Monday, June 5, 2017

31 Days of Spooky Movies: The Brood

Day # 26

The Brood
1979

A father tries to get to the bottom of what’s being done to his institutionalized wife and the strange string of murders that seem to revolve around her.


Fright Factor:
1 / 5 Embarrassing Mothers

Gore Factor:
1.5 / 5  Live Births


Should You Watch it?

Oh my dear gosh, I hate this movie!

So. Much.

If I hadn’t been under a time-crunch this day I would have definitely turned it off. It is so stupid and POWERFULLY bland. Half of the movie is just the father doing fatherly things, trying to get on with his life sans wife, and talk-talk-talking and they give you absolutely no reason to care. Then these weird children-things start showing up and killing people despite their lack of subtlety or skill. And even when there are murders occurring the film still manages to be boring!

And then the ending. Oh, the ending. Admittedly the ending is the most interesting part of the movie BY FAR, but, jeez...does it ever come out of nowhere. I mean, really, just completely out of nowhere. I won’t spoil it, because the reveal is the only part of this movie that was even remotely worth watching. But just know that if you attempt this and find yourself bored out of your mind like I was, you won’t be missing much to skip over large swathes of the film.

I could probably find some kernel of interest to grasp onto and make a better post about it, but it just doesn’t deserve it. It’s an extremely boring horror movie that is far from scary and WAY too 70s for its own good (let alone the viewer’s).

If you can’t find a better horror movie to watch than The Brood you either don’t have many options or just aren’t trying hard enough.


“The movie, I mentioned, is a bore. That's because hardly anything of interest happens until the last 15 minutes or so. Eggar's husband is opposed to the institute, thinks she's being kept a prisoner there, rants and raves a lot and finally breaks in. But otherwise there's just a lot of coming and going and musing, as the music on the sound track hints darkly at the terrible things to come.”
-from Roger Ebert’s review of The Brood

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Animal


Day #25

Animal
(2014)

A group of friends go out for a day hike in the remote woods, but things take a turn for the worst when they start being hunted by a monstrous creature.


Fright Factor:
2 / 5 Condescending Men

Gore Factor:
3 / 5 Maulings



Should you watch it?


Common among Horror movies are the ones that get made not because a talented creator had a good idea, but because someone needed content. Think of them like the Hallmark Lifetime specials of Horror: they’re not movies made to rake it up at the box office or create art, they’re made on the cheap to serve as content (generally as television stuffing or streaming filler).

And I guess their dastardly plan worked, because I ended up watching it! Touché.


They might have succeeded in getting another view, but they certainly didn’t succeed in making a great movie. The filmmakers seemed rather clueless about the art of creating fear. And what do you do when you don’t know how to create something original? That’s right! You just try to copy what other people have done. Yet without a developed sense of the Who/What/When/Why/Where/How’s of Horror, it all just falls flat. The plot is hackneyed and the writing is quite lazy and only has one (and only one) memorable element: the indomitable Keke Palmer.

Palmer out-acts everyone in the film and single-handedly straps this movie onto her back and drags its out from the pit of Awful and into the plains of Mediocre. If it wasn’t for Palmer’s character Alissa I would have turned this thing off really early on. And thus Alissa is really the only part of the movie worth talking about.

Alissa is such an intriguing element to find in a crappy movie like this. Here’s this badass woman of color who is outdoorsy, caring, and fiercely clever. A character who consistently analyzes threats to the group with remarkable precision and is without a doubt the group’s MVP.

But the truly infuriating thing about this movie isn’t the poor writing or the sloppy production, it’s that NO ONE in the movie will acknowledge Alissa’s contributions! Some dumb-ass dude is always ignoring her advice and straight-up telling her she’s wrong...and then they end up suffering the results! (As do we!)

The level at which female opinions are dismissed is so high that at points I started to wonder if the whole thing was some sort satiric move on the filmmaker’s behalf to mock the tropes of the genre, but sadly this just isn’t the case. What it comes down to is that the movie is just inherently sexist. They wanted to have a strong female character who was more than just a damsel to distress, but they didn’t want to actually follow through with what that entails.

So there you have it. Animal is a made-for-cable monster movie that was saved from utter blandness by a stellar performance by Keke Palmer. And yet in spite of her valiant efforts, the film sabotages her character at every turn in order to stick to a bland recipe of over-used plot-lines and tropes. While it really isn’t worth watching, it does provide an interesting example of the inherent friction between people’s desire for fully-formed female characters and the industry’s reluctance to fully commit to it.




“I think it wants us here.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I mean, how did Vicky and Carl end up here? How did any of us end up here? Coincidence?”

“But it doesn’t matter.”

“Thing ate Jeff like it was nothing. How come it didn’t do the same thing to the rest of us?”

“Babe, Don’t do this.”
...
“All I’m saying is that it herded us here. Eating what it can and saving the rest as prey.”

“Babe, baby-”

“How else can you explain it?”

“Baby, I know it’s hard for you. Okay? But you can’t keep doing this. You’re over thinking-”

“No, I’m not. I’m being completely rational.”

“Bab-”

“You’re not even listening to me.”

“Babe, look at me... it’s just an animal. That’s it. And what’s happening in here? To us? Is happening because it just is. Figuring out why that it’s happening doesn’t help us. But figuring out how to get out of here? That does.
...
Come here. You’re the smartest girl that I know. You’re a genius. So don’t let that beautiful brain of yours spiral out of control because you can’t figure out something, okay?”



