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Graphic Novelty²

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June 2018

Artemis

When I read The Martian, I was sucked into Andy Weir’s plausible science fiction story. His resourceful hero was funny and appealing and readers rooted for his survival. So I eagerly looked forward to his next book and was pleased to find a heroine in his second novel. Imagine my dismay when my opinion of the book plummeted chapter by chapter.

The book started off strongly, as Weir introduced Jazz Bashara, a Moon inhabitant since she was a child. Jazz is a young woman who is a porter for shipped in cargo, which enables her to smuggle goods on a regular basis. She hopes to curtail her hustling by passing an EVA certification that would enable her to take tourists on moon outings, but she fails. She is then open to an offer from a billionaire to sabotage some equipment of a competitor. She takes him up on it, ignoring all the red flags and moral issues about doing so, as she is only intent on the payoff. In typical Weir fashion, everything goes to hell, and Jazz veers from one catastrophe to another.

When Jazz was first introduced, her intelligence was established, and some diversity is added to the equation: she is a lapsed Muslim originally from Saudi Arabia. She has a sense of humor and her conversation is laced with obscenities and sarcastic quips. I thought she was refreshing at first, and I was amused at her attitude. She voices things that I sometimes think. Most people would be surprised at how salty my thoughts are about certain people or situations, but where I smile and keep my thoughts to myself, Jazz does not, and it got old fast. Real fast. I don’t have to completely like a main character to enjoy a book as a whole, but when you start to HATE the raunchy main character, there is a problem. In addition I did not understand why she had so many male friends willing to help her out of problems, yet she did not have a single female friend. Why do so many authors not know how to show authentic friendships between women? Why????

Despite my dislike of Jazz, there is strong world building with descriptions of the bubbled city of Artemis. A conversation occurs between two characters about the original TV series Star Trek, mentioning how it occurred about 100 years ago, which places the book’s events in the  near future of the late 2060’s. Weir certainly knows his science, as everything about the Moon colony seemed very authentic and credible. I listened to the audio edition that was voiced by Rosario Dawson, who delivered the narrative well. So considering how much I enjoyed his first book, I will try to balance my feelings about this one, and if he writes a third book I will certainly give it a go.

-Nancy

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Kingdom Hearts III Release Date

Finally… we have a date! January 25th, 2019!!! Check out the E3 trailer below!

This game has been in the works for years, and rumored for even longer. They have totally ratcheted up the gameplay with new summons, drive moves, and, of course, worlds and characters. It all looks so polished and clean… I’m in awe. The world I’m most looking forward to Toy Story! My sisters and I all loved Toy Story when we were kids, so having it introduced in my favorite video game series is very exciting!

Even more than that, I am so ecstatic to see the return of Organization XIII!!! They are honestly my favorite part of the series. I love villains that are written as ambiguously as they are – they make you question whether or not they’re truly evil. I hope the writing for this installment is as good as it has been in the past, flashy features aside.

I know I shouldn’t complain, but… I am not amused by how many Pixar worlds they have chosen to include in the game. Call me old-fashioned, but I miss my traditional hand-drawn animation, dang it! As cool as showcasing all the new movies are, dusting off a few classics (besides Mount Olympus – been there, done that) would have been welcome, too *grumble grumble*

Despite my complaint, I am very much looking forward to it! GameStop is going to be taking a huge chunk of my money come fall… I’m gonna need to make more money! =P

– Kathleen

The Martian

Survival story on steroids!

Astronaut Mark Watney gets accidentally left on Mars during a mission that went haywire and needs to try to survive until a new mission can be launched to save him. Luckily as a botanist and all around problem solver he is just the guy to survive this catastrophe. Constant disasters abound, but no problem, Mark can handle it. Each chapter- Disaster! Crazy solution! Resourcefulness! Duct tape! Humor! Rinse, repeat!

