Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.

 

 

                             

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Works really well

Arrowood: Sherlock Holmes Has Met His Match - Mick Finlay

Arrowood has a problem. It isn't the fact that his sister has returned. Nope. It isn't the fact that his wife left - his fault that. It isn't that the beer has gone off.

It is Sherlock Bloody Holmes.

Finlay's book is about the anti-Holmes and Watson. Not bad guys, no, but the ones who handle those cases that are not classy enough for Holmes. Along the way, Finlay also subtley digs at Watson's martial status.

Overall the book is good. The mystery is a bit wrapped up in a bow, if you know what I mean, but the characters are engaging, and Finlay nails the period. He also puts in commentary about Holmes, and quite frankly, I think he should get a bonus for the whole riff about Adler because honesty, after what Moffat did with her, I so needed that.

Waiting for the movie, waiting for the movie

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 - Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze

Note: I got this for free via an Amazon Marvel Comics' Offer. I "purchased" a FCBD comic about Rocket for nothing, and then recieved an email coupon saying I could get a free comic collection. I chose this one because I was lucky enough to see Coates speak shortly after it was announced he was writing this.

Years ago, I was a huge Marvel fan, until they screwed one too many of thier female characters over. So I stopped reading. I kept up a bit because you know how it is. You get attached to characters and want to know. I was never a Black Panther fan. Sorry, just wasn't, mostly because I didn't read the Avengers. But Storm, Storm and Firestar are my two favorite Marvel characters. When Storm and Panther married I was like cool even though I shipped Storm/Forge, but why did you retconned it the way you did? Why couldn't the story of Storm saving Panther be kept? Why did it have to be reversed? But I understand the importance of the, this, power couple, but this begs the question why break them up?

So that's my mind set when I picked this up. As someone who has not read Marvel in recent years, I was slightly confused on the outset, though the summery at the start helped with this. And honestly, if Marvel had been producing this when I stopped reading, I would not have stopped reading.

First, the art. Comic books are known for women with skinny waists, big boobs, and really strange outfits. Well, the strange outfits are here and some navels get flashed, but the women are actually drawn as women with real waists and bust sizes. So wow. Awesome. Women in power too. 

Second, the plot. Coates' storyline seems to be on the nature of rule, which is a rather interesting take. Coates explored not only the idea and cost of ruling, but what happens when that pact is broken. It is a really adult look at power and government that mirrors some the politcal situations in some African countries. Really well done writing.

On the representaton issue, this book is great. Two of the leading female characters are in a romantic realtionship where they truly care for each other. They are not demonized. Additionally, there are hints of a relationship between two older adults. There is only one white person who has a small role, and the book therefore balances the predominately white casts of the other comics. Honestly, there was a time when the Avengers seemed to be nothing but blonde men. Representation does matter, everyone should realize this.

Anti-Confederate Reading list

You can find it here.  I added more books.  

Reading List for Anti-Confederates

Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad - Eric Foner Segu - Maryse Condڻ
  • Considering HBO’s recent and ill-conceived move in terms of future television, I thought I would present a brief list of books to read that will either educate you about slavery that are not objectification.  Please keep in mind that I am undoubtedly missing or forgetting some books simply because my area of interest is not Civil war.  I am trying to highlight books that are slightly less popular than Roots, the works of Frederick Douglas, or Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

 