Sunday, April 9, 2017

31 Days of Spooky Movies: The Witches

Day #24

The Witches
(1990)

A young boy on holiday discovers a secret coven of witches who are scheming to turn all the children of the world into mice.


Fright Factor:
1/5 Ill-conceived Schemes

Gore Factor:



Should You Watch It?


I first saw this movie back when I was I kid and to be fair that’s really the way it was intended to be seen. I doubt the filmmakers were aiming for the coveted twenty-something-roommates-watching-nearly-30-years-later demographic.

Despite no longer being a part of the movie’s intended market there are still a some things to enjoy about The Witches. Angelica Huston is fantastic and I’m always happy whenever Rowan Atkinson shows up in a movie. But it’s the practical effects and monster make-up that elevate this movie into the realm of the memorable.

The scenes that stuck with me after seeing it as a kid weren’t ones about mouse-boy hijinks (aka most of the movie), they were the gruesome effects-heavy scenes! The Jim Henson company did the effects for the movie, so that says it all right there, but what you might not expect is just how grotesque this movie gets! Especially considering its PG rating.

The Witches is not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination and as a whole it comes across pretty heavily as low-budget kiddy-fantasy-adventure. Yet there still are some wonderful moments where the filmmakers seem to have legitimately gone out of their way to try and give children nightmares. And there’s something you just have to respect about that.

So with that in mind, if you’re looking for a horror movie you can show to frighten a child without mentally scarring them forever, then maybe check it out. But if you’re an adult with no particular nostalgia for the book, then the gruesome bits probably won’t be enough to overpower the kiddy-centric-sweetness of the rest of the film for you.




“Real witches are very cruel, and they have a highly developed sense of smell. A real witch could smell you across the street on a pitch-black night.”

“She couldn’t smell me. I’ve just had a shower.”

“Oh yes, she could. The cleaner you are, the more a witch can smell you.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“Oh, yes it does. A dirty child, it is the dirt she smells. A clean child, it is the child.”

“Wow. I’ll never have a shower again, and I’ll have you for an excuse.”

“Well, just not often. Only once a month is probably safe.”

Friday, March 10, 2017

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Attack the Block

Day # 23

Attack the Block
(2011)

A pack of deadly animalistic aliens crash land in London. Luckily for us they chose a poor place to land and quickly end up in a blood feud with a criminal gang of teenagers.


Fright Factor:
1.5 / 5 Turquoise Glowsticks

Gore Factor:
2.5 / 5 Bloody Lifts


Should You Watch It?

I really want to like Attack the Block. Nick Frost and John Boyega are in it, it’s a horror movie with a cast that’s predominately people of color, and it’s got a fun premise!

But the thing is...it somehow manages to be a pretty dull movie.

It makes a couple hamfisted attempts at being about something bigger, but they’re all too heavy-handed and inconsistent to mean anything. With some slight tweaking it certainly could have been a movie that used the horror genre as a way of looking at the issues people face in poor communities, but instead it's just a slightly lazy horror-comedy that likes to throw out an occasional deep thought to seem profound.

But whatever, right? Most people aren’t going to horror movies for their societal messages. They’re going to see some spooky mayhem and cool monsters, right?

Enter the aliens:


What. The. Fuck...



I don’t know about you, but that is quite possibly the laziest creature design I have ever seen. Theres just something about creatures that looks like cheap gorilla costumes with CGI-rave teeth that makes them hard to take seriously. 


And those aliens are symbolic of the movie. The whole thing is amorphous: just a blob of movement with some glowy bits of danger. It’s as if it was afraid to really try to be anything and thus left us with nothing.




“We should call the police.”

“You’d be better off calling the Ghostbusters, love.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book List 2016: May / June

Wow, I am so far behind on my posting duties and it is getting to be slightly over-whelming, but I press on! This will probably be the last one in this style for awhile. I gotta catch up, so I think I’m going to switch to a simpler, bulkier method so I get my ass to the end of 2016 so I can start talking about the year we are currently residing in!

I really need to find a new place to blog though, because this site makes everything SO DIFFICULT. I want things to look somewhat nice, but in order to achieve that I have to continually spend so much time fighting with this site’s programming: inserting proper commas and quotation marks by hand, continually correcting all the formatting whenever blogger decides to destroy it all on a whim, and so on and so forth. The amount of time I spend wrestling with formatting here far outweighs the time I get to spend on actual content.

Ugh!

But whatever. First things first: let’s talk about some books!






*** = reread



Non-FICTION



Brown Girl Dreaming
by. Jacqueline Woodson







Jacqueline Woodson tells the story of her childhood through poetic prose.







I’m generally not one for poetry as prose, but I’ve gotta admit that Woodson not only pulls it off, but actually uses it with spell-binding skill. The result is a fantastic book that deals with life and race in America.




“Some Fridays, we walk downtown Greenville where
there are some clothing stores, some restaurants,
a motel and the five-and-dime store but
my grandmother won’t take us
into any of those places anymore.
Even the five-and-dime, which isn’t segregated now
but where a woman is paid, my grandmother says,
to follow colored people around in case they try to
steal something. We don’t go into restaurants
because they always seat us near the kitchen.
When we go downtown,
we go to the fabric store, where the white woman
knows my grandmother
from back in Anderson, asks,
How’s Gunnar doing and your girls in New York?
She rolls fabric out for my grandmother
to rub between her fingers.
They discuss drape and nap and where to cinch
the waist on a skirt for a child.
At the fabric store, we are not Colored
or Negro. We are not thieves or shameful
or something to be hidden away.
At the fabric store, we’re just people.”

pg.91





Star Wars:
The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy
by. Alexandra Bracken





A middle grade novelization of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.








