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Guest Post on My Comic Relief

Image by Babs Tarr @ Babs Draws

Michael at My Comic Relief has been running a series on his and other blogger’s reviews and reflections on the Logan movie, so I was excited to be able to add a guest post to his blog. Logan was a superb movie that gave a fitting end to the story of Logan’s life, but his successor Laura is more than capable of carrying the Wolverine mantel into the future.  My post- Logan : A Fitting End 

Please check out Michael’s site to not only read the Logan series but to read Michael’s erudite posts on comics, movies, and his excellent ongoing political series about the New American Resistance. Michael has been a big supporter of our site, and we are very proud to call him a friend!

-Nancy

Justice League Trailer #1

***Spoilers for BvS and Suicide Squad ahead***

YOOOOOOO

After the death of Superman and the post-credits scene between Amanda Waller and Bruce Wayne in Squad, the age of heroes does indeed need to come again. There is a new threat to the earth. What it is isn’t clear yet, but it’s a thing and it’s coming. Bruce and Diana are gathering what metahumans they can from Amanda Waller’s files. So far they’ve got Arthur Curry, Aquaman; Victor Stone, Cyborg; and Barry Allen, the Flash. Together, they kick some serious butt while listening to a hard rock Beatles cover.

(Sorry, I am soooo incredibly tired… don’t mean to sound so salty. Guess that’s my attempt at a literal trailer =P )

The part I liked best was actually how prominent Aquaman was. He seems like a cool guy! Scary but cracking jokes (the whole trailer was more lighthearted, kinda like Suicide Squad, though the color palette is a little darker. Guess they’re going for dark humor?). It really seems like we’ll get to see how powerful he is! Wish there was more Cyborg, but hopefully in a future trailer. I am so not sold on Ezra Miller’s Flash. Grant Gustin is my Barry Allen 5ever!!! ❤

Of course… my very favorite part… is at 1:58 when WW lands in front of Aquaman and he steps back all startled… that’s right you best get out the way for my girl 8D 😄

Who else is hyped???

– Kathleen

Athena Voltaire Compendium

I discovered this one while ordering books for one of my libraries. Have I mentioned lately how much I love being a librarian??? 8D 😄

Meet Athena Voltaire: a beautiful aviatrix with a penchant for whiskey and bourbon and not taking anyone’s crap. She’s the daughter of a magician and was once in an air circus – and a land one! She’s put herself out for hire as a pilot, and she gets some pretty strange jobs. The Nazis are gathering ancient and mythical artifacts of great power that they can use to win the war. Athena somehow ends up in the middle of foiling their plans. Join Athena and her friends for all the non-stop supernatural Nazi butt-kicking you could ask for!

The comic recalled Indiana Jones as I was reading it, but you get a really cool heroine instead of Harrison Ford… and it never gets weird like Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did. This is a fun read that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s non-stop action, no romantic subplot AT ALL (!!!!!!!! I’M STILL YELLING ABOUT IT), dynamic art, and great characters. Athena herself is witty, resourceful, talented, and remains skeptical about supernatural powers and beings despite all she’s seen. One of my favorite parts was how many places of the world she visits: Hong Kong, Tibet, South America, and much more. Awesome heroine kicking Nazi, vampire, and zombie butt with non-stop action and ABSOLUTELY NO romance? What more could you ask for in a comic??? Highly recommended ❤

– Kathleen

Bryant, Steve. Athena Voltair Compendium. 2015.

Superman: American Alien

This book was exactly what I needed! I loved it! I feel like I have been slogging through books for the last few months, some for my YA literature grad class, some for a quick read and others I have chosen for their messages. While I have read good solid books for those reasons, I have not read much that was just purely for my enjoyment.

Although the book has Superman in the title, it is really Clark Kent stories. The seven stories are chronological and fill in the gaps in the Superman canon. We start with Clark as a boy learning how to fly, move through his adolescence, and finally settle in his early years in Metropolis. Every story is strong, and fits in seamlessly with what we already know about Superman.

Max Landis wrote every story, and he chose perfect pivotal moments in Clark’s life to explain how a relatable Kansas farm boy became the iconic Superman. The various artists and colorists elevate the stories, with the different styles adding dimension and heart to the narration.