  1. The Hanging of Angelique by Afua Cooper.   This book is not about American slavery but about slavery in Montreal.  Angelique was a slave woman who was accused and found guilty of setting a fire that destroyed part of the city.  The book details slavery in Canada and illustrates something that people in the United States really don’t know about.  Cooper spent at least 15 years researching this book, and she expands the topic slightly to deal with slaves in the colony in general. 
  2. Kindred by Octavia Butler. So, you can’t read Sci-fi and not include Butler’s book on a list like this.  Butler’s heroine finds herself in a time jump, where she is forced backwards to exist at the same time of her ancestors, including both slaves and the “owner” who raped them.  It is a stunning and wonderful novel.
  3. Segu by Maryse Conde. This novel concerns a family in Africa at a time when both slavery and Islam take hold.  Members of the family responded to the conflicts differently.  While most of the book takes place in Africa, there is a sequence set in the New World that deals with slavery and one members of the family’s reaction to it.  Conde’s writing is impassioned and her characters live.  There is also a sequel, Children of Segu.  Her book I, Tituba is about the slave in the Salem witch trials and is highly recommend as well.
  4. The Benjamin January novels by Barbara Hambly. Hambly’s series is about Ben January a listened doctor who returns to New Orleans from Paris after the death of his wife.   Ben is a black man, his mother and father were slaves, and he cannot practice medicine in New Orleans, which is part of the recent purchase.  The series concerns January solving various crimes while dealing with tensions between Americans and member of New Orleans, as well as the racism that he is subjected to every day.  His mother (a freed slave) and his sisters (both free, one a mistress) also play central roles.  The book takes a harsh look at slavery as well as what free blacks dealt with; Hambly even uses real life cases in the books.  Much of the series’ strength comes from the development of Ben who eventually remarries and resists the slave owning structure.
  5. The Land Shall be Deluged in Blood by Patrick Breen. Breen’s book is a history of the Nat Turner Rebellion.  He presents as much biographical detail about those involved in the Uprising as he can, examines why there wasn’t more support, and compares it with the events of Haiti.
  6. The Underground Railroad by Coulson Whithead. In a slim volume that imagines the Underground Railroad as a truly a railroad, Whithead uses real life examples of reactions and escapes from slavery to chronicle one woman’s fight for freedom.  The book is quick read and worthy of all the praise it gets.  Every section has a real-life story that it is based on.
  7. Gateway to Freedom by Eric Foner. Foner’s book is about the Northern areas on the Underground Railroad.  He looks at the various groups in places lIke Philadelphia who tried to help slaves to freedom.  He also highlights the various laws that made such actions illegal as well as how slave catchers took everyone who was black regardless. 
  8. Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horowitz. This book is less about the Civil War or civility, but about how certain people cannot get over the Confederacy losing.  In other words, Horowitz’s book showcases why a show such as Confederate is wrong.  Scary reading.
  9. And finally – slave narratives. Today, with the advent of ereaders and Project Guttenberg, it is quite easy to read slave narratives in addition to 12 Years A Slave or Narrative of a Life by Frederick Douglass.  This is not only due to the copyright free nature of the works (copyright expired to be more exact) but also Federal Programs that sent people out to record the narratives.  Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Escape in a Chest, William Brown’s narrative (as well as his fiction story about Jefferson’s daughter), Noah Davis’ narrative.  You can also read the works of Ida Wells, who wrote about lynching as well as various anti-slavery tracts.  All for free.
Middlemarch - Michel Faber, George Eliot Eliot is one of those writers who I always forget how good she is. It’s not that I ever forget she is good, it is just that forget the high standard she has for most her work. The exception is Adam Bede, and this is no doubt because it was the first Eliot I read (thanks to Alistair Cooke). I first read Middlemarch in either college or grad school. I recently re-read because of a line in the New York Times Book Review. To call Middlemarch feminist would be wrong, though in many ways it is proto=feminist. At the heart of the novel is the character of Dorothea and the idea of marriage. If Doretha was Catholic, she quite easily could have become a nun. But she isn’t, so the avenues opened to her are a bit slim. She wants to do good works, and to improve people’s lives. At beginning of the novel is she able to do this with a help of a suitor, a suitor she doesn’t know is a suitor, and later in the novel, she has the possibility to do it another way. This of course soon changes. The theme of the novel, in part, seems to be the idea of marriage for marriage does concern much of the part. At first, it is merely Doreatha’s marriage to Casaubon, who is older and who she hopes will teach almost like a father. Then it is the marriage between Lydgate, a doctor who wants to do good, and Rosamond, whose brother Fred forms part of a third marriage with Mary Garth. The question of marriage is more a question what a good marriage is. Doreatha’s first marriage, really isn’t a good one. But it is not entirely her husband’s fault and in fact, very few of her friends (in fact only her sister and James Chettam) try to talk her out of it or express doubts about the marriage. In many ways, the true right people in the novel are Mary Garth and Celia Brooke, Doretha’s younger sister. Mary is the dependable and intelligent daughter of the Gareths. She is prudent. The most imprudent thing she does is love Fred, who at the start of the book has a good heart but is a bit too much flash and imprudence. Celica is Doreatha’s younger sister, less religious, more sensual, but also more observant. She watches before she speaks. She may not be as good or holy as Doretha but she is not a bad woman. Mary too watches. This makes those two women better able to handle the society that constrains them. Doretha is not able to handle society in the same way. Her marriage options are frowned upon whether she marries for the right or wrong reason. And unlike Lydgate, who marries an illusion, a pretty thing that he does not see as human or understand fully as human. He does not watch enough. Neither does Doretha at first. Eliot’s suggestion that she is trying to write or example a modern life of St. Theresa is interesting because Dortha, like Lydgate, doesn’t quite come what she could have been. Of course, that is, in part, the purpose of Eliot’s book, showing us the bonds – both prison like and fond – that society puts on us.
Super Sikh, Vol. 2: Viva Las Vegas - Eileen Kaur Alden

