Comic Review: Catwoman

I should have known just from the cover, a woman in a sultry prose and the bra hanging off a building for no discernible reason? Definitely not for me.

Ah but I thought I’d give it a shot, and ignore the sexist art.

Let’s start with the art though:

I could potentially get over the provocative poses, the constant shots of her face that always had to include either her crotch or her boobs. Maybe I could have ignored the anatomically incorrect poses that made her either break her legs or her back to keep it.

I could have also, possibly, ignored how she was constantly putting on her underwear or how her catsuits zippers would be so uncomfortable against her boobs.

The fact that all the women look the same…all the “attractive” women look the same, and all those who aren’t are kind of drawn…i want to say grotesquely but that’s not the word. Just men with boobs? It was bad, like Michelangelo who just added oranges on the chest of men to make them women, kind of bad. It all just seems like… it was done half-assed, lazy.

And I couldn’t ignore all of these issues, it was done in such poor taste I didn’t want to. The whole thing seemed a kind of soft core porn comic with a ‘story’ to give the men a reason to draw her like this.

Storyline:

I don’t know, it’s focused on keeping Catwoman as a cameo character, just hanging around and jumping in other people’s stories without actually having her own main villain or big problem to solve. Everyone she meets she HAS to seduce, and here I thought she was smart and cunning, a real “cat burglar”. When I think of cat burglars, and let’s say men, I don’t think of them constantly in a thong seducing their competition and their victims.
Also they rely on fridging another female character for no actual purpose, it’s for one plot device and then… not really useful?

Character:

Ah Catwoman, they did a disservice to you. You have no personality, or the one you have is so schizophrenic… you’re like 5 different women in one body. You’re cunning and smart in one part, serious about how your relationships with women and how men treat women. Then you’re self-centered and indulgent, recklessly spending money as if you have no sense of self-preservation. Also you’re apparently suicidal? Which came as a surprise to be honest, must be a whole “save me batman” ploy to explain some kind of relationship with him….
What the hell is that relationship with batman anyway? It got really rapey at one part and I had to stop reading. I don’t understand this whole, strong women like men who beat them up and then have sex with them -trope. It’s uncomfortable. There’s a difference between play-wrestling and full on kicking each other and punching each other in the face.
Also she never bruises, ever. Always flawless… she bleeds but its so beautiful and she cries, also so aesthetically pleasing, but never turns black and blue ever. Gets thrown into a wall and, when she’s naked in the next panel, she is untouched.
Another thought is, how is it that Batman knows who Catwoman is but Catwoman has no idea who the man she’s sleeping with is? She is not that dumb…

Anyway, not sure if I should pick up another DC comic about women… might give WonderWoman a shot but seriously… I like Catwoman, I remember her from the cartoons and the Tim Burton movie. It seems such a shame they wasted such an interesting person to create something boys to jack off to.

– Sugar Out

Comic Review: Ms Marvel

Next on the list! Ms Marvel volumes 2-6.

I love this series, its amazing the contrast of reading this after Snotgirl. There is so much depth of character and growth in these volumes. Kamala changes and develops in each as a superhero, figuring out how to balance her personal and superhero life, and asking for help.

It is really great how community focused this series is, how it shows that everyone is interconnected. That superheroes don’t live in this bubble all by themselves. The cameos to others, like Iron Man to Miles Morales’ Spiderman, is awesome.

I am also really surprised how they went for the whole “preventative” justice and Tyesha was able to speak about her own experience. I appreciate how everyone has a voice in these volumes, these “background” characters aren’t just there to fill up the blank space or to die to move the plot along. (which they don’t) They add so much value and insight. Even Nikia, who has been ignored by Kamala since she became Ms Marvel, shows up and keeps pointing that out. It is a very self-aware story that knows the impact of its messaging.

The flashback to the independence of India and the creation of Pakistan I found, in my personal opinion, well done. I liked how Kamala went back to Pakistan and felt that same experience I have had, of not being “enough”. You speak with an accent, your family thinks you can’t handle their food so they bland it out, everything makes you feel other even though this is where you technically belong.

I also loved how she wasn’t coming in saving Pakistan from itself, there was a superhero there, who knew what they were doing and didn’t need this “western” savior.

Oh man, it was so great.

