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Graphic Novelty²

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September 2016

Wonder Woman: Earth One (Vol. 1)

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Morrison, Grant, Yanick Paquette, and Nathan Fairbairn. Wonder Woman: Earth One (Vol. 1). 2016.

FINALLY. I’ve had this on my holds list for months and just got it! And it was so good I devoured it in one evening.

Diana is princess of Paradise Island – but she knows she’s made for more, that there’s more of the world to see. On the feast day of Diana, goddess of the hunt, the princess plays the role of Hercules, as always, and bounds into the forest for her sisters to catch her. As she evades her sisters, she stumbles upon a plane crashed upon the shore, and a man injured and stranded there. She does her best to heal him, but it’s apparent that he will soon die without man’s medicine. She enters and wins the contest against Mala, her betrothed, in order to gain the invisible plane and take Steve Trevor back to the United States. The Amazons discover the man and, furious, attempt to follow their princess as she flies through the storm clouds protecting Paradise Island. Once in Man’s World, Diana is both fascinated and disturbed by what she finds. Her Amazon sisters track her down and capture her to bring her back in chains to Paradise Island. There, Queen Hippolyta awaits the start of her daughter’s trial for breaking their most sacred law – fraternizing with the outside world.

Of all the Wonder Woman origin stories, this one is definitely one of my favorites. The story is familiar but with little twists that make it fresh and fascinating. The story takes place at the trial, with Diana’s adventures in Man’s World revealed through testimonies. The art is beautiful. I love Diana’s expressiveness and her character design – SHE HAS PANTS (for a good portion of the book)! The panel layouts are unlike anything I’d ever seen in a comic before. There are a lot of instances where characters or other elements don’t conform to a panel, or have star motifs whenever Diana kicks some ass, and some are overlaid with the Lasso of Truth, to bring us back to the trial. It made it kind of hard to read in some spots, though. I am in love with this book and cannot wait for Volume 2!

– Kathleen

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House of M

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Bendis, Brain Michael & Oliver Coipel. House of M. 2006.

I haven’t reviewed a Marvel book in awhile, and it feels good to be back!

The book opens with Wanda, the Scarlett Witch, giving birth to her and Vision’s twins who are later retconned to Wiccan and Speed. But this touching scene is destroyed by Professor X who insists that this is not reality, and demands that Wanda put the world back to how it originally was, for it is revealed that she killed several Avengers with her reality warping abilities during a mental breakdown six months prior.

Wanda’s father, Magneto, and Professor X discuss how she is a danger to them all, as her unstable mind has the potential to destroy them all. Some of the Avengers and X-Men meet together secretly to discuss what to do about her, with Emma Frost suggesting that Wanda be killed, while Captain America counsels for other humane options. This cross-over group remains divided, and they decide to travel  to see Wanda themselves before they make a final decision. Upon arriving in her father’s kingdom of Genosha, they can not find her, for Wanda’s twin brother Quicksilver had warned his father of the incoming group. As the group explores the area, a white light surrounds them and they disappear.

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We are then introduced to a new reality for all the heros, in which Wanda supposedly changed everyone’s reality to reflect their secret desires. I have a problem with this. A few I can deal with: Cyclops and Emma are married, Spidey is married to Gwen instead of MJ and has a toddler son, Dazzler is a talk show host, and many of the mutants are celebrities. But there were some glaring mistakes: there should be no Cloak without Dagger and no Luke without Jessica. Kitty Pryde should not be a put upon teacher, Captain America shouldn’t be an old man living in a rundown building in the Bronx (what?!) and downgrading Gambit to a criminal were all bad changes. Plus, why wouldn’t Vision be brought back to life, for he was the Scarlett Witch’s husband and father to the twins?? And where is Professor X? There are too many inconsistencies for me to deal with here.

Wolverine is the first to sense that something is off and investigates. He meets with Luke Cage and crew and meets a mysterious teen named Layla who has abilities to see between different realities and get inside people’s heads. After Layla helps Emma Frost see the truth, Wolverine assembles the group again trying to deal with this problem. They head to crash the party Magnus/Magneto is having, and all hell breaks loose. Doctor Strange tries to reach Wanda and have her restore the old reality, but a semi-incestuous talk she had with Quicksilver is shown as confusing her further.

We end with possibly yet another reality-  and the mutants deal with the fallout from Wanda’s last utterance, “No more mutants!”. What was real? What has changed? Is one reality better than the other? The fade out sets up a new incoming problem- for now that many mutants have lost their powers, Sir Isaac Newton’s law is quoted, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. What will be the reaction going forth?  But ultimately, if the Marvel universe doesn’t make sense, or there are inconsistencies to the characters and timelines in this book or others- don’t worry- everything will be scrambled in the Secret Wars,  where basically anything goes on the planet of Battleworld in an alternate universe. (Sigh)

The artwork, was usual Marvel type, with the women drawn better than the weirdly necked men. At times the narrative was hard to follow, for the flow of panels was confusing. Should I read left to right, or start up and then track downwards? It was inconsistent, and at times I had to backtrack because I was following the oddly broken up panels in the wrong order. The front cover was misleading, with some heroes shown prominently that played little to no part in the story. I have noticed this on other Marvel covers, and I don’t like it.