“This story begins as so many do: a long, long time ago...in a place far beyond the glittering stars you see in your night sky.”
- opening line


I really wanted to like this one, because the title seems to suggest that it’ll provide a new way of thinking/looking at the original stories. But after reading it I really can’t say that it added anything of merit.

There are a number of reasons why I didn’t enjoy it, but chief among them was the author’s tendency to ruin classic bits of dialogue by adding EXTREMELY SUPERFLUOUS thoughts in between all the dialogue.

The dialogue in these movies was so great because they were able to say so much with so little. Putting a bunch of thoughts in between the lines just weakens the dialogue.

Do yourself a favor: don’t bother with this book and just invest the time you saved in rewatching Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.

You’ll be glad you did.




“‘It’ll take a few moments to get the coordinates from the nav computer.’

‘Are you kidding?’ Luke cried. ‘At the rate they’re gaining...?’

Good thing he didn’t finish that thought. Han glared at him. This kid, honestly.


‘Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy!’ he said.”
-pg.116





* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
A Hat Full of Sky
by. Terry Pratchett
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 



Tiffany Aching becomes an apprentice to an older witch(es), but things take a turn for the worse when an ancient entity tries to steal her soul.





After the action-packed storyline of the The Wee Free Men, the follow-up seems all the more pastoral. But don’t let that fool you, because Pratchett is bringing his A-game to the table here. He takes a simple story about a young witch finding her way in the world and he infuses it with all his wit and charm and insight.

The thing that makes the Tiffany Aching series so great is that they aren’t about destroying an enemy; they’re about out-thinking a challenger. About out-maneuvering, out-foxing, and out-caring them. Where the winner isn’t the one who comes out on top, it’s the one who learns the most from the encounter. Tiffany’s adventures challenge her (and in doing so challenge us) to be brave enough and clever enough to see things as they are; to really think.


I really can’t say enough nice things about this series. Terry Pratchett is my favorite author and this is just one of the many books where he pulls out all the stops and reminds me why that is.


“Tiffany didn't know what to reply except: ‘It shouldn’t be like this.’

‘There isn’t a way things should be. There’s just what happens and what we do.’

‘Well, couldn’t you help him by magic?’

‘I see to it that he's in no pain, yes,’ said Miss Level.

‘But that’s just herbs.’

‘It’s still magic. Knowing things is magical, if other people don't know them.’

‘Yes, but you know what I mean,’ said Tiffany, who felt she was losing this argument.

‘Oh, you mean make him young again?’ said Miss Level. ‘Fill his house with gold? That's not what witches do.’

‘We see to it that lonely old men get a cooked dinner and cut their toenails?’ said Tiffany, just a little sarcastically.

‘Well, yes,’ said Miss Level. ‘We do what can be done...’”
-pg. 86






H2O
by. Virginia Bergin




A young girl tries her best to survive in a world where the rain has become deadly.








The level to which this book annoyed the crap out of me is impressive to say the least.

Sadly, that was the only impressive thing about it.


I started out thinking, “Okay, so this main character is a complete ditz, but I’m looking forward to seeing how she’ll grow as a character.” But she never does! She remains a complete ditz the whole time! Not only that, but I have a whole list of other reasons why this book was a trainwreck:


  • It’s said that the rain is harmful, because there’s a space virus/bacteria in it that seeks out blood. But it only wants human blood? Like, all other mammals are okay. And all forms of anti-bacterial/viral filtration system don’t work? That...that is just stupid. I can only be asked to suspend my disbelief so much.
  • The main character is shockingly inept. For example: after all hell has broken loose she decides to hop in a car and make a run for it. She packs a shit-ton of make-up and glamour magazines, but absolutely nothing to drink and no rain protective clothes.
  • After seeing her all her family and friends die, let alone all the dead strangers she’s seen, when she runs into a kid she knows from school she hates him because he was unpopular and she’s afraid someone will see her hanging out with a nerd. [I really wish I were making some of these up, but they are 100% true]
  • should I go on? I can keep going. Okay, just one more: Did I mention that in a world where coming into contact with water can kill you...she decides to bring a labrador with her. And it’s not even hers! She just goes around town collecting dogs and trying to bring them with her. I mean, really, a labrador!? And guess what? The OBVIOUS happens and the lab jumps in some water and then tries to give her a sloppy kiss. Because that’s what they do!


...nothing makes sense! No one thinks anything through and the main character has the survival instincts of a lemming. There was so little thought put into this story that I just find the whole thing to be an insult to the reader.



“If this was a regular story, like the kind you’d read for fun, it would have such a great beginning.”
-pg. 5






The Boundless
by. Kenneth Oppel


On an American frontier full of sasquatch and witches, a young man boards an infamous train 100 cars long for the adventure of a lifetime.






It is a truth universally acknowledged, that any person in possession of good taste must be in want of train-centric fiction.

At least...I’m pretty sure that’s a universal rule.

In any case, I really liked the setting of this one: it’s a world where all those North American myths and legends are real and—obviously—it’s pretty entertaining.

I also quite liked the train and the frequent details about the train.

As for the story itself? Pretty typical middle grade fare, to be honest. So it could have been a lot better, but whatever! I had fun nevertheless. World-building and super trains! Is that not enough for you?