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

 

Just when you realized you need something you didn't know you needed.

 

 

 

Super Sikh, aka Deep Singh, goes on to vacation in America because he wants to visit Graceland.  Then he gets thrown into a TSA holding cell.

 

This comic is just so wonderful.  Super Sikh battles Group X, which is a comic version of the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and so on.  I say comic because there is a slight Boris and Natasha feel to them.  This does not mean that the creators of this comic have overlooked the misogyny that is connected to such groups.  It’s just there is a humor here that is quite fun.

 

Deep Singh’s trip takes him to Las Vegas as well, where he steps in to help a young woman.  This is the only slightly false note.  Not his helping her, but her reaction, even taking into account Singh’s good looks.  She doesn’t act stupid or anything.  Additionally, she is aware of the weirdness of what happened.  I can’t really say any more without giving away spoilers. 

 

It’s actually quite a lovely book.  I love the characters – including the rats and the car rental guy.

Comic Round Up

World of Warcraft: Legion #1 - Matt Burns, Ludo Lullabi Ms. Marvel, #1 - G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona Murena - tome 1 - La Pourpre et l'or (French Edition) - Dufaux, Delaby Tellos #1 - Todd DeZago, Mike Wieringo, Nathan Massengill, Rich Case, Paul Mounts, Ken Wolak Age of Reptiles Omnibus, Vol. 1 - Ricardo Delgado, Genndy Tartakovsky FCBD 2015: Tales of Honor - Matt Hawkins, Linda Sejic

In my last comic round up, I started with a series of comics based on a video game, so I figure I will do the same here.  The four issue World of Warcraft Legion series is apparently a set up for the video game (or part of the video game).  The series isn’t as good as Overwatch, in part because it relies a bit more on reader familiarity, but it isn’t bad.  Part of the series focuses on the relationship between fathers and daughters, in one case, a father upset that his daughter isn’t a son.  Each issue is more of a character study with some action.  The first and last issues being the best.

 

                To be fair to World of Warcraft, the female characters are actually drawn in ways that make sense and not as objectified as many other comic books would have done them.  Take for instance, Tellos, which has had all good markings of a good fantasy story – exciting chases, a tiger man, magic, a female pirate with intelligence – until you realize that said female pirate with the triple DDD bust size constantly spans her own waist with one of her hands.  Every Time She Puts Said Hand On Her Hip.

 

                I’m done.

 

                There are exceptions to this trend.  Marvel’s Ms. Marvel being an example.  She is nicely geeky, she tries to be a good daughter, she is nice and insecure.  She’s a Muslim.  In other words, she is everything Donald Trump would hate.  The fact that she is a normal teen and minority is a huge step forward.  She isn’t perfect.  It’s good that Marvel is finally doing something like this.  I wish they would go back and rescue some of their less known woman heroes as well.  I really want Firestar done well. 

 

                Ms. Marvel, however, does give me hope.  Not only in terms of the future of comics, but also that hype can be correct.

 

                And she is drawn realistically, and the issue passes the Bechdel test.

 

                Tiny Titans doesn’t, at least not entirely.  There is jokes about who has a crush on Robin, and while this might be a reference to Nightwing’s butt, it is rather annoying.   Still, the comic is a little cute, though the DC Super Hero Girls was better.

 

                Tales of Honor (#1 and FCBD issue) is a series based on the Honor Harrington novels by David Weber.  #1 is basically a start of Honor’s story, starting around book 6 or 7.  The FCBD issue is a standalone story.  Both have the info dumps that do tend to populate Weber’s books.  Interesting, Nimitz, Honor’s treecat is drawn differently in each, at one point so large that he would not be a shoulder perching cat, which is what he is supposed to be.  Issue #1 sexualizes Honor a bit, though not as much as some comics would have.  I have to give the edge to FCBD issue, though, the story was complete and straight forward.  It showed Honor at her best.  However, if you like Honor, you might want to check out this series.

 

                Murena is a graphic novel series that in some ways is the sequel to Claudius the God.  The story focuses on Nero and the bastard son of Claudius, Murena, who are friend despite being, whether they know it or no, on opposite sides.  The art work is fine, the history good, and the storytelling well done.  If you want a I Claudius again, this is the one for you.  What is interesting is the use of Nero, in particular making him an almost sympathetic character.  The first volume seems to be an indication that part of what the series is going to look is the corruptive nature of power. 

 

                A few years ago, I was in DC and saw the Diaghilev and Ballet Russe exhibit at the National Gallery.  It included footage from a performance of Rite of Spring.  Now, I am of the generation who knows that music thanks to Disney’s Fantasia, which means I hear it and think dinosaurs. 

 

                There were no dinosaurs.

 

                Thankfully, there is Age of Reptiles, which is about dinosaurs.  In fact, it is nothing but dinosaurs.  There is no dialogue, just dinosaurs being dinosaurs.  It is absolutely cool and enthralling.  Be warned, there is blood so if you are a parent, you might want to check it out before kiddo reads it.

 

                Closing note- American McGee’s Grimm #1 is a hilarious take down of the super hero comic book.

Out Soon

Scarlet Rose #1: "I Knew I'd Meet You" - Patricia Lyfoung

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

 

                Personally, this was a bit too cute for me and some of the plot (like Maud’s fencing lessons) didn’t quite for me.  However, if you have a young daughter, you might want to give her a copy of this comic.

 

                Scarlet Rose details the story of Maud and her obsession with the Fox (aka the French Zorro).  She becomes an outlaw to right wrongs. 

 

                The tone is a bit too much soap opera, though Maud is a character of strength.  Her desire to do right and her skill with the blade are established early on, and unlike the later fencing lessons, her knowledge about swordplay does make sense.  The style is very like anime, and well done.

 

                It is an interesting female take on Robin Hood or the Three Musketeers.

Heathen Vol 1 - out next month

Heathen Vol. 1 - Natasha Alterici, Natasha Alterici, Tess Fowler, Tamra Bonvillain, Charles Martin, Rebecca Rutledge, Kristen Grace

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

 

                There are two mythological cycles that I have a fondness for – the Story of Troy and the Volsung saga.  In fact, I prefer Norse myths to Greek.  I’m not entirely sure why, but I always have.

 

                Heathen is a comic book that draws upon ancient Norse stories but adds more.

 

                The story is about Aydis, a young woman who is a warrior, despite her wearing bikini type clothing in the north.  Unfortunately, Aydis has been labeled unnatural by her village because she likes other women.  She does not want to get married, at least not to a man. 

 

                The story of how her life is saved is actually one of the most touching stories of acceptance, I’ve seen lately.

 

                Because she has lost almost everything (she still has her horse Saga), Aydis decides to go on quest.  She is going to brave the fire and rescue Brynhild, but this quest becomes more difficult as the focus on her quest changes – she is going to challenge the status quo in a more direct way.

 

                To be honest, the artwork in this volume isn’t to my taste.  This is just a preference issue, not an artistic judgement.  Certain aspects of it are appealing – such as the horses and the wolves.  The women just look a little strange.  It’s like Aeon Flux – storytelling is great, but the art work is my type of thing.

 

                There is some humor here – particular when it comes to animals – and if you are familiar with Norse myths and legends (not the Marvel version, BTW), you will get some of the character names.  The book also draws more closely on the mythology than the Marvel comic, and there is even historical reference to the coming of Christianity. 

                What is more important, and just lovely, is the book does examine the question of love and truth though the characters, including the goddess Freya who meets Aydis. 

                It really is a wonderful human story.

                Look, I loved it so much, I went to see when new issues would be coming out.

