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Graphic Novelty²

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August 2016

Wizard World

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I recently attended my first full blown Comic Con! After dipping my toe in the con world by attending Northern Illinois University’s small Karoshi-Con, I was ready for the big leagues!

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My partners in crime were an amazing mother/daughter duo (WB & SA!) and we left early as to make the most of our day at Rosemont. None of us were brave enough to cosplay, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that many attendees wore every day attire. So, although I did not wear any costume, I did enjoy admiring others!

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Gravity Falls face off!
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Star Wars epicness!
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Avengers unite!
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Predator- best costume IMO!

There were panels galore to pick from, although I sadly admit I did not plan my day well, and while I did attend a few, I did not go to as many as I should have. I wish I had attended the X-Files panel, but the one I totally planned on, that would have had Kate Mulgrew aka Captain Janeway from Star Trek Voyager there, was cancelled. I seriously had tears in my eyes once I discovered that.

Besides panels there were many other distractions. My friends and I did a paint and take, where we bought little figurines and painted them. There was the autograph area, which had some big names such as Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny  (X-Files), Carrie Fisher (Star Wars) and Danai Gurira and Norman Reedus (Walking Dead) plus dozens more.  There were vendors galore and I picked up a little swag.WWswag

All in all, a fun day and a lot of the panels I participated will help me in my professional duties as a teen librarian. In fact, my library paid for my ticket, and I briefly met up with a few of the fabulous teens that attend my teen programming. This nerd was happy to be part of the herd at Wizard World!

-Nancy

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Batwoman: Elegy

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Rucka, Greg and J.H. Williams III. Batwoman: Elegy. 2010.

Thirteen covens that Gotham thought were sleeping have woken, their criminal activity spiking. They’re after Batwoman, but no one, Kate least of all, knows why. She infiltrates one to meet the new high priestess, a girl calling herself Alice. She poisons Batwoman, causing Kate to hallucinate and remember dreadful things. When Alice kidnaps Kate’s father, all bets are off for Batwoman. In trying to apprehend her, a terrible accident causes Alice to fall. Her last words are disturbing, to say the least. Kate must walk through her own memory to uncover a terrible family secret… one she thought she had put to rest.

The art in this book is amazing. A M A Z I N G. There are so many panels that are laid out differently, which makes it a difficult read at first, but they all follow kind of the same format so you’ll get it after a while. It’s got really trippy colors and formats, super kaleidoscopic. It’s suspenseful and heartbreaking. It’s easy to see why it was so critically acclaimed after it came out. If you’re looking for a comic with superb art, look no further!

– Kathleen

Marathon

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Yakin, Boaz & Joe Infurnari. Marathon. 2012.

In honor of the recent Olympics in Rio, I read Marathon, tagged “the epic tale of the original marathon runner”.

Eucles, also known as Pheidippides in some historical documents, is introduced as a fleet youth in 502 BC who wins a race against the illegitimate son of King Hippias of Athens to become one of the king’s official messengers. Due to Eucles’s slave status, Hippias is disgusted that his son would lose to him, and kills his son. The king warns the boy if he ever does not deliver a message, his family will be put to death. Eucles’s victory comes at a heavy price, for he is sabotaged by the prince’s friends during a delivery, resulting in his parent’s death. This forever turns Eucles against the king, and he is glad when the king is sent into exile for his evil tyranny a few years later.

Hippias vows revenge and with the help of Persian King Darius and an army of battle ships, invades Greece in 490 BC with the intent to destroy the newly democratic Athens. The Athenians are outnumbered heavily and ask a now grown and married Eucles to run to Sparta to see if the soldiers there will come to their aid.  He runs an almost 300 mile round trip to be denied assistance by Sparta. He returns exhausted with the bad news as the Battle of Marathon, that occurred outside of the city of Marathon, is about to begin. Despite his weakened state, he insists in joining the soldiers. The soldiers hold off the Persian army, but the city of Athens is still is at risk for it stands undefended. Eucles makes a final run to the city to announce Greece’s victory, but adds a warning that they must stand guard against a final attack, before he collapses and dies. The citizens make a show of solidarity, and the Persians turn back, for they fear an additional battle will further weaken them. Against all odds, the city of Athens win and their democratic ideal will continue forward into the future influencing future civilizations. In thankfulness of Eucles sacrifice, a new race was instituted in the Olympic games, and his story is passed into legend.

This legend, which is sketchy in details and has several inconsistencies, is the basis for this tale of historical fiction. The question is how much of the story is legend and how much is historical fact? Liberties are taken in describing Eucles life, for even if his name is suspect, the details about his childhood and marriage would be made up even if historically accurate of the era. The facts are there was a runner, and the details about the battle would be accurate, but all other details are conjecture. If used in a classroom, a teacher should challenge students to thing critically about sources of information and could be used as a learning opportunity.