Dove ( art by Nick Dragotta, color by Alex Guimaraes) A sweet story about Clark as a boy learning to fly. The relationship between Clark and his parents is so heartwarming, as they look to help him under extraordinary circumstances. The artwork is appealing, with a slight Manga feel to some panels. The first red cape is shown, and I love the concluding panels of Clark’s vacation ideas for his family.

Hawk ( art & color by Tommy Lee Edwards) Clark is now a teen, with a budding relationship with Lana. His best friend Pete and the sheriff are aware of his powers, and implore him to help with a robbery/murder than happened nearby. Clark demurs but secretly slips out to confront the gang. He doesn’t have a thought out strategy, but luckily Pete comes to his aid during a tense moment. He has a poignant moment with his mom, and you see him wanting to use his power for good, but he is still getting a handle on all it represents. The art is sketchy and dark hued to represent the confusion of adolescence.

Parrot ( art by Joelle Jones, color by Rico Renzi) Now college aged, Clark won a free trip to the Caribbean, but plans go awry when he and pilot crash land in the ocean. Luckily a yacht is nearby, and when he and the pilot climb aboard he is mistaken for Bruce Wayne. Deciding it’s easier to go along with the ruse, he parties with the revelers, and Oliver Queen makes a brief cameo. He has a one night stand with a beautiful woman, as his relationship to Lana has ended. That his appealing red headed partner ends up being a future villain ( I won’t spoil who she is) is awesome. The coloring is bright and fun, and shows that Clark is a typical young man who wants to have fun.

Owl ( art by Jae Lee, color by June Chung) Clark has now moved to Metropolis and met Lois Lane. He has a moment when he re-meets Oliver Queen (who is now secretly Green Arrow) and because of their last meeting, Oliver gives him a reporting scoop over Lois and introduces him to Lex Luthor. Lex is full of himself and brags on to Clark about how superior he is, and plays mind games with Clark. While in Lex’s building, he meets young Dick Grayson, and the two converse. Later back at his apartment Batman appears, not fully understanding who Clark is. I love how the Bat gets smacked down by Clark, who discovers his secret identity. This was my least favorite of the art styles, for Clark and everyone else had similar small eyes and thin lips, and no one really looked right to me.

Eagle ( art & color by Francis Manapul) Clark is refining his look, knowing he has to hide his identity, and he has started to make a name for himself in the city by fighting criminals. He has another run in with Lex who inadvertently names him Superman, and gives him the ideas and morals that will symbolize who he is.

Angel ( art & color by Jonathan Case) Smallville friends Pete and Kenny visit Clark in the city, and help shape him into what we recognize as Superman. They keep it real, and remind him of his roots,  while pushing him to be more responsible for what he does and what he symbolizes. His friendship and family relationships are what fundamentally shaped him into the man he is, which gives him his moral compass. The artwork pays homage to old school depictions of Superman with a 1940/50’s vibe.

Valkyrie ( art by Jock, color by Lee Loughridge) An alien is attacking the city, and Superman and he engage and have a conversation about his home planet. He begins to realize while he is obliviously an alien, his true home is Earth. Best line: “I’m not from Krypton…I’m from Kansas”. He and Lois have a sweet reunion, and she shows him that she loves him as Clark, which fills in the last gap of him now being ready to be the adult Superman. The artwork is gritty and shows the carnage that fighting villains causes.

There also were some fascinating and wonderfully illustrated interstitial shorts between the stories that added background or was a villain shout out. The Castaways (Matthew Clark & Rob Schwager) gave a backstory to Jon and Martha Kent’s past, while Revelations (Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner & John Workman),The Real Question (Mark Buckingham, Jose Villarrubia & John Workman), Vampire ( Steve Dillon, Rod Ries & John Workman) and The New Jimmy (Matthew Clark, Rob Schwager & John Workman) were all vignettes about villains in the Superman universe.

