Sunday, July 17, 2016

Book List 2016: March / April

Wow! Am I ever terrible about getting these posts done on time or what? If it makes you feel any better Im quite bad at getting anything else done too. So there.

Welcome to my life!

In my efforts to slowly inch my way off the grid, I’ve recently given up on Facebook. I like the idea of it, but in actuality it seems like it creates an appearance of community moreso than any actual interaction of substance. It’s like drinking saltwater, it feels like you’re getting something from it, but really you’re just making things worse on yourself. I mean, all those Facebook friends and yet last year I couldn’t get a single person to help me move. If you’re looking for a recipe for feeling like shit there
s one for you.

Any while I’m ranting about Facebook, have you noticed that everyone on there is always talking about how great things are in their lives, but no one talks about how shitty things are? It paints this picture that everyone you know is doing awesome and you’re just a fuck-up. But in the world of humans we’re all fuck-ups in our own way, don’t you think? If you get nothing else from this blog, hopefully you’ll leave here feeling better about your own life. 

So good riddance to bad tech-rubbish! And speaking of getting away from technology: Books!

*** = reread

- ARC - ARC - ARC = Advanced Reading Copy. Unfinalized versions of books sent out ahead of publication for promotional purposes. They’re technically still works-in-progress and you’re not supposed to quote them directly.


We Should All Be Feminists
by. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A concise explanation and argument for the importance of feminism.

You’ve gotta be a little curious about the book that Sweden gave to every one of its 16-year-old students, don’t you? And you know what? I can see why they did it.

The book is only 64 (6.2"x 4.4") pages long and yet it concisely dissects our sexist culture and explains just why feminism is such a necessary ideal in order to combat that inherent sexism. What’s more, because of its brevity I think it serves an important function: it’s a book that you can give to the people in your life who perhaps don’t understand feminism and actually have them read the whole thing! Which is nothing to scoff at.

Keep spreading the good word, my friends.

“But by far the worst thing we do to males—by making them feel they have to be hard—is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.

And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males.”
-pg. 27

A Good Time For the Truth:
Race in Minnesota
edited by. Sun Yung Shin

An anthology of essays about race in Minnesota.

Overall this is a really great collection of essays! I mean, it’s very depressing reading story after story about the myriad of ways your home state has a heckofa lot of racism left on its plate to deal with. But it’s always better to be depressed and woke than happy and ignorant.

The authors gathered here are all really talented and I liked how the book tried to get a real variety of perspectives. After all, it is a book focusing on how race is dealt with/viewed/talked about/etc. in Minnesota, and not about any one group in particular.

However, I did have one issue with this book and that was its distinct lack of any young voices. I’m pretty sure everyone in this book is over 35, and a lot of them are telling stories from decades ago. Which is great and presents an interesting look at how things have changed over the years, but it would have been really beneficial if they had included a couple younger authors. Taking a look at race in Minnesota, but leaving out the input of anyone who was born in the past 2+ decades strikes me as a pretty glaring oversight.

Its wonderful to hear from those who know where we came from and how we got to where we are, but it can’t be the full story without the input of today’s young people.

“For the most part, though, discrimination is Minnesota hasn’t been about lynching, or the burning of crosses on lawns, or overt, public acts of bigotry. The culture of Minnesota Nice has meant that the face of discrimination has almost always been much more subtle here. But the kind of subtlety that underlies Minnesota Nice—extreme and highly nuanced—only makes racism harder to fight. A subtlety this deep is denial’s best friend—makes it too easy to slip into a state of constant denial and remain there. But whether crippling pain comes to you due to deliberate malice or as the unintended consequence of someone’s thoughtless action or heedless inaction, the result feels much the same on the receiving end. When we hear a white person say, ‘Oh, but I don’t even see color,’ the subtext we really hear tells us, loud and clear, that what they don’t see is us: that our identity, our perspective, our whole history is insignificant, not worthy of attention.”

-pg.201,“People Like Us,” David Lawrence Grant

I Live Inside:
Memoirs of a Babe in Toyland
by. Michelle Leon

The memoir of the original bass player for Babes in Toyland.

Typically biographies and memoirs are genres I avoid at all costs. However, I’m glad I gave this one a try, because I was totally sucked into it.