“Will smiles. He feels a lot better knowing his father will be getting a note about him, and the guard – and that Sam Steele will know too. He looks around the caboose, and up through the cupola windows, where he can see the full moon. The idea of spending a day in a caboose doesn’t seem so terrible – in fact, he likes it. He could do without Mackie. But how many people get to cross the country in a caboose? It’s almost as good as riding in the locomotive.

He isn’t even aware that his eyes keep closing, until he hears Sticks say, ‘Why don’t you get some rest?’

Will nods. He feels unaccountably heavy.

‘You can have my cot,’ says Sticks. ‘But if you don’t mind, have a wash first. That sasquatch urine is potent.’”

-pg.101





The Fair Fight

by. Anna Freeman

A female boxer whose passions might be the death of her. A handsome gambler whose love has become a prison. And a scarred woman who is sick of being weak.


Three different people whose lives become intertwined in 18th century England. All three trapped in their own unfortunate lives and boxing might be the only way out.




The premise alone sold me on this one. I mean, a story about female boxers in the 18th century? Tell me more!

And I’m so very glad I gave it a shot, because I loved this book. The whole thing turned the 18th century on its head for me. There’s a homosexual romance, there’s women boxers who beat the shit out of people, there’s a man who loves that his wife is self reliant and way tougher than he is, and so much more.


Suck on that, stereotypical depictions of the past!

The weird thing about this book for me was that it does a number of things that I generally hate; for example, characters talking in period dialects. And against all odds, Freeman pulls it off! I actually found myself really liking those elements of the story.

I never really knew I wanted a period drama wherein a lady punches her uppity husband right in his sexist face, but it turns out that that’s exactly what I wanted!


And it is so worth it.




“One day, fetching water from the well, my eye fell on the dummy hanging in the yard. I left the bucket and stood before it, letting all my rage rise up to my fists. I fibbed it hard enough to knock the straw from it, and oh, my stars, I wished I’d not. The hit set the bones of my hand aflame. I sagged to my knees, holding my hand in front of me, curled over it. Water came to my eyes, not just for the pain. I wasn’t built to be a wife, in a cottage, with my husband gone, I was born to stand before a crowd and hear them scream as blood hit the sawdust. Weeping a little, I got back to my feet and beat the dummy with my good left hand till that one sand out too. I didn’t care a fig; it was better to break both hands than be brought down to nothing but wife. I beat the leather dummy till I knew I was only beating myself—my good hand was near as sorry as the bad one by then. Having injured myself enough, I crept back inside, to sit and stare at walls.”
-pg.261-262





Salvage
by. Alexandra Duncan



In a space-faring colony females are considered too weak to ever journey to the planet’s surface. But when a young woman breaks a sacred taboo she is exiled planetside. Now she must learn how to survive and figure out what exactly she is capable of.







I have mixed feelings about this one. Duncan creates a really strong premise with some great characters, but her plotting left a lot to be desired. A formula quickly develops wherein every time the main character finds herself in a bad situation someone will miraculously come out of nowhere to solve all her problems. And it just. Keeps. Happening.

I really wanted to like the main character, but she never gets a chance to really develop. She so rarely has to overcome anything on her own; someone is always showing up to take care of her problems for her.

As such, there is character development, but it’s all self-revelation. Her development really only takes the form of her realizing what she isn’t, but she almost never is forced to take steps to become anybody. Because of this the readers are denied access to a fundamental aspect of her character. And the story suffers accordingly.




“I blink at her. Me, flying? My father’s words rattle around the back of my head. You can’t nurse a baby and run a navigation program.

‘I don’t know.’ I look from Perpétue to the sloop to the square of cloud-patched sky above our heads.

Perpétue follows my gaze. ‘They threw you out,’ she says. ‘That doesn’t mean you’re worthless. It only means they didn’t see your worth.’

I look back at her in the shadow of the docking well.

Her jaw is set and her eyes alight. ‘You can show them,’ she says. ‘You can make your own way.’”

-pg.204







A Court of Thorns and Roses
by. Sarah J. Maas



A young woman is forced to become the indentured guest to a powerful fey lord. But she quickly learns that things are never quite as they seem in the world of the fey.









Overall I’ve gotta say, this was a pretty fun YA read. But I’ve also gotta say that it is essentially a slightly off-brand version of Disney’s Beauty & The Beast. I mean, sure, they’ve spiced it up a bit and filled it out with some more romance, more action, and a certain Katniss Everdeen-esque flair, but really...

...nearly shot-for-shot Beauty & The Beast.

But with a much different ending...

And you know what? I really like Beauty & The Beast, okay? I also really liked (most of) The Hunger Games. So I actually really enjoyed this one. I am contemplating reading the second one, but I’m not a fan of the ending to this one, sooo...we’ll have to see how I feel down the line.

There is one thing, however, that I do wish to momentarily harp on, if you’ll indulge me a moment: the main character’s illiteracy. They make a big point of mentioning that she can’t read, and so I was thinking “Oh, the beast or someone is totally going to teach her to read while she’s staying there and then it’s gonna come back to save her butt later on,” but THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN! She just straight up never learns to read!

And since I read this right after I read Salvage this bothered me all the more. Salvage also has a lead character who begins the story illiterate, but when she gets away from her crazy family everyone is like, “What? You can’t read? Holy shit. We’re totally going to teach you how to read, because being literate is kind of super important.” And it is! Being illiterate is a huge weakness. And frankly I’m still kind of annoyed at her for not getting on that.




