I keep telling myself that I’m going to sit down and schedule my blog posts properly, but every time I start, the sun comes out and I wander off. Or I fall down a hole on the internet known as ‘I’ll just click this one link’. And to think I used to think of myself as an extremely organised person – ha!
Avengers Standoff, Volume 01 – Nick Spencer et. al. An odd one this, and one I only picked up because the new Thor is in it. Maria Hill has decided that the best thing to do with superhuman bad guys is brainwash them into thinking that they’re completely different people and it’s the 1950s (that last part isn’t accurate, but it sure feels like it). Because, as we all know, nothing is likely to go wrong with a top notch plan like that. This is not an original idea and the fact that it exists primarily to deliver fight scenes between the Avengers and SHIELD isn’t exactly inspiring. But, it’s… well, it’s okay. The writers do their best with what they’ve been given and I don’t hate the result.
The Diaries of Nella Last: Writing in War & Peace – Nella Last, Patricia & Robert Malcolmson. Another result of the Mass Observation Project, three volumes of Nella’s diaries have already been published, with this one filling in the gaps between them. Which made it a bit patchy, as a read, especially as I haven’t read the other volumes. Nella is a completely average English woman, living a completely average English life and it makes for a fascinating read. Reading her diary gives such a complete picture of the world she lived in – my god, shopping for food was a nightmare back in the 1940s/50s :/ I’ll definitely be picking up the other volumes of her diary at some point.
Suicide Squad, Volume 05: Apokolips Now – John Ostrander et. al. Ahahaha. This is a prime example of how much better comics have become in the last decade or so. The dialogue is awkward and bombastic, the story is weird and the characters are often hilariously terrible. It has a certain appeal, I’ll admit, but it’s definitely not for me.
The Mighty Thor, Volume 01 – Jason Aaron & Russell Dauterman. There are a lot of Marvel characters that have never floated my boat and Thor has always been one of them. This version of Thor, though? I love her. I knew the new Thor was a woman, and I knew there was controversy (obviously), but that’s about all I knew going in so the whole thing was a delightful surprise. Jane Foster is amazing in this, torn between helping others and helping herself. Definitely give it a go if you’re into a more nuanced look at superheroes.
The Mighty Thor, Volume 02: Lords of Midgard – Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman & Rafa Garres. Marred by inconsistent art but still a lot of fun. See above.
Rocket Raccoon and Groot, Volume 01: Tricks of the Trade – Skottie Young et. al. Speaking of fun, Skottie Young is writing and illustrating the madcap adventures of Rocket Raccoon and Groot! Yay! A fun, light read with some interesting dark bits to remind you exactly what these two are capable of.
Rocket Raccoon and Groot, Volume 02: Civil War II – Nick Kocher et. al. So this is easily my favourite Civil War II title. Hands down, by a country mile, my absolutely favourite Civil War II title. Now you might be a bit confused because I have been quite negative about Civil War II in the past, so what, exactly, has happened here? First of all, Gwenpool is in it and Gwenpool = <3. Secondly, they mention Civil War II and how it’s all incredibly urgent and terrible, and then they go and do something completely different (because, as Gwenpool points out, they’re hardly going to kill of a main character in a B-list title like this one, so what they do will have exactly zero impact on the main Civil War II story that they’re being forced to reference). Which is exactly how Civil War II should be handled – ignore it until it goes away. Winning!
All-New All-Different Avengers, Volume 01: The Magnificent Seven – Mark Waid, Adam Kubert & Mahmud Asrar. Hmmm. I feel like this title doesn’t know exactly what it’s trying to achieve. Some long-time Avengers leave for REASONS so new Avengers are brought in, all of which leads to us sitting through ‘omg! I’m not good enough to be an Avenger!’ and ‘Everyone feels that way at first, kid. It’s cool.’ There are so many good characters in this (Ms. Marvel! Miles Morales! Jane Foster!) but it just feels weird. I have to admit that that’s partly because I really dislike Vision and Tony Stark, but it’s partly because none of these characters really seem to go together, which has often been a problem I’ve had with the Avengers.
Burning Bright – Melissa McShane. I read a few glowing (no pun intended) reviews of this around the time it was published, so when it popped up for free on Amazon I almost fell over myself clicking the download button. In 19th Century England, Elinor leads an incredibly restricted life. Her father is domineering and dismissive at the same time, and she can’t see a way to create the future she wants for herself. All of that changes when it becomes clear that she can wield an incredibly rare power over fire. With her father intent on using the rarity of her powers to sell her off to the highest bidder, Elinor takes her destiny in her own hand and presents herself in the offices of the Royal Navy, an organisation with a history of utilising men with powers like hers. AND THEN EVERYTHING IS AMAZING. I mean, it’s not ‘Elinor gets away from her mean Dad and everyone lives happily ever after’ – it’s full of strife and difficulty and seemingly unresolvable situations. It also features a romance that doesn’t overshadow Elinor’s development as a badass, self-sufficient woman. Look, it’s really good, okay? If you like stories where women are not down with the patriarchy, this story is for you. Equally, if you like stories where people can set things on fire with their minds, this story is for you. And if you like romantic leads who go through their own journey and aren’t just Mr. Perfect right from the start, this story is for you.
The Magician’s Land – Lev Grossman. I didn’t love The Magicians, thought The Magician King was better (but still not great) but still managed to enjoy the TV version which condensed both books into one season. I wanted to read The Magician’s Land before season two of The Magicians started and… it was okay. Quentin is definitely at his least annoying in this instalment (thank god) and the action clips along at a reasonable pace. It’s slightly difficult to believe that anyone would hire Quentin, who we have been repeatedly told is a mediocre magician in the wider scale of things, to actually teach magic but he manages to screw that up pretty quickly and we find ourselves in the middle of an unexpected heist story instead. So, yeah, The Magician’s Land was grand but nothing particularly special. At least I can go ahead and watch season two now.
Horror Stories – E. Nesbit. Oh man, this was a tough read. When I found out that E. Nesbit of The Railway Children fame had written horror stories for adults, I was fully on board. Unfortunately, they have not dated well. Pretty much all of the stories rely on THE IMPLICATIONS but the implications that were terrifying at the time E. Nesbit wrote these stories are not exactly terrifying now. And so Horror Stories managed to be really well written but really, really disappointing.
Rocket Raccoon: Guardian of the Keystone Quadrant – Bill Mantlo & Mike Mignola. Lucky me to follow up a disappointing read with a terrible one. I get that this is just how comics were written in the 80s but I am not into it. Avoid unless you’re a mega Mike Mignola fan.
Kill or be Killed, Volume 01 – Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser. In order to save yourself, would you kill someone who did bad things? What about someone who was completely blameless? Once you’ve started killing to save yourself, where do you stop? And can you ever be sure that you actually need to kill anyone at all? Hardly an original story, but Kill or be Killed is definitely worth a read as our hapless ‘hero’ stumbles through the situation he finds himself in (minus the love triangle which is a thing I don’t need to see moving from YA to comics).
Aquaman, Volume 01: The Trench – Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis & Joe Prado. SIGH. To summarise this volume, people think Aquaman is a joke but he’s not. Geoff Johns does a pretty good job of presenting the different facets of a character caught between two worlds, neither of which fully embrace him. The problem, in my opinion, is that Aquaman just isn’t a very interesting character.
Worlds’ Finest, Volume 01: The Lost Daughters of Earth 2 – Paul Levitz, George Perez & Kevin McGuire. Not being overly familiar with DC, the setting of this was a bit lost on me. Basically, alternative versions of Power Girl and Huntress get transported to our Earth (I think I have that in the right order!) and have to try to find their way home. There’s some nice interaction between the two characters. They work well together and they’re friends, despite forging their own paths, which is nice and not often seen between female superheroes. But they spent an awful lot of time punching things which detracts from the whole ‘we need to work together to find a way home!’ thing.
Kingsman: The Secret Service – Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons & Matthew Vaughn. Can a chav become a spy? Yep. Seriously though, Kingsman takes two sides of British society not often found together, smashes them together and has some fun along the way. I should probably watch the movie for bonus Colin Firth <3
The Darkness, Origins, Volume 01 – Garth Ennis & Mark Silvestri. I have so many problems with the ‘HE CAN’T HAVE SEX!!!1!!!111!!!!!’ aspect of this story. So. Freaking. Many. Problems. I also have problems with the fact that while the Darkness covers Jackie Estacado almost completely, poor Sara Pezzini has to walk around with her bits hanging right out thanks to the Witchblade. Not cool. Oh, and there’s a storyline involving the mafia or the mob or some totally boring thing.
The Hanging Tree – Ben Aaronovitch. A surprising amount of people seem to not have read the Rivers of London series, which… I mean, you should read it. It has the following things going for it: it’s top notch urban fantasy; while also being squarely placed in the crime genre; it’s set in a wonderfully detailed London; it features a main character of colour; who is clever; but not too clever; and funny; but not as funny as he thinks; it has loads of amazing female characters; and a spattering of LGBT characters. Basically, it’s fun and well-written and interesting, and this latest instalment is no exception.
Trust No One – Jonathan Maberry (ed.). Oooft. There are some high points in this collection of short stories, but they’re few and far between. Elsewhere, typos mar the text and no one seems to have cared about any kind of continuity (Mulder suddenly has an ex-wife in one story). Skip it.