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August 2017

The Dark Tower

Now, I want to preface this review with a confession.

I’m not a Stephen King fan.

I just can’t read horror! I can’t! I spook wayyy too easily. But the man has written some incredible work and accomplished a great deal and for that I tip my hat to him.

A friend tried to get me into the Dark Tower series ages ago, and to be honest, I was turned off partially because Stephen King wrote it. Anything he writes has to have large quantities of blood and creepy crawlies in it, right??? So I tried The Gunslinger, but didn’t get too far before I called it quits.

Then… just a few weeks back, I read the graphic novel. AND IT WAS AMAZING. It was so good I immediately picked up The Gunslinger again. I wondered why I ever put it down the first time!!! I devoured it in three days (the fastest I’ve read a book in a long, long time), and I’m currently on the second book. I was interested in the movie from the start because it stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, both great actors, but I was more keen than ever to see it. So I roped my friend who’d tried to get me to read the books into seeing the movie with me =P

The movie starts with a boy named Jake Chambers. He has some disturbing dreams, and he draws all of them: a commune where children are gathered, a dark tower, and most frightening of all, a man in black. New York City has been suffering from quakes, and no one knows why. Experts are baffled. Jake does know why, though. The man in black is using the children to attack the dark tower, and if it falls, the world will end in darkness and fire.

No one believes him. His mother sends him to shrink after shrink, thinking he’s suffering delusions brought on by the grief of his father’s death. His stepfather wants to send him away to a special school for troubled kids. But Jake is not crazy, and he is telling the truth. In fact, he’s just found a house in Brooklyn that he saw in his dreams. Inside, he finds a portal. He steps to the other side to find himself in the world of his dreams – as real as he knew it would be. He sets out to find another man he’s seen, someone whom he thinks might be able to help – someone called the gunslinger.

The movie is only based on the novels, so there are inconsistencies between the two media. I only caught a few, while my friend who’s read all the books caught more. There were a few elements of the story that could have used tightening or reworking, especially near the end. Roland’s character seemed off to me, but that was due more to the writing of the movie vs. the books then Idris Elba’s performance.

In fact, my favorite element was the dichotomy of the gunslinger and the man in black as portrayed by Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. Both are incredible actors, and brought force to both their characters and the eternal clash of good and evil they are caught in. Their performances were stellar.

I was a bit pleasantly surprised to see minimal special effects. Well, they are there, but only a few sequences used them heavily. I guess I would say… this movie wasn’t in your face about the special effects like a lot of other movies are these days. Probably not a big deal to a lot of people, but I thought it refreshing and worth noting.

Overall, it’s still an enjoyable movie. I wasn’t awed by it, but I definitely wasn’t bored, either. I do agree with my friend, who said that if you had little or no previous knowledge of the books, you’d enjoy it more. As a standalone title, it does the job. If you think about it as a tie-in or continuation of the books, you’re taking a lot of the enjoyment out of it for yourself.

– Kathleen

Arcel, Nicolaj. The Dark Tower. 2017.

Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 2): Year One

Y’all should know Wonder Woman’s origin story like the back of your hand by now from dealing with me, so I’ll gloss over that part of this book =P After returning Steve Trevor to Man’s World, Diana finds herself detained in a military base. She’s alone, scared, and she can’t make anyone understand her. But then, she’s visited by the gods. Each of her patrons bestows upon her a gift, but what they are, they say will reveal themselves in time. By the time Lieutenant Etta Candy and Steve manage to find someone who can understand the language Diana is speaking, Diana has gone pretty stir crazy. She accidentally rips the bars off her cell, and Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva decides Diana was telling the truth about her heavenly visit! More gifts reveal themselves at the mall they take Diana to, during an attack by the Sear Group… who are familiar to both Dr. Minerva and Diana. What do they want?

This may be a Year One, but it’s especially interesting after reading Volume 1, because we are going back to the beginning after glimpsing the ending. The middle will be a great ride! I adored that they actually utilized a language barrier here when Diana enters Man’s World. It makes sense, and it made for some pretty fun moments! The art is wonderful, and I love that Diana was portrayed with especial wide-eyed innocence here. It was fun to watch her learn her gifts for a change instead of knowing them immediately. There were lots of little cameos and hints to WW past that made me smile. I can’t wait for more!

– Kathleen

Rucka, Greg, Nicola Scott, and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 2): Year One. 2017.

Here

Here was a fascinating 300 page art collage of the same location over thousands of years. We see the same location from millions of years BCE to thousands of the years in the future, but much of the narrative take place from colonial time to our modern era.

The central conceit is that we are peering into windows of time in which we witness moments from the mundane to the life changing. Unmoored from a linear timeline, the pages dance across the eons, sometimes touching on a family several times over, other times giving us just the briefest glimpse into a life.