Michelle Leon doesn’t try to tell you every facet of her life. She creates a very specific narrative from her life and uses her past and childhood and such only when it adds to that narrative. The result is an incredibly nuanced story, one with a slightly ethereal quality that aims to get across what things felt like in the moment as opposed to the detached-historical-narrator voice that most Bio’s use.

One of my favorite things I’ve read so far this year.

“It’s garage sales for gas money, traveling with socks in a grocery bag if I don’t have time to pack. It’s sleeping on strangers’ floors. If no one offers us a place, we stay in our cargo van, nicknamed Vanna White, parking at rest areas or truck stops in the middle of nowhere, hanging out on the roof of the van in our sleeping bags and falling asleep as the stars shine in a boundless sky. Or all three of us tucked into a pillowy nest up in the ‘loft’—a sleeping shelf in the van’s cargo area made from scrap boards to hide our equipment and get us off the metal cargo floor. It’s hot up there, built too close to the felty ceiling, no room to move, no air. Lori grinds her teeth in her sleep next to my head. In the morning, gas station bathrooms: washing armpits in the sink, changing underwear in the stall.

We know way too much about each other."


Without Fail
by. Lee Child

Ex-military police officer Jack Reacher is called upon with a strange request: help the secret service figure out how to assassinate a politician!

Jack Reacher books are the perfect thing for giving your brain a break and taking it on action-packed thrill ride.

My one beef with this one is that there’s only like 2 female characters and one of them dies just to make things personal for Reacher.

Seriously? Are we still doing this?

So in short: This is an enjoyable Action-packed story...that doesn’t handle female characters as well as it should. Which, to be fair, can be said of about 99.5% of the genre.

(And it wasn’t that I didn’t like the 2 female characters {because they were both pretty rad}, but just that a little more diversity would have gone a long way.)

“‘I want to hire you for something,’ she said. ‘On a kind of posthumous recommendation from Joe. Because of what he used to say about you. He talked about you, time to time.’

Reacher nodded. ‘Hire me for what?’

Froelich paused again and came up with a tentative smile. ‘I’ve rehearsed this line,’ she said. ‘Couple of times.’

‘So let me hear it.’

‘I want to hire you to assassinate the Vice President of the United States."

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The Wee Free Men
by. Terry Pratchett
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A young girl in the highlands of the Discworld and her drunken pugilistic pictsie friends are the only ones who can save her little brother when he’s abducted by the queen of fairies.

Sooo...I can’t figure out where my copy of this book is.

Actually thats a big part of why this post is so late, because without my book I can’t take its picture nor can I pull any of the quotes I had marked in it. But have no fear! I’m currently in the process of cleaning my room and when it finally turns up I’ll just add it to the next list.

But suffice it to say for the moment that this is one of my Top 5 Favorite Discworld Books of all time. Tiffany Aching is just such a fabulous character and the book is just chalk full of Pratchett at his most eloquent and witty.

Timmy Failure #4:
Sanitized for Your Protection
by. Stephan Pastis

Incompetent child detective Timmy Failure is forced to go on a road trip. To make matters worse his companions on the trip are less than ideal.

I hate to say it, because I enjoyed the earlier books so much, but this volume is a blight on the whole franchise. Not only does it basically ignore intriguing events from book 3, but it also has a scene that is...well, frankly it’s pretty racist. There’s a bit where Timmy and Molly are trying to sneak into a hotel they’ve been kicked out of so they put on disguises. However, seeing as that they are both none too bright, they don’t really understand the difference between “Disguises” and “Costumes.” Thus Timmy dresses up as Merriwether Lewis and Molly dresses as Sacagawea. To make things worse Molly then starts talking like the Indians do in old-Western movies.

And it’s just like, “Really, Pastis? You’re really going to throw in a B.S. derogatory Native American stereotype like that?” It doesn’t forward the plot at all and is just completely superfluous. There is a sentence where they say that Molly is doing this because she’s never met a Native American before and all she knows is what she’s seen in old movies. But the kids who this book is aimed at probably aren’t very familiar with old Westerns and thus all the “joke” is doing is perpetrating a racist stereotype.

It’s not even a long scene, but it left a real bad taste in my mouth and tainted the whole book for me. Which is a pity, as there were some really good scenes in this one too.

“We continue our tiresome walk through the museum. And find a painting of a farmer and his wife.

‘This is called...American Gothic,’ says Mr. Moskins, checking the museum brochure to be sure. ‘It’s very famous.’

