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December 2016

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet

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Coates, Ta-Nehisi & Brian Stelfreeze. Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet. 2016.

Although I am a Marvel fan, I didn’t know much about Black Panther going into this book- all I knew was that he was the African king of the advanced nation of Wakanda and was married to Storm.  Hearing that the well -regarded author Ta-Nehisi Coates was penning this new series, made me excited to give it a try. I buddy-read this book with a co-worker and friend (TW!) because I wanted his trusted opinion on it , and to be truthful, I had so little time to read this week that I wanted to steal his observations and pass them off as my own!

Man, I struggled with this book. I so wanted to like it, but could not muster up much appreciation of it. It is not a long book by any means, but I kept putting it down because I was frustrated with it. Thinking it was just me, I was glad when TW said he was doing the same.  As a gateway book, it failed. The story assumed that I knew more and I felt dropped into an ongoing storyline that was confusing. The story began to rally and come together more at the end, but it was a little too late for me to change my opinion by then.

The deep themes of story were good, for T’Challa is not just a masked vigilante but king, so he sometimes has to make hard decisions that might hurt some of his citizens, but for the greater good. Other questions: What are the  levels of acceptable justice and retribution, as two former members of the king’s guard join together to fight rebels who are terrorizing the countryside? Finally, his opponents have some valid reason for revolt, so should his nation continue as a monarchy?  As this is the first time that Coates has written in comic book form, the way he artfully build stories in his novels, needs to be adapted differently in graphic novels. The artist Brain Stelfreeze touches on this in an interview question in regards to their collaboration, found at the back of the book, along with a lot of variant art and a reprint of the 1966 issue of when BP first appeared with the Fantastic Four.

While the storyline was not what I hoped for, I can only praise the artwork by Stelfreeze, for his work was outstanding. I felt Wakanda was a real place, and he captured the residents of this nation beautifully. There were little Easter eggs that he drew in small panels, that had Doctor Doom and Namor in it (first noticed by TW, not me), and a reference to Storm. I assume these characters will play more into future issues, so this was part of the world-building that Coates and Stelfreeze are working to achieve.

This book was a magnificent first attempt, that didn’t quite do it for me, but all the building blocks are there for the series to grow and improve in the future!

-Nancy

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The Art of DC Comics Bombshells

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Lucia, Ant. The Art of DC Comics Bombshells. 2016.

I ordered this for both my libraries AGES ago, and have been waiting on tenterhooks for it to come in ever since.  The publication got pushed back a bit, which broke my heart, but once it came in, oh boy – I almost forgive every delayed minute.

It’s laid out into three sections: the statues, the covers, and the comic series. The statues section has concept sketches and notes by artist Ant Lucia and sculptor Tim Miller for pretty much everyone in the lineup.  The covers chapter lists all the alternate Bombshell covers that hit stores in August 2015. A full page is dedicated to sketches and notes, and the facing page shows the full cover. An essay by Ant Lucia describing his art background and how he came to be designing the Bombshells opens this chapter. The last chapter, the comic series chapter, opens with an essay by Marguerite Bennett recounting how she ended up writing the comic. This chapter is a little simpler, as it just shows the covers for all the issues. Concept art is included for some, but not all the covers.

It’s a beautiful book. Each and every photograph and comic cover is in color. It’s just under 12 inches high, but it’s not a weighty volume by any means: you can flip through all 200 pages quite easily. Ever a sucker for concept art, it was really fun for me to see how the looks changed – dramatically or not – for each character.

However, I would have liked to see more notes for the newer additions to the lineup, like Raven and Bumblebee. I was also a little disappointed with the comics section. It could have been greatly supplemented with notes from Marguerite about her writing and research process. For some reason, Vixen, the latest figurine to be announced, is showcased at the very end of the book – after the comics section, and way after the end of the statues section.

