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August 2016

Batman: The Killing Joke

the killing joke
Moore, Alan & Brian Bolland. Batman: The Killing Joke. 1988.

I needed to read this novel and see what all the fuss is about- after all it is on our Recommendations list. Did it live up to all the hype? Yes and no.

First and foremost,  I am not enamored of Batman for he’s grumpy and skulks around in the shadows. I am not typically a DC fan, so I am not aware of some of the background history of Batman lore, although I do know who Barbara was and will become. One of the reasons this novel is considered a stand out is that in 1988 the level of violence was more extreme than other comics in the past. But after reading Locke & Key and The Walking Dead recently, the violence in this novel did not strike me as excessive ( I am desensitized to it, which is actually kinda sad) . All of this already puts me at a disadvantage starting the story.

I was reading the deluxe edition, that is both drawn and re-colored by Brian Bolland. In this edition, his original concept is now done the way he envisioned it. The illustrations are beyond good, with eye popping bold colors added in contrast to the more sepia colored panels. Joker is a vision, and I liked this rendition of him better than others by other artists.

Alan Moore is a legend, so you know the origin story for Joker is golden, although highly suspect.  Some of Joker’s dialogue is spot on such as:

“So when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there’s always madness…madness is the emergency exit.”

“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy”   His statements actually make…sense.

In the end, Joker’s manipulations don’t have the desired effect on Commissioner Gordon, but they just might on Batman. The ambiguous ending between Joker and Batman can be interpreted in many different ways. This draw your own conclusion setup is what elevates this story. On my first read through, I thought the story was just meh. On second read through, I understood some of the nuances and got a lot more from it.

This deluxe edition has a lot going for it including a introduction by Tim Sale and an afterword by Brian Bolland. Bolland also adds a bonus story that true aficionados will enjoy, but did nothing for me. While this story did not even come close to making me a Batman fan, I do see why this story was groundbreaking and is loved to this day. As such, it was tuned into an animated movie recently, with mixed reviews.

-Nancy

Kathleen- I am calling you out, for I now have read several DC novels, and you have yet to review a Marvel one. I have been pleasantly surprised at some of the DC storylines, so now I want you to find a Marvel book and enjoy it!

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Post-Graduation Blues and Successes

This post isn’t related to comic books or graphic novels, but I wanted to share my post-grad experience thus far with all of you. Maybe it will offer some hope, or guidance, or optimism. I hope so anyway.

I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science in May. Last month, I started two part time jobs at two separate libraries. I work in the adult reference department at both libraries. This entails answering patron’s research questions, helping them on the computer or with their personal devices, looking up items for them and placing holds, ordering materials for the library, developing programs (though I have not had to do this yet =P), and a whole lot more. For not one, but two libraries, with completely different policies, procedures, and demographic groups they cater to.

But you know what? I love it.

One of my libraries has a makerspace. I’ve been learning to 3D print by helping my boss print low-poly Pokemon! We’re planning to utilize them on our social media to promote different services the library offers. We also have sewing machines and a vinyl cutter, which I have not learned yet but can’t wait to! We’re planning a remodel to have an actual maker SPACE instead of it being in a closet, among other things =P And I will have my own desk in the new office that will be put in >:D

My other library has a community garden, complete with chickens! We have four baby chicks that have hatched. This library just finished a renovation within the last couple years, and the building still smells new. There are a lot of new employees here, young women like me, because of a string of retirees. A lot of fresh blood and new ideas going on here~

My bosses at both libraries have been great, making sure that my schedules work together. I have been tossed right out onto the desks because I worked circulation in my last job, and these two libraries are in the same system my old one was. I know the print and computer reservation systems at one library already, and the other is switching this month to those systems, so I really didn’t have to learn their current one =P One of my new bosses has been amazing with teaching me ordering procedures and practices on my off-desk time. I am already in charge of ordering the 700’s – the art section! My favorite!!! =D

I feel… amazing. Honestly. During grad school I went through so many periods where I wasn’t even sure I belonged in the program or even wanted to continue. During my job hunt, which stretched from January to July, hearing mostly nothing but radio silence, I became convinced I was unemployable. My mother was constantly asking why I wasn’t applying for full-time jobs, but here’s the truth: there aren’t a lot for this field. Some of my professors even told me that many librarians work two part-time jobs unless you’re a department head, director, or teacher: all jobs I wasn’t qualified for fresh out of school. Though my mom meant well, it put extra pressure on me, trying to live up to her expectations.