‘Why?’ I ask.

‘Because it’s on the brochure,’ says Mr. Moskins. ‘They only put the famous ones on the brochure.’

I stare at the painting.

‘I think he killed a man,’ I say.

‘Who killed a man?’ asks Mr. Moskins.

‘The farmer. And he did it with the pitchfork.’

A museum guide overhears me.

‘This painting is not about a murder,’ the guide interrupts. ‘It represents—’

‘She had her suspicions about the old guy when she married him,’ I add, pointing to the farmer’s wife. ‘Who wouldn’t? I mean, look at his criminal face.’

The museum guide rubs his eyes.

‘And now the wife knows what he did,’ I continue. ‘The wife knows everything. That’s why she’s staring so nervously at the pitchfork.’

Thanks for the Trouble
by. Tommy Wallach

A mute high schooler who lacks motivation/ambition meets a manic pixie dream girl who changes his life.

I can’t even begin to list all the things I dislike about this book. Just...ugh.

Suffice it to say that it’s a book about a white boy who we’re told has a lot of potential and instead of applying himself likes to constantly look down on everyone. There’s a lot of hatefulness being portrayed as intelligence in this book. But if you love books about smug white boys who run into the suicidal manic pixie dream girls? Well then! You are in luck.

The whole thing is like a Catcher in the Rye where Holden Caufield gets everything he ever wanted and is shown as being really cool for thinking badly of everyone. a big soulless version of Catcher in the Rye.

[Nothing worth quoting.]

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
by. Paige McKenzie

It’s like a Buffy for the Youtube generation.

I guess this is based on some Youtube series? I have never watched it, but this is what I’m told.

Anyways, I think I would have liked it more if I had never seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But for today’s YA crowd? I think it’s pretty fun. It’s achieves some solid freakiness without ever getting too gory.

Not sure how I feel about the way it so fully commits to the sequel set-up. But that’s just me.

So, yeah. Fun YA horror for the youths of the world. Consider it if you’re ever looking for a book for a young person who would have been a big Buffy fan back in the day.

“‘Should the luiseach fail in their cause, the dark creatures would destroy humanity.’

‘Well, that’s a relief,’ I say, though it feels like I’m choking. ‘I was worried it was going to be something serious.’”

The Fireman
by. Joe Hill
- ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC 

A fungal-based disease is spreading across the globe, leaving those infected with strange designs on their skin and a tendency to spontaneously combust. A pregnant nurse discovers there is a way to live safely with the infection, but it’s not without its own set of dangerous side effects.

Joe Hill continues along his trend of becoming more like Stephen King and less like the Joe Hill of his earlier novels. But it’s never good to keep comparing someone to their past, right?

In any case, this book came so close to me wanting to scream its praises from the webtops. SO. CLOSE.

It is said that the Horror genre shows us what our society fears and I generally find that to be quite accurate. The Fireman puts on display our fears of Epidemic Disease & Groupthink.

I was expecting the disease angle, but the groupthink part caught me by surprise.

I’ve seen groupthink used in Horror movies before, but never quite on the level as we see it here. Take for instance the amazing use of Mrs. Carmody in the 2007 movie The Mist (based on the Stephen King book). In that case a lone rabble-rouser creates a hostile and horrifying environment for the heroes. Yet here it isn’t just one person preying on the masses fears to gain power, but instead the threat of dynamic individuals with a mastery of group manipulation are closing in on the main character from multiple fronts.

To further keep my analogies in the family, think of Stephen King’s The Stand, but instead of the people willingly uniting around figures of Good and Evil, both sides are using fear to manipulate others to their whims.

On one side you’ve got the uninfected who are using fear and violence as tools for uniting against the infected. On the other side you have the infected whose side affects are promoting a zealotous level of groupthink.

And stuck in the middle trying her best to stay alive we have the main character.

It’s such a creepy idea, isn’t it? I mean, it’s one thing to fear a crazed group uniting around a heretic, but what do you do when your safety net starts doing the same thing?

And if that wasn’t enough, Hill works to prevent you from thinking too highly of those who refuse to pick a side, by showing you how selfish thinking can result in putting everyone’s lives at risk!

It all works to create a truly hostile environment and thus a really exciting survival/horror story. And yet...there were issues. My problems with it stem primarily from 2 sources: the main character and some not-so-subtle prejudice.