Once NASA discovers he’s alive, then they too start the cycle of setbacks that can always be fixed, with lots of plausible sounding science thrown in to explain everything. I scoffed at how easily other astronauts, the public and other countries pitched in to help him (at such cost!) and how Mark never showed mental deterioration during his time trapped on Mars. Even though sex was just a quick mention, Mark is guaranteed some lovin’ when (and if) he gets back home due to the public’s rapt attention to his struggles. Taken in parts, the book has it’s weaknesses, but as a whole the story is great and I enjoyed listening to the audio edition.

Although I read this book by Andy Weir two years ago, I am currently listening to his second novel Artemis, and figure both sci-fi books match our blog’s theme of geeky awesomeness.

-Nancy

Blog Update

Hey everyone! We have been talking about our blog in conjunction with our personal schedules. The both of us have a lot going on right now, and we just cannot devote the amount of time we’d like to the blog. Therefore, we’ve come to a decision about how often we’re going to post.

Our regular Monday and Friday posts will continue, but we’re going to cut out most Wednesday posts. Even though we were trading Wednesdays off, we’ve found it a little more difficult lately to generate new content and keep up with the schedule. We’re great about communicating with each other about what we want to write, and when, so in the meantime we will do Wednesday posts on sort of a case-by-case basis.

For our regular Monday/Friday posts, we may also not post a graphic novel review every week. Fear not, though! Reviews will continue to make up the bulk of our content. Again, we’ve found ourselves in sticky situations with trying to read and keep up with the blog schedule and our personal schedules, so we may occasionally deviate from our normal reviews to write about other nerd things to give ourselves a break. We have done this in the past, and had great feedback from you, dear readers, so we hope you don’t mind too much.

This change – we hope – is only temporary, and the Twitter account will remain active. We may revisit the blog schedule at a later date when things calm down for the both of us. For now, however, we are saying goodbye to our regular Wednesday posts.

Thank you very much for your continued support, patience, and friendship! We’re both very grateful to have such a loving following ❤

–  Kathleen & Nancy

The dynamic duo!

Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book 14)

Rose Red has finally decided what kind of hope she inspires in people. As a paladin of the goddess Hope, Rose inspires the hope of second chances. Taking her cue from her niece Therese, she orders a Round Table built at the Farm. She is rebuilding Camelot and recruiting knights who are in dire need of second chances. One such recruit, Brandish, is going to be her pet case. Snow White is outraged after what Brandish did to her and her family. If Rose Red sets Brandish free and recruits him to her cause – they’re done. No longer sisters, and Rose will no longer be an aunt to the cubs. Can Rose reconcile her calling with her only remaining family’s wishes?

Rose stepping up to the plate is really exciting! It’s fun to see that even in the Fable world, stories are recycled and refreshed. Different characters take on different roles in Rose’s new Camelot, including characters who were in the original! The extra stories were kinda “meh” in this one. They didn’t add much or elaborate on anything from the main story. The real action, as ever, is in Fabletown – and new Camelot! I don’t want to pick up the next volume – I don’t want it to end!!! 😭

– Kathleen

Willingham, Bill, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Russ Braun, and Barry Kitson. Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book 14). 2017.

Rebels: These Free and Independent States

I am having a love affair with Brian Wood this year! Having discovered Briggs Land last year, this year I have devoured it’s sequel Lone Wolves, volumes one-three of his Viking saga Northlanders, the first Rebels about the Revolutionary War, and now this companion piece about the War of 1812.

In the first volume A Well Regulated Militia, Wood first gives us a lengthy portrait of the fictional character Seth Abbott and his journey from farm boy to one of the well respected leaders of the Green Mountain Boys. Then we are given shorter non-linear vignettes of other loyalists and patriots and their contributions to the war. This second historical fiction graphic novel follows suit.

These Free and Independent States

In this continuation, we revisit Vermont to find that Seth’s son John is a boat-making savant. Spanning the years from 1786 to 1816, John comes to age as the new nation faces several threats and a new Navy is commissioned. John’s parents discover he has a fascination and an aptitude for building ships. Nowadays we might call these traits autism, but despite having no name for it, Seth and Mercy recognize his gifts and apprentice him to a master ship builder out of Boston. His careful work is integral when building the USS Constitution, which was later nicknamed Old Ironsides during the War of 1812. His work is so all consuming he is oblivious to Alice, a young woman he has known since childhood, who has taken a fancy to him. When the ship goes to sea he signs up to be a soldier on it, just so he can remain on the ship he has claimed as his own. His obsession proves to be his downfall, but luckily he has some allies who remain dedicated to him. The story ends with an improbable conclusion.