Angel Catbird

Angel Catbird Volume 1 (Graphic Novel) - Margaret Atwood, Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas, Various Angel Catbird Volume 2: To Castle Catula (Graphic Novel) - Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas, Tamra Bonvillain Angel Catbird Volume 3: The Catbird Roars (Graphic Novel) - Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas, Tamra Bonvillain

Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird series is a graphic novel saga about a man who becomes an owl/cat/human hybrid.  He discovers that he isn’t the only such creature in the world.  Okay, he’s the only cat/owl but there are other half animals – in particular half cats.  There also is a coming war with a man who wants rats and half rats to rule the world.

 

                Vol1 of the series sets up the scene and ends with the half cats on the run.  The group includes the lovely Kate as well as Count Cataula.  Volumes 2 and 3 detail the rest of the story, the series also is an attempt to educate readers on cats and the impact cats can have on native birds. 

 

                The series succeeds because it is get B movie flair.  It desires to be more than what it is, and everyone involved in the creation of it seems to have given a sense of fun.  Quite frankly, my favorite characters are the two female rats who do not like the plans of the man who would be king of rats.  Their asides are well make milk snort out of your nose.

 

                The creative team manages to weave in a variety of references, not only to horror movies, but also to current events, in particular pay attention to the mice.  Atwood also weaves in ancient mythological figures and references.  While the series does place a few of its female characters in skimpy costumes, the women are take charge and get work done.  They all have agency.  Even the wives, who are far more interesting than Dracula’s brides.

 

                Great send up of horror movies, to be honest.

                With cats.

Beasts of Burden

Beasts of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In #0 (Beasts of Burden Vol. 1) - Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Jill Thompson Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites - Evan Dorkin, Jill Thompson Beasts of Burden - Neighborhood Watch - Evan Dorkin, Jill Thompson Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers #1 (Beasts of Burden Vol. 1) - Evan Dorkin, Jill Thompson Beasts of Burden Hellboy One-Shot Comic - Mike Mignola

In the film 101 Dalmatians, Pongo and Perdita howl for help once their puppies have been stolen.  It is an interesting concept, this use of howling and work because any dog owner can believe it.  Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson start their excellent series about a group of dogs the same way.  The dogs of Burden, however, do so to call on the help of a wise dog.

 

                Wise Dog = Merlin or Gandalf, he is an English Sheep Dog after all.

 

                In Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites (the first four issues as well as a short story) chronicle the beginning adventures of Ace, Jack, Whitey, Rex, Pugsley, and their cat friend Orphan.   The story starts as the friends with the help of the Wise Dog, investigate why Jack’s dog house is haunted. 

 

                Apparently, Burden is the Sunnydale of the dog world because there is quite a bunch of weird things going on. 

 

                 Over the course of the first volume, the group of friends becomes wise dogs in training, guardians of the area, tasked to protect it.  Like most fiction involving super hero teens, owners (the de facto parents) are largely absent and a dog owner sometimes wonders what is going on with these people.  Yet, despite that wobble (and necessary plot hole.  To be fair, owners do make some appearances), the series is pretty darn good.

 

                In part, this is due to the dogs and cats remaining dogs and cats.  It is also because of the strength of the storytelling.  Animal Rites is in many ways, an origin sequence.  But the stories are heartfelt, and while not having the lecture footnotes of Atwood’s Angel Catbird series, the stories do comment on how we treat animals and each other in the world. 

 

                At first, the group is seeming to be entirely male, but female characters in the form of a dog and a cat are added.  In many ways, too, the dogs act like their respective breeds (though my Dobie was braver than Rex).  This isn’t a story for children, there is death of some pets (but not of the major characters), and the dogs sometimes are a bit, well, fierce.  It would be fair to say that the series is in part horror story from a dog point of view.  It actually remembers me a bit of Wayne Smith’s Thor.

 

                The issue Neighborhood Watch contains stories that are referred to in the later part of animal rites.  Included are a story about a chicken stealing goblin and a flock of strange sheep.  Honesty, the sheep story is one of the spookiest I’ve read in a long time.

 

                Hunters and Gatherers and Issue #0 seem to occur after Animal Rites.  Issue) details the story of one the cat characters in greater detail.  It is also a story about family.  IN the closing panels, you can easily see why the series has won awards.  Hunters is an adventure tale that does seem to change Watership Down in part.  The crossover with Hellboy is also very good, making Pugsley more than simply a downer.  It was both funny and touching.