Joe Hill makes no effort to hide his political affiliations. One of the main villains in the story is a right-wing Southern Rush Limbaugh-esque figure. And throughout the story he blatantly throws shade at Trump, and the Republicans, and the South, and etc.etc.etc. It made me feel the same way I do when Stephen King insists on mentioning every single product name he can: it takes me right out of the story. I mean, sure, no one can eliminate their own biases, but we can certainly work to not flaunt them so openly.

As for the main character, well, generally I’m a stickler for a story needing a great lead, so take it as an example of this book’s quality that I enjoyed it in spite of her. While she is often okay, Hill has given her some downright weird traits in lieu of any real framework. For instance: her bizarre love of Mary Poppins. She sings all the movie’s songs and lives her life with a “spoon full of sugar” outlook. But Hill shows his ignorance here, because this is the outlook of someone who hasn’t been paying enough attention to Marry Poppins.

Mary Poppins isn’t some bubbly, sweet individual. She can be magical and fun, but she’s a pragmatist first and foremost. That woman is all about results. She doesn’t give the kids sugar with their medicine because she wants to make even the bitter moments in life a little sweeter. She does it because they are children and she doesn’t have time to deal with them whining about medicine. Read the original book and you’ll really see what I’m talking about.
“Jane and Michael kept out of her way as much as possible, for they knew that there were times when it was better not to be seen or heard by Mary Poppins.
‘I wish we were invisible,’ said Michael, when Mary Poppins had told him that the very sight of him was more than any self-respecting person could be expected to stand.

If Joe Hill made a character sheet for his lead I’m pretty sure it would look just like this:

  • Nurse
  • Pregnant
  • Loves Mary Poppins
  • Has/had a boyfriend (boyfriend is a jerk)

and that’s it! An occupation, a status, one interest, and a person of note.

Despite the fact that this book has a main character who is often more unrealistic than any self-respecting person could be expected to stand, I still ended up thoroughly engrossed in this book. It’s got some moments that are just bone-chilling, an imaginative story, and plenty of unexpected twists. And when you look at the world today...well, this book makes you all the more afraid.

“‘Do you spend a lot of nights keeping the fire department in hysterics with creative acts of arson?’

‘Everyone needs a hobby, he said.”

Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing
by. Abram Shalom Himelstein & Jamie Schweser

A young man moves from rural Tennessee to Washington D.C. to live the punk lifestyle. However, he soon learns that the life isn’t exactly what he was expecting it to be.

You can always tell an enjoyable book when you have a hard time trying to decide what quote to use from it. Well, maybe that rule doesn’t apply to most people, but it works pretty well for me.

I always thought that punks were kind of anarchists and not so much social justice warriors, but this book has taught me that I was wrong about that...or at least not wholly correct. But that’s neither here nor there.

Actually the back cover pretty much says it all better than I could ever hope to:
“‘This is a novel about a Jewish kid from Tennessee, who moves up to D.C. and starts hanging out with militant vegetarians, manifesto-writing shoplifters, and strippers who write feminist theory.’
‘The whole story is told through documents: journals, letters, and zines—written by all the different characters.’ 
‘It’s got everything you could want out of a novel: a chase scene, a sex scene (short and bad), PLUS plenty of angst-ridden critique of American society.’
‘We started with 500 copies just selling ‘em on the street. Now they’re available for mass-consumption, with a cheesy bar-code and everything.’”

It’s a pretty fun book about a kid who tries his best to fight against conformity and the status quo, but after years of fighting the system learns that everything he’s doing is just like fighting the air by punching the breeze. His attacks on corporate America have no effect, his group’s high morals which just result in everyone constantly hypocritically chastising one another behind their backs for all the little ways they fail to live up to their impossible standards. His lifestyle is just making himself miserable and not really helping anyone.

It’s an odd sort of book that’s so different from what I usually read that it’s hard for me to get the leverage needed to talk about it properly. So let me just take the lazy man’s way out with this list of things I liked about it:
  • It’s immersed in a culture I wasn't familiar with.
  • The story is told with an atypical method that works really well.
  • There’s a lot of great humor.
  • It provides a really interesting critique on society.

My one criticism of note is that I felt like there needed to be some more closure at the end. It kind of just seems to...end. I’m not looking for a freeze-frame high-five or anything, but a much more solid ending beat would have been much appreciated.