“Grunting against the weight, I grasped the legs of the deer and spared a final glance at the steaming carcass of the wolf. His remaining golden eye now stared at the snow-heavy sky, and for a moment, I wished I had it in me to feel remorse for the dead thing.

But this was the forest, and it was winter.”

-pg. 8




Mort(e)
by. Robert Repino



A group of hyper-intelligent ants bestow mammalian animals with the gift of intelligence (and opposable thumbs) to aid them in their war against humanity. A housecat turned war hero named Mort(e) wants to find his old friend, but that will be harder than it seems when both sides hear a prophecy that he is the one who will end the war.




This book is straight up wacky, but I kinda loved that about it.

I mean, it is pretty much exactly what the description would lead you to think it is. So if that sounds up your alley, you should definitely check it out.



Before he took his new name, before the animals rose up and overthrew their oppressors, before there was talk of prophecies and saviors, the great warrior Mort(e) was just a house cat known to his human masters as Sebastian. It was a time that now returned to him only in dreams and random moments of nostalgia that disappeared as quickly as they arose. All of it except for Sheba. The memory of her was always digging at him like a splinter under a nail.”

-pg.3, opening paragraph






There Are Little Kingdoms:
Stories
by. Kevin Barry





A collection of atmospheric short stories from Irish writer Kevin Barry.





Overall I really enjoyed this collection. Some of the stories were definitely better than others, but such is the way of short story collections.

It’s definitely a collection of atmospheric pieces though. Their goal generally seemed to be to create a mood more than to tell a specific story. So it’s not a super exciting page-turner or anything, but it is a rather relaxing kind of read. Kind of dark, a little melancholy, and very much Irish.






GRAPHIC NOVELS




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
Cardcaptor Sakura
by. CLAMP
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 



A young girl named Sakura accidentally breaks the seal on an ancient book of magic causing the cards bound within to be set free. Now with the help of the book’s guardian she must find and recapture the cards before they can unleash chaos.






The first time I heard about Carcaptors was when I saw a commercial announcing that the anime was coming to the WB. It had this fantastic style, and there was magic and monsters and I thought to myself, “Whoah! I need to watch this show!”

And I did and it was great, so I found the comics and read them too. And now I own the comics!

It is such a unique story in so many ways. It’s set around this idea of magic and yet the magic pretty much always takes a back seat to the drama. It’s essentially a middle school romantic drama wherein the main characters take breaks to go capture wild magical forces from time to time.

Clamp, for those of you who don’t know, is an art group of 5 women. They are very good at a great number of things, but one of the biggest has to be clothing. I swear, almost no one in comics actually bothers to give their characters different outfits, let alone highly detailed and stylish ones. And yet Clamp does that pretty much all the time.

Did I mention that it’s bizarrely progressive? I’m not sure I can name another comic series where the full LGBTQ line-up is in attendance, but it sure is in this one. For gosh sakes, at one point Sakura’s school puts on a production of Sleeping Beauty and all the roles are randomly assigned so that everyone has a equal chance at every part. And I do mean all the roles. Sakura is cast as the Prince, Li is the Princess, and it’s so cute and amazing! It’s like looking into a progressive future.

And yet...I’ve gotta mention the one big blemish on the face of the series: multiple instances of adult / student romances. They’re never really part of the main plot or anything, but they are still present and are kind of creepy. I’ve seen this trope quite a lot in Japanese media though and while I don’t like it, I’m don’t really know enough about the cultural factors at work here to pass proper judgment. All I can say is that personally I find it to be rather unsettling.

But like I said, I hate to mention it at all, because it is far from a main part of the story. Just something that some side characters are up to. But I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t at least mention that it is there.

All in all I really do love this series. It’s one of those stories that caught my eye right off the bat and that I’ve never been able to forget it ever since.




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
Nimona
by. Noelle Stevenson
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 




A young shapeshifter teams up with an evil genius to overthrow a corrupt status quo. But if the people in charge are up to no good then are the outlaws actually the good guys?







I am so excited that this is in book form! I remember when it used to just be a web comic and I had to wait like 3 days inbetween each page. But now you can sit down and just read the entire thing! How lovely is that?

Anyways, this comic is amazing. This story has it all: fantasy, science fiction, sharks, scientists, romance, knights with really good hair, non-conforming gender roles, humor!

I totally adore everything about it. Do yourself a favor and go read it ASAP.



“‘I was hoping you could explain all this to me.’


‘It wasn’t my fault. Ballister’s new sidekick broke the rules.

I didn’t think she’d be such a problem, she’s only a child after all.’


‘Tell me, how did a child bring about the destruction of our finest research facility right under your very nose?’


‘Ah well, you see, she seems to have some shape-shifting abilities.’


‘a SHAPESHIFTER?!

Do you mean to tell me that Ballister Blackheart has a shapeshifter in his employment and you didn't think to mention it until now?’


‘It’s only a little one.’”
-pg.32-33






Hawkeye, vol.1:
My Life as a Weapon
written by. Matt Fraction
art by. Alan Davis, David Aja, Javier Pulido



clint barton, a.k.a.
hawkeye,
became the greatest sharpshooter known to man.

he then joined the avengers.

this is what he does when he’s not being an avenger.

that’s all you need to know.”
-issue 1



If you’re anything like me you might immediately be suspicious about a comic centering around a modern day superhero whose only real power is being really good with a bow and arrow. And yet I’ve been hearing good things about this new Hawkeye series so I figured I’d give it a chance.

