Juxtapoz Hyperreal – Evan Pricco (ed.). A nice look at some artists currently producing hyperrealistic art. The high point, for me, was Lee Chen-Dao, and the low point was Hilo Chen. Also, I can’t count how many breasts and vaginas appear in the artwork included in this book, but is there a single penis? Of course not.
White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi. This is a book about Miri, who is losing herself, about her father, Luc, who is already lost, and about her brother, Elliot, who cannot be relied upon. It’s a book of darkness and uncertainty, of half-seen and half-believed things in the shadows. A book unlike any other.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls – Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo. I had massively high hopes for this book and it just didn’t measure up. The main problem was that starting something with ‘once upon a time’ does not make it a fairy tale. The book was gorgeous, and it introduced to me to loads of amazing women that I hadn’t heard of before, but it’s a collection of mini-biographies rather than a collection of stories. Each two page spread comprises of an illustration and short biography of a woman, and man do the biographies feel rushed sometimes. The short size makes them highly selective (of necessity, I realise) and so we simply learn that Elizabeth I was a beloved monarch with no space for consenting views because that would be less magical, I guess.
Ms. Marvel, Volume 6: Civil War II – G. Willow Wilson et.al. In which G. Willow Wilson does her best with a storyline that’s been forced on her. And she does a pretty good job, adding more emotional depth than I’ve come across in any other Civil War II title, even if things do sometimes feel a bit rushed. Kamala tries to balance the personal and the heroic, and learns that tough lesson that makes her reassess what she’s doing. All with an eye-catching cover.
Jessica Jones, Volume 1: Uncaged! – Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos & Matt Hollingsworth. This is dark as fuck and I love it.
Moon Knight, Volume 1: Lunatic – Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood & Jordie Bellaire. I don’t think I’ve actually come across Moon Knight before, so I was lost reading this. And yet I quite enjoyed it. It’s one of those ‘what’s real??’ stories where the protagonist finds themselves in a mental institution fighting for their sanity, which is a trope I have a bit of a soft spot for. If I had understood any of the references to characters and backstory I suspect I would have loved this.
Uncanny Avengers, Unity, Volume 3: Civil War II – Gerry Duggan & Ryan Stegman. Despite the amount of Avengers TPBs I’ve read recently, I’m not an Avengers fan. And I extra hate it when they take one of the X-Men and dump them in a title I don’t want to read. I’ve never bought into the concept of Rogue being an Avenger, and I mostly still don’t. I’m also really not a fan of Civil War II, so imagine my surprise when I enjoyed the hell out of this book. The terrigen mists are killing mutants. Not a priority for Captain Marvel, but sure as hell a priority for Rogue. This is a split I could believe in and one that was dealt with really well. Plus, Deadpool was excellent throughout which is always a delight.
Luke Cage: Avenger – Brian Michael Bendis et. al. A subpar collection which was a massive disappointment because Luke Cage is awesome and any collection involving him should also be awesome.
Velvet, Volume 3: The Man Who Stole the World – Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting & Elizabeth Breitweiser. An excellent end to what has been a thoroughly enjoyable series. Velvet shakes the final pieces of the puzzle free and confronts the big bad she’s been hunting down. Dark, nuanced and unforgiving.
The Vision, Volume 2: Little Better than a Beast – Tom King et. al. I’m honestly shocked at how much more I enjoyed this volume to the first one. As Vision’s family life unravels around him, we see what set the whole experiment in motion. And it’s dark. Compelling, but so, so dark. There are also some unexpected Runaways flashbacks which made me totally happy, even though in and of themselves they weren’t exactly happy making.
Batgirl, Volume 1: Beyond Burnside – Hope Larson & Raphael Albuquerque. Despite having enjoyed a total of one DC Rebirth title so far (Rucka’s Wonder Woman), I went into this with a positive vibe because this incarnation of Batgirl has previously been so much fun. You can guess what happened next, can’t you? Beyond Burnside ended up being a massive let down. There was a so-so plot buried in there but it was bogged down by clunky, exposition-heavy dialogue and an emotionally dim-witted Barbara who seems to lose something when removed from her Burnside support network.
Suicide Squad, Volume 1: The Black Vault – Rob Williams et. al. Blergh. Not good, not bad, not memorable in any way.
Not Quite Perfect – Gretchen Galway. I don’t see Gretchen Galway’s name thrown about a lot by people who read romance, and I don’t understand why because her stuff is so enjoyable. She has a knack of making every character completely and utterly relatable, even the ones who you don’t particularly like, and she never falls back on insta-love. In Not Quite Perfect, we meet April, the black sheep of her family, and Zack, the straight-laced consultant who catches her in a compromising position. A proper romantic comedy with a relationship that develops over time,this is the perfect book for curling up with when you’re in need of a bit of a pick-me-up.
Diving In – Gretchen Galway. There’s a bit more suspension of disbelief required when reading Diving In, but it’s still a really enjoyable read. Nicki wins a trip to Maui in a competition, but when she arrives she finds her apartment already occupied by the guy who broke her heart in college. To add insult to injury, he doesn’t seem to have any idea who she is (this is where the suspension of disbelief comes in, though Galway does make an attempt to explain Ansel’s faulty memory in the text). As Nicki attempts to overcome her phobia of water, her relationship with Ansel heats up almost in spite of both of their efforts. Funny and sun-drenched, this was another entertaining read.
She Changed Comics: The Untold Story of the Women Who Changed Free Expression in Comics – Betsy Gomez (ed.). A fantastic chronicle of a selection of women creators involved in comics from the early Twentieth Century to the present day. Featuring women who wrote and drew comic strips, underground comics, and mainstream comics, She Changed Comics does a great job of highlighting near-forgotten stories and signposting the reader to further sources of information. For me, it was a bit too focused on the USA, but there is a decentish range of non-American creators included. The interview section at the end was a bit jarring but overall this was a fantastic read.
Random Acts of Crazy – Julia Kent. Unlike this. Which was dreadful. Darla is trailer trash, but the feisty, going to change her life type, so it’s okay for her to constantly talk smack about everyone in her town even though she doesn’t even live in a trailer, she lives in a freaking shed. Trevor is Ivy League, and the lead singer of Darla’s favourite (unsigned) band. So when he turns up on the side of the road, naked save a hat and his guitar, they bang. A lot. When Trevor’s best friend arrives to take Trevor home, Darla also quite likes the idea of banging him, despite the fact that he keeps insulting her humble origins. Oh, and let’s not forget the mysterious plot point that is Darla’s aunt constantly offering her a job that will give her a better life only Darla isn’t sure because of reasons, including the fact that she doesn’t even know what the job is when it is quite clearly connected in some way to the porn industry. Poorly written, poorly characterised, poor me for reading the whole thing.
Where He End and I Begin – Cardeno C. The relationship depicted in this book is not healthy, and it is not romantic. It’s obsessive, creepy and just generally not okay. It also has a weird pseudo-incest vibe, so I honestly can’t begin to imagine how anyone could possibly find it romantic. (People do, of course, but they’re really not right.) I gave it my lowest rating of the year, so congratulations to it for that.