Although I am still firmly in the Marvel camp, I have been disappointed with some recent reads (next Friday’s book will get a scathing review), and I have read some old and new DC titles that are superior in story and artwork. This book and other DC titles such as Red Son and Kingdom Come, and many great titles from Image Comics are chipping away at my Marvel base.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this book, for it humanizes Superman. The seven stories are all excellent, and they flow and connect into one another, to form the larger picture of who Clark Kent is and who he will be. A must buy for Superman aficionados!

-Nancy

My Perfect Star Trek Crew

I was inspired to do this post after reading the post that Hailing Frequencies Open had on what made their own Super Crew.

I love the rebooted Kelvin timeline movie series, but I decided to stick to the tv series for this list. That there is no representation from the Enterprise series, is no mistake. God, that crew sucked. I am very much looking forward to the start of the Discovery series, and wonder if any of their crew will alter this list.

 

Captain:  Admiral Kathryn Janeway

The perfect captain- Janeway was in ultimate control, yet was relatable. Faced with extraordinary pressures, she united two warring factions and built a unified crew out of former enemies. She survived a year of hell, coming out stronger than ever. I wish Star Trek showcased more female captains- while I like the captain they picked for Discovery, they missed an opportunity to add another female to the line up of leads for the franchise.

 

First Officer: Commander William T. Riker

He’s my Number One, especially once he grew his beard. Walk on over and sit in this chair please. Let me see the Riker maneuver.

 

 Chief Medical Officer: Dr. Beverly Crusher

Dr. Crusher is grace under pressure. Man was I pissed when the powers that be had her off the ship for season two. Her coming back elevated the series. Smart and capable, she could handle any medical emergency that occurred.

 

 

Chief Engineer: Lieutenant Commander Georgi La Forge 

This was a gimmie, for I love LeVar Burton. He is the celebrity I most want to meet- from his portrayal of Kunte Kinte in Roots, to his love of literacy in Reading Rainbow, and then his Star Trek TNG role. But you don’t need to take my word for it!

 

Ship’s Counselor: Commander Deanna Troi

She is the queen of empathy- and Riker’s gal. It made sense that ships in stressful combat zones would need a mental health expert. I was glad Star Trek addressed that issue. I’d be friends with her in real life.

 

 

Operations Officer: Ensign Harry Kim

This guy helped Voyager out of so many jams, and was still an ensign! This infuriated me. It’s called a field promotion people! I am promoting him up a few ranks immediately.

 

Science Officer: Commander Spock

Leonard Nimoy more than any other actor in the franchise personifies Star Trek. His Vulcan personality was the perfect foil to Captain Kirk, and made the combining of different nationality and alien species on a ship complete. Love the quote “I have been and always shall be your friend”.

 

Chief of Security: Lieutenant Commander Worf

Worf is the best. He needs no explanation as to his presence on this list.

 

 

Tactical Officer: Lieutenant Natasha Yar

The actress Denise Crosby must still be kicking herself than she left the Star Trek series. I liked her character in the first season of TNG, and loved her redemption in Yesterday’s Enterprise, so now I am giving her a chance to live on…

 

Conn Officer: Commander Nyota Uhura

No one compares to Uhura. Beautiful, smart, ambitious, an equal to the men- she is the original Star Trek role model. All strong female Star Trek characters owe a debt to her.

 

 

Rookie/Kid: Wesley Crusher

While I am a fan of the actor Wil Wheaton, his Wesley portrayal was not a favorite of mine, but I like keeping families together, so he remains on the ship with his mother. Given time, he will mature. And let’s just forget about that Traveler crap.  Had I chosen Captain Benjamin Sisco for another position, his son Jake would have gotten this spot.

 

 

 

Wild Card:  Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax

She is another character I am bringing back from the dead. She will be reunited with Worf, and they will have a happy ending!

 

Ship: U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D

The ship from my favorite of all the series- The Next Generation. It had a bar with Guinan in it, plus a cool holodeck.

So this supposed quick and easy post took much longer than I anticipated, as I read Memory Alpha articles on many of these characters, which then branched to other characters and episodes. Time suck alert! Still this was a fun way to imagine a perfect crew.  So many worthy actors and actresses have kept this series as strong as it is. Live Long and Prosper, my friends.