Definitely recommend and am so happy I got back into this series.

-Sugar out

Comic Review: SnotGirl

I got my stack of books from the library so I’ve decided to keep track of the ones I’m reading with some reviews, outside of our monthly selection.

The first volume I read was Snotgirl by Bryan Lee O’Malley, author of Scott Pilgrim, and Leslie Hung.

I was a bit wary starting this one as the girls at work hadn’t had any good comments to say when I told them I was reading it and, to be honest, I should have listened to them.

I don’t know what I read, don’t know the plot. Lottie is taking some allergy meds that, with alcohol, make her murderous? I think thats the plot? But then she gets off those meds, the girl Caroline, that she thinks she killed, is actually alive.

I should be more structured in my review. Let’s start with the main character.

Lottie is a fashion blogger who has allergies all year round, apparently, and is just fake. She gives terrible nicknames to her friends and doesn’t seem to have any interests, or family, to know of. I couldn’t like her or dislike her as she wasn’t an actual character. She has green hair, and that is the only defining piece about her. She is also pinning after a boyfriend, whom she is on a break with, but I don’t know why? There are no flashbacks to the relationship to explain it, and it just feels contrived. All girls pine after their ex-boyfriends!

The content of the book is another problem. The art is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but the story doesn’t compliment the hard work that was put in by the artist. Everything is just so…fake. Maybe that is the point of the comic, but at the same time. At least some research about fashion bloggers would be nice.

You can tell its written by a man who has no respect for the said fashion bloggers or the industry. There’s no effort to explain how this girl makes money, or what she does to pay her intern, who is the only POC in the book.

The storyline itself jumps from one time to another with no discernible reason. We go from sitting down with a police detective, who is obsessed with our main character btw, to a party 6 months later?

It ends on this whole cliffhanger that Lottie knows what Caroline did because she spoke to the detective, but… why? Who cares? Is this supposed to make me want to read the next one? Is that the best you could end on? WHATS THE TRUTH?? FIND OUT NEXT TIME? Ahaha…no.

Next – the rest of the cast:

Oh man, the stereotypes continue. There’s “plain girl”, who is apparently Lotties best friend, she’s bigger than the other girls and has a hot boyfriend who, of course, is cheating on her. Because plain girls don’t get to have a hot boyfriend without them being total douchebags right? Like what kind of message does that give to the girls who read these comics?

The other plain girl, Lotties ex-intern and apparent “stalker” (she’s not but YOU WONT KNOW WHAT SHE IS UNTIL THE NEXT ISSUE), is seeing Lottie’s ex-boyfriend but not really? He’s just stringing her along to all these cool parties to get Lottie jealous or I dont know man, they can’t bother to finish a thought in this comic. She’s actually a decent person, who tries to help Lottie at the end, but again… she falls victim to the terrible writing.

I’m not sure what the point of the comic was, to show the superficiality of the fashion bloggers? Which is harsh, as I follow a couple and they are lovely people.

How catty women are? – Great, let’s continue that message and not create one of women supporting other women….

All in all, not impressed and won’t be reading the next one. I shouldn’t be surprised this sort of storyline came out from a man who wrote about a guy having to fight all the exes of the girl he likes… as if she can’t make her own decisions in her life. Or that she’s not a prize to be fought over?

Anyway- will leave you with this last piece of ridiculousness from the comic: Lottie is 25 but has never been to a bar before. Oh no, she just goes to parties but has never physically stepped foot in a bar and had whiskey. Are you serious comic? Am I legit supposed to believe that?

-Sugar out

May/June Book Choices

While I’m unfortunately behind on reading The Improbability of Love as I got it so late from my library, as well as struggling to get through it, I figured I should put up my choices of books anyways.

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1. Hild by Nicola Griffith

Hild is born into a world in transition. In seventh-century Britain, small kingdoms are merging, usually violently. A new religion is coming ashore; the old gods’ priests are worrying. Edwin of Northumbria plots to become overking of the Angles, ruthlessly using every tool at his disposal: blood, bribery, belief.

