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Tim Lieder

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Books read in 2017 # 139 - Yokai, Children and Fascism [Oct. 16th, 2017|03:40 am]
Tim Lieder
139.Showa 1926-1939 A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki - I have been skipping books because they were entertaining fluff books and some have been pointless. I don't think I should use this project to review books where the only thing I have to say about them is "it was entertaining and now I don't remember it" but I probably should have talked about Mizuki's Kitaro book which are fun and weird but I guess it was just too fast. And I already stopped reviewing One Punch Man even though I finished reading them and they are a source of pure joy. But in the case of One Punch Man the one joke is being told repeatedly and there are no new ways to talk about it. By contrast, Kitaro is a comedy of ghosts and spirits where faces can get stolen and monsters are waiting in graveyards.

But mostly I wish that I had reviewed the Kitaro book because Rat Man is the narrator of this comic. The notes say that Rat Man (Nezumi Otoko) is a beloved cartoon figure like Donald Duck in America and since its Mizuki's creation, why not use him? Well it's a little weird since Rat Man is stealing faces and robbing people in the Kitaro series and in this book, he is talking about the rising fascism in Japan, the political instability in China and assassinations. So it is like Donald Duck narrating a comic but Donald Duck talking about the rise of Hitler.

Like Noble Deaths this book combines cartoon style with realistic backgrounds. When the book is about the author's childhood everything is very cartoony but when it's about the Japanese history unfolding, it's photo realistic - except Rat Man is narrating which is very weird. In the childhood stories, I have read several of these in other books by the author including tales of being followed by Yokai, throwing rocks at playmates and the old lady that was a family friend who told him about these Yokai. There are also stories about his father trying to make a go at the business but they are not quite as explicit as in Nonnoba (sic?) .

As far as Japan is concerned, this book is going to be the grimmest book in the series because it's about the rising of militaristic Japan where people who could have known better were silenced in the desperation that came with earthquakes and starvation and a crashing economy. I have yet to read the second book where Japan is at war (although I am reading the third one where Japan loses and I expect the theme of Japanese soldiers being angry from being told to kill themselves), but I suspect this will remain the nastiest chapter. But it's also interesting to see Mizuki depict his young life as one of laziness where he can't even stay at a job for more than a couple weeks.
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Message to the friend who is way too defensive to hear it right now. [Oct. 10th, 2017|01:15 am]
Tim Lieder
When you sent me an "apology" today I told you that you need therapy and you started arguing with me. So fine, you don't want to hear it and you hinted at a dark and painful past. Obviously you still need therapy but now you are asking me why you need therapy and not satisfied with the answers I am giving you. You are also saying that I am "raw" from last night when we were hanging out because you want to turn this into something that you can apologize for. The fact that you are an exhausting friend is not something that you can simply promise away.

So yes, let's get the "Tim is just angry" part of the discussion out of the way, because I am irritated and annoyed and I suppose in some self-help books that's called anger. You invited your friends to the Sukkah to eat grilled meat and hang out. You also promised that up-with-people singing which is fine because I was warned and if I go to an event with singing I can do all I can to tune it out. But mostly I was there to hang out with friends. I was there to hang out with you as a friend.

And then just as we were mostly finished eating and I was having a conversation about books and plays with your actor friend, you decided to make it all about you. I get it. You grew up on the Upper East Side and being self-involved is endemic to the culture. Usually you aren't so self-involved that I can't have a conversation but last night, you decided to do the full monologue and it wasn't enough that you had some DEEP THOUGHT to say. You had to tell us to stop talking so you could give us your DEEP MONOLOGUE and when we tried to protest you decided to go with the pity party option. You got tears in your voice and said that you have self-doubt, suggesting that the only thing standing between you and the deep void of self-pity was us listening to your fucking story.

And this is where my upbringing comes up because I was raised by a single bipolar hoarder mother and I do not like to be emotionally manipulated. Even if the emotional manipulation is coming from a genuine place, it is still manipulation. But you know what? I will also give people the benefit of the doubt.