The beginning artwork captures the look of Athens and the Greek countryside, and the clothing and architecture seems historically accurate.  But then the panels during warfare become a blur and are evocative of the chaos of the battlefield, but at a detriment to the story. Several of the soldiers and leaders become indistinguishable from one another, and the story loses clarity and accuracy at that point.

That I lost track of the storyline made this story more muddled than I would have liked. While the historical tale was worthy to share, and the artwork was drawn well especially at the beginning and end, I came away slightly disappointed that the middle was so confusing. I would still give it  a recommendation, but with reservations.

-Nancy

Suicide Squad

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***There are spoilers for Batman v. Superman ahead***

So I’m pretty sure DC has my birthday circled on their corporate calendar because for the past couple years a DC movie has come out on or near my birthday. Last year, Assault on Arkham came out the day of. This year, Suicide Squad came out the week before, so my boyfriend and I saw it when he came to visit me for my birthday weekend. I went into it with mixed feelings. I had read the critic reviews beforehand and, as you guys may know, they weren’t good. Many of my friends who saw it liked it, however, so I was trying to remain optimistic. As long as it was better than Batman v. Superman, it would be a win in my book.

Rejoice, for it was a definite win.

Louisiana’s Belle Reve Prison contains some of the world’s most dangerous criminals. There’s Floyd Lawton, AKA Deadshot, an assassin for hire and the deadliest marksman in the world. Dr. Harleen Quinzel, or Harley Quinn, who fell in love with the Joker while attempting to rehabilitate him, and dove into his mad world. Waylon Jones, better known as Killer Croc, a cannibal with terrifying reptilian features who lives in the sewers. Captain Boomerang, the alias of Digger Harkness, an opportunistic thief, deadly with boomerangs. Ex-gangster Chato Santana, AKA El Diablo, who for some reason is reluctant to use his awesome and terrifying fire power. And finally, Christopher Weiss, Slipknot, a mercenary specializing in rope work.

Amanda Waller wants to create a team of these villains, as well as Enchantress, an ancient sorceress inhabiting archeologist June Moone’s body, to fight supernatural and metahuman threats since the death of Superman.

The government thinks, of course, that she’s crazy. But once Enchantress escapes, frees her brother, and starts weaving a spell to destroy humanity for imprisoning them in bottles for thousands of years, no one is laughing at Waller any more. She sends out the Suicide Squad under the guise of shutting down a terrorist attack. They are implanted with microchips in their neck, which will detonate and decapitate them upon escape attempts or disobedience, ensuring their cooperation. Also promised are ten years off their prison sentences should the mission succeed. The squad, joined by Rick Flagg and his bodyguard, Katana, hits ground zero, and what follows is a wild ride full of action, hilarity, and the suspense of wondering if the squad will succeed and save the day or revert to their wicked ways mid-mission.

Some of the things the critics had problems with turned out to be valid. Jared Leto’s Joker, for example, so hyped up in the trailers to make him seem like a central feature, only had about 20 minutes of screen time. Comparatively, you could have called it “Deadshot: The Movie” for how much Will Smith’s character stole the show. I like Will Smith, but I would have liked to see a little less of him here. Also, Slipknot was so obviously used for a singular purpose that he’s barely worth mentioning.

The biggest thing I agree with the critics about is the casting. There was not one person who was miscast in this movie. Will Smith did great, as per us, even if I wished he was less prevalent. Margot Robbie absolutely KILLED it as Harley Quinn. The chemistry between her and Leto’s Joker was perfect, and the little vignettes of their relationship sprinkled throughout the film turned out to be some of my favorite parts. Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress turned out to be my favorite new character and I’m really interested to learn more about her. Viola Davis was the perfect Amanda Waller, the perfect antithesis to the squad, making you wonder who is really more evil.

However, I do not at all agree with many of the critics saying that this movie was predictable. I was not expecting a lot of things to happen, least of all Enchantress to be the main villain. If anything, I expected Joker to be, probably only because he was so hyped up in the trailers you couldn’t really assume anything else. One review read that it tried and failed to be like a combination of Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy. I think it succeeded. It was both an anti-hero and team-up movie, it was both hilarious and at times way more heartbreaking than it needed to be (like I was in literal tears not 10 minutes in), and, most importantly, it was a step in the right direction for DC. After the extremely negative reception of BvS, DC really needed to step up their game. They needed to take a different tone, and this movie definitely delivers that.