Image result for rebels these free and independent statesThe Virginian

A short story about George Washington when he was a Lieutenant Colonel and his actions in the Ohio River Valley in 1753. This portrayal shows him an an impulsive young soldier, who was worried about how he would be depicted, and how he was not always a man of his word. This representation certainly does not show him in a good light, as his foolhardy actions don’t match his later reputation as one of our founding fathers and the nation’s first president.

Brooklyn Heights

An orphaned brother and sister cling to their New York homestead from 1777-1783. These two plucky siblings discover a secret stash of gold that the British lost and offer it to the leaders at Valley Forge.The ending with it’s time jump defied logic. I wanted to like this story but couldn’t.

The Green Mountain Boys

Captain Ethan Allen gets the spotlight in this last short story. In 1775 he petitions the Continental Congress for recognition and funds for the soldiers he leads.  But the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga proved the Green Mountain Boys were worth every penny that the government reluctantly gave them.

The artwork throughout the entire novel is strong, although you can tell different artists are utilized in the last two stories. The drawing is sketchy, with a light green and yellow color palette. You can tell much research went into the panels to depict colonial life with impressive details of the ships in the first story. This is yet another example of the excellent historical work that I have come to expect from Wood and his team of artists.  I will absolutely pick up whatever he puts out next in any of the series I mentioned in this post!

-Nancy

Image result for rebels these free and independent states

Pokémon: Let’s Go

Short and sweet post today. Have y’all seen the trailer for the new Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch? IT’S SOOOOOO CUUUUUUTE

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! is an upcoming game for the Nintendo Switch. It’s essentially a remake of Yellow, but with upgraded 3D graphics and slightly different gameplay. It looks like it incorporates a lot of elements in Pokémon Go: Pokémon appear in the overworld instead of randomly in grass, and players get to chuck the balls themselves instead of just with a button input. It looks like you’ll even get to transfer your little buddies from Go into Let’s Go!, though we’ll have to wait for more details. The best part, in my opinion, is being able to play with a friend!

You can pinpoint the exact second where I decided I needed a Switch… right at 0:33…

What do you guys think?

– Kathleen

Superman: Grounded (Vol. 2)

In continuing his walk across America, Superman has come across… some sticky situations. A plant near Des Moines, Iowa, has burned down. Lois Lane was about to write a piece for the Daily Planet about the multiple safety and environmental code violations at the same plant. But after hearing the worker’s stories, Superman wonders if it’s not a good idea to keep it open, violations and all. He then starts guessing what he really stands for. Truth, justice, and the American way? Those all sound like words to him now. Feeling more lost than ever, Superman continues on his walk – or he would, if someone from what she calls the Superman Squad shows up and tells him he needs to find his faith again – or risk ending the legacy of Superman for good!

After the first one was so excellent, I was almost hesitant to pick this one up. I didn’t want my high expectations to not be met! But I’m happy to report the second volume was just as good as the first 😉 In trying to find the faith in his message again, multiple citizens, heroes, and even some villains, show Clark, and us, the gravity and importance of having Superman. The artwork was solid once again, but you came back for the story anyway.

– Kathleen

Straczynski, J. Michael, Chris Roberson, and Eddy Barrows. Superman: Grounded (Vol. 2). 2011.

Solo Movie Review

I walked into Solo unsure of how I would feel about it, considering my recent Star Wars movie experience was excruciating.  I was frankly quite devastated at how the preceding The Last Jedi played out, especially in regards to Luke Skywalker’s portrayal. But I never felt the emotional tie to Han Solo, as he was known for his scoundrel swagger, and I’ve never been a fan of the bad boy trope. So I went into Solo with no expectations- I didn’t really care if his character was crucified. The movie proved to be solid. Not great…not bad…just good.

