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Graphic Novelty²

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May 2017

Thor (Vol 2.): Who Holds the Hammer?

That, my friends, is on the question of everyone’s lips. Who is the new Thor? Why is she worthy to wield Mjolnir while the Odinson is not? The All-Father wants the answer to those questions, and to take Mjolnir back for the Asgardians… whatever the cost. Meanwhile, Malekith and Dario Agger have made a pact: Roxxon and Svartalfheim have joined forces and are now allies. Thor seems very eager to stop them… very eager indeed…

I won’t spoil the big reveal, but it was surprising and heartbreaking at once. The art here was as beautiful as in the last album: dynamic, fluid, and electric. There are a few bonuses in the back that are as long as the main story: Thor Annual #1, which tells a tale for each the Thor of the future, present, and past. The present Thor’s story was drawn by Marguerite Sauvage, one of my favorites! They also include a story from the ’70s that parallels the events of the present-day Thor. I’ll have to look for more adventures from Lady Thor!

– Kathleen

Aaron, Jason, Russell Dauterman, and Jorge Melina. Thor (Vol. 2): Who Holds the Hammer? 2015.

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You’re Fired Ex-Men!

Pete Holmes is a wickedly funny comedian, and he had some spot-on videos about the weaknesses of the X-Men team.  For his now defunct late night show, Holmes did a series of skits on the failings of many of the X-Men heroes, and how their vulnerabilities made them a threat to the team. He portrayed Professor X in eleven hilarious but vulgar video clips. I previously featured Wolverine’s firing, but plan to highlight others in future posts.  Warning- they are for mature audiences only!

Nightcrawler: Our favorite blue guy gets insulted and told not only is he creepy but he smells when he teleports! Poor guy- what is he going to do now? It’s not like he can pass into society as he has a very distinct look!

Gambit: I love me some Gambit, and wouldn’t mind spending some time with this sexy Cajun, but his skills are weak, I have to admit. What if he runs out of cards? Then what????

Jubilee: What can Jubilee actually do? Although an appealing teen, with her trademark yellow jacket and sunglasses, she doesn’t seem to add much to the X-men team. I would actually have to agree- you’re fired!

There’s more gems like these for another day!

-Nancy

One Lovely Blog Award²

We were nominated for our second lovely award by two bloggers- My Side of the Laundry Room (a fun blog about pop and nerd culture)and Cheeky Booky (a book review blog with some cheek). Be sure to check out both wonderful sites before you go any farther!

Before we get into the actual tag here are a few rules to follow:

Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog
•Add the One Lovely Blog Award to your post
•Share seven things about yourself
•Pass this on to as many people as you like (max 15)
•Include this set of rules
•Inform your nominees

Amazing Facts About Us:

Nancy: I am still addicted to Pokémon GO. I wrote a post last summer about how I’m a Pokémom, and I am proud/ashamed to admit I am now at Level 27. I started out playing with my three kids, but they have all quit, yet I am still playing. I am the only Mom out there who wants her kids to play, and was sad when they stopped. At least the teens at the library still challenge me to defend the library’s gym.

So close to level 28!

Kathleen: ^ Going off that, I seem to be collecting Pokémon plushies… my boyfriend just won’t stop sending them to me! My dogs love them as much as I do. Our 5 year old, Rose, likes to cuddle them when she thinks I’m not looking. The puppy, Weber, just wants to play with them… and not too nicely, either. He rips everything apart!   (Aside from Nancy- when Kathleen & I met for dinner so she could help me through a very hard school project, we compared Pokémon captures! We both wanted a Rapidash bad)

Nancy: I am going to take a class on Graphic Novels this summer for my graduate degree. How awesome is that!

Kathleen: “01011001” used to be my favorite Ayreon album, until “The Source” came out a few weeks ago… and I CAN’T STOP LISTENING IT’S SO GOOD. I’m even more hyped to go to Europe with my boyfriend to see it live ❤

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Nancy: Our family vacation this summer will be to Florida. We will be on the Gulf side and then head to the Everglades. I will bring along my NPS passport to get it stamped 😉

Kathleen: My guilty pleasure TV show is Birds of Prey.

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Nancy: I’m a Star Trek nerd. I watch an awesome web series called Star Trek Continues (that recreates the TOS cast and continues on the original five year journey) and I am eagerly awaiting Star Trek Discovery that should be on CBS this fall.

Kathleen: I really like doing yoga! I’m not much of a runner (I will if the mood strikes, but I can never commit!), and there’s no way I’d ever set foot in a gym. It’s something I can do at home, in privacy, and where the dogs can crawl all over me and lick my face =P

Nancy: Although I share all things geek on my blog, I truly have other interests! My family enjoys hiking, and my husband and I completed the 52 Hike Challenge last fall. I take pictures of our hikes and post them on Instagram. Three pictures from my site nancyandnature have been selected and featured on the site Only in Illinois. Check out both sites!

Top L- Starved Rock, Top R- Kishwaukee River, Bottom- Waterfall Glen

Kathleen: I’m an artist, and I’m currently painting a drum head as a commission for a client – my first time doing so!

Nancy: I used to think Twitter was lame, but now I love it! There are some people on Twitter that I interact with regularly, and they have become friends that make me laugh on an almost daily basis.

Kathleen: Since I’ve developed a nut allergy, I’ve gotten the opportunity to put more thought into what I eat. I now make more meals for myself for lunch throughout the week, and cut up fruit to freeze for smoothies. It’s gotten me to try new things in my cooking and expand my culinary horizons.

Nancy: I love Goodreads. You can find me there writing shorter reviews on other genres that I read.

Kathleen: The first special edition of any video game I ever bought was Arkham City, and having this figurine in my dorm room is actually how my boyfriend and I met. I’ve since lost it and it broke my heart. The working theory is that the basement ate it and that it’ll turn up when I move out of my mom’s house, so there’s still hope!

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We decided to nominate a few of the awesome bloggers who have commented on some recent posts, for we think your feedback is lovely! They are:

Blogging for Dopamine

Perspective of a Writer

924 Collective

Sci-Fi Jubilee

The Critical Optimist

Thank you again to My Side of the Laundry Room and Cheeky Booky for this nomination! xo

-Nancy & Kathleen

Batman (Rebirth) Vol. 1: I Am Gotham

A plane is going down in Gotham. Batman launches himself from the Batmobile onto literally the top of the plane to steer it into the river. He knows the impact may very well kill him. But at the last second, just before the point of impact, the plane is lifted and set gently on the water, and he is saved. By a boy and a girl in blue masks, introducing themselves as Gotham and Gotham Girl. Who are they? Why do they have Superman-like powers? Are they really out to save Gotham, or are they its’ destroyers in disguise?

I didn’t read the back before reading it, so by the time I got to the inevitable downfall of Gotham and Gotham Girl, I rolled my eyes super hard. Like we haven’t seen Batman go up against Superman or Supergirl or someone ELSE with Kryptonian powers who’s gone SUUUUPER BAAAD a million times before. Just because they’re new kids doesn’t make the trope any less tired or annoying. They even LOOK like Clark and Kara, and the costumes are very similar. How they got their powers and turned bad was very creepy, so points for that. There are a few moments of true compassion between Bruce and others, but my favorite part turned out to be Alfred. Snark was on point. Can we get an Alfred comic already???

– Kathleen

King, Tom and David Finch. Batman (Rebirth) Vol. 1: I Am Gotham. 2017.

Free Comic Book Day 2017

 

The library I work at has hosted Free Comic Book Day the last three years (thanks to me!!!) so I was excited to get a sneak peek at the comics before the public did. There were four that I zeroed in on. Quick recaps follow.

I had most been anticipating this comic, as Skottie Young released the cover awhile back and I loved the mash up of Image characters with Gertrude the foul mouthed sociopath from I Hate Fairyland. She encounters and brutally attacks members from The Walking Dead, Saga, Southern Bastards, Black Science, Paper Girls, Invincible, Chew, Revival and The Wicked +The Divine. The ending with the Image partners was a fun shout-out. This comic was definitely a winner for it’s sick humor.

The Next Generation crew is looking pretty bad-ass here. This prequel to an upcoming comic series features Captain Picard, Troi, Data, and Tasha Yar on the Starship I.S.S. Stargazer in a alternate universe in which the Klingon/Cardassians alliance is powerful.  Low ranking crewman Barkley gets a chance to shine in this issue, and reestablishes equilibrium of one person’s fate no matter what universe they belong in. An after note by the authors whets my appetite for further story lines in this Mirror Broken universe.

An appealing prequel to the upcoming movie, this comic gives us a duel narrative of Diana on the island of Themyscira and Steve Trevor in military training. Although both arcs show them with good friends, both seem dissatisfied and yearning for more. My only small criticism is that if this was a prequel to the movie, I was surprised the characters weren’t drawn more similar to the actors that will be portraying them on the screen.

I was most leery of this title, as Marvel has had uneven success with their events, and I’m of very mixed feelings if I want to invest time in the Secret Empire, after being so dissatisfied with Civil War II. Captain America comes out as a secret agent of Hydra, and his former friends and heroes fall in battle against him. This very short introduction to the upcoming series has me torn. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t sucked in either. Time will tell if I want to continue. The last half of the comic was a fun Spiderman vs The Vulture story. It had some snappy dialogue between the two about “you’re so old that…” and had a tease for future story lines.

All in all, all four of my choices were solid. I plan on continuing with most of the story lines, and isn’t that the intent of the event, to make us want to buy future issues?

-Nancy

Deadly Class: Reagan Youth

This book came highly recommended to me by the two of the best comic book gurus out there- Kevin and Charles from Graham Crackers in DeKalb. They don’t steer me wrong when I ask for purchasing selections for my library, so I was anxious to read it. I did not love it at first. Confused I went  to the store yesterday to talk to them about it before I finished my review. I had the best conversation with them and wish I could have taped it, for they shared such passion and deep insight about the book, that I was then able to see it through another lens and it upped my opinion of the story.

Set in San Francisco in 1987, Marcus is a Nicaraguan immigrant whose parents died soon after coming to America in a freak accident with a mentally ill woman who was committing suicide. Sent to a group home for several years, Marcus, who is now a teen, escaped and was living on the streets.  One night he is recruited by a daring young woman named Saya to join Kings Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts, a high school for assassins. Attended by children of the world’s top crime families, the cliques in the school are literally killer. Marcus gets involved with a motley group and must follow the professor’s assignments of killing a vagrant who has committed a sin and “deserves” to die. He and his partner Willie bond, and a true friendship is formed under dire circumstances. Later these two, plus Saya and a few others, set out on a road trip and are a followed by deranged man from Marcus’s past. The group’s confrontation with this villain sets up story lines for the future.

More than the actual story, it is the themes of this series that set it apart. Marcus is a symbol of the disenfranchised and is morally ambiguous. He is no hero, but brings to light the discontent that some youth feel when faced with a threatening future. Damaged by society, these youth on the margins feel they have no recourse except through violence. As Charles and Kevin opined, some big changes in our world have only come to fruition through violence. Martin Luther King Jr was able to further the Civil Rights Movement through love and non-violent means, but he was counterbalanced (and helped) by Malcolm X’s methods, as Gandhi was also helped by radicals. Their musings were thought provoking and made me look at this comic in a new way. This story takes those thoughts to an extreme, but as a tagline on the back cover says “Change the world with a bullet”. See my review for Genius: Siege that also worked with the idea of using violence for change.

The artwork is stellar with a coloring palette that sets the tone for the narrative. The era of the 1980’s is accurately represented through the art, with an authentic and gritty vibe. The panels are varied, with some bold choices, and visuals that stand out. Another strength is the introduction by David Lapham and afterward written by the author, both which delve further into the fascinating background of how this comic got started.

Initially, I struggled connecting to the story. I had a rather straight-laced upbringing and didn’t easily connect to the youth of this school. However, by the ending everything came into focus. No matter what, teens (and adults) are looking for connections with others, and that is a universal need.

-Nancy

Aside: If you live in the northern Illinois region, you must go to Graham Crackers in DeKalb for your comic and graphic novel selections. Located on the NIU campus, this store has superb customer service and the best employees. It would save me time at work if I ordered our graphic novels online, but I refuse, I must go in and browse.  Kevin and Charles guide me on my purchasing selections, and they happily expound on books that they feel would be worthy of purchase and warn me against books that are weak (I wish I had listened about Civil War II!) or aren’t being continued.

Reminder, Rick, Wes Craig & Lee Loughridge. Deadly Class: Reagan Youth. 2014.

Top 5 Wednesday: Books That Would Make Good Video Games

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

I’m going back in time in the T5W bank, because today’s was sci-fi/fantasy related again and I just did one of those! Let’s mix it up a bit =P I’m slowly getting back into games after trying Horizon Zero Dawn~

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5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Thought of you, Nancy! =P Eleanor & Park is an incredibly cute but incredibly heartbreaking story about two misfit teenagers falling in love. It’s set in the ’80s, but I often forgot that while reading it because the story and themes are so timeless. I think it would make a great 8 bit platformer game. You could alternate playing as Eleanor and Park every other level, and find different comics and tapes referenced in the book to give to the other person. There could be a heart meter that goes up or down depending on how many or what you find and give. And maybe the game would reveal the three mysterious words on the postcard – and change every time depending on how you play and how full you get the meter!

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4. Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor

The first book is amazing and even if the sequels aren’t on the same level, y’all should read it. This trilogy is about a girl with blue hair named Karou, an artist who’s raised by monsters. One of her guardians deals in animal teeth, and you find out later he builds other creatures from the teeth he collects and strings together like necklaces. Wouldn’t that be an awesome sidequest in a game??? Finding teeth and stringing them together to build creatures for an army, each animal with different stat attributes? Deal me in!

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3. Wonder Woman by George Perez

Okay, I admit I’ll take any incarnation of WW as a game, but the story and art of this run are iconic and stellar! I think it would lend itself well to a video game. There are also plenty of plot threads – main and side – that would translate well to a game. As it was written in the ’80s, I imagine it as another 8 bit sidescroller… complete with all the melodramatic cheesy dialogue goodness!

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2. Birds of Prey by Gail Simone

There are a lot of angles from which a Birds game could be played. You could play strictly as Oracle, where you choose the heroes you send into the field, and see them from a birds-eye view (pun not intended!), and manipulate them as if you were playing a tactical board game. In addition to moving your heroines around, there could also be puzzles to solve and codes to crack in order for the mission to succeed. You could also play as one of the heroes and go into the field, with Oracle as your AI guide, for a more action-oriented game. I feel no matter which incarnation you get, there should be a role-playing element, to highlight the bond between the Birds so evident in the comics!

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1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Okay I know we’ve had ports of movie tie-ins to just about every console and handheld from the PS1 and GameBoy on… we had Pottermore back when it was actually a game (and I’m still incredibly salty it’s not anymore)… but wHERE IS MY HARRY POTTER SIMULATOR??? WHEN CAN I MAKE MY OWN CHARACTER AND PLAY AS HER THROUGH HOGWARTS??? WHEN?!!?!? IT’S 2017 AND WE DON’T HAVE THIS YET AND IT’S A TRAVESTY TO HUMANKIND TBH

Honorable mention was a Batgirl game… one half-baked Arkham Knight DLC is never going to be enough… #saltyaboutit

What book to game incarnations would you want to see? =D

– Kathleen

Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir

Every summer, Maggie Thrash goes to Camp Bellflower. The languid days pass each as they did the day before, even the same year before. But this year… something’s different. No, it’s not the explosion of boy bands (though none are worth mentioning save the Backstreet Boys, at least in Maggie’s opinion). Nor is it the Potter craze, with everyone passing the books around and dying for the girl in front of her to finish it. No, Maggie… feels differently. Towards a counselor in the camp, specifically. What’s weird is, her name is Erin. Her feelings are sending Maggie into a huge tailspin. Could Erin possibly feel the same way? She lives in the South, and the camp is in Appalachia, where homophobia is very real and could be harmful… but she’s not a lesbian, is she?

I read the whole thing in one sitting… and was late coming back from lunch at work because of it. The brutally honest portrayal of teenage feeling sucked me in and held me until the abrupt, painful conclusion. Maggie’s dilemma is every teenager’s dilemma of first love… whomever you’re attracted to. The art was simple, almost childish, as it was rendered in what looked like colored pencil and watercolor. Yet somehow it conveyed all the confusion, uncertainty, and melodrama of teenage girlhood flawlessly. This is a story that wouldn’t have worked in any other format.

– Kathleen

Thrash, Maggie. Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir. 2015.

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