Hild is the king’s youngest niece. She has the powerful curiosity of a bright child, a will of adamant, and a way of seeing the world—of studying nature, of matching cause with effect, of observing human nature and predicting what will happen next—that can seem uncanny, even supernatural, to those around her. She establishes herself as the king’s seer. And she is indispensable—until she should ever lead the king astray. The stakes are life and death: for Hild, her family, her loved ones, and the increasing numbers who seek the protection of the strange girl who can read the world and see the future.

2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

3. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

4. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Poll: 

April Book Review: The Improbability of Love

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

This book. This is an ‘I can’t even’ book. As in, I can’t even understand how it was nominated for several awards. I can’t fathom the high amount of positive reviews on Amazon. It boggles my mind, because in short, it was terrible.

Firstly, I’m not sure how this book made it past an editor to print. It needs a LOT of work. I would cut out large swathes, and fill it with red revisions and basic corrections.

There are tons of characters who all get featured with their own p.o.v. for absolutely no reason. They are absolutely superfluous. I used absolutely as an adjective twice to stress how bad it was. What was even the point?? Jacking up the page count?? What makes it even worse, is that the characters are all one-dimensional caricatures playing to common sterotypes. The main character Annie, has the most dimensions, yet somehow still manages to be super shallow. As Sugar mentioned, she also falls into the annoying trope of ‘secretly amazing/beautiful but doesn’t know it’. This is paired with her love interest, friend-zoned nice guy who wins the uninterested girl in the end through persistence and heroically saving her from a damsel in distress situation. *eye roll*

There is a right way, and a wrong way to write multiple perspectives/ narrators. This book shows the wrong way. Not only are there too many characters, the transitions often don’t make sense – some chapters even switch between first and third person of a single character!

And the painting. Oh, the painting. It was so annoying. I could rage about it endlessly. There were so many lines that made me stop and check that the author was a woman. For instance, consider the following quotes: “As we all know, a fierce female mind is a passion-killer. Men prefer the breast to the brain.” & later in the book, “[…] his orgasm of desire.” What.

Finally, the mess of an ending. It was an attempt of adding a thriller element (?), but so poorly executed, and then magically resolved with little effort. The happy endings for all were laughably Disney – I have nothing against a happy ending, but SERIOUSLY. This book was so unrealistic from start to finish, I guess I should have expected it.

I did enjoy some parts of this book; Annie’s cooking ability, and food descriptions were very nice. I liked the food/ art parallels and combinations. The actual art history and theory, as well as auction concepts/mechanics were interesting and well-written. There could have been a very good book here. I feel like the underlying elements of art & food were solid, but then got buried under a mountain of bad additions. The multiple plot points and genres, which miiiight have worked well together, just didn’t in this case. Remember, sometimes less is more.

If I could imagine this book as a food, I would see it as a towering cake; a small, tasty piece of cake dough, hidden underneath layers upon layers of clashing icing & cream, fake green cherries and neon sprinkles, oozing and melting together into a mess.

All I wanted was the cake bit, alright?

 

February Book Review: Bad Feminist

Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
Small disclaimer before we begin: I agree with the others’ opinions and my review will likely echo theirs.
It took me a while to get around to this review, but I very much enjoyed this book, although at first I wasn’t sure what to expect: non-fiction can vary widely. I felt the stand alone essays were written in an easy to digest manner, were grouped logically and flowed together quite well. Some essays struck more of a chord with me than others, but all were interesting, even the previously unknown world of competitive scrabble. The chapters that dealt with her experiences as a person  of colour were especially important in my mind, as they are lacking in so much best selling/ mainstream feminist lit. It’s important to listen to voices with different perspectives. Her visit to Haiti, and acknowledgment of her our privileges was great, and made me reflect on my own privileges. Her critique of a different book about advice to women in the workplace called back to mind these early chapters. It’s easy for lots of feminist literature to forget or to gloss over issues of class & wealth; this goes for online articles & pieces as well.
Unexpected bonus round: her reflections of school and being a professor were super personally relevant, moreso now that I’m ‘on the inside’ of the academic world.
I especially loved the articles about problematic media and violence against women. As Sugar put it, Roxanne Gay is able to put to words things hard to say. She eloquently gives shape to thoughts & subconcious understanding of societal problems. I too wanted to highlight and copy down her explanations, save quotes to use as future comebacks. Since I’d borrowed the book from the library I couldn’t, but I loved this book so much I’ll be buying a copy when the new paperback edition comes out in October 2017. While reading it, there were many points where I wished it were mandatory reading for everyone; I think it would make an excellent addition to high school or college reading lists.
Finally, her chapters about body image issues felt like skimming the top of an iceberg; you can sense there is a LOT more there, tied up with other issues. I wished she’d gone more into depth there, as it’s something that I think about a lot as well. I can consider my wish granted however, as I found out recently that the author wrote an entire book on this topic, due to come out June 2017, entitled “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body”. When it does, I’ll be giving it a read too, as this is an author that’s won a new fan.