HBO and its stupdity

Like most people when I heard about the new project from the showrunners of Game of Thrones, my reaction was WTF.  My reaction is based on the objectification that occurs from the first episode of GoT, not so much from the project itself.  Then as a fellow member of an online group pointed out, we don’t really now.  Perhaps the show will be nuanced and sensitive.  That is true.  It wouldn’t be the first such project to be based on alternate Civil War ending, that has been done before.

 

                But considering GoT and its gender and race problems, I’m not holding my breath.

 

                The other thing that bothers me is bigger.  Why this series?  Underground, a series set pre-Civil War, and boasting a predominately black cast was recently cancelled by WGN America.  If HBO wanted to tackle the question of slavery and race, why not pick up this excellent, well-acted, and well written series?  (Honestly, the “Minty” episode needs to win awards and awards and be taught in schools).  While Underground focuses on escaped slaves, it also has slave catchers (if that is really important to HBO) as well as abolitionists.  Honesty, you will never look at Chris Meloni the same way, and one of the best arcs during the first season was that of the slave-catcher’s son. 

 

                But, you say, HBO wants fantasy to replace GoT.  Okay, okay.  The thing is that there is plenty of fantasy out there.  Hell, there is plenty of fiction.  How about Segu by Maryse Conde?  Not fantasy, but the book and its sequel chronicle an African family as Europeans and Muslims start to influence/take over their lands.  It has everything in it.  Sex, violence, debates about religion.  Why not Segu?

 

                Or why not some of the work of Tananarive Due, such as her African Immortals series?  Fantasy, vampires, and far better than Trueblood.  I dare you not to cry after reading the first book.

 

                Or how about anything by Octavia Butler?  Hell, her works could keep HBO going for years.

 

                Are those works (and works by Okorafor, Hopkinson, Jemisin, James, Mosely among others) too black?  Is that?

 

                Okay then, how about the Free Man of Color series by Barbara Hambly.  She’s white, her main character is black, and it takes place in New Orleans right after the Louisiana Purchase.  Benjamin January, the title character, solves mysteries, and one his sidekicks is a white guy.

 

                Does that work for you? 

 

                Or how about this – adapt some Forgotten Realms stuff.  You got your fantasy, you got your dragons, you can have white people in it but you can also have Drizzit who is a black elf.  There you go.  Why not that? 

 

Or if you want alternate history, look at works such as Tremontaine or the Elephant and Maccaw Banner.  You could also do the Forgotten Realms Empire trilogy.   How about the Monoglaid?  The works of Cherie Priest or Chelsea Quinn Yarbro?

 

                OR how about the works of Max Gladstone – he has everything, including gods in his craft series.

 

                In some ways, HBO’s greenlighting of the project is a showcase of why representation matters.  IF the answer to a lack of people of color in GoT is the construction of a series based on an idea that is some people’s wet dream (honesty, read Confederates in the Attic), you are missing the point.   Hell, I’m probably missing the point with some of my suggestions. 

 

                We need representation.  Gene Rodenberry knew this.  He knew this, though he might not have called it that.   It’s great that the rough cut of the Black Panther movie is four hours, but it shouldn’t have taken it so long to have been made. Just like Wonder Woman. 

 

                Look, I know we had Electra, Catwoman, Steel, but look at the production of those movies compared to the white male hero movies.  It’s not the same.  And that is part of the problem.  Compare the advertising for Batman movies vs the advertising for Wonder Woman.  Look at the reaction to WW, and that shows you why we need it.  I hope the lines for Black Panther are just as long.

 

                Representation matters but so does what you chose to represent.  To take a fantasy/sci-fi genre and use it just for slavery, again, is at best a lack of literacy and sensitivity.  Why must all heroes be white and mostly (all) male?

Rocket and I go waaay back

FCBD: Rocket Raccoon - Joe Caramagna, Adam Archer, Skottie Young

When I was young, in grade school, I read the first Rocket mini-series, so the reast of you are late to the bloody party.

 

This adventure was quite fun and entertaining.  With quite a few twists.

Comixology owes Grimlock something

Star Trek / Planet of the Apes #1 (of 5) - Scott Tipton, David Tipton, Juan Ortiz, Rachael Stott

My spate of comic reading is in part because I joined Comixology (or got an account there) because of free comics offered when I got Wonder Woman tickets.  It is awesome that I can read many of my kindle comics there, so I have being reading, largely, freebies.  This was one.

 

Well, that and I went, let's see whatwe can find that Grimlock has read.

 

 

I am one of those weird geeks.  I prefer reading.  I like Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr Who but my interest waxes and wanes.  It really depends upon a variety of factors, but mostly connected to the writing and the market push a group makes.  I guess I am a Trekie, Trek like Wars has always been a part of my existence, and I do not really understand how the true are mutally exclusive.  Quite frankly, considering the recent entries and reboots from both series, I have to give the edge to Star Trek right now.  Star Trek was always better with representation.

 

Largely that is because I love, have always loved Uhura.  Growing up and watching the original series, I had two choices of women to latch on to.  Chapel and Uhura  (yes, I know Rand was there too, but really it is two).  As a child, I saw Chapel as the mopey one and Uhura as the one who did things, so I went with Uhura.  Which is the highest praise I can give both Nichols and Roddenberry.  I love ZS' s protrayal of the role as well. I do not have a problem with Spock and Uhura has a couple (but can we please not have a relationship issue in the next movie?)

 

Therefore, this comic is great because in the opening panels it has Uhura and Sulu kicking ass as undercover Klingons.  Anything after that was not as good.  It wasn't paid and it was pretty standard OST.  But those opening panels/pages.  YEs!

 

As for the Planet of the Apes bit - look I never got into those movies in any boot whatsoever so ask someone else.

Comic Book Post

Wonder Woman FCBD 2017 Special Edition (2017-) #1 (Wonder Woman (2016-)) - Greg Rucka, Jr.,  Romulo Fajardo, Nicola Scott Batman: The Gotham Adventures - Ty Templeton, Rick Burchett, Terry Beatty Red Sonja #0 (Dynamite Entertainment Comics) - Michael Avon Oeming, Mike Carey, Mel Rubi

Over the last month I have read several comic books/graphic novels that have been offered for free for kindle or on Comixology.  Here’s a some of the highlights.

Overwatch Series – This comic series, offered for free, is based on the video game of the same name.  It is a game I haven’t played.  The comic series, spanning ten issues, is pretty damn good.  There are quite a few woman characters, several of whom are women of color.  The series also covers several morality questions – what is good, just, right.  The series also uses characters who are older.  The artwork is pretty good as well.  While eight of the issues are basically character studies with action, the last two issues deal with Halloween and Christmas, and so are somewhat a guest star list type of story.  Familiarity is with the video game is not needed to read these, though they should be read in order.  This is because a character in one is the mother of the central character in the following issue.  While the series does offer a must know cliffhanger, it is resolved in the ten issues.

 

Various Batman Comics -  Overall the Batman comics were what you would expect from Batman, and yet, they were in some ways the most disappointing.  The Rebirth first issue was good, though perhaps straining at the very loose sense of reality that holds things together.  The sequence involving passengers on a plane was, in particular, really great.  Neil Gaiman’s Batman in Black and White was clever, if not as clever as it thinks it is.  But the taste of Batman was soured by two freebies, the 10c Adventure and Gotham Adventures. 

                Batman and the Ten Cent Adventure is not as bad as Gotham Adventures.  The basic set up is that Bruce Wayne is framed for a murder.  The story is told from the viewpoint of his bodyguard.  A young woman who reminds a bit of Black Canary.  She was Wayne’s bodyguard until she discovered his identity as Brue Wayne and then she became is crime fighting partner, just don’t call her Robin.  Her voice tells the story so we get very much of Wayne worship and of course, she is in love with him, though he doesn’t know it.  And poor Bruce had to break up with his true love which he does by inviting her to his mansion so she can walk in on him when he is with some other women.  Of course, then he stalks her when he is Batman because that is so romantic. 

                You see my problem. 

                Gotham Adventures is worse, even though it features the extended Bat family.  That comic opens with Batman, Robin, and Batgirl chasing the Joker.  Robin gets delegated to help some woman, and I am not really sure what Batgirl does because she doesn’t have anything to do with Batman catching the Joker.  The Bat group take Joker back to the Batcave because there is a bounty on Joker’s head.  Nightwing shows up and gets a few lines.  Finally, after several pages, Batgirl actually gets to speak.  Everyman had lines, mostly several, before Batwing gets even one.  She is left to guard the Joker, who of course knocks her out.  If it was Alfred getting the drop on the Joker the shit would have hit the fan.  While she is knocked out, the Bat men are all doing heroic things.   So, one woman, who can’t even guard a prisoner who is handcuffed.  It’s a shame really because it is leaves a sour taste in the mouth, and stops what would have been a pretty fun comic read from being so.

