Comic Review: Gwenpool

Another one! I had a very busy June so I enjoyed having these comic books to have a quick break.

Although Batgirl was a great surprise from DC and I thoroughly enjoyed it, Gwenpool fell on the other side of the spectrum.

This was another two volume attempt, where I hoped maybe getting over the hump of a first book would get the plot moving along and endear me to the overall story.

It didn’t.

I don’t know what I didn’t like overall about Gwenpool, maybe how she was supposed to be an “outside” person who was a fan of the comics suddenly sucked into this world with no abilities or skills. How she decided to take on this brand new world by becoming a vigilante, again with said lack of capabilities. Maybe it was her personality which was meant to mimic Deadpools recklessness but just seemed dumb with her.

Like – why was she in that world? Why did she have this specific slightly suicidal personality? Why did she not want to go back home? Why was she not using her knowledge of the universe to, I don’t know, do something – like get back home? How is it that she can afford these guns and outfits from the beginning with no money? Why is it when she meets Dr Strange she’s like – nah, not gonna go back home?? Also why is she not freaking the fuck out about how messed up that world is?

Then she tries to use the whole comic book “world”, as if it has set rules when usually the one who sets the rules are the writers and the writers can change chapter to chapter – As she should know for someone who is *such* a fan.

It was contrived, obviously meant to play on the fame of the Deadpool movie and get some of the attention from that franchise.

The plot was basically cameo-ing, either using big name superheros to bring some attention to this lackluster comic, but had no overarching story to it. Gwenpool is not personable or half as interesting as the person she’s meant to be copying. Her whole schtick about playing with the comic book as a genre is boring, we get it – types of writing have certain themes and tropes commonly used by male writers. Good job on pointing the obvious by not actually trying to change them or criticize their use.

Also it’s basically one useless, slightly damsel-y girl surrounded by competent men, so….. whatever.

(I was also super disappointed it wasn’t a resurrected Gwen Stacey from another Spiderman comic who, because of her death, was slightly loopy and became a vigilante.)

(I mean, maybe that’s just another version of SpiderGwen but that would have been awesome okay?)

Overall the comic was just not enjoyable, men should just not write women without having a woman co-writer. That’s my key takeaway.

Also what the hell Marvel? You have Ms Marvel and Thor but you can’t bother to do Gwenpool properly? You have the money to hire better writers or at least decent ones.

Last bit before I’m out – why doesn’t she have pants? Like… she obviously should have pants… she’s in New York… it’s not exactly warm there all year.

– Sugar Out

Comic Review: Batgirl

As I trudge through Hild, I took a break to read another comic series from DC in June. Although Catwoman was definitely a mess and a huge disappointment, Batgirl was a pleasant surprise.

I read two volumes and I have to say it was enjoyable. The character development was on point, the plot didn’t waver and didn’t add any unnecessary plot points or devices.

I enjoyed having a story filled with a majority of fleshed out and personable women, I also liked how Barbara didn’t turn into some kind of hipster pixie like some of the shows geared towards women have become. I liked her friendships and how she depended on others to be successful, this wasn’t some lone-ranger Batman copy, which was great. Batman can be super tedious, especially now when everyone is mimicking the whole “Dark Knight” thing.

Although the second volume did have some mistakes here and there, I did enjoy it as a follow up. The discussion of Barbara after the Joker’s attack, discussing her state of mind and also about physical disabilities, was insightful and I wish they had spent some more time speaking to these issues and how she dealt with them. That’s my criticism of the second volume, there is material there that could have gone on to the following volumes.

This could be the case though but, from where it left off, it doesn’t seem to be a conversation they would be continuing. I would love to be surprised though.

Overall, I would recommend it, it was a quick and good read and, along with Ms Marvel, is a definite buy.

– Sugar Out

July Choices

01

Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living Paperback by Jes Baker

This is a manifesto and call to arms for people of all sizes and ages. With her trademark wit, veteran blogger and advocate Jes Baker calls people everywhere to embrace a body-positive worldview, changing perceptions about weight, and making mental health a priority.

Alongside notable guest essayists, Jes shares personal experiences paired with in-depth research in a way that is approachable, digestible, and empowering. Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls is an invitation to reject fat prejudice, fight body-shaming at the hands of the media, and join this life-changing movement with one step: change the world by loving your body.

Among the many Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls that you don’t want to miss:
1. It’s Possible to Love Your Body (Today. Now.)
2. You Can Train Your Brain to Play Nice
3. Your Weight Is Not a Reflection Of Your Worth
4. Changing Your Tumblr Feed Will Change Your Life
5. Salad Will Not Get You to Heaven
6. Cheesecake Will Not Send You to Hell

If you’re a person with a body, this book is for you.

02

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

(titled ‘What Sunny Saw in the Flames’ in Nigeria and the UK)

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. Once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

03

The Devourers by Indra Das

On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.

Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel.

04

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

 

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.

hild_071713

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: