Tag Archives: comics

Bookhunter

Bookhunter / Jason Shiga

Cold open

The metropolitan library system is divided into two equally important groups: the Librarians, who facilitate access to information and the Library Police who investigate crimes against it. This is their story.

(Gavel sound)

The Library Police have finally tracked down the individual responsible for the disappearance of multiple copies of Judy Blume’s Forever. While preparing to break into the criminal’s apartment and recover the books they discover that the fiend is holding the books hostage. Thanks to the quick thinking of the inspector and the creative use of a shotgun, the books are retrieved unharmed. But this is only the beginning…

(Opening credits)

(Commercial break)

Law

(Dramatic glasses removal)

A Caxton Bible on loan to the main branch of the public library has mysteriously disappeared without triggering any of the security systems.

(Dramatic glasses return)

The Library Police are called in to investigate the case.

(Dramatic glasses removal)

They must discover the source of the replica currently in the display case, how the culprit managed to get the book out of the library without triggering the security system, and what

(Commercial break)

(Gavel sound)

(Dramatic glasses removal)

the villain’s ultimate goal is. They’ll use the most up-to-date technology to track down the culprit and retrieve the stolen book … by any means necessary.

(Gavel sound)

Continue reading Bookhunter

Saga

Saga / Brian K. Vaughan ; Fiona Staples

I’ve been trying not to review comics unless they are completed, but I wanted to review this one so here you go.

One of the reasons for this review is that Saga placed very well on the ALA’s most frequently challenged books list. 

One of the most common reasons it was challenged represents a hilarious misunderstanding of the story at its most basic level. I’ll address that later.

The other most common reason is “unsuited to age group”. Considering the “for mature readers” label and the fact that the first line of dialogue is “Am I shitting? It feels like I’m shitting” I’m really wondering who these complainants think the target audience is. Part of the fault here is probably on libraries who keep graphic fiction with YA and/or J fiction (I’ve worked in libraries where this is the case. At my current library we have a John Le Carré novel classed in LC class K (Law), so there’s obviously a continuum of how seriously fiction gets taken). The other problem is the association of comics with “kiddie stuff” which hasn’t been true in the history of the genre. There have always been comics targeting adults, and since the 80s at the latest more “mature” fare has represented a huge chunk of the market.

These must be the same people who complain about how R rated movies and Mature rated video game are inappropriate for children.

Overly basic plot summary

There’s a lot going on in Saga but this will keep it as simple as possible.

A war between a planet and its moon has been going on for generations. To save their local environment, most of the combat has been outsourced to other worlds. Marko and Alana are two soldiers on opposite sides of the war. After Alana breaks conscientious objector Marko out of the POW camp where she works as a guard, the couple find themselves on the run, hunted by both sides. Then they have a baby.

So how is it?

At the risk of hyperbole, Saga is one of the best things I have ever put in my brain. This is sff at its absolute best, and a landmark achievement in its medium.

There’s a lot to talk about here. The setting in particular is absolutely amazing, featuring a whimsical imagination combined with a great sense of adventure and some serious pathos.

The characters are exceedingly well designed, from the lovers on the run to the blue blood Prince Robot to the scene-stealing Lying Cat. They populate a universe with a fantastic diversity of characters in a universe that’s familiar (bored housewives buy bodice rippers from supermarket checkout stands) yet also unfathomably bizarre (one of said bodice rippers is about a couple who spends most of their time playing board games and ordering takeout).

There’s some fantastic details there: the moon dwellers have their own language that is fictional but that anyone with basic familiarity with a Romance language should have no problem deciphering. It’s that blend of exotic with the easily understandable that makes Saga so great.

It’s a serious, heart-wrenching story here that’s not above absolute silliness (wait until you learn what the opposite of war is …)

The third volume of Saga features the most emotionally powerful single page I’ve ever seen. In my most recent reread I had to put it aside for over a week before continuing. I cry just thinking about it. (Full disclosure: I also cried while rereading Shards of honor recently. So it doesn’t take much).

Saga is a space adventure with serious heart, where the line between the “good guys” and the “bad guys” is exceedingly fine. Not because the good guys are grim badasses, but because the “bad guys” are just regular folks.

There’s a lot going on beneath the surface of Saga as well, but I don’t want to spoil it.

I realize I still haven’t mentioned the artwork. Staples is great and the art is wonderful and is vital to making the story work.