 

Various Wonder Woman Comics – So these include Wonder Woman Rebirth (FCBD editions and #1 itself) as well as DC Super Hero Girls.  The Rebirth issues are very interesting and good.  And guess what, one of the FCBD editions has two men talking about a woman and her relationship to one of them.  That is just awesome.  Really awesome.  In particular, what I enjoyed about the Rebirth idea was the concept of storytelling and retconning which WW’s Rebirth storyline seems to directly tackle.  This is wonderful because all the multiple origin stories get a tad confusing.   

                There was also an older Wonder Woman, apparently after Crisis of Infinite Worlds.  This is interesting because Diana Prince is no longer Wonder Woman, at least in name, though the villains still see her as such.  Which shows you that villains know better.  And this raises a question.  I have not read mainstream comics for several years.  But I do know that have been quite a few times when Diana Prince has lost the title of Wonder Woman (once to her mother).  I know that in the last few year, Marvel’s Thor lost his hammer to a woman, and Iron Man is, wonderfully, a young black woman but my question is this -  do any male super heroes lose their status or title as much or more as Wonder Woman has?  Why Wonder Woman?  I’m not trying to be snarky, I am legitimately curious.  How does this break down?  Anyone know?

                The Super Hero girl comics are cute, and intended it seems for a younger audience.  The two I read where actually the same story, one just longer than the other.  The story concerns summer break where Wonder Woman and Bumble Bee go to Mount Olympus.  The cast is multi-ethnic, though a bit strange – why Poison Ivy – but the series does show the girls working together and being there for each other.  Though, why Batgirl sightsees as Batgirl I don’t know.

 

There were some surprises in this comic freebie read – Red Sonja 0, written by Michael Avon Oeming and Mike Curry was actually quite good, despite the   costume that makes no sense and seems to have a magical power to stay still and not show X-rated bits.  Red Sonja Vol 4, #0 was not as good, in fact it was just annoying, with more teasing of body parts.  Damsels: Mermaids was also quite good and a wonderful take on Andersen’s Little Mermaid.  Honesty, this might just be my favorite version.

 

Of course, not much has changed in comics.  Women, in particular the heroes, are usually drawn with Triple DDD bust sizes and a middle that couldn’t house a liver or intestine.  The men are buff too, let’s be honest, but they at least have some room for internal organs.  This is particularly distracting in Grimm Comics because the story telling is good there, but the female characters so sexualized that it is nerve wracking.  The explanation seems to be Neverland, a spin off, because the Wendy character was actually dressed.  The Godstorm spin off was good too  - Zeus mediating on fatherhood was really great.

Personal Canon - Watership Down

Watership Down - Richard Adams

Watership Down

Richard Adams

First Read: 3rd/4th grade

 

                 I first read Watership Down after seeing the cartoon.  I was dusting my parents’ bookcase, and boom there the book was.  So, I read it and loved it.  Except for that one chapter.

 

                The basic plot of Watership is a quest by a group of rabbits as they try to find, first, a home and then female rabbits.  The rabbits have a trickster god called El-ahrairah.  The chapter that freaked me out when I first read it was a story about El-ahrairah going to the Black Rabbit (death).  El-ahrairah wanted to save his people so he gambled with the Black Rabbit.  Each time he lost, he lost body parts.  His ears were replaced with cabbage leaves and so on.  It freaked me out.  Really freaked me out.  It was the only time I ever needed a night light.

 

                It was the cabbage leaves.

 

                Yet, even this chapter couldn’t kill my love for the book.  I re-read pretty much every year though college.  Until high school, I skipped that scary chapter.  But then I read it again and loved it.

 

                The great thing about Watership Down is the whole language.  The whole world building.  The characters – Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, Dandelion, Blackberry, Pippin, and Keehar (who is not a rabbit).

 

                I love those characters.  I love this book.

                Rabbits taught me much.