In short, Suicide Squad is brilliantly cast, full of action and humor, will give you feels way disproportionate to how funny it is, has an amazing soundtrack, but in short: it’s fun. Could it have been better? Sure, anything can be better. But it is nowhere near the train wreck the critics would have you believe it is. If you’re finding yourself disenfranchised with the DC cinematic universe, please go see this movie and let it renew your hope. If you’re just looking for a fun summer movie, please also go see this movie! =D

– Kathleen

Assassin’s Creed (Vol. 6): Leila

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Corbeyran, Eric, and Djillali Defali. Assassin’s Creed (Vol. 6): Leila. 2015.

El Cakr has been imprisoned for refusing to hand over the Scepter of Aset to the ruling powers in Egypt. He is thrown in the same cell as a woman named Leila, who has confessed to killing the Sultan. Together, they make their escape. Unsure if he should trust her, El Cakr leaves her at their makeshift hideout and seeks out Ali in nearby Edfu, where he has tasked his young apprentice with keeping the Scepter safe. However, they are ambushed by no other than Leila – who lied to El Cakr about her allegiances. The fight that ensues is deadly – what becomes of the Scepter? Who will access the correct memories in time: the Assassins, or the Templars, with Jonathan Hawk’s DNA grafted inside Subject 19?

If I thought the last volume was full of plot twists, oh boy. You guys are really in for a ride with this one. I kept continually gasping from all the surprises XD The entire series has been fast-paced. It ends on a satisfying, though somewhat loose-ended note. It’s been a wonderful addition to the Assassin’s Creed series but will also appeal to readers who like a lot of action and multiple storylines. Definitely recommended!

– Kathleen

Locke & Key: Volumes 2-6

This is one of the BEST graphic novel series EVER! Strong from beginning to end- I can’t recommend it enough! I will now wait as you rush out to purchase this series…

Ok, are you back from the book store? Let’s continue. When I read the first volume back in April, I said “Locke & Key is truly one of the best the best graphics novel I have ever read, hands down. It just dominates. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez are superb storytellers, and this first novel makes me anxious to read the rest of the series. Who cares that I have family, work and school commitments? Lovecraft is calling me.” Well, real life got in the way and I didn’t want to read the rest of the series piecemeal, so I waited until my family was on vacation to give my undivided time to finishing the series.

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Volume 2-Head Games:

After reading the first volume of the Locke & Key series and absolutely loving it, I knew I had to read all six volumes. Each book is dense, and takes time to get through, but is so worth the effort. This second volume delves deeper into world building, with much back story and character development. Dodge, the malevolent soul released from the well by Bode, has now managed to worm himself closer to the family by taking on a new guise. The Locke family is none the wiser, for “Zack” manages to manipulate or take out any other person who suspects the truth. More magic keys appear, with intriguing diary entries from a Revolutionary era ancestor in the back of the book explaining the powers of each key. The Head Key proves to be the most intriguing for a head can be opened and memories examined, showing how memories can be subjective to each person. The illustrations showing’s Bode’s colorful kaleidoscope of memories, compared to Ellie’s black and white adult memories are brilliant.

Volume 3-Crown of Shadows:

The third volume continues to dominate. The Locke family is still struggling over the death of the father, with the mother Nina crumbling under the strain of her rape and her husband’s murder. Her drinking takes a toll on the whole family, with Kinsey and Tyler having to take on the adult roles of parenting their little brother since their mother is too drunk to do so. More keys are discovered and used for evil by Zack, but combated by the three siblings with their own keys, still not knowing who is behind the attacks. Nina discovers a magic chest (which surprised me for they make a point in saying that the magic is for the young) which fixes broken items, leading her to put her husband’s ashes in and hoping for a miracle. Unfortunately, it can not mend death, leading to a poignant conclusion of Nina’s breakdown and the discovery of the mysterious Omega Key.

Volume 4-Keys to the Kingdom:

Another solid entry but it runs into the “middle problem” of a series, when the beginning sets up the plot and atmosphere, and the middle is left with hanging story lines, before the last volumes (hopefully) wrap up everything successfully. The beginning of the book was a fun start, with the illustrations drawn to emulate Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes style, to set up the stage for an animal showdown. Many more keys are found by the Locke siblings, and for the first time, they are not documented in the diary entries but they are obvious as to their power with the awesome battle illustrations drawn by Rodriguez. Lucas/Zack is still manipulating the family, especially Kinsey whom he romances, but Tyler is beginning to put together the clues. The end of this volume concludes with an epic cliff hanger.