My biggest bone to pick is the lack of fun photographs for each figurine. Sprinkled throughout the book are photos of the statues in different environments: a peek of Supergirl out of a plane window, sunset light filtered through Hawkgirl’s bubblegum, Black Canary singing to an audience, her back to us. Why could they not have given us more of these??? The photos of the figurines in this book are all ones I can look at while shopping on Amazon. I’d kill for more photos of these ladies in their respective environments.

I’m happy I bought it for my libraries, and I may even buy it for myself for my collection (if no one gets it for me as a holiday gift =P ). It could have had much better photographs of the figurines and notes on how the story for the comic came together. But, importantly, it’s fun to flip through and see all your favorite Bombshells in one spot, and you get an idea of how the concept evolved into the beloved line.

– Kathleen

Wonder Woman (II, Vol. 7): Second Genesis

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Byrne, John. Wonder Woman (II, Vol. 7): Second Genesis. 1997.

I am really skipping around with my Wonder Woman, and I am sorry XD The second series begins with George Perez’s ’80’s run, the omnibus of which I’m slooowly moving through. After him came William Messner-Loebs’ The Contest and The Challenge of Artemis, which I’ve read but not reviewed. This volume comes right after The Challenge of Artemis.

Wonder Woman has relocated to Gateway City, where she hears of strange happenings. Criminals who are no more than petty thieves have suddenly gotten their hands on expensive and deadly weaponry. Diana discovers they are being supplied by none other than Darksied, to draw her out and use her in an invasion against Paradise Island. Diana rushes to warn her mother and sisters, only to find that she may be too late. Can even Amazons stand against Darksied?

I didn’t like it, but I didn’t hate it either. It’s just kind of bland. The story and characters weren’t very well fleshed out. The art was atrocious; it seemed really unfinished. It was really sketchy, unnecessary lines everywhere, and it looks out of focus. Everything that’s not in the foreground looks like rushed blobs. I need to dig out my omnibus again so I can get back to the good part of this series…

– Kathleen

Standing Rock Victory!

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Dani Moonstar- Josh Boone image

 

Victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation!

NBC news reports that the Army Corps of Engineers denies Dakota Access Pipeline route! Let’s just hope that Trump doesn’t ruin this win!

#NoDAPL  #WaterIsLife

 

-Nancy

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Power

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North, Ryan, Erica Henderson & Rico Renzi. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. 2015.

My life has been nuts lately, so what better book to check out than Squirrel Girl!

This book has been highly recommended by my friend Michael at My Comic Relief who waxes poetic about this series. Combined with my need for a short book to review this week, due to a time crunch with the upcoming holidays and a big final project due in one of my grad classes, I gave it a go. The book was funny, quirky, girl-friendly, and well drawn…but a bit annoying.

We are introduced to Doreen, aka Squirrel Girl, who is moving into her college dorm and meeting her roommate Nancy (♥) for the first time. To hide her secret identity, Doreen tucks her tail into her pants, giving her a Kardashian look on her already voluptuous figure. Already, I like that she is realistically proportioned, and not some fanboy version of what a female should look like.

She gets pulled into battles with Kraven the Hunter, Whiplash, and later with the mighty Galactus in between attending classes. How does she fight these super villains, when her powers are not equal to theirs? She talks them to death. The back and forth banter between all the characters is clever, with additional social media inserts that are amusing, but at times overkill. In addition, there is running commentary at the bottom of many pages that I found distracting.

The artwork is bright and attractive, with a varied layout of panels that pull you into the story. The Deadpool cards were an awesome addition. I loved how they put the first time SG ever appeared in a Marvel comic, and her story with Iron Man, in this book. Flashback to the epic costumes and drawing styles of the late 80’s/early 90’s! While this is somewhat her origin story, I would like more info on how she acquired her powers.

I look forward to Michael’s longer and more in depth blog about Doreen. He will certainly make connections that I couldn’t muster during my initial read through. This short and sweet review (just like SG!) will have to do for now. So remember- you don’t need luck, just eat nuts!

-Nancy

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Marvel images, but compiled by Cosplay Amino

 

 

 

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