Despite my criticisms, this was a great Marvel novel and sets up issues and plots that can be addressed in future House of M issues or other Marvel spinoff stories.  When you read it, look for the big themes, don’t get bogged down with little details, as I am apt to do 😉

-Nancy

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Love this House of Magnus look, but why aren’t the twins dressed in finery also, instead of like little Damien’s from The Omen?

 

My DC Bombshells Collection – Part 2

Now that I’m basically working full time and making the big bucks, I can afford to put more money towards my Bombshells collection. I’ve made some big purchases since last time, mostly in the figurines department >:D

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This summer’s purchases were mostly figurines and clothes. Most of what I bought, including the figurines, were all on clearance which was AWESOME!!! (Just because I make the big bucks now doesn’t mean I should buy everything full-price =P ) I basically paid half of what each figurine was worth and got it new, which is really really nice when comparing prices of used vs. new on Amazon and Ebay.

I’m all caught up on buying the little comics and trade paperbacks so not much going on there. I’ve been buying the little keychains; my local comic book store also has wallets so I’ll start buying those. Not pictured is the Hawkgirl keychain – I couldn’t find her when I was taking all the pictures XD

My favorite figurine I own so far is actually Zatanna! I love her pose and the magic and the little Constantine bunny cracks me up X,D Since she came all in one piece, I didn’t have to worry about pieces getting lost or broken, or her feet not fitting in the base like some of the others. Which is your favorite so far? =D

– Kathleen

 

The Undertaking of Lily Chen

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Novgorodoff, Danica. The Undertaking of Lily Chen. 2014.

Another one of those books I was checking in at work and went, “Sure!” It has a very arresting cover, as you can see above, and it caught my eye.

In a tragic accident, Deshi finds himself responsible for his brother Wei’s death. His grief-stricken parents order Deshi to carry out an ancient tradition. Because Wei died unmarried, he must be married to a dead girl to keep him company in the afterlife. Deshi is to find the corpse of a woman to marry to his brother. He hires a grave robber, Song, to help him find a suitable bride for Wei. They get separated in the spooky graveyard the night they dig up a corpse, and Deshi ends up stumbling upon a small village where a girl named Lily Chen is living. Her father has just ordered her to marry the landlord so they can continue living in their house. Lily is desperate to escape, and Deshi needs a fresh body for his brother. They run away together, starting their misadventures through the mountains of Northern China, though each is running to their own different destinations…

The art in this book is beautiful. The backgrounds are all in watercolor, and the characters I’m assuming are either ink, marker, or digital. There are some instances where the watercolor interacts with the characters, such as dust or mist hovering in front of someone, and it makes some cool effects. The book is broken up into chapters, like a traditional book, and each title page has a beautiful red Chinese stamp in shapes of animals or masks. It made for pretty easy reading because you could stop without having to worry about stopping in the middle of the book. You spend much of the book in suspense, wondering whether or not Deshi is going to kill Lily, especially as they grow closer. It’s funny and pretty light-hearted for all that, introspective throughout: an enjoyable read. There is some strong language and more adult themes, so I’d give it to an older teen. You’ll probably be so captivated by the art you won’t be bothered, though =P

– Kathleen

The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes Volume 1

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Gaiman, Neil. The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes. 1989.

After hearing good buzz about this book, and knowing the legendary Neil Gaiman wrote it, I decided to give this first volume of The Sandman series a go. I absolutely hated it.

In fact, I just don’t get all the hoopla about NG. I admit I haven’t tried enough of his books to get a broad enough feel for his appeal. While I am a big fan of short stories, I did not care for Fragile Things, and his short story/graphic novel for youth The Sleeper and the Spindle was just ok. I loved Marvel 1602, but when paired with this book, my opinion of him still tilts downward. Please don’t hate me for admitting that NG just doesn’t do it for me 😉

Graphic novels live and die on their illustrations. If you read a regular book, you imagine the characters and setting in your head. Your image is your own, and that is why there is often outcry when a beloved book doesn’t match up to the reader’s expectation if turned into a movie or tv series. But in a graphic novel, the pictures are there in front of you, for that is what the author and/or illustrator planned for it to look like to everyone. And it looked like crap. I don’t need or want everything to look pretty, but come on, the drawings were sketchy, blotchy and weird. Does anyone else think Morpheus looks like NG?

At first I did not realize that The Sandman series resided in the DC universe. So I was a bit taken aback when Dr. Destiny (aka John Dee-how I hated him!), Scarecrow, Martian Manhunter and John Constantine showed up.  These characters seemed just thrown in, with no continuity with the rest of the storyline. The first chapter had started out promisingly with an explanation of how Dream/Morpheus was called into existence, but after that the rest of the book became very episodic, perhaps to match up with how dreams are fragmented and elusive in our own minds. I felt this book had promise in theory, to be introduced to a dream world that could be in turns enchanting or macabre; but the blend of mythology, fantasy and contemporary violence was all too muddled for me.

I had a talk about this series with some college students and co-workers last night, and while they promised the series gets better, I will not be reading further volumes. However, I have not given up on Neil Gaiman entirely. Because of his stellar reputation, I feel I need to give him another chance. But only one. Any suggestions, readers???

-Nancy

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