not stereotypes and Spare Parts gets away from the saintly white teacher guiding the stupid Hispanic students trope that is ironically the worst when Edward James Olmos was the teacher in Stand & Deliver. But then there's The Obvious Child which is a movie that I also admire but I don't like. So do the comics and movies with women become the ones I admire without liking?

Anyhow Faith is a superhero comic without fat shaming. The heroine is a superheroine who is full figured and she is comfortable in her non-Playboy model model. Also she is adverse to killing people and likes conflict resolution. The rest of it with the cult and the ex-boyfriend who is doing a superhero reality show doesn't work for me. And the main character isn't that engaging. She feels like a refutation to other books but not terribly well drawn.

70. American Vampire vol 1 by Scott Snyder & Rafael Albuquerque - This is a really well put together story. Skinner Sweet is a scary and intriguing character and the picture of him emerging from his coffin and swimming to eat the divers is one of the most memorable ones in recent memory. This book is about his origins as an outlaw and how he got some vampire blood on him when the bank owner turned out to be a vampire and how he evolved into his own type of vampire is contrasted with the hero of the comic which is the woman that he turns into a vampire in the 1920s after she is attacked by vampires. Pearl Jones allows Snyder to tell the old Hollywood scandal stories where young starlets are eaten alive (and famous actors lure disposable women into horrible places). Sweet is a western tale where the good guys are working for evil plutocrats and the bad guys are folk heroes. And murderers. So this is a great beginning.

71. American Vampire vol 3 by Scott Snyder & Rafael Albuquerque - So what do we do now that Sweet Skinner and Pearl Jones are equal characters in the same era. This one skips to the 1940s but not before giving us a prologue of sorts that connects the two stories from the first volume. Skinner Sweet watches an old timey wild west show in 1913 and then kills all the actors, except for the woman who turned him in. She explains that he would have died anyhow but this way they both could have gone out together. He accepts her explanation but the important part is that she looks like Pearl which kind of explains why he made Pearl into another American Vampire (sun is great, but gold is bad).

Once that's dispensed with, we move into WWII where Pearl's husband is drafted by the vampire squad and ends up on a South Pacific island with new Japanese vampires that don't have eyes. Just big mouths. Also Pearl comes in to try to rescue him and Sweet is bullying him. When the whole thing is over Sweet is dead (officially) and Pearl is telling the vampire squad to fuck off.

And then there are the boring characters. When Sweet was the outlaw, he made his main enemy into a vampire like him and that enemy killed himself because vampire, but not before getting a woman pregnant and now the daughter of the bounty hunter is with the vampire squad (I may remember the name) and is trying to get into a Nazi hold in order to find out what the vampires are up to. Apparently there are old giant vampires that most of the vampires are trying to destroy. Also there's a vampire toddler who can be cured. I don't know. I find her whole story with the vampire squad to be boring. More on this later.

72. Spiderwoman: New Duds by Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez - I seem to be on a permanent crusade to get pissed off by alt-right assholes claiming that diversity is bad and that comic books that have diverse titles are just not very good. I get mad at them when I see them spouting off their bullshit and then I read really great titles like this one and I get extremely pissed by how stupid and ignorant they are in talking about titles that they don't read. Jessica Drew is a great character as Hopeless writes her. She is funny and she is always questioning herself and better yet, she isn't afraid to admit that she's wrong like in the story about the super villain girlfriends disappearing. Eventually she finds out that her crusade has been counterproductive and after getting some promises, she leaves everything alone. And her give-and-take with the weird villain of Porcupine, a villain so inept that he's got no problem becoming a sidekick instead, is energetic. I feel like reading some of these comics is just an exercise in going COME ON READ IT! You'll love it. Also Spiderwoman now has a costume that looks comfortable and there is one reference to her googling SPiderwoman's butt which is a nice way to promise that they won't ever give us a cover with her ass in the air again.

73.The Manhattan Projects 2 by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Pitarra - I don't know what the fuck is going on in this one. There are aliens. I think that Einstein is a hero. There are presidents who are crazy. I think that Harry Truman is dressed like the villain in Temple of Doom. The art is good but the story is a fucking mess and I'm not going to blame myself for not being able to follow any of the threads.
marlowe1: (Serenity)
74. The Stranger by Albert Camus adapted into a graphic novel by Jacques Ferrandez - I don't know why this novel is so fascinating. How do you tell a story about a guy who is so cut off from the rest of the world that he doesn't care when his mother dies or that he is killing someone? He doesn't even care that he is going to die and his speech to the priest at the end serves as the theme. Sure, he's a response to Raskolnikov who denies his humanity but is overcome with guilt. Instead he is the modern man who doesn't care. And moving around that plot is the implication of the story where a white man is so cut off from society that he kills an Arab character who is known only the Arab and refuses to feel bad about it. Kind of like most white dudes who have a filter that doesn't allow them to see the Other as anything beyond danger or victim. I don't know if The Stranger is a critique of imperialism. I want to read it as a critique of imperialism, else I am just enjoying a book that is about a man who is just a killer without remorse. It feels deeper than my reading of it but am I reading too much into it. I like Camus but I'm not certain that this book is anything more than an idea book for smartass teenagers.

75.Beef with Tomato by Dean Haspiel - I was wondering why I hated this graphic novel when I seemed to like other Dean Haspiel books. I had to look him to realize that I liked the books that he illustrated but he didn't write them. So he's great when he is writing other people's stories and his style is reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke, but when he writes his own stories they are really fucking boring. In fact, they are Gentrifying Asshole manifestos. The character of Dean Haspiel depicted in the comic is a boring white guy who moves from Manhattan to Brooklyn and bitches about how everyone considers him to be a gentrifier when he's really poor. He rides his bike around. He likes restaurants and there's a naked woman in the next apartment. He name checks the blackout and 9/11 as bookends, but at heart is a boring white guy who thinks that every insight is fascinating and every story is the gift of the gods to mortals. Sure, there are minority characters in his neighborhood but they are merely props to this guy feeling a little nervous.


marlowe1: (Default)
Tim Lieder

September 2017

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