Bitch Planet, vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine

Bitch Planet, Vol 1: Extraordinary MachineBitch Planet, Vol 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Received from Netgalley for review.)

The title kind of put me off this one for a bit. I don’t know about you, but I don’t relish carrying around a book with “bitch” in huge letters on the cover. But I heard so many great things about this book, and I love the cover, and I generally trust DeConnick. So I jumped at the chance to get it from Netgalley, and I’m very glad I did.

Bitch Planet is a deeply feminist take on “women in prison” exploitation media, and it’s damned good. It has all the action it would need to be entertaining, while seamlessly folding in the social commentary that makes it more than just a women in prison comic. See, you get sentenced to “bitch planet” by being a non-compliant woman. By being fat or a lesbian or getting in the way of your husband marrying his younger mistress or anything that would make you less than a perfect little woman. It’s dystopian, to be sure, but some of the things said are uncomfortably close to things said every day. Which is, of course, what makes it effective.

To me, the single best issue is the one that focuses on Penny, an unapologetically and happily big woman. It’s perceptive and carefully written and powerful. The moment when it’s confirmed that Penny really does love herself as is was one of the most joyful things I’ve read in comics in a long time.

There’s more than a bit of nudity in this book, which actually didn’t bother me. The nudity is resolutely non-sexual, and I appreciate the diversity in body types represented. I think that it was included because it’s such an integral part of women in prison exploitation, and DeConnick and De Landro wanted to desexualize the situation. And it works, partly because the women don’t all look alike, and they definitely don’t all look conventionally attractive.

I was hoping that I would like this, but I was surprised with just how much that I love it. I am kind of disappointed that the essays that were at the back of the original issues weren’t included in the trade. I would have loved to read those, too.

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Multiversity

The MultiversityThe Multiversity by Grant Morrison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Received from Netgalley for review.)

So. This is a thing that happened, and I read it. That could probably be my capsule review for something like 65% of Morrison’s work, and it would likely be a fairly valid review. I have respect for Morrison as a creator who isn’t afraid to think big, and this is pretty damn big. I also feel a certain level of frustration for his work, as he regularly has ideas that are too big for him to convey effectively. This is maybe one of them, a story so big that it spans fifty realities, with layers of meaning that I’m not sure I was able to penetrate.

So let’s put the layers aside for a moment, and look at the work on the surface. You could essentially read the first and last issue of Multiversity as one complete story and get basically everything it has to offer. Everything in between is sort of filler, except it kind of isn’t, because the filler is kind of the point, I think. Because I do think that at least part of the point, for Morrison, was getting to play in all these different playgrounds. Which he does quite well, actually. The Society of Super-Heroes, Pax Americana, and Mastermen issues were all remarkably well done. Yes, Pax Americana is a sort of Watchmen send up, but it’s a damn good one. If the entire Multiversity event had only been about letting Morrison write every genre of comic in history, I think I would have been pretty happy. The actual event part was, in my opinion, the weakest part of the collection.

The art is uniformly good across the entire series. Not bad, considering the sheer number of artists, well over half a dozen. Not only is the quality consistently high, the styles are perfectly matched to the current story. Unfortunately, Multiversity never quite becomes more than the (admittedly very good) sum of its parts. But that’s kind of Morrison’s thing, isn’t it?

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Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi

Get Jiro: Blood and SushiGet Jiro: Blood and Sushi by Anthony Bourdain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Received from Netgalley for review.)

This is Jiro’s origin story, and it reads more like a straight action movie than the previous book. I think I liked the first one a bit more, though. It had more focus on the food, which is what really interested me. This one has a lot more truly senseless violence, and Jiro’s brother is so over the top as a character that he was more annoying than fun after awhile. And even with the back story, Jiro still isn’t terribly interesting as a character. But as an action film, it’s pretty solid, just not the sort of thing that I would usually love.

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The Faceless Ghost and Other Macabre Tales from Japan

Lafcadio Hearn’s “The Faceless Ghost” and Other Macabre Tales from Japan: A Graphic Novel by Sean Michael Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Received from Netgalley for review.)

It would be a mistake to go into this expecting spooky ghost stories. That really isn’t the intention, though some of these stories are eerie. Luckily, I had already read Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things, the source for most of these stories, so I knew what to expect. And I really liked Kwaidan, so I was happy at how much of the original phrasing was preserved. The art is very good, and it suits the stories nicely. Really good as a folklore source, but not really somewhere to look if you want something spooky.

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Batman, Vol.1: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder

Batman, Vol. 1: The Court of OwlsBatman, Vol. 1: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In keeping with our buddyread theme, I’d say this one is like pancakes…the first two are really great, but by the fifth one you’re just wondering what you saw in it…

You know, for a long time, I never understood why Bats was called the greatest detective, because I’ve never actually seen him…detecting.
Never fear, Snyder is here to fix that problem! 
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Review: Secret Avengers Vol. 2: The Labyrinth

Secret Avengers, Vol. 2: The LabyrinthSecret Avengers, Vol. 2: The Labyrinth by Ales Kot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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GIRL FIGHT!!! This book opens with a shirt tearin’, bra strippin’, throw down for the ages…Ok, so maybe there are no bras getting pulled off, but boy do Black Widow and Lady Bullseye have at it. There’s enough fish-hooks, eye-gouges, and hair pullin’ to put a smile on this old man’s face anyway. MODOK likey.