Graduation really didn’t bring any relief from the stress. I had to junk my car the literal week of, leaving me constantly having to borrow a car from a family member, which I feel guilty about. Relations at my last job soured, to the point where I hated to go to work every day. I tried to stay positive, telling myself I could make art and survive at my then-current job, though I knew in the back of my mind trying to pay my loans and bills on art is next to impossible. I avoided Facebook, too depressed to be anything but jealous of my friends who were getting engaged or married, buying houses or new cars, and backpacking through Europe. I isolated myself and made art to feel even the tiniest bit worthwhile. I ate junk food every day (comfort, I told myself, when it wasn’t a reward after an interview), didn’t work out (couldn’t afford running shoes), and felt generally like a worthless mess.

Ever since I got the first job offer, my confidence and self-esteem has returned. I finally feel like myself again, like the sun finally came out after a long winter. I initially wasn’t sure if I could do two jobs, but it’s much easier than I thought it would be. The only downside is, I have neglected my art ;-; Once I adjust to my new schedule, finding time shouldn’t be a problem. Money isn’t everything, but my income literally quadrupled, and I feel much more at peace knowing I’ll be able to pay my loans, bills, gas money, and still save for my future – all while having fun money left over to feed my Bombshells obsession >:D Financial security is a beautiful thing. My first purchases with my first paycheck were a new phone, new art supplies, and a pair of running shoes. I am dressing better (thanks, Goodwill), working out again, eating better, feel better – hell, I AM better. I am miles away from where I was mentally even three months ago.

All thanks to one phone call taken in the parking lot of the mall on a steamy July afternoon.

So, for all our younger readers struggling to see the light on this side of graduation, hang in there. You have been and will be put through hell, but you will survive. You will be stronger, but you are already stronger than you know. You are so much more than what your negative and anxious thoughts are screaming at you. You are employable, no matter what you believe. You absolutely do not have a deadline for finding a job, for getting engaged or married, or taking that vacation you’ve always wanted to. My boyfriend didn’t find a job until almost a year after he graduated, for example. Now that we’re both out of school and employed, we can sit down and talk about the next steps of our relationship without pressure. Above all, you will find your own happiness, whatever it means to you. I know all of this sounds cheesy, and you might not believe it, but it’s true.

I didn’t believe any of it either, yet here I am.

– Kathleen

The Autumnlands (Vol. 1): Tooth and Claw

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Busiek, Kurt, and Benjamin Dewey. The Autumnlands (Vol. 1): Tooth and Claw. 2015.

The magic is disappearing from a world which cities float in the sky, populated by anthropomorphic animals. In the city of Keneil, a conclave of wizards gather in a last-ditch attempt to restore their world. They call a Champion from another world, hoping for a savior to restore order. The magic they use to call the Champion is too great, causing the city to fall crashing to the Plains below. The survivors, haunted and hunted by the creatures of the ground, try to salvage what’s left of their homes and families. And their Champion… is not at all what they imagined. Can he really save them?

I. Am in LOVE. With the art of this book. It’s colorful and richly detailed. Each issue starts with a chapter title page, each featuring a two-page spread of a painting opening the chapter, and a few introductory paragraphs. These remind me of old fantasy novels you buy on impulse at the drugstore checkout counter, except not nearly as cheesy. There are multiple animal tribes that are shown and drawn, and they’re all wonderfully expressive and emotive as humans would be. There are a few battle scenes with tons of blood and a few of nudity (not sexual), so I got a little queasy, but not too much. I’m more than interested enough in the world to keep going.

I’m mad there isn’t a second volume yet. Oh well, I suppose I can wait… for now =P

– Kathleen

Revival: Deluxe Edition Two

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Seeley, Tim & Mike Norton. Revival: Deluxe Collection Edition Two. 2014.

When I read the first volume of Revival, I knew I wanted to continue reading this rural noir series about how loved ones reviving, which could be a dream come true for some, will be a nightmare for many. Author Tim Seeley and artist Mike Norton have stated the series will run eight volumes, with the seventh one coming out in September. Warning-  some (but not too many) spoilers!

Volume 3: A Faraway Place

Volume 2 of this series had no recap of the previous volume, so this book played it sly and had a recap done from Dana’s son’s perspective in comic book form to start us off. Some plot threads were followed more in depth such as trying to figure out Em’s killer, and explaining that the ghosts (most likely) were the unsettled spirits of the Revivers who didn’t die as expected. But there was so many other plots that were introduced or tangled up in one another. Who is the Reviver that followed Professor Weimar? How is the Professor involved in the situation? The teeth? So many questions, but perhaps this clue will help: The card that read “The Tree is Thirsty” came from Thomas Jefferson’s original statement “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” The plot thickens…

Volume 4: Escape to Wisconsin

The saga continues…with new layers added and few to no answers resolved. Dana travels to NYC to follow up on a lead, for Anders Hine had escaped WI and headed across the country when his ruse of acting as if he were in a vegetative state was exposed. Dana finally sees the ghosts attached to the Revivers, when initially she scoffed at the idea when her son told her that he saw several ghosts. (Aside-why would she not believe her son about ghosts, when people coming back to life was a fact?!) The last part of the novel had a segment that was a crossover with another popular Image comic-Chew. Agent Tony Chu from the FDA came to help investigate this Reviver phenomenon with his tasting skills. Chu was made to match the Revival art style, but as I am not a reader of Chew I was initially very confused with this plot thread, as it had not matched the previous story. If you are a fan of Chew this cross over was very cool, otherwise, it might fall a little flat for you.