Turns out that it’s pretty great! It takes a down-to-earth route with the character, pivoting things in such a way that its greatest weaknesses become its greatest strengths. If anything the fact that Hawkeye doesn’t have any real super powers makes him all the more interesting in this series. He’s the straight-man to the superpowered insanity that surrounds him and he has to work twice as hard to keep up.

Not to mention that Kate Bishop (aka also Hawkeye) is featured prominently in here and they are super fun together.



“‘Vagabond code. Hobo graffiti. Old carnie thing. Us’ta do it when I was a kid in the circus.

We’d mark a town up with these little signs let folks comin’ after us know what’s up.

These’ve been springing up over the city last week or so.

Something’s going to happen and I don’t know what it is.

But shady people are warning folks to get out of town if they don’t like the heat...

because after, the cops are gonna start tearing things up.



‘So hobos are warning other hobos that something big and/or police inducing, ergo criminal, may be about to occur...

...and that may-or-may-not involve other hobos...and/or circuses?



‘...Well when you say it like that it sounds stupid.’”






Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, volume 1:
Shell Unleashed
Story: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Layouts: Kevin Eastman
Art: Dan Duncan & Mateus Santolouco

Volume 4:
Sins of the Father
Story by Kevin Eastman&Tom Waltz
Script by. Tom Waltz
Art by. Andy Kuhn





First off I should mention that the Volume One mentioned here isn’t the first volume of the series [aka Change is Constant], but instead the first volume of the omnibuses which in this case comprises the first 3 volumes of the trade paperbacks. So essentially I just read the first four volumes of the series.

Okay?

Okay.

This is the new turtles series that’s been going on for a while now. I read the first volume back when it first came out, but I haven’t read anything since then so I figured I’d get into it a little and see how it goes.

The verdict: It does a lot of things I really like. And it does a number of things that I don’t.

It has Kevin Eastman on board and that is fantastic. The style definitely has a touch of the modern era, but with a heavy dash of the original comics as well. They also do a lot of things with character development that I really like.

The one thing I will say against it is that the whole backstory for Splinter and turtles is downright stupid. Oh my gosh is it ever stupid. In other iterations of the Turtle franchise Splinter gets turned into a rat mutant or was always a rat but learned the ways of the ninja from his owner. But in this version Splinter is the reincarnation of Hamato Yoshi and the turtles are the reincarnations of his 4 sons, all of whom were killed by the Shredder. I wish I was making that up, but it I’m not.

So, as long as you can put aside the fact that that is really goofy and unnecessary, there’s still some good ol’ fashioned turtle fun to be had in this series. It’s definitely not the best incarnation of the turtles ever made, but it’s still pretty enjoyable. And the fact that Eastman is involved in the production gives it some of that original turtles vibe that I love.




“AND SO IT BEGINS.

This how it’s gonna be, Splinter?’

DARK CLOUDS GATHER.

‘You gonna hide like a coward behind those...those freaks?’

THE SKIES RUMBLE THREATENINGLY.

‘Who’s he calling freaks? Has he seen himself?’
‘Yo, Pot, meet Kettle!’

Silence, Michlangelo.’

FOLLOWED BY AN UNNATURAL CALM.

Old Hob, this need not happen. We are not here to fight. We only want this neighborhood left in peace.’

‘Yeah?’

BUT THEN, THE CALM VANISHES...

‘Well, you can keep on wantin’, rat!’

...AND LIGHTNING STRIKES.

WASTE ’EM ALL!’”
-issue 1







The Nameless City
by. Faith Erin Hicks



In a city constantly changing ownership a young warrior-in-training teams up with a local thief in order to help each other and save the city and everyone who calls it home.









I wasn’t too sure about this one going in, but I was intrigued by its Avatar: The Last Airbender-esque air of a fantasy world steeped in an Asian diaspera. And I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. It’s a solid piece of middle-grade graphic noveling. While it’s not strong enough for me to necessarily recommend it to adults, I think it’s pretty great for a younger crowd.

I’ve gotta say though, it ends on a really strong note, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops in the next volume.



“‘The Nameless city, home of the best food you can buy right off the street. Better food than mother makes.

So, how’s your mom doing?’


‘She’s good. She doesn’t cook very much since she became tribe leader.’


‘She’s the tribe leader now? Don’t tell me your grandfather finally retired.’


‘No, he died. Six years ago.’




‘It’s been a while since I’ve visited the homelands, hasn’t it...’”
-pg. 29-30






The Last of Us:
American Dreams
written by. Neil Druckmann Faith Erin Hicks
art by. Faith Erin Hicks





“This story takes place before the events of the game The Last of Us.”









For those of you who don’t already know, The Last of Us is a video game about a fungal infection that sweeps across the planet with zombie-esque effects and the mercenary who gets hired to escort a young girl to a group of vigilante scientists who are looking for a cure.

And it’s one of the best told stories I’ve come across in some time. Seriously. The acting is superb, the characters are so well developed, and the story it tells is epic and amazing. If you have the means you should totally buy that game. Otherwise I wholeheartedly recommend finding one of the many videos online where you can watch someone else play it. It really is an amazing game.

The only problem with it is just that: it’s a video game! I love video games, but that means that it makes enjoying it a bit of a commitment. If this was a book or a movie or a tv show or something I’d have consumed it like 4 times already. But it’s not, so I can’t!

In any case, you can understand why I’d be interested in a comic dealing with the series.

And this here comic is pretty good. It deals with what Ellie was up to before she met Joel and I think it can be enjoyed by both people who are familiar with the game and even those who aren’t.

The thing is just...it’s not the same. The game is just so well done and so well-suited to its medium that a comic just can’t do it its full justice.

So, yeah, I dunno. I really did enjoy the comic, but yeah. It’s just not the same. However, I will fully admit that I’m judging it for what it wasn’t and not for what it was. Which is bad reviewing on my part! So keep that in mind.

However, if you’ve never played the game, you won’t face this dilemma of mine and you’ll be free to enjoy it for its own merits! I recommend you give it a try.



“Take it easy, Ellie.’


‘How do you know my name?’”


“‘There’s no way out.’

‘You know what? Fuck this letter. Fuck the fireflies. Fuck the soldiers. FUCK EVERYONE in this city.

Let’s run away. Leave this zone. I hear there are other places. Places that--’


‘Stop.

Leave the zone? All that’ll do is give us a different way to die.



All roads lead to the same end.’”






Just So Happens
by. Fumio Obata





A woman returns to Japan to attend the funeral of her father and while there she is forced to come to terms with the form her grief is taking.









I wanted to like this one and while I enjoyed the artwork I just couldn’t get into the story. If I knew anything about noh plays maybe I’d have gotten more out of it?




“Which book was it? I remember reading about it...


Noh’s aesthetic demands the exclusion of natural traits and spontaneity...

The performers restrict characters’ emotions by following a sophisticated code of gestures...

Which, along with the masks...

...turns them into a beautiful piece of art.


But what about inside?

Can the performer remain calm and detached inside like I am?

And despite all this, I can still take part in it!


Ah, where I am right now...

I am in a theater...performing a piece, pretending to be something else...”

-pg.80-81






Snowpiercer
volumes 1-3

1: written by Jacques Lob
art by Jean-Marc Rochette
translated by Virginie Selavy

2: written by Benjamin Legrand
art by Jean-Marc Rochette
translated by Virginie Selavy

3: written by Olivier Bocquet
art by Jean-Marc Rochette



As some of you may know, I’m a fan of the 2014 movie Snowpiercer and I finally broke down and decided to check out the source material. Now I didn’t think this was possible, because that movie is down right Looney Tunes, but the comics somehow manage to actually be EVEN WEIRDER!

The movie was strange, but it worked as a cohesive story. The train worked as a metaphor for society: it goes around in circles, it was built for the rich to benefit the rich, the poor are exploited and persecuted, and so on and so on. The story focused on the poor in the back of the train staging a revolution in order to wrest control of the train from the rich, but while doing so come to realize that the whole system is corrupt and that there’s no way to take power without being corrupted.

The comics? The comics are straight up just the adventures of people trying to survive on some crazy ass trains. I could do a whole post about the strange wonderlandian adventures these trains get up to, but I’ve got a million other books I need to talk about.

Suffice it to say that the third volume is by far the best: the train goes off the track, drives across a frozen ocean to what is essentially a dystopian Disneyland and the whole thing is just wonderfully bizarre.



“Across the white immensity of an eternal Winter, from one end of the frozen planet to the other, there travels a train that never stops.

This is the Snowpiercer, one thousand and one carriages long.

‘You lousy tail-fucker! I’m gonna break you!!!’
‘Ouch...’


This is the last bastion of civilization...”





Midas Flesh
written by. Ryan North
art by. Shelli Paroline & Branden Lamb



King Midas wished that everything he touched would turn to gold, which very quickly turns out to be a terrible idea and results in the entire planet turning into gold. Now thousands of years later a rag-tag band of space-faring scofflaws journey to the long-lost planet Earth in search of a deadly weapon they can use to save their system from a power-hungry empire.




I kind of read this one on a whim, because...well, because when Ryan North is attached to a project you know that it’s probably going to be pretty fun. And I was happy to find out that not only is it great fun, but it’s got a really fascinating story!

Have you ever read Randall Munroe’s book What If? The one where he gives serious scientific answers to ridiculous hypothetical situations? This comic is like one of those given a full narrative. They ask the question, “What would happen if everything someone touched turned to gold?” and then take that question to its logical conclusion.

The result is a really fun and interesting piece of sci-fi adventure full of greek mythology, dinosaurs, spaceships, and so much more.




“‘Okay, so let’s assume our weapon is Midas. His body is the source of whatever changed this world. You know, somehow.’


‘And he turned—and continues to turn—everything he touches into gold.’


‘Hey, you guys, guess what?

THAT’S CRAZY!’

What? It’s crazy! It’s crazy and before we go too far along with this we should at least be testing our hypothesis.’


‘Oh no. Oh no, NO, I’m not gonna be the one who--





‘Yes, to reiterate what I was saying earlier: I’m not gonna be the one who cuts up some weird dead guy.

Though honestly I don’t know why I even bothered saying it since HERE I AM AFTER ALL??’


‘Come on, Fatty. You’re the best at what you do, and what you do is slice fingers off of corpses.’


‘THAT’S NOT WHAT I DO, COOPER’”



-from vol.1, chapter 3






Spider-Gwen, vol.1:
Greater Power
written by. Jason Latour
art by. Robbi Rodriguez

Gwen Stacy’s life gets even more complicated when an old friend comes to town and vows vengeance against Spider-Woman for her role in Peter Parker’s death. Speaking of Peter, if he was the Lizard then who is behind these reports of giant lizard attacks? And now Captain America is trying to arrest her?! This is not a good time for this, Cap!





I continue to love this series. Its overarching story isn’t anything you haven’t seen before from the genre, but it goes back to the roots of the Spider-Man franchise. When I was a kid Spider-Man stories were always my favorite and these stories take me right back to that same place of fun and excitement that I got to visit as a kid.

It has all wonderful things you want from a superhero story: humor, action, great visuals, interesting characters, a hero you love ot root for, a world you want to go exploring in, and so much more.

And the way it uses this parallel universe to reinvent the Marvel-verse continues to be a delight. I mean, this series already has me wondering if Gwen Stacy is more fun than Peter Parker, and now it’s doing the same for its version of Captain America! I mean, Captain America as a black woman is amazing and I hope she shows up again later on.

Suffice it to say that out of all the superhero comics I’m reading these days, Spider-Gwen is the one that I am always the most excited to read.




“‘Oh, you know how it sounds, do you Captain Stacy?

‘Cause it sounds to me like you’re saying--



--that after MILLIONS of tax dollars spent, THOUSANDS of man-hours--

--that this entire effort to bring Spider-Woman to justice all amounts to--

--a big fat “whoops, my bad”?’



‘Jean, I swear--on the life of my child, I’m telling you the truth.

Spider-Woman IS innocent.’



‘And so what if she is?! Don’t you know what that would mean?

Before Castle took over, Spider-Woman was your case, George. Your task force--’


‘It’s STILL my case.’



‘No, George. It’s Frank Castle’s and mine. And no matter what our relationship is--or was--

--I work for the NYPD.

And so long as you’re hiding the truth about whatever you and Spider-Woman and--’



‘If Castle wants my badge, he can have it.

But I’m still going to do MY job.



What’s more unbelievable, Jean?

That we never found the two-ton lizard that fought Spider-Woman the day she “killed” Peter Parker--

--or that no one seems to care if we ever do?’





Rat Queens, vol.3:
Demons
story by. Kurtis J. Wiebe
art by. Tess Fowler




The Rat Queens journey to Hannah’s old campus but it turns out not to be the kind of nostalgic fun they were hoping for. Instead the sins of the past come back to haunt them and possible destroy the bonds of friendship between our heroes.








I think, perhaps I’ll bow out of this series now. It has some really great characters, great humor, and the backstories it has created for everyone continue to be brilliant, but...

...the main storylines. Just...wow...I just don’t care about them AT ALL.



“‘You must hurry. The council will know I’ve opened a forbidden portal. It is only a matter of time.’

‘How the fuck can I trust you? How do I know this isn’t a trap?’

Ohhhhh, you are SOOOO onto me.

The thousands of years I have existed, the rise and fall of a thousand dynasties I have witnessed.

Every morsel of knowledge I have gleaned from the minds of a million scholars across a million worlds.


They have all led to this moment where I, The TRAVELLER, trick you into walking through this portal.’”





Steven Universe:
Too Cool For School
created by. Rebecca Sugar
story by. Ian Jones-Quartey
written by. Jeremy Sorese
illustrated by. Asia Kendrick-Horton with Rachel Dukes

Steven tries to attend school with Connie, but inadvertantly wrecks havoc upon it instead.




You know what? Sometimes I fail to remember to grab a photo and normally I would attempt to rectify this, but I am so far behind on my posting duties I’m just gonna roll on without. Sorry!

I have mixed feelings about this one. Is it up to the standards of the cartoon? No, it’s not. Is it still pretty cute and fun? Yes. 

If you know a young kid who’s a fan of the show I think they’d really get a kick out of it. But if you know an older fan...probably best to find something else for them, knowwhatimean?





“You’d tell someone if you met a dinosaur right? Like, you wouldn’t hide that?”






Lucky Penny
by. Ananth Hirsh & Yuko Ota

Penny Brighton has terrible luck. She just lost her job and her apartment and her best friend/roommate is moving away to get married. In a desperate move she decides to live inside of a storage unit as she tries to get her life together. But with luck as bad as hers will she manage to hold down a job, woo the cute guy from the community center, and solve the mystery of the who-the-heck keeps trying to break into her storage unit!?




Some of you might know Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota as the creators of the webcomic Johnny Wander. And as much as I have enjoyed Johnny Wander, I’ve gotta say I like their long-form stories are even better.

And this one is no exception! It’s just so goshdarn cute! It’s a romantic comedy and it is pretty darn adorable. Yuko Ota’s artwork is totally on point and the story is charming and funny to boot. It’s cartoony and adorable and funny and geeky and I loved it.





“‘You like dragons?’

‘Y-yeah...’

‘You should read that when I’m done! It’s about this girl who meets this mega mysterious guy and they totally dig each other—

Only he’s not really a guy, he’s a dragon and he’s been cursed to live as a human by this evil dragon-dude, who also wants her.

And then they totally do it.’

‘Her and the good dragon-dude?’

‘And the bad dragon-dude. It’s super hot.’


‘This is an aspect of dragons I had not considered...’”
-pg.71





Adulthood is a Myth
by. Sarah Anderson





A collection of Sarah Anderson’s comic strip Sarah’s Scribbles.










If you’ve never read Sarah’s Scribbles I highly recommend you rectify that situation, because it is pretty delightful. It’s a slice-of-life strip that is ever-so relatable. 

I started going through her strips to select a couple to show you how great it is, but the list got out of hand extremely quickly and I had to give up. But here are just a few examples of the wonders you will find within:

Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5