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Graphic Novelty²

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November 2016

The Concert of a Lifetime

I have some very exciting news for all of you!

I’m going to Europe next year!!! =D

My boyfriend and I are metalheads. (It’s really fun to tell people that in real life; they do a double take. I guess I don’t look like the kind of girl who would be a metalhead XD) There is a band we both like called Ayreon: it’s a project of Arjen Anthony Lucassen, who’s been composing and playing music for years. Arjen writes all the music and lyrics for the Ayreon albums, most of which are beautiful, multi-layered metal operas. He plays most of the instruments for the albums, and invites artists from other bands to sing the parts of different characters and as guest musicians. Because of the peculiar nature of his music, Ayreon concerts are not a thing.

Until now! Last week, Arjen announced the first ever Ayreon concert! And we were able to get tickets!! All three shows sold out within 48 hours, so we were very lucky to get them!!! The concert will take place in Tilburg in the Netherlands next September.

I’ve been dancing on clouds ever since we purchased the tickets. Going to Europe has always been a dream of mine, and now it’s finally happening! This concert may very well be a once in a lifetime experience, and we’re so happy that we’re going to be able to be there together ❤

I will, of course, be telling you guys all about it when the time comes =P Until then, have some of my favorite Ayreon songs!!! >:D

Counting down the days already! (288, if anyone was curious =P )

– Kathleen

1602: Witch Hunter Angela

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Bennett, Marguerite, Kieron Gillen, Setphanie Hans, Marguerite Savauge, Irene Koh, Frazer Irving, Kody Chaimberlain. 1602 Witch Hunter Angela. 2016.

This story takes place in the Marvel 1602 universe. Angela and Serah are witch hunters, who find and capture – or kill – those with supernatural abilities. But something more sinister has surfaced. There are people running around who have witch-like powers, but who aren’t witches. They are Faustians, who traded a part of themselves to the fey Enchantress for their heart’s deepest desire in return. Enchantress prophesizes that when Angela kills 3 Faustians, her beloved Serah will die. Serah takes it in stride, saying that nothing, not even death, will keep them apart, but Angela isn’t so sure. Even so, they have a mission. They wander the English countryside, looking for more Faustians and doing their duty even as they try to figure out how to break the curse.

You guys may know I read very little Marvel. Characters popped up that were obviously cameos but I didn’t get who half of them were. There was a cameo by Guardians of the Galaxy tho which was pretty awesome 😄 The art ranged from looking like a medieval painting to cartoony, but it was always atmospheric with dramatic lighting. I picked it up because Bennett is also the author of Bombshells, and it didn’t disappoint. This edition had the first issue of Marvel: 1602 at the end, which was pretty cool. I might pick it up even if it’s been reviewed here already =P

– Kathleen

Revival: Deluxe Edition Three

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Seeley, Tim & Mike Norton. Revival: Deluxe Edition Three. 2016.

We are now heading into the last half of the series, as it will end with volume eight. I am curious as to how the mystery will play out and how character arcs will conclude, as these middle volumes build towards the conclusion.

Volume 5: Gathering Of Waters

Frustrating read. Moral of this volume: trust no one. Do not trust the mayor’s wife, Edmund Holt, Jesse Blackdeer aka John Doe, Blaine Abel the exorcism guy, Ibrahaim, or the Feds. Don’t even trust the fish! (Aside- What was the deal in Chapter 29 when four pages changed illustration style, and then went back to normal afterwards?!)

Volume 6: Thy Loyal Sons and Daughters 

Still way too many questions about everything, with no clear answers being revealed. I’m thinking the ghosts hanging around are the souls of those who came back to life, and are waiting to be reunited with their owners, but yet there is still some murkiness about that explanation too. Such as- can souls be killed so they can’t be reunited with their original owner, leaving the body to eternal earthly life? And why is the Professor’s book a part of the mystery? I’d like more puzzle pieces please, so I am not so frustrated at the end of each volume.

 

As you can see, the middle volumes are a bit of an exasperating read for I want to be able to piece together clues by now, and just more layers have been added. I hope for clarification soon, and want to feel I am solving the puzzle alongside Officer Cypress. Never the less, I eagerly look forward to reading the concluding edition of this great series. The residents of the (fictional) town of Wausau, Wisconsin, have come to life in my mind, and I need to know how this all resolves for them!