“This book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the authors’ feeble imaginations, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. They were trying to write a story about a wandering barbarian in the middle ages, but it didn’t work out.”

- ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC 
The Wild Robot
by. Peter Brown
- ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC - ARC 

A robot winds up on an uninhabited island. Without anyone to tell it what to do it is forced to figure out this thing called life all on its own.

I never thought about this when I was reading it, but someone told me afterwards that one of the things they liked about the story was that the robot was gendered as female. And how often does that happen? Robots always seem to be dudes...unless someone wants to bang it, in which case of COURSE it’s a wobot.

Anyways, I really liked this book at first. However, early on the robot masters the language of the animals and starts talking to them and it promptly gets WAY more fantastical than I was hoping. Way too Charlotte’s Web/The Fantastic Mr. Fox/The Wind in the Willows/etc. than I would have liked.

Also at one point they mention that the robot doesn’t understand emotions so it starts faking them for the benefit of those around it. And then they never mention that again! I think we’re supposed to assume that it learned how to love? But it probably didn’t! The robot is most likely a sociopath with a programmed sense of duty to others.

And when you really think about that it makes the rest of the book REALLY quite creepy.

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Monstrous Regiment
by. Terry Pratchett
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The small Discworld nation of Borogravia is known for two things: its increasingly insane deity, and its love of warring with its neighbors. This most recent war, however, is not looking too great for Borogravia. With defeat imminent there’s only one group of soldiers still out there fighting. But the thing is that they keep winning...and that they’re not actually men at all...

In case you weren’t aware, right now in my quest through the Discworld books we are journeying through the Golden Age: a stretch of books that contain most of my favorite titles in the series...

And then there’s this one.

Right in the middle of the Golden Age, sandwiched inbetween two of my favorite books (Night Watch & The Wee Free Men), we have The Monstrous Regiment. And it is not good.

Which makes it all the more worse by comparison!

In the beginning of it I was wondering why I had remembered disliking it. I, mean sure, it might be a little simplistic, but it’s pretty enjoyable! Yet, soon I learned what my issues had been with it before.

About a quarter way through the story I felt like it had said all that it could say and I began to wonder, “How is there still 3/4s of this book left?” And I was repeating that thought for the rest of the book.

“How can there be this much left? How much longer can it spin its wheels?

This could have been a rather enjoyable short story; it’s got some fun characters, and some cool themes. But overall there is just...not much story there. There are some great bits of Pratchett wit, but this time around he just didn’t have the plot to back it up with.

“‘I read your report. Do you think it’s possible for an entire nation to be insane?’

‘That’s a very...interesting question, sir,’ he said. ‘You mean the people – ’

‘Not the people, the nation,’ said Vimes. ‘Borogravia looks off its head to me, from what I’ve read. I expect the people just do the best they can and get on with raising their kids, which, I might say, I’d rather be doing right now, too. Look, you know what I mean. You take a bunch of people who don’t seem different from you and me, but when you add them all together you get this sort of huge raving maniac with national boarders and an anthem.’”


Scared Heart
by. Liza Suburbia

The kids in a small town attempt to retain normalcy after all the adults went missing over a year ago. But the combination of a string of horrible murders and general teenager-styled bad decisions is slowly descending the town into madness. As if being a teenager wasn’t hard enough!

I was so totally into this one. It’s got an art style that I just love and Suburbia has a real knack for creating lovable characters while capturing the doofy fear that is being a teenager.

One of the things that separates this one from the other teenage drama stories out there is that it takes place in a town with no adults. And yet it never plays up the mystery of that. They just go along as if that’s pretty normal and it’s a genius move. It makes you want to know ALL THE MORE! Then when you are finally clued into what went down it’s like !!! and then you want to reread it all over again.

In fact, you can read it right now, because it's all online! It would seem that it was first released as a webcomic, and then later she redid all the artwork so it would be consistent and released it as a book. Although if you’d prefer for the art style to stay the same throughout you'll have to look for the physical version.

The power...IS YOURS!

“I mean it’s only telling a boy you want him more than anything...

It’s only the end of the world.”


“'Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t know anything you don’t. My only magic power is common sense.

'The rib knows!

'The rib has seen a cleansing rain...

'You're very creepy little girls.’”

Darth Vader
volume 0: Vader
written by. Kieron Gillen
art by. Salvador Larroca

The story of what Vader is up to inbetween Episodes 4 and 5.