Much of the story takes place in a home, so we are witness to the joys and sorrows that occur within a home’s walls. We meet Benjamin Franklin , who weaves in and out of the story, and is later referred to as a historical figure by more modern inhabitants. Vaguely reminiscent of Twilight Zone or Star Trek, each page was a portal into another dimension or time period.

I enjoyed the premise of the book, and while a fast read, I often flipped back and forth among the pages looking for common threads. Each time you pick up the book you will focus on something new, so it can be a different read each time.  The art was somewhat stylized, with a dull color palette, so it is the idea more than the art itself that will get you thinking about our place in history.

-Nancy

Star Trek Continues: What Ships Are For

Star Trek Continues is a homage to Star Trek TOS, and this web series’s ninth episode is the best yet! This episode was so very true to TOS, that it was eerie. While past installments have been an accurate recreation of the first series, this episode felt like it truly belonged in the canon of the original series.

The opening scene begins with some light hearted banter between the senior staff, with some expository dialogue to set up the scenario of sending the ship to a planet to help a never before contacted society.

The big three beam down, and are surprised that the world is only in shades of black and white- there is no color. They are soon greeted by two political ambassadors, one of whom is the guest star John de Lancie, who famously played the alien Q in the TNG, DS9 & Voyager series. The married ambassadors share that their Hyalini civilization is in peril, thus their distress call to the Federation. A radiation disease is killing off the population, one of the symptoms being that generations of the planet’s inhabitants have been color blind.

Doctor McCoy needs to take one of the Hyalini to the Enterprise so he can study the radiation poisoning and find a cure for it. Kirk is pleased that it is Sekara, a beautiful woman who is close friends with the ambassadors. After beaming up, with her sun’s radiation no longer affecting her, she is shocked to discover color. Initially overwhelmed by this, purple haired Sekara soon adjusts and she and Kirk manage to find some sexy time in his quarters.

During this time another alien race, the Ambicians, are discovered trying to land on the Hyalini home planet. Kirk and his crew are shocked that the seemingly peaceful Hyalini shoot at the Ambicians, and that they profess such hatred for them. Further research into the matter shows that many Ambicians have actually settled on the planet, but have been able to escape detection for their purple hair and different skin tone have not been noticed by the color blind inhabitants. Wait…doesn’t Sekura who is Hyalini have purple hair? What???

Kirk lets Sekura know the truth and she is horrified- what will her former friends and loved ones think of her once the medicine cures everyone of their radiation poisoning and color blindness? She shares her fear, “Their eyes will change but their hearts may not.” Kirk and Spock beam down to speak again the ambassadors and political council, and Kirk confronts them on their prejudices.

The obvious parallels with this story is our current political climate and issues we face with immigration. Star Trek has always been at it’s best when episodes make us confront our moral, racial and political bias. The dialogue between the Captain and Ambassador Galisti is poignant, and both make valid points. However,  Kirk’s arguments are the better of the two, with Galisti echoing some uncomfortable rhetoric we have heard out of President Trump’s speeches. Ultimately Galisti discovers the truth about Sekura and his beloved wife, and he and the other Hyalini are faced with a moral dilemma. The Enterprise has given this civilization the tools they need, now it is up to them to face an uncertain future and try to broker a peace between the two races.

In my previous posts, that cover Episodes 1-6 and then 7-8, I complain that Uhura, Sulu, Scotty & Chekov get minimal screen time, and AGAIN, this was the case. I am including some pictures of Kim Stringer who wonderfully plays Uhura, just because I think she deserves it. Love her! What could have been a perfect episode, was marred by this continued omission.

In conclusion, I was (mostly) thrilled with this episode. It saddens me to realize that just as this web-series is at it’s strongest, it only has two more episodes before they are done for good, as to avoid any conflicts of interest with CBS and the upcoming Star Trek Discovery. I look forward to the remaining two episodes and hope that they are as strong as this one.

Live long and prosper.

-Nancy

*The featured top picture is made by Star Trek fan and amazing artist, Gaz Williams.

Two beautiful Uhura’s- Kim Stringer and the classic Nichelle Nichols! ♥

Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book 7)

The secret mission Bigby carried out in the last volume has had a devastating effect on the Adversary’s regime in the Homelands. The enchanted forest, from which Geppetto was carving the wooden soldiers, has been destroyed. A council is called to decide how to strike back against Fabletown. It could end in all-out war. Meanwhile, back in New York, Mayor Charming has a lot on his plate. Poor Flycatcher has turned back into a frog, but they can’t figure out why. Not that they have time anyway, as they’re entertaining an emissary from the Homelands – the villainous Hansel. Charming and Beast are watching his every move. Up in Wolf Valley, near the Farm, Snow and Bigby’s cubs are growing up big and strong. They’re learning to control their powers, but as they turn five, are they ready to keep a big secret?