-Nancy

*Review Of Deluxe Edition One & Deluxe Edition Two

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March: Book Two

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Lewis, John, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell. March: Book Two. 2015.

Congressman John Lewis continues to share his inspiring story of the Civil Rights Movement, and his part in it, from 1960-1963.

The book’s title becomes very evident from Mr. Lewis’s desire to march in protest, despite the possible cost in freedom and life. He and many others band together under the Nashville Student Movement. Groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) grow in prominence with different agendas that will promote racial equality such as voter registration and direct action.  These brave groups participated in the Freedom Rides in the deep South that got the nation’s attention.

What impressed me was the planning and education that went into the movements and the protests that they were part of. Before the modern era of computers and cell phones, coordinating everything was a tremendous amount of work, in helping the protesters follow the law and stay safe. On the flip side, seeing the abuse that the protesters endured was sickening. People can say that many white citizens were raised with racial bias and they didn’t know any other way due to their cultural upbringing, but the hate and violence that some participated in can not be excused in any way.

The protesters have an ally in Martin Luther King Jr, who preaches about the injustices heaped upon the Freedom Riders and shares these prescient words about Governor Patterson of AL, “His consistent preaching of defiance of the law, his vitriolic public pronouncements, and his irresponsible actions have created the atmosphere in which violence could thrive”. 55 years later, and these words could describe another leader in our midst. Y’all know who I’m referring to!

The book ends with the tragic bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, in 1963. This became a turning point for the Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that Book Three will cover. The message of the March books is certainly timely with the important Black Lives Matter movement going on today.

I have found so many parallels in these March books and what is going on in Standing Rock, North Dakota, right now. Please consider supporting the Sioux Nation and the Dakota Pipeline Protesters, who have been protesting peacefully since April. This article in Bustle gives five ways in which we can help- we should no longer stand by and see people sprayed with tear gas and water hoses.

These books are a must read for all youth (and adults) today, who don’t remember the sacrifices that were made for the freedoms we hold dear today. We must understand the past, so as not to repeat those mistakes in the future.

-Nancy

*Review of March: Book One can be found here.

*Review of March: Book Three can be found here.

Fantastic Beasts movie review

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Warner Bros Picture credit

Fantastic Beasts was a solid prequel to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Set in 1926, magizoologist Newt Scamander, a former student from Hogwarts,  is traveling through New York City on his way to Arizona to release his Thunderbird back to it’s home environment. His magical suitcase holds many of his fantastic beasts, but a creature escapes and his chase through a bank connects him with a no-maj (American term for Muggles) baker Jacob Kowalski, and arouses the suspicions of Tina Goldstein who is a fellow wizard who works for The Magical Congress of the United States of America.

Through an unintentional mix up of suitcases with Jacob, many of the creatures escape into the city, with Newt and Tina paring up to collect them. Jacob is drawn into the hunt, along with Tina’s flirty sister Queenie who is a Legilimen and can read minds. The scenes with the magical beasts were delightful. I loved anything to do with Niffler and seeing the habitats that Newt created for his menagerie of animals. The interactions between the four heroes were authentic and fresh, and the relationships between them all leave room for growth. I also liked that Newt was a Hufflepuff as proved by his scarf, for I am one according to Pottermore, and this house needed a wizard that is more than just kind and steady but forgettable! (You must watch this video by Eddie Redmayne about how awesome the Hufflepuffs truly are!)

We also meet human Mary Lou Barebone, who is on a witch hunt, along with several of her adopted children. One of the MACUSA officials, Percival Graves, feels that Credence Barebone can lead him to a powerful Obscurus which is a dark and dangerous power that is formed when a child tries to obscure their powers. Graves creepily encourages Credence in rather inappropriate ways to betray his family. At first rebuffed by the MACUSA, Graves later takes notice and mistakenly accuses Newt and Tina of killing a senator, so they are sentenced to death. They escape with the help of Jacob and Queenie, and the Obscurus is exposed and rains destruction down on the city. How they fight this danger and what is revealed at the end of the movie, sets up the story for further sequels. 

I was not happy at all with the end reveal about Grindelwald. The actor who will go forth in these movies is known for his over the top campy roles, and I am worried his look will take away from the seriousness of the role. Plus, isn’t he too old to be Gellert in 1926? I had really enjoyed the creepy vibe that Graves and Creedence were giving off, so I hope this disclosement doesn’t mean that the actors Colin Ferrell and Ezra Miller will no longer be in the sequels.