Overall the story lacks a natural flow and it leaves you feeling like you’re watching a collection of “Last time on Vader...” But that being said there are some pretty fun moments in here that totally made it worth the read. The evil counterparts to C-3PO and R2-D2 are especially fun. Also Vader just straight-up throwing people off ledges?


“You call me a Jedi. You know nothing.
Mind tricks are not of the dark side.

We prefer force.”

Roller Girl
by. Victoria Jamieson

A young girl becomes infatuated with the sport of roller derby, but will her new obsession bring her closer to new friends, or just further away from her old ones?

I know that this will sound kind of stupid, but my favorite thing about this book is that here’s this girl, and she gets really into this new thing, and she wants to be the best there is, and she tries really hard, and...

...she gets better.

She doesn’t miraculously become the best in the league. She doesn’t [equivalent of catching the winning touchdown in the big game]. She tries her best, works really hard, and she gets a lot better. And that's EXACTLY what practice is like. You try your best and bit by bit you improve. There are no shortcuts, just those that are willing to put in the time and effort and those that aren't.

And how wonderful a message is that! I love it. I wish more stories got that across as effectively as this one did.

And sure, there’s more to the story than that. There’s a whole theme about what it’s like when you start growing up and growing apart from your friends, and people mocking your interests, etc. etc. And it all works and seems like it’s great, but really. It’s that practice thing that made this one stand out to me.

That and that it was written by an actual Roller Girl, so she knows her stuff. Don’t be surprised if the young girl who reads this thing is left wanting to get into Roller Derby. Heck I was wishing I was in roller derby by the end of it.

“The emcee announced the players, and they all had crazy names like...

They all looked really tough—sort of like the inmates in that documentary about women's prisons mom made me watch a few ECEs (Evenings of Cultural Enlightenment) ago.

Weird Hair
Strange Outfits
Creepy Makeup”

by. Andrew MacLean

On a post-apocalyptic Earth a young woman is on a mission to find an ancient weapon. Unfortunately she’s been here from 16 years already, and is getting kind of fed up with this mission to be honest.

There is a distinct possibility that this one will make it to my top 5 comics of the year. It’s got a great style, really well-paced, an endearing main character, and a tale that leaves you wanting more.

“You know, for an apocalypse... ain’t all bad.”

Multiple Warheads
by. Brandon Graham

A genetic smuggler and her werewolf mechanic boyfriend go on an epic road trip after their home is destroyed.

Oh, Brandon Graham. I want to love your comics so badly! And yet they always come up short for me. But let me first say why Graham is so great and I keep reading his stuff regardless.

First of all, I really dig his art style. He's got this wonderfully cartoony and low-key way of telling his stories and they're just a lot of fun to look at. And then there’s the puns. Oh, the puns! Graham has no qualms whatsoever with inserting as many silly puns into his stories as possible and god bless him for it. Really, if for nothing else this book was worth it for the puns.

In summation: I enjoyed the characters, I dug the art, LOVED the puns, but the story fell flat to me. It just never gave me the hook I needed to care about what was happening. Plus there was to much focus on what the main girl’s rival was up to and I really didn’t care about them at all.

“I used to run all kinds of sputz. Mostly drugs and animals. Nothing too hard or deep and nothing that might explode.

The organs pay so much better than all that.

This haul is deep.

LIVER DIE. (unkillable liver.)


UNBEATABLE HEART. (unbreakable.)


L-BOW. (dart launching elbow.)

DICK-TATION. (penis that writes.)”

One-Punch Man, vol.5
written by. One
art by. Yusuke Murata

The continuing saga of Saitama, a superhero who can defeat any enemy with just one punch.

That’s right, I’m still working my way through One-Punch Man. Although, I gotta say that this volume takes a bit of a weird turn and there’s a lot of screen time given to a character who I think is supposed to be funny, but really just makes me hecka uncomfortable. I just want Saitama being Saitama! I don’t really care at all about the other heroes!

ALTHOUGH there is one exception and that exception is named Mumen Rider (who you can see on the cover there). He is a hero who is basically just a guy with a bicycle and he’s my second favorite character after Saitama.
Amazing Japanese pun alert: In Japanese Mumen Rider is a pun of the popular motorcycle-riding hero Kamen Rider and the Japanese word Mumenkyo which means unlicensed.
As someone who doesn’t have a driver’s license and rides my bike everywhere, he’s basically my kind of hero.