The other reason why Saga has been challenged is that it is “anti-family”. Saga. A story about a man and woman struggling to raise their baby in the face I overwhelming opposition. A story whose most obvious theme is “family is important”. 

I can’t help but think that there’s a racist component to that complaint.

Recommendation

Saga is amazing. It is also very violent and “perverse”. There’s no denying that this is a “mature” title but as much as it revels in excess it’s not gratuitous. It’s a must recommend even for those who don’t normally read the format. I’ve won over more than one non-comics reader with Saga. 

It’s explicit which might be a stumbling block but it’s not intentionally offensive so I’m generally more willing to take a risk and recommend this one.

It’s something I encourage everyone to try for themselves.

Ultimate comics: Spider-man

Ultimate comics : Spider-Man / Brian Michael Bedis ; Sara Pichelli

So, this is a series I’ve watned to review for a while but since it’s in “decompressed” Marvel style it’s been kind of difficult to do so because I wasn’t finding a good “cutoff” point for which volumes to review. It wasn’t until recently (I’m writing this in November) when I realized that the series called Ultimate comics: Spider-man had in fact been cancelled and was being continued under a new name with new numbering.

“Perfect!” says I, “now I’ve got a defined set of issues to review, since I already own the whole series”.

I also says to myself “that would explain why nobody ever has volume 6 of this series”.

Background info aside, here’s the review.

Ultimate comics: Spider-man is a 28-issue series about a boy who is bitten by a spider who then gains spider-themed superpowers. Spider-man must then attempt to come to terms with the fact that with great power comes great responsibility. Spider-man is also forced to juggle school, friendships, and the risks associated with keeping his Spider-man identity and his Miles Morales identity separate.

Wait, Miles Morales? I thought Peter Parker was Spider-man…

Well, here’s the point where it becomes necessary to dive into …

THE PLOT SUMMARY

While celebrating his acceptence at a prestigious private high school in New York City at his uncle Aaron’s home, Miles Morales is bitten by a mysterious spider and gains superpowers. Coincidentally, sometime later Spider-man is killed and his secret identity is revealed to the world.

With the help of a store-bought Hallowe’en costume, Miles Morales decides to continue the work Peter Parker started.

Continue reading Ultimate comics: Spider-man

That demon Continuity

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”

-Self reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson

I haven’t made a non-review post and my actual reviews seem to be getting increasingly ranty so here’s a rant without a specific title in mind.

As I’ve mentioned previously, while I’ve always been a huge fan of comics I’ve been inconsistent over the years when it comes to the superhero stuff.

In my review of Identity crisis I mentioned that it was one of the titles that got me reading superhero comics again after an extended period of consuming Vertigo and Dark Horse titles more or less exclusively. I’ve been reading a lot of comic sites lately, and it seems that one of the more common criticisms of Identity crisis is that it “tainted” the characters, especially their earlier appearances. More innocent adventures took on a sinister undertone after the revelations of Identity crisis.

This is the scourge of the demon Continuity.

People also complained about Identity crisis because they felt like the characterization was inconsistent with the way those heroes were portrayed in other titles.

This is the scourge of the demon Continuity.

Continue reading That demon Continuity

Identity crisis

Identity crisis / by Brad Meltzer ; art by Rags Morales.

It’s been a while since I did reviewed any comics, so here’s a new one.

Identity crisis was one of DC’s pretty much annual summer crossover spectaculars, where Things Will Change Forever. Identity crisis was far more controversial than most of the other comics with “crisis” in the title, and (perhaps unintentionally?) set the mainstream superhero comics industry down a path of darker and darker stories that culminated in another big Summer Event, Infinite crisis.

I may or may not review Infinite crisis at some point in the future. It depends on whether or not I have the willpower to force myself to read it again.

Identity crisis is controversial mostly because of its unusually adult content for a summer crossover. I’ll be dealing with that in a separate section towards the end of the review so that readers who don’t want to read about it, either because they haven’t read the title or aren’t comfortable with it won’t have to.

Brief plot summary

(frustratingly vague to avoid spoiling much at all)

Identity crisis is a combination of domestic drama and mystery novel. The spouse of a member of the Justice League of America is murdered. The JLA bands together to solve the murder. When threatening letters are sent to the spouses of other heroes, the JLA must deal with the possibility that a serial killer might know their secret identities.

Continue reading Identity crisis