-Nancy

Sensation Comics feat. Wonder Woman (Vol. 2)

More WW oneshots~

  • Generations (written by Michael Jelenic; art by Dre Johnson, Ray Snyder, Lizzy John, and Saida Temofonte): Diana reflects on her mother’s teachings as she acquires a once-in-a-lifetime birthday gift for her. Beautiful lighting and we get a cameo of Hippolyta in WW-esque garb! ❤
  • Not Included (written by Adam P. Knave; art by Matthew Dow Smith, Rex Lokus, and Deron Bennett): Diana and Big Barda encounter some gorilla robots at a museum, but what they find belowground in the labs is cause for compassion instead of violence. The blocky and angular art didn’t quite match the message.
  • Venus Rising (written by Alex de Campi; art by Neil Googe, Len O’Grady, Carrie Strachan, Wendy Broome, and Saida Temofonte): Astronauts request Superman’s help repairing the first spaceship colony on Venus – and the head guy in charge isn’t too happy to receive Diana. WONDER WOMAN IN A HIJAB!!! ❤
  • Rescue Angel (written by Amy Chu; art by Bernard Chand, Wendy Broome, and Saida Temofonte): A group of soldiers ambushed on a peace mission in Afghanistan are rescued – by their new recruit, or by an angel wearing red, white, and blue? This one brought me to tears.
  • Sabotage is in the Stars (written by Heather Nuhfer; art by Ryan Benjamin and Saida Temofonte): On the other hand, I couldn’t even tell you what this was about because the story was phenomenal at being so convoluted in so short a space. Art was a mess as well.
  • Wonder World (written by James Tynion IV; art by Noelle Stevenson): An incredibly cute story of a teenage Diana venturing into man’s world for the first time and ending up on a pier on another girl’s birthday. Adventure Time-esque art and incredibly expressive characters made this a joy.
  • The Problem with Cats (written by Lauren Beukes; art by Mike Maihack): Two sisters learn to be honest with each other when the older catches the younger one playing Wonder Woman with her dolls. Adorable watercolor art ❤
  • Girls’ Day Out (written by Cecil Castellucci; art by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Jordie Bellaire, and Todd Klein): Wonder Woman’s interview with Lois Lane gets interrupted. I loooove me some Lois and Diana kicking monster butt together >:D
  • VIP (written by Sara Ryan; art by Christian Duce, Wendy Broomw, and Saida Temofonte): Diana helps a superstar with her stalker problem. This is as compassionate as Diana could possibly get ❤
  • Casualties of War (written and drawn by Aaron Lopresti, HI-FI, and Saida Temofonte): A literal dragon comes back from Diana’s past to haunt her. Interesting dialogue about choosing to kill.

Overall I liked this one a little better than the first. Most of the stories were written and drawn in a more contemporary manner, while the first had more stories that evoked older comics. With the vast variety of authors and artists, there is something in here for everyone, whether or not you’re a hardcore WW fan.

– Kathleen

Various. Sensation Comics feat. Wonder Woman (Vol. 2). 2015.

Genius: Siege

 

Bernardin, Marc, Adam Freeman & Afua Richardson. Genius. 2015.

Every generation has it’s military genius- so what happens when it’s a teenage girl from LA?

Deliberately provocative, this story sets up the tale of Destiny, a black seventeen year old orphan who has a vendetta against the police who shot and killed her parents when she was a child. We get some of her back story, as a detective pieces together the escalating violence in South Central Los Angeles to a  “Suspect Zero” who he believes in the mastermind behind the gang wars. He correctly has figured out that the gangs have aligned behind a central leader, and are now building their arsenal to fight the corrupt LA police department.

That this book came out a few months after the Ferguson MO shooting, and had most likely been in production before it, was very timely. The Black Lives Matter movement is represented within the story, with opposing viewpoints. A full page spread shows the media voicing different perspectives and some dialogue that I felt was spot on was, “What we have here is a people, not unlike this country’s forefathers, oppressed by the rule of tyrannical men. Why was it okay for the white settlers to rise against the British but not okay for today’s minorities to do the same?” Unfortunately, I felt this thought provoking statement was canceled out by other cartoonish viewpoints and actions in the story, and the chance for an honest debate about political and racial issues was lost.