So there you go! Some really bad stuff & some really great stuff.

As a side note: I just started watched the first season of the anime and (dare I say it?) far I’m liking it better than the comic? Quite possibly so.

“I am the bicyclist for justice...

...known as MUMEN RIDER!!!”

Batman Beyond

volume 1: Brave New Worlds
written by. Dan Jurgens
Art by. Bernard Chang

DC tries to update its Batman Beyond franchise yet again this time with 100% no idea what made the franchise so good to begin with.

Remember how earlier this year I was complaining that DC’s new take on Batman Beyond was okay, but not as good as the earlier comics? And my biggest complaint was that they relied too much on the whole Superhero trope of the alternate reality story? Well, this is DC’s NEW new take on Batman Beyond and let me just say that it makes me appreciate the other one a lot more, because this thing is garbage. Just utter, utter garbage.

They take everything that made Batman Beyond great and threw it all away. They kill off Terry McGinnis right away and so who’s the new Batman? Why a time-traveling Tim Drake, of course! Because that’s not at all stupid. Heck, while we’re at it let’s include a Superman who’s been turned into a robotic spider-thing! That’s cool and edgy, right?

And if that wasn’t enough the art is really stupid and often leaves Batman looking like took a drawing of Batman and then photoshopped a doofy face onto to him just to make him look silly. me on this: don’t bother.

[Nothing worth quoting.]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
written by. Ananth Panagariya
illustrated by. Tessa Stone
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A young introvert is forced out of his shell by the no-holds-barred world of competitive spelling.

I really like Tessa Stone’s art, and there’s a lot of fun things about this one, but in the end it just doesn’t have enough tension or character development to ever really get off the ground. I think if they had made more of a series out of it instead of aiming for a one shot it would have drastically improved the book.

“Ever heard of the SPELLUMINATI?”

“That sounds really stupid.”

“Just because its stupid doesnt mean it’s not real, kid.”

“...that’s fair.”

Help Us! Great Warrior
by. Madeleine Flores

A great and powerful warrior is the only one who can defend the world when it’s attacked by the queen of the demon realm!

I’ve long been a fan of Madeleine Flores’ Great Warrior strips, and so I was pretty excited that she was getting the chance to tell a longer story. If you like the strips you’re going to get a kick out of the comic. But just don’t go in expecting anything much deeper than the strips were.

“Demons have found their way into our world.

They opened an ancient portal.

We need you, Great Warrior, to close it.”


“You must journ-”


I kinda already had plans for today...



Paper Girls, vol.1

story by Brian K. Vaughan
art by. Cliff Chiang & Matt Wilson

A gang of paper girls in the 1980s accidentally finds themselves in the middle of a war between two factions of time travelers.

This is one of those series where I almost don’t want to recommend it to people yet, because it starts out great, but it has a story that potentially could very quickly go from Fun to Really Stupid. You know the kind of story I’m talking about, like...The Matrix trilogy did, yaknow?

So with the caveat that I have no idea what the quality of the following chapters are like, I will say that I quite enjoyed this volume. It’s like The Goonies meets Quantam Leap or something. It’s got a great bunch of characters, full of 80’s adventure, and it swings between seriousness and silliness in a way I really enjoyed.

“Who cares where these losers came from?

They’re not getting away with this.”

“Mrs. Drobneck over on Acorn is usually up by now. We can ask her to call the police for us.”

“The same cops who think I’m a criminal?”

“Yeah, Stony PD is the worst.”

“So what do we do?”

“What do you think?

Hey, whichever dumb fucks just robbed our friend, if you can hear this, get ready...

...cause we’re coming to get our shit back.”
-issue 1

Invader Zim, vol.1

by. Jhonen Vasquez

The adventures of a hapless alien invader named Zim and his earthly nemesis Dib from the 00s cartoon continues! Now with 100% more paper!

For those of you not in the know, Invader Zim was a cartoon on Nickolodeon back in the early 00’s by Johnny The Homicidal Maniac-creator Johen Vasquez. It was weird, and manic, and would wrap some really dark stuff into a crazy cartoon package, and really I’m kind of shocked they got away with some of the stuff they did. In short: it was amazing and you should totally watch it!