As always, the world of the Fables is widening with every volume. The tensions between Fabletown and the Homelands are coming to a head, and I’m very anxious to see how everything turns out! It’s also really been fun to watch the cubs grow up – they’re so adorable! The art tends to go really cartoony when the cubs are involved, and a little more realistic when serious stuff is going down, which is a great visual touch. Bonus stories in this volume include a few short comics about different Fables we haven’t seen before, and a whole issue dedicated to answering fan questions, which was really fun! Looking forward to the next volume, as per us ❤

– Kathleen

Willingham, Bill, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Michael Allred, and Aaron Alexovich. Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book 7). 2013.

The Wicked + The Divine: Volumes 2 & 3

The first volume of The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act, was an intriguing book with fantastic art but a confusing story. It captured my interest enough to give the next two volumes a go, although I was apprehensive.  It turns out for good reason.

 

Volume 2: Fandemonium

In the first volume, we met eight of the twelve gods, while two are referred to but not seen, and the other two are mysteries. In this volume Laura meets two more known gods,  Inanna and Dionysus, and again she is privy to the behind the scenes chaos of the Pantheon as she still tries to investigate Lucifer’s death. The reporter from the first volume, and two of her camera crew, are transformed into the Three Norns, completing the empty spot in the circle of the Gods. This devastates Laura who had hoped that she would be the last chosen.

We learn a bit more about the 90 year cycle of recurrence from Ananke, the God’s ancient guide. A tiny bit of backstory is given to explain why the Gods cycle through the ages, but in truth, it was more perplexing than enlightening. And we also learn that she is the not the benevolent leader she wants everyone to believe she is.

Artist McKelvie is obviously a fan of maps and charts, along with numbered sequences. His 1,2,3,4’s got a bit overused. You’ll know what I’m taking about when you see them.

The volume certainly ended with a bang…

 

Volume 3: Commercial Suicide

This volume gives guest illustrators a chance to interpret the Gods. I was not a fan of this, as one of the only reasons I have stuck with this series is because I love the art. Although Gillen was still penning all the stories, some didn’t coalesce for me.

One story stood out, and it was basically a stand alone. We finally meet Tara, the most beautiful of all the Gods, and her story is a perfect example of all that is wrong with social media.  People love to build up and then tear down people who don’t fit their preconceived notions of what that should be, and this scrutiny tore at Tara, as she already had issues of this sort when she was still a human. I wish there was more to Tara’s story- as it was one of the best chapters in the story thus far, and I feel the abrupt ending was not justified.

We also get back stories on Gods Morrigan and Baphomet, the underworld couple with an unhealthy dynamic. It broke my heart to see how Morrigan, both as a human and a God, excused Baphomet’s behavior in the name of love. I have been blessed to have a stable no-drama relationship, so I just don’t get women who let their significant other abuse them emotionally. Baphomet was undeserving of all the second chances he was given.

The other stories didn’t push the narrative far, with some Gods getting a lions share of the attention, while others remain an enigma.

 

So three volumes in, and I am still on the fence about the series. My library owned the first volume, and I recently ordered the next four. That leaves volume four and five taunting me. Should I read them?

-Nancy

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Book Covers You’d Live In

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

As some of you may know, I’m also an artist! I looooove me a well-done book cover. Here are some I love so much I’d just crawl in and stay there!

gunslinger-reborn

5. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born by Stephen King

The backstory to the titular Gunslinger in Stephen King’s weird Western series. I’m not sure that I’d necessarily want to live in the world of the Gunslinger, but the art in this GN is so beautiful and dark and hypnotic, I’d want to go at least for a visit. A short one =P (Review of this one upcoming!)

 

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4. The Wrath and the Dawn by Reneé Ahdieh

A retelling of the “Thousand and One Nights” with a female heroine. The peek-a-boo nature of this cover is brilliant, and reflects the shadowed intentions of some of the characters. What I wouldn’t give to wander an Arabian palace with screens and decorations like this pattern!

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3. Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

A YA Western adventure novel featuring heroines and heroes of color. I fell in love with the colors and silhouettes of this cover. It makes me want to roam free and be wild! But then settle down and watch the brilliant sunset ;D

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2. The Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz

A favorite guilty pleasure series of mine when I was a teenager, featuring vampires of New York’s richest set. I’ve always loved these covers, and each one depicts a different city featured in the novels as the main characters go on their adventures. The silhouetted skylines make me dream of wandering these cities on my own someday.

 

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1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay

The original covers will always have a place in my heart, but I think this cover perfectly captures the spirit and wonder of Harry’s world. Besides, if I were in this cover, I’d be on my way to Hogwarts! =P

Who wants to climb in here with me?

– Kathleen

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