I tried so very hard to have a suspension of disbelief so I could just enjoy the scope of the book and not get bogged down in details, but there were a few glaring questions. How did Destiny train her militia? How did she afford all the technology that Gerald used? How did she afford and acquire all the sniper rifles, guns and bomb making materials? How did she bluff her way into the police building without proper credentials? Surely, Destiny knew the final outcome, so were her deadly military maneuvers truly the work of a genius or a sociopath?

The artwork was a mixed bag for me. I felt it was overly stylized, and some of it was obviously computer generated. It was dark hued, with some panels bleeding into the next, otherwise having black borders. An effort was made to show a range of looks, with different body types, skin colors and fashion represented. However, Destiny was overly sexualized, with a gratuitous book cover.

Ultimately, I do give a tepid recommendation to this comic, for it gave me a chance as a white suburban mom to broaden my mind about ethical and racial issues that I normally am not exposed to. While far from perfect, this series is worth looking into further to see if the writers finesse this culturally relevant story.

-Nancy

Wonder Woman Trailer #3

Are any of you as pumped for the WW movie as I am??? I’ve been looking forward to it ever since Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was the undisputed best part of Batman v. Superman. She was a big part of the marketing campaign for that movie, and it was clear that they wanted to establish Diana as a core character alongside Superman and Batman. And now she’s getting her own movie! It’s so exciting!!!

The newest trailer dropped about 2 weeks ago, and I don’t know about you all, buuuut I’ve been watching it on repeat ever since.

This trailer, first of all, features baby Diana! So cute ❤ It revealed a bit more about Diana’s origins and her training, which looks grueling to say the least! But it’s clear her mother knows there’s something special about her. (Also, did anyone else catch Robin Wright as Antiope? I knew she looked insanely familiar but I just couldn’t place her!) Diana leaves her home when she learns of the Great War, in order to protect the world. We get little teases and hints about the big bad threat behind the war, but nothing much yet. I think they’re playing their cards pretty close to the chest so as not to give too much of the plot away.

Just! Look! She’s so strong and beautiful and alskfjdalskfj my heart can’t take it. I’m so glad I’m alive to see Wonder Woman finally get the recognition she deserves after 75 years of comics ❤

Any thoughts? Theories?? Just fellow fangirling (or fanboying)???

– Kathleen

Vinland Saga: Book 1

I used to read manga in high school. My favorite titles were Fruits Basket, Chibi Vampire, and Mars. But with that interest came a curse… I could never, ever, no matter how hard I tried or how many times I restarted the series, finish it. So, I would have called myself fans of these, but never actually finished them. Good job me 😄

(Lucky I’d never been spoiled for the ending of any, especially Furuba, given how popular it was at the time and how many of my friends were into it, too.)

I came across this in the computer at work and ordered it for the heck of it. I was quite surprised when it came in and I saw it was a manga. But I figured I’d try it anyway – maybe the curse had since been broken!

Thorfinn is a young Viking, a deadly warrior for someone of his age. He’s got plenty of reason to be. His village was destroyed when he was a child, and his family slaughtered. He belongs now to Askelaad, the very man who murdered his father. Thorfinn has no choice but to go with Askeladd into battle, but is plotting, ever plotting, to challenge him to a duel and avenge his father’s death. Ever since he was a child, listening to Leif Erikson’s stories, he’s wanted to be a Viking explorer, but not like this…

… I’m sad to say I’m still under the curse. I couldn’t finish it and gave up about halfway through. The beginning chapters were action-packed and moved incredibly fast, and I was sucked in! But then it started taking us back to Thorfinn’s past and it just stayed there. It seemed to want to reveal his entire backstory in one go, and I’m not really about that fast reveal. The art is pretty good, dynamic and more atmospheric than I remember manga being. There is a looot of blood in the battle scenes though, so watch out for that if you’re queasy. The history seemed to be well-researched. I can definitely see how it would be engaging for another reader, but sadly, I’m just not that reader!

– Kathleen

Yukimura, Makoto. Vinland Saga: Book 1. English translation: 2013.

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