While this movie prequel series was originally set to be three movies, it has been adjusted to five, for Rowling says she has a lot of story to cover in the years between 1926-1945. That might be so, but I think five movies is over kill and a grab for money by the studios. I’m certainly willing to see the next movie, for while there were some drawbacks for me, this movie was a fun trip back to the Potter universe!

-Nancy

Batman Forever: The Official Comic Adaptation

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O’Neil, Dennis, Michal Dutkiewicz, Scott Hanna, and Adrienne Roy. Batman Forever: The Official Comic Adaptation. 1995.

I have a confession to make.

Batman Forever is my favorite pre-Nolan Batman film.

Most of it is sentimental. I grew up watching this movie. I have fond memories watching it with my sister and my father. We had a bunch of merch from this movie, including a Hot Wheels Batmobile that was my sister’s favorite. Now that I’m older it’s still a bit of a guilty pleasure watch. I like the neon Gotham aesthetic, like the city is vibrant and beating and glittering – yet hiding some very sinister things. Even I will admit that 1989 Batman and Batman Returns are better crafted movies, with more accurate atmosphere and characterization – but I have to be in a specific frame of mind to watch them. They aren’t movies that allow you to jump right into them.

Given that I love the movie, I thought I’d grab the comic and see how it is. If you have seen the movie, skip this plot paragraph. If you haven’t: Two Face has escaped from Arkham Asylum and is out for revenge on Batman, whom he blames for the accident that created him. He attempts to rob the Second Bank of Gotham on the second anniversary of the day Batman captured him. Batman manages to stop him, but he gets away. Edward Nygma, an employee of Wayne Enterprises, is working on a special project: a box that can transmit any TV signal into a viewer’s brain to make them feel they’re inside the show. He shows off his invention to his idol, Bruce Wayne – who turns it down. Nygma swears to make Bruce understand. He becomes the Riddler, takes his creation to Two-Face, and proposes to help him figure out who Batman is in exchange for the funds needed to mass-produce the box. When Bruce Wayne takes in newly orphaned Dick Grayson, who has a vendetta against Two-Face for murdering his family, he slowly realizes Batman may need all the help he can get against the two villains. But Bruce Wayne may need something else – someone else to share his life with. Can Bruce Wayne and Batman peacefully co-exist?

Basically, it’s just like reading the movie. The comic closely follows the script, not the final cut of the movie, in which some scenes were rearranged. It’s pretty close though, so if you’re curious as to what scenes were originally supposed to go where, it’s kinda fun. The art is similar to the art of the movie: bright neon colors, stark shading and contrast. If you’re not committed to the time it’s gonna take to watch the movie, pick up the comic. It’s quick and full of action. Not a must-have for your collection, not even anything special unless you’re picking it up for sentimental value, but fun nonetheless.

– Kathleen

My DC Bombshells Collection – Part 3

I went a little crazy last week… tried to throw money into my pain over the election… and came out with 3 new Bombshells figurines. (To be fair, my boyfriend bought me one, because he was feeling the same pain and he loves feeding my obsessions XD)

  1. I think I fell in love with Bombshells when I first saw Black Canary. She’s just too cute!!! I love her hair and her pose and her outfit and ugh. I just love her. I finally bought her and she’s stunning. Her right arm, the one holding the microphone, had to be attached to her body, so there was a little extra assembly required. I might have done it kinda weird, because after attaching her arm and then her back foot to the base, she seemed unstable and wobbly. Her front foot didn’t quite touch the base. I probably had to reposition the microphone stand further away from her body to fix it. She also has actual fishnets instead of them being painted on, which is a nice touch, but the top of the stockings don’t line up all the way up her leg where the paint begins, and the painted line down the back of her legs indicating the seam of the stockings is really thick. Requires a little finagling during assembly, but she’s one of my favorites so far.
  2. First edition Harley and Joker! This one had been sitting at the comic book store for a while. I bought them last weekend while they were having a sale (that I could actually attend!!!). I actually like the colors on the second edition better (see here), but I read they aren’t numbered, so I’m glad I got the first edition while I still could. After unboxing it, I like it better than I thought. Pictures online made Joker’s outfit look true black, but it’s really a very deep purple. Even though only one of Harley’s feet goes into the base, there are enough points of contact to where this one is very stable. Plus, the pose is adorable 😉 He’s also carrying a sailor hat in his other hand, which I never realized! You can see it a little better in this picture: 20161113_161959
  3. Spooky Babs! I just need regular Babs and my Batgirls will be complete =P This is the one my boyfriend bought me. I know, kinda eye rollingly obvious that they would make Batgirl into a vampire for Halloween, but I think the recast is done very well. They added a lot of little details to make her more of a creature of the night than an aviator ace: the updo with the little ears, different eye makeup, and her backpack she’s pulling her cape out of is actually a little coffin! The paint colors are bright and vivid. She’s perfect and I love her ❤