Rather than going into a full review of the movie, which you can find on dozens of other sites, I will address a few issues and then move into nine character studies.

*An issue going into any prequel is that you know the main characters survive in a future timeline. As such when Han, Chewie and Lando were in dangerous situations, I knew it was the new secondary characters that would bite the dust. To throw in a Star Trek joke- you knew who the redshirts were.

*I saw this movie with my husband and daughter, and afterwards we all agreed that the movie felt like a run of the mill sci-fi action movie, with a few Star Wars references thrown in. The movie showcased some new planets and none of them had the Star Wars vibe. I spotted a few Stormtroopers in the beginning plus there were a few ships such as TIE fighters that were iconic, but these new worlds just didn’t feel like what we have seen in the other movies.

solo-poster-han

Alden did a fair job of creating a young Han Solo. He had the unenviable job of following in Harrison Ford’s footsteps, but he tried to capture Han’s charm, without being a caricature of the original. I had hoped for more background to his past and there was a brief mention of his father, but no explanation as to how to came to be alone. I liked the explanation of his last name when he was applying to get off planet but then there was a big time jump and we didn’t see him get kicked out of pilot school. At times he came off as cocky vs suave, but as he is a younger man here, the suaveness will come in time.

 

solo-poster-chewbacca

Joonas Suotamo played Chewbacca- why is his name not on this poster like all the other actor and actresses names are? Is this yet another example of Chewie being treated more as a pet than a humanoid alien? While I appreciated the origin story of how he and Han met, it still didn’t go far enough in explaining why Chewie has given Han such intense loyalty. Now that Star Wars Holiday Special is canon (Disney put one of the characters from the special into the official book From A Certain Point Of View) we know he has a family back on his home planet. Why would he leave them for Han Solo? Loved what he did when he saw other Wookies on one of the missions!

 

solo-poster-lando

Donald Glover WAS Lando! He ably portrayed this charming gambler with plenty of charisma. Seemingly only out for himself,  he showed enough compassion for viewers to know that he will be able to make the leap from selfish to selfless in future movies.  His banter with Alden was authentic and he wore his capes with aplomb!

 

solo-poster-val

I was happy to see Star Wars include a woman of color in a main role! With natural hair! She was tough as nails, but had the classic heart of gold. Can’t say too much more about her with out spoilers, but I wish her role had been larger.

 

solo-poster-l337

Gotta have a spunky droid, and L3-37 does not disappoint! Voiced by a woman, this robot was a social justice warrior (especially for droid rights) who implied she had a crush on Lando. My question is: why does an unseen actress get billing on a poster when Chewbacca’s does not? L3-37 is very woke and should fight for his name inclusion as one of her many causes!

 

solo-poster-beckett

I’ve been a big fan of Woody Harrelson for years, but I had a hard time seeing past the actor for this role. He has played grizzled world weary characters in too many roles, and Beckett was cut from the same cloth. All the double and triple crosses in the end reinforced my feeling that it wasn’t a Star Wars film but an action heist  movie.

 

solo-poster-qira

Qi’Ra was Han’s love interest, so right away we knew things would not go well for her. Her fate at the end wasn’t exactly what I expected, and leaves open a possibility of another prequel movie to explain what happens to her and a certain other memorable Star Wars character. She played her femme-fatale role well, and you almost forget that her appealing character would soon enough be cast aside for Princess Leia.

 

solo-poster-rio

Ugh- a a wise cracking four armed monkey pilot. Enough said.

 

solo-poster-dryden

Paul Bettany did a good job playing slimy villain Dryden. I was able to forget he recently played the superhero The Vision in the Avengers movies. His cultured voice belayed the fact that he was a crime lord that would betray you as soon as you turned your back.

*****

Will I be back if they put out another Han Solo prequel? As of now- I wouldn’t spend the money to see it in the theatre but might once out in DVD. Solo was fine- so in essence I am damning this movie with faint praise. It is Star Wars: Episode IX that I will save my passion for and how they handle the plot lines going forward.

-Nancy

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