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Hawkeye goes lookin’ for an M.I.A. Agent Coulson and runs into a super-fan by the name of Wade Wilson. Some of my favorite moments in this one are Kot’s take on Deadpool. Ales doesn’t just do a good job with the Merc with a mouth, he crushes it. Over the top redonkulous 4th wall smashin’ fun and absolutely perfect.

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That’s not all….MORE MODOK!! He’s almost as funny as Wade and his evil plan is finally starting to take shape. Love him.

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Spider-woman goes on special assignment, Maria Hill does her best Nick Fury impression, and the real villain finally steps out of the shadows and into the light.

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Kot’s weirdo writing sensibilities and oddness really come through in this book. But not in the overly obscure manner that it does in some of his lesser known work. Definitely much easier to digest than his image title Zero.

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Michael Walsh’s art remains as amazing as it was in Volume 1. Scratch that, it’s even better. Mike manages to communicate so much emotion with his simple style. NO ONE has ever drawn the Ultimate Warrior so good. Mix in Matthew Wilson’s colors and BLAM!, great stuff. Tradd Moore’s covers rock too.

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Kot’s unusual storytelling won’t work for everyone, but for me, it’s spot on. Plenty of action as well. Throw in Walsh’s artwork and this book’s a lock for one of my all-time favorite Avenger titles. Read it!

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Review: Southern Bastards Book One

Southern Bastards Book One PremiereSouthern Bastards Book One Premiere by Jason Aaron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Just like good bourbon, Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s Southern Bastards has just the right mix of smooth and burn to make this book one of my favorite titles EVER. I get that they burrowed from other classic stories and play up some southern tropes, but ask me if I give a shit. And y’all, they do it right.
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The first half of the book focuses on Earl Tubb’s return home and his run in with the man that is Craw County. Been a looonnnggg time since Earl’s been home and things have changed a mite. Coach Boss runs the show and these two mean motherfuckers are destined to cross paths. Earl’s a larger than life character that I straightaway took a likin’ to. A man’s man with a sense of duty that wants nothin’ more than to mind his business, but finds himself forced to decide between doin’ nothin’ and doin’ what’s right.
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The 2nd half of the book spotlights Coach Euless Boss. He’s rattlesnake mean and colder than a witch’s tit with a serious hankerin’ for high school football. How he came to coach the Runnin’ Rebs, as well as control Craw County is detailed here. While I hated this ornery sonuvabitch, I had to respect his determination. There’s nothing he won’t do to get what he wants.
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Latour’s southerner background provides him with all that’s necessary to create a convincing backdrop for his thoughfully designed characters. The places felt like he was pulling them from memory. Right down to every roadside sign, team logo, or run-down trailer. Craw County’s natives shared the same attention to detail. Earl’s huge hands, Boss’ hat, and the tatted-up rednecks that put down roots in Tubb’s hometown share the same authenticity.
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Being a massive fan of Aaron’s terrific work in Scalped, I’ve been waitin’ for him to return to the creator-owned crime genre I’ve fallen so in love with. This title’s on pace to be even better than that masterpiece of crime fiction. Fans of southern noir need look no further. Aaron and Latour really take care in laying the foundations for what I hope will be a lengthy stay in Craw County. Is it a recommend? Darn tootin’! IT’S GRANNY-SLAPPIN’ GOOD!

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Convergence

ConvergenceConvergence by Jeff King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is doubtless a book of great importance for whatever is going to happen with the DCU going forward. Make no mistake, there are actual huge, world-shaking changes here. Which makes it such an incredible shame that this book just isn’t good. I guess DC wasn’t expecting it to be, considering that they gave the assignment to a writer who had apparently never written a comic before. Put yourself in the office of DC editorial for a moment and ask yourself why in God’s name they would put a major event that will have huge ramifications for their entire line in the hands of a newbie. I just don’t get it, and probably the book suffers as a result. I mean, I’m assuming this could have been better in the hands of a more practiced and nuanced writer, but who knows.

The biggest problem with the book is that all of the events are entirely lacking in motivation. Why are all these worlds (or rather, cities standing in for worlds) being brought together in the first place? Why do we need to thin the herd to only one? Why the immense battles between them? What is this all supposed to accomplish? The answer, on an editorial and in-universe level, is a the equivalent of a noncommital shrug. This is happening because it’s happening, that’s why. It is incredibly hard to get invested in a story that’s happening not because it makes logical or narrative sense. And in this book, it’s very obvious that the story was haphazardly slapped together around the end result.

I’m not even going to bother talking about the characters. They’re so cardboard that I can’t connect to them, and they spend an incredible amount of time just standing around and talking. For a book that’s centered around a battle between realities, there’s surprisingly little action.