April Book Review:

The Improbability of Love
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Hey girls,

It’s been a long wait but here it is, finally. I got my hands on the book, not from the library, but I gave up and purchased it. Not sure about the decision now that I’ve finished it but… what can you do. (I should mention I bent the cover by accident when I went travelling with it back home)

Overall; I am not impressed with the book. I found major failings in both the characters and the narrative choice overall. As mentioned during the book selection, we follow Annie as she accidentally purchases a priceless painting and it ends up affecting her life and career as a chef.

To begin – the narrative flips constantly throughout the novel, between chapters and even in chapters, to the large cast that is in this book. It was hard at times to keep track of each person, their journey, and how it related to Annie’s. This caused a lot of dysphoria as not only did it make it feel like Annie was not the main character but it was done half-heartedly, relying on creating caricatures for their personas. Instead of spending the time she should have on developing some depth of character for these people, she just wrote out elaborate but meaningless stories that had nothing to do with Annie.

For example: Vlad is a Russian gangster that ends up in London and decides to go into art, there is no point to him. He spends most of the novel in bed with hookers crying for his motherland. It was tedious, boring, and I just didn’t care. He ends up with the “villains” daughter and it was a “okay,cool” moment. There was no point to the match, it didn’t add to the story or move anything along for Annie in any way. Not to mention he ended up liking an artist I despise for the use of his wealth to kill rare species of animals to remind himself he will die.

Next – As mentioned, the narrative flips around a lot, so the time spent with Annie is crucial but isn’t used properly. Annie wants to be a full fledged character but ends up being a caricature herself.

She’s divorced from a man 10 years her senior whom she considered many times leaving. She ends up travelling through India to get over it, and has one of those… oriental romanticism moment, meets a poor village woman in the forest and finds the zeitgeist that connects us all. It’s such fake b-s, this white woman travels alone through India and never experiences the poverty, never gets stopped or harassed, never has to go through the 5 layers of security??? Not to mention it’s all worthless anyway – her spiritual journey doesn’t cure her of her pining because she’s still crying over said ex-husband when the book begins.

Her own story is unlikely on its own – she’s a chef, but with no training, has apparently no friends, follows the trope of “i’m just a plain jane” but every man is gagging after her. She’s 30 but acts as if shes in a YA novel, 16 and back in highschool.

The love story is also on another level of stupidity – Jesse is the typical “good guy”, he behaves in a friendly manner but only because he wants to get in her pants. On the novel excuses it by saying how -in love- he is with Annie, but he has no idea of her personality. I didn’t even consider him as a love interest as he was so…blah. There was nothing to like about him personality wise, being nice isn’t something to build a relationship over.

When Annie turns him down, I thought for sure we would meet another man and he would be the next one. But no – Jesse still remains and ends up being the ONE. (here I am thinking there’d be some diversity and she’d end up with that rich Sheikh after her painting mentioned in the summary…ahaha silly Sugar)

The painting was just annoying – it’s history was tedious to read as the character of the painting was so self-engrossed and selfish. It’s remarks about love, and Jesse and how he should be more “action” oriented when it came to his proving his love, was kind of nauseating but I can’t put my finger on why yet.

The novel itself couldn’t decide what it was – is it a history novel? Romance? Murder-mystery? Cooking-with recipes? This wouldn’t be bad if it weren’t for the jumping narrative that made this jumble just feel like a puzzle that someone had thrown into the air and, when it landed, called it the painting they were supposed to put together. You need to put in the work and connect the puzzles, not just stare at the pieces and try to connect it all together by what you see.

Alright, rant is over.

TLDR: Was highly disappointed, the whole book was a mess, character development was non-existent and everyone was a caricature. The romance elements were forced.

– Sugar out