Not every series can be perfect- and I do have some issues: I found the Skin Key to be problematic with stereotypical racial overtones, Ellie’s constant misfortune including her son Rufas’s intellectual disability and the implication that he is too stupid for the Head Key to be used on him, and the teenagers poor decisions in regards to what they let their friends and love interests know. I do look forward to how volumes five and six resolve the story, and hopefully tie up some of my stated issues.

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Volume 5-Clockworks:

Backstory awesomeness!!! We finally get an explanation of the keys’ origin during the Revolutionary War era, as hinted by the diary entries of different Locke generations in the back of the previous volumes. The present day Locke’s discover the Timeshift Key enabling them to witness history. They observe the first Locke family as they endure tragedy from the British while protecting the American rebels. Tyler and Kinsey watch as the 1700’s Locke children witness the evil hiding in the caverns below their home. Later we are privy to what happened in 1988 with Rendell (the father as a teenager) and his friends and how the evil invaded Lucas. It was especially heartbreaking to see how Lucas had truly loved Ellie, until he was accidentally taken over, all due to Rendell’s immaturity and bad ideas. This volume had many tragic deaths, all of whom were innocent, due to the evil that got loose from the Black Door. I can not wait to see how this story concludes, and what will happen to Bode, now that the evil is in him. What legacy awaits the Locke’s?

Volume 6- Alpha & Omega:

All the mythology that has been building over the series comes to an epic conclusion. The entire Locke family is fighting for their survival, as an evil entity has been gaining strength and is determined to take over. This coincides with prom, and a large group of foolish teens head into the cave for after prom festivities, not knowing that they are walking into evil’s lair. The final showdown occurs with Kinsey and Tyler fighting the demon that looks like their little brother. Other friends step up to assist, often with devastating results. The death toll builds, with some surprising twists and turns. Will they be able to vanquish the enemy, and at what terrible price? While the poignant epilogue gives the Locke family some closure, and a few happy endings, the Locke family is forever changed by the demons they fought and the tragedies they endured.

A few final wrap ups: The artwork made this series for it established the atmosphere to coincide with Hill’s magnificent and well paced storytelling.  Rodriguez is crazy talented. He has included Easter eggs in this series from the start, with details drawn into pictures or words written into books in a library background, so I had to smile when I recognized Hill and Rodriguez drawn as the paramedics on page 18. Although I have been on the lookout for eggs, I wonder how many other details I have missed or what other background characters have been people the artist knows.

So everyone, you MUST READ this horror series! Beg, borrow or steal these books. You will be glad you did.

-Nancy

L&K

 

Star Trek Beyond

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This movie was released to coincide with the Star Trek franchise’s 50th anniversary, and I felt that it was a just a place holder and not a block buster. While I definitely enjoyed it, especially the ending, I’m not sure I will remember the villains or the plot years from now which had become a problem with the TNG movies.

The Good:

A funny opening scene with Kirk trying to flex his diplomatic skills, and basically failing.

The interactions between Kirk, Spock & Bones and the different parings of characters on the planet Altamid.

Sulu’s husband and daughter are shown, which is supposed to be a shout out to George Takei and an acknowledgement there should be more LGBTQ representation in the Trek universe.

Star Base Yorktown was beautifully rendered. I always like seeing crowd scenes in Trek movies and how they represent humans and aliens from all over the universe. Love the costumes!

I liked the stranded Jaylah. She had spunk.

The soundtrack of Beastie Boys and Public Enemy! I liked the line that it was “old fashioned” music.

Great special effects showing the battling ships with the massive  swarm of small ships attacking Enterprise.

I liked the picture that Spock looks at of the crew of TOS when going through old Spock’s belongings. Nice tribute to the cast that started this phenomenon! ♥

The Meh:

The villain Krall (even though I just saw this movie this weekend I had to Google the villain’s name). I liked the explanation of who he was originally and his thought process, but that plot didn’t hold up completely. The way he acquired energy from others to extend his life was murky, and how it altered his appearance, I can only guess at.

There was a whole “suspension of disbelief” that a whole star ship would risk all the ship’s crew to do a rescue mission in a nebula that would make them out of touch with the Federation. Realistically, they should have sent a smaller ship and crew.

The Bad:

Knowing this would be the last time we’d see Anton’s portrayal of Chekov. I heard they will not recast him in the next movie, so I wonder what the explanation will be for his absence from future Star Trek films. At least Anton/Chekov’s last portrayal showed him being an integral part of the action and saving the crew.

Uhura’s lack of storyline and that the romance between her and Spock was reduced. They had no chemistry in this outing, despite having great sparks in the first movie. I totally was shipping them, now not so much. I still have hope…

They could have done so much more with Sulu’s supposed same sex marriage. The relationship is merely implied, the poor guy portraying his “husband” had no lines and there should have been a kiss between the two to confirm the relationship.