Really, this was all about reversing Flashpoint and, apparently, Crisis on Infinite Earths. It’s far too soon for me to say how I feel about that idea. Yes, that does give DC writers the freedom to do whatever they want without worrying too much about continuity. But since when have comics writers been overly concerned with continuity anyways? And how will the average reader be able to follow what’s going on? Until I see what exactly this means and how it will be handled, I’m not sure yet what the final verdict on this event will be. On paper, DC You could be good. In practice? We’ll see.

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Review: Convergence

ConvergenceConvergence by Jeff King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars

Ok, let’s get started!
*rubs hands together gleefully*
Kidding, kidding… It’s not that bad. Well, it is, but it’s also probably going to be required reading for DC fans.
Sorry, kiddos.
Warning: Spoilers!
But I’m not even really sure what happened, so…*shrugs*

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Basically, DC wants to use all of the different versions of all of their characters across the multiverse. Because we were all clamoring for them to Bring back the multiverse!
Well, no. But I think New 52 wasn’t working out as well as they’d hoped, so why not go back in time 30 plus years, and re-do a re-boot. Specifically, Crisis on Infinite Earths, which originally wiped out DC’s bloated multiverse, and gave things a cleanish slate. Sorta like…New 52.

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And that’s pretty much what this is about.
Yes, hardcore geeks will certainly be able to go into the specifics of what I missed, but for those of you who are only casual readers, all you need to know is that DC can now tell any story they want to, from any Earth, with any version of any hero that ever existed. Sorta.
And the continuity of the New 52 is still in play.

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Does Convergence, as a story, make for good reading?
Hahahahahahahahahahaha!
*wipes tear*
Oh, you’re funny. I like you!
No, as a matter of fact, there are plot holes you could drive a truck through, clunky dialogue, and a weird plot line that gets more and more confusing as it goes along.
But who cares?! Suck it up, buttercup.
Remember, it’s required reading.

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Some guy from a {random planet} gets tricked into being Brainiac’s stooge…
Hey you know what? Just think of the Silver Surfer/Galactus origin story, and you’ll get what’s going on with this Telos character.
It’s exactly like that, minus the surfboard.

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Most of the story focuses on the Earth 2 heroes, but eventually things branch out to include more and more of the other characters from the multiverse.

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How, why, when, where?
Long story short, Brainiac has trapped everyone…like entire cities… (still not sure how he’s done this) on a living planet controlled by Telos. Then he wanders away to do something off-page.
Telos loses sight of his Prime Directive, and starts pitting cities and their heroes against each other in a Battle Royale-style fight for survival.

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Of course, there’s an evil sorcerer (Deimos) who is planning to rule the world, sorry, worlds. And has managed to eat a bunch of Time Lords… or something. Then Earth 2’s Dick Grayson has a heart-to heart with Telos, and then Telos talks to Brainiac, and then they all cry and get emotional. It’s…you know what? Fuck it. It’s amazing, they all burn their bras and talk about which brand of tampon is the most absorbent. Next thing you know, good triumphs over evil, and the multiverse is restored.

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Ok. that’s it, kids. You can all go back to your regularly scheduled comic books now.

Edit: Everyone is telling me that THIS is definitely NOT required reading. As long as you know that it happened, you can mosey along without ever having to touch this sucker.

I received a copy from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 2: Spider-Verse Prelude

Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 2: Spider-Verse PreludeAmazing Spider-Man, Vol. 2: Spider-Verse Prelude by Dan Slott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

Ehhh. It’s ok.
I wasn’t expecting perfection, though, so that probably helped.

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This is (duh) the prelude to the Spider-Verse event, and I’m determined to finish at least one of Marvel’s mother fucking events this year. And, honestly, this might be the only one I actually get to, because… Well, because!

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Also, I love Spider-man, and all things Spider-related!
Plus, Dr. Octopus! Yes, Otto shows up in this one!
How, you ask?
Well, remember that time he got blown upish, but then he somehow miraculously showed up alive?
*nods head*
Ok! This is what happened when he sorta-kinda disappeared/blew up!
He actually time traveled into the future. 2099, to be exact!

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I see you nerds in the back getting all excited!
Yes, 2099 is where when Miguel O’Hara (view spoiler) is from, and since he is currently (as far as this comic is concerned) in our timeline, the universe tried to correct itself; hence, Otto ends up in the future!
I’ve always wanted to use hence in a sentence…*squee*

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Anyway, Otto (sort of) figures out what is happening with these Spider Hunters, and starts collecting Spiders from all over the multiverse to help him fight.

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There’s more to this than just Otto, though. Peter has a team-up with Ms. Marvel that ushers in his first glimpse of what’s happening to the Spider-verse. It’s cute. Nothing amazing, but fans of Kamala will be excited to see her meet Spidey.

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Add to that some extra stories from the other Spider-men, and it isn’t a bad collection.

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I’d probably only recommend this one to people who want to read the Spider-Verse event, though, because I’m not sure this would be a good stand-alone volume for casual fans.

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