At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about Invader Zim coming back as a comic, but I’ve gotta admit it’s pretty fun. The real trick is to imagine everyone’s dialogue as it would have been delivered in the show. Trust me. It’ll be WAY funnier if you do.

“Whasamatter, Dib? Where’s your fight? Where’s your strength now?! Why don’t you get out of your chair and try to stop Zim?”

“Can’t...too weak! Sitting in front too long! Chair...fused to butt.”

“No Irken has ever sat so long their butts fused to anything. Humankind deserves everything that’s coming to it Dib-Chair.”

“What’re you planning Zim?



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Ultimate Collections #1-6

by. Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird

The annotated and assembled collections of Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman’s original Ninja Turtle comics.

While I’ve read some of the old turtle comics before, I had never read many of them. So when I saw that the library had the ultimate collections I was all over it. And as a special bonus I found out that at the end of every issue Peter and Kevin wrote their thoughts about it!

If you’re like me you grew up watching the old cartoon and the live action movies. I think it’s fair to say that most people don’t even know that the turtles were originally comic books. And what’s more is that the comics are quite a bit different in tone than their descendants. All the silliness is still there (at least in some issues it is), but the comics also often go down an action-packed, Frank Miller-esque path of gritty violence that the kid-friendly versions never dared touch. I mean, in the comics the first story arc is about the turtles having been trained to straight-up kill Shredder. And it ends with them doing just that! Bam. Right of the bat, Shredder is dead!

So pretty much from the get-go the guy we all thought of as the main villain in TMNT isn’t actually a big player in the comics. Also the Krang? Not the bad guys. And the turtles aren’t superheros, they don’t go out on patrol or anything. I mean, they still try to help people when they can, but they don’t really go out looking for trouble. After they kill the Shredder they’re kind of lost and don’t know what to do. And people keep trying to kill them, because they took out the #1 crime lord.

ALSO it is important to note that April is NOT a reporter, but a high-level computer programmer at a bigwig tech company. Or at least she was until her boss tries to kill her with robot mouse-killing robots. #overthrowthepatriarchy

The thing (one of the things) I’ve always loved about the Ninja Turtles is that it has this Dr. Who setup, wherein the creators don’t give any shits and will tell any sort of story they want. They do homages to their favorite kung-fu movies, they’re up in space fighting alien triceratops and making Star Wars references. They’re doing crime mysteries, then telling sci-fi stories, then bringing it back around and doing super-hero kind of stuff. One of the nice things about these ultimate collections is that they are only the issues that Peter and Kevin considered the creme de la creme, so there’s a lot of stuff that didn’t make the cut.

Speaking of Peter and Kevin, those two guys totally kind of hate each other! You soon learn that they started out doing everything together, but then quickly grew so antagonistic to one another that they split up and took turns making turtles comics. So there’s this strange air to the series wherein any given issue will have a different combination of writer, art, and inks. And by the end of the collections you can kind of tell who’s who.

Did I mention that Peter and Kevin do not get along? Especially Peter. Kevin’s annotations are like that of a super excited fanboy. He is just loving it. Peter, however, kind of seems like he does not want to be doing this. His annotations are often very short, and while Kevin has nothing but nice things to say about everyone, Peter often talks about the things he dislikes in Kevin’s issues, point out his typos, and more than once say that he had never bothered to even read some of Kevin’s issues. So if you ever get the chance to meet one of the creators do yourself a favor and pick Kevin.

“‘You’re dead, freaks!! Nobody trespasses on purple dragon turf and gets away with it...especially when they’re wearing stupid turtle costumes!

He’s wrong...

We’re not wearing costumes.

issue 1

Showman Killer
volume 1: Heartless Hero

written by Alejandro Jodorowsky
illustrated by Nicolas Fructus

An evil scientist uses his genius to create the world’s most deadly assassin. But things don’t go right when the assassin suddenly finds himself caring about a small child and deciding to protect it.

It has a unique sort of art style, but overall I found the story/characters to be less than compelling. It felt like the graphic novel spark notes for a novel or something.

“Excellent, he’s alive! I have my future super-assassin!

I’m tired of working for the omnimonarch for a pitiful salary.

I’m going to create a ultra-mercenary that will force him to pay me a fortune!

This child must never feel the warmth of a mother’s love.

No human will ever caress him.

He won’t have any toys, he’ll play with kublars. Only gold will make him happy...

...or the simple thrills of the mechanics of destruction.”