One thing I should mention is that two of the three were bought online and shipped to me. I was nervous about buying online due to the risk of them being damaged, but they’re all in perfect condition. The vendor who my boyfriend bought spooky!Babs from really took their packaging seriously. The box was wrapped in 3 layers of giant bubble wrap. Took me ages to get her out, but it was worth it to see her pristine and perfect!

While researching who to buy next, my boyfriend and I noticed Harley Quinn had gone missing from Amazon, and the cheapest we could find her for elsewhere was $500. I had a feeling I should have bought her instead of Canary, but I’m more of a fan of Dinah than Harley anyway. She’s popular enough to where I hope they do a second edition of her. I can live with the Black, White, and Red or holiday Harleys… for now, until my inner completionist starts to rage 8D 😄

My new car fund is looking pretty sad this month, but I’m glad I made these purchases as I’ve already had one figurine disappear on me. As soon as I clean off my dresser I’ll share a photo of all these gals (and guy =P) together for you all to see!

– Kathleen

Heart Transplant

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Vachss, Andrew & Frank Caruso. Heart Transplant. 2010.

I am partcipating in the timely #AntiBullyReads 2016 readathon that runs from November 14-20th. This Readathon is created and run by Sarah Churchill with the aim to start discussions about bullying and our bid to stand up for those who need it and never be a bystander. Check out this Goodreads page for more info. Earlier in the week I re-read Eleanor & Park, and had a guest post on The Green Onion about it, so I wanted to find a graphic novel that also dealt with bullying, which led me to Heart Transplant.

We first meet Sean as a nine year old, who lives a marginalized existence with a single mother who is more interested in her current boyfriend and her bottle of booze than her own child. When he discovers his mother and her boyfriend murdered, he is saved by Pops who is the father of the drug dealing boyfriend, whom takes him in and raises him. Despite the new stability, Sean is still bullied and an outsider at school. Pops tries some old-school methods of making Sean a man and taking him to a boxing gym to teach Sean skills to fight his bullies. Next we see Sean as a college student who learns some truths about Pops and the lessons he taught him when he was a child.

This coffee table sized book is quite clearly a “message” book, that didn’t quite hit it’s intentions as stated by the author on the inside flap or in the afterwards written by a social worker. Bullying is often supported by a society that does nothing to stop it, for when aggressors go unchecked, it becomes culturally acceptable (Trump!!). While the author’s lesson is worthy, the story narrative did not match. Pop encourages or turns a blind eye to Sean’s theft, provides liquor to a minor on several occasions, and teaches him to fight back physically instead of teaching other coping mechanisms. While I am not opposed to learning how to defend yourself ( I actually think it’s a good idea), it does not match the author’s intended purpose of changing the greater bullying culture.

I came away from this book feeling dissatisfied. I liked the purpose and the sketchy dark hued illustrations that were evocative of a rough edged childhood, but it fell flat for me. I can see merit in teachers reading it, but I could not truly recommend it to older youth for the mixed messages it presented.

-Nancy

antibullyingreadathon

Guest Post on the Green Onion Blog

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Believe it or not, but I read many other genres than Graphic Novels! Check out my guest post on the Green Onion Blog about one of my favorite books, Eleanor & Park!

The book has some issues of bullying in it, which connects into the timely #AntiBullyReads 2016 readathon that runs from November 14-20th. This Readathon is created and run by Sarah Churchill with the aim to start discussions about bullying and our bid to stand up for those who need it and never be a bystander. Check out this Goodreads page for more info!

-Nancy

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