-Nancy

* Reviews of Deluxe Edition One , Three and Four

 

 

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Kindred Spirits

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Rowell, Rainbow. Kindred Spirits. 2016.

Rainbow Rowell and I are Kindred Spirits, for how does she articulate feelings I have had so perfectly???

This story is a novella at only 62 pages, but even in that short span, the book manages to convey deep thoughts. Elena is a senior in high school who adores Star Wars and wants to experience camping overnight for tickets. After much discussion with her mother, she camps out, becoming third in line. Expecting instant camaraderie, she is disappointed that the line remains only three people up until the day before the movie opens. During her wait, she gets to know the other two men, learning more about them and herself in the process. She especially gets to know Gabe, realizing later she goes to school with him, and that she and her friends are cliquey and oblivious to others such as him. The ending is hopeful that Elena will break out of her social shell and see there are others like her, if she only opens her eyes.

A quote that hit home was this:

“Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.” (Gabe)

“Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?” (Elena)

“Maybe.” (Gabe)

I have always felt I am socially in no-mans-land. I have always been the geekiest of my circle, but then when I try to branch out into other groups, I am too normal or “bougie” for people in arty circles. In high school I was too self conscious to admit my fascination with Star Trek and Star Wars, but in college I could not keep my love of Star Trek TNG to myself anymore. My friends in my sorority thought it was cute. I even had a Star Fleet Academy sticker in the back window of my sports car.

As an adult now, especially with my job as a Teen Librarian, I can embrace who I really am. I like Star Wars. I like Star Trek. I like Pokémon GO. I like Avatar the Last Airbender. I like Rainbow Rowell. I like ElfQuest. But I also like being a Mom, Nashville (tv series), The Americans, pedicures, ADPi, hiking and hanging out with my (cliquey?) friends. I still am a social chameleon at times, moving between groups.

Although this book was shooting for a YA audience, it hit the bulls eye with a woman many years past HS, making me proud of who I am- including all my personality contradictions. Bravo RR, and THANK YOU!

-Nancy

Batgirl: Silent Running

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Puckett, Kelley, Scott Peterson, Damion Scott, and Robert Campanella. Batgirl: Silent Running. 2001.

During the No-Man’s Land arc, Barbara Gordon plucked a girl out of the rubble and took care of her. After Huntress gave up the mantle of Batgirl, Barbara passes the girl, Cassandra Cain, onto Batman, to train as the new Batgirl. There’s very little to teach her. Cass was once the adoptive daughter of a ruthless assassin, David Cain. She is so proficient at fighting that she can read your body and understand it like a language. It’s the only way she knows how to communicate. She seems perfect, but there’s a catch. Bruce receives a video of what appears to be a young Cass – assassinating someone at the guidance of her adoptive father. And a man that Cass rescues one night happens to be a psychic who accidentally rearranges her brain, “fixing” (for lack of a better word) the language center in her brain so she has words, but at the expense of her fighting prowess. Can she get it back? Can she continue to be Batgirl if she can’t fight?

The cartoony art reminded me of the JSA book I reviewed a while back. The art of this book was in kind of the same style, and in some ways, it was improved. The shading was much better in this book. The anatomy in some of the panels really started to weird me out though. There’s a bit where Barbara looks like she’d gotten lip implants from one panel to the next. For all the problems I had with it, it was actually kind of impressive. Because Cass is mute, a good portion of the book has no words. The art really had to carry the story, and for the most part it did a good job. It amazed me how expressive Cass was in her Batgirl suit, which has the eyes completely obscured and the mouth sewn shut.

I wanted to try to broaden my horizons by reading this, as I’m not too keen on any Batgirl other than Barbara. After finishing, though, I find that to be truer than ever. I was too put off by the weird art. This cartoony stuff just really isn’t my style. I also didn’t like how Cass gained language so early. She didn’t need “fixing,” and it felt like a cop-out of truly trying to tell her story without words as much as it did a plot device. It was okay to read but I have too many problems with it to continue the arc.

– Kathleen

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