The motorcycle?? Come on.

While I really liked Jaylah, her backstory took away from potential character development of characters such as Uhura, Chevok, Sulu and Scotty.

 

But all in all, a very solid Star Trek movie that will guarantee the movie’s future production in the years to come and beyond!

Live long and prosper.

-Nancy

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Birds of Prey (Vol. 6): The Battle Within

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Simone, Gail, Ed Benes, Tom Derenick, and Joe Bennett. Birds of Prey (Vol. 6): The Battle Within. 2006.

The Birds are back in quite a few adventures here. They tackle a lonely and grieving teenage girl who can absorb the magical powers of other people; a specter named Harvest in the middle of nowhere, Kansas, who is stealing the youth of her victims; and a drug lord and the Twelve Brothers in Silk in Singapore connected to the Gotham mob. Throughout all these adventures, the Birds are having their own inner struggles. Helena is just starting to feel like part of the family; could it be that someone has an ulterior motive for her being there? Barbara is more powerful than ever, due to the bit of Brainiac inside her. But could it turn deadly? When the Birds finally break, can they be put back together?

This volume was awesome. It was super action packed, but also had a lot of inner conflicts within the team and each individual member. The title is very appropriate. I think the thing I like most about this series is, even as all kinds of crap is hitting the fan, it still manages to have funny and touching moments. There’s a bit in here where Helena tells a guy the night they shared was so bad, she’d remain abstinent for the rest of her life. I was at work reading this and I just about DIED XD And, pleasant surprise, it contains one of my favorite comic panels of all time:

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❤ ❤ ❤

– Kathleen

Versatile Blog Award

 

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Graphic Novelty 2 has been chosen to receive the Versatile Blog Award by Kalie who writes the blog 1000inadecade in which she chronicles her effort to read 1,000 works in a decade and who also writes the dreadfully awesome Just Dread-full  horror blog. Thank you Kalie! Take the time to check out both her blogs for they are filled with great insight and humor.

Since there are two of us who write for this blog, we decided to write a post together. Kalie couldn’t pick just one of us so she is getting two for the price of one today!

Rules:

  • Display the award
  • Thank person who gave you this award
  • Share 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate up to 10 other blogs

Nancy: I have a lot of sisters. My Dad wanted a boy badly, and tried five times for one. No luck.

Kathleen: Going off that, I have two sisters. I am the oldest =P

Nancy: I have curly hair and love it. I do not understand why so many woman with curly hair straighten theirs. Curls rock!

Kathleen: Even though I’m a diehard DC fan, I have a soft spot for the Spiderman Animated Series from the ’90s.

Nancy: The order in which I like the Star Trek Captains are: Picard, Kirk, with Janeway and Sisko as a tie. I do not like to speak of Archer.

Kathleen: My favorite artistic media to work in is watercolor.

Nancy: I met my husband when we were 16 and we started dating at 17. Been together ever since.

Kathleen: When I’m not reading graphic novels, I read fantasy novels. I’ve been on a steampunk kick lately for some reason XD

Nancy: I have my undergraduate degree in elementary education and a minor in anthropology. I wish I had been braver and pursued anthropology as my major and gone on digs. I can be much too practical at times.

Kathleen: Before I wanted to be a librarian, I wanted to be a writer! I used to write a ton but what little free time I have, I use to work on my art. Occasionally I think about story ideas I have still kicking around in my head.

Nancy: I want to travel more. I have been to Mexico and Canada with my parents, so although my husband and I (and our kids) have vacationed all over the states, we have not traveled outside the US.

Kathleen: My boyfriend and I have been to five concerts together, which is more than I’d been to in my whole life before we started dating XD

Nancy: My husband and I are the proud parents of a beautiful daughter and two handsome sons. They are growing up way too fast. How can the days be long, but the years so short?

Kathleen: I cannot wait for autumn to come back. It’s my favorite season.

There you have it- amazing facts about both Nancy and Kathleen! Thank you again to Kalie for nominating us!

Some of our nominees are:

Rash @ A.B.A.B A Blog About Books Teaser Tuesday & Top 5 Wednesday awesomeness.

Jeff @ The Imperial Talker Everything you wanted to know about Star Wars!

ML @ Bradscribe  A fine connoisseur of Science Fiction.

Vick and Drea @ A Nerdy Nook Reviews, character bios, and lots of lists!

Literary Apothecary Great reviews of YA literature~

No Shelf Control Another reviewer of YA lit and fantasy!

 

 

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