So I listened to your fucking speech. You talked about hornets and cockroaches. I knew you were drunk and probably stoned, but I thought maybe you will get to the fucking point. Just maybe this is an important anecdote and I should listen because you listen to your friends, but then you decided that since you had the spotlight you were going to milk it until you got to some long ass story about how you were walking through Jerusalem and you got freaked out by a guy in a hoodie who might have been following you. And you just kept repeating the details and repeating them and never getting to the fucking point.

When it seemed like you had stopped, I tried to change the conversation citing an anecdote about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and Trotsky. You acted like I had broken your favorite toy. You asked me what it meant as if it was more important than it was and then I talked about how Trotsky and Frida were lovers you used it as a platform to babble about how people are people or some such shit. You didn't get that I was just trying to tell a fucking story. A small and interesting detail in the history of art.

I wanted a conversation, instead I got a lot of hemming and hawing about how you don't read and some bullshit about how I intimidate you for reading books or whatever. That pisses me off and what's worse is that you purposefully don't get it. I was trying to have a fucking conversation. That's it. I was not trying to intimidate you or challenge you or even act like a teacher. I was trying to have a conversation but NOOOOOOO, actual communication is too much for you.

So yeah, I was mad and disgusted and remembering every other fucking time I have had to play audience to your monologues. I don't mind that you miss the point. I don't even mind that 90% of the time your approach to conversation is to wait for the other person to stop talking. Hell, I'm accustomed to that behavior in many others. But I do not appreciate being actively dismissed. And that's what you were doing.

And then you AGAIN launched into one of your monologues only this time you had to say every racist thing your dad said and then you started crying about how your dad rejected you when you were a teenager and how you don't want to hear him reject you now. And how you don't want to reject him.

This is the kind of shit you tell to a therapist. I was there to EAT FOOD AND HANG OUT. I was NOT there to act like a free therapist and hear you crying about your father. I don't know my father because the sonofabitch stop coming around after he was forced to pay child support. You don't see me hijacking conversations to bitch about that.

But gets to the main point which is YOU NEED THERAPY which is what I said when you threw a word salad of excuses at me this morning. And you need therapy because you think that you can impose your wounded feelings and sense of self-loathing on your friends when they just wanted to hang out with you. I don't care if you were drunk or high. These are issues that have been bothering you for so long that you willingly sabotaged a "let's just hang out" gathering. No, I don't know what you went through but if you don't have the impulse control to keep from throwing your emotional shit at friends while using emotional blackmail to keep them there, you need to work on that shit.

I might say this to you and get the defensive reaction, but I think I might end up just not talking. It's pretty much up in the air right now.
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Books read in 2017 # 137-138 - God Stuff [Oct. 9th, 2017|02:03 am]
Tim Lieder
137. Miracleman book 3: Olympus by Alan Moore & John Totleben - So I am getting more picky about the books I count in this little experiment. I remember doing this in the past and not reviewing books like Angel: A Waste of Fucking Time and Buffy: Holy Fuck Why? I only mention this because I decided not to review Shigeru Mizuki's Kitaro book because it was the first of a larger series and while the stories were fun Yokai stories, I just felt it was slight, but then I found that he used the rat faced ghost from that book as the narrator in his Showa series and that makes everything surreal, especially in the volume where Japan is losing the war. I only say this because I didn't want to forget it in other places, but for the most part I don't want to review every graphic novel I read because a lot of them are Bullshit Time Travel or Micronauts or Wolverine runs around or the last One Punch Man comic, and there's really no way that I can say anything substantial about the latest chapter of One Punch Man.

So that's a bit of a ramble to get to this review of Miracleman which brings back great memories of buying these last three issues at the comic book store. Everything before these chapters seem like prologue, but when you get to the dancing Miracleman who loses everything, the chapter where Kid Miracleman kills London and there are corpses on wires all over the place and the last chapter that places everything into a divine and soft fascism (No money! Drugs are cool! People have the option of becoming superheroes) it's really the Miracleman that I loved and it's also why I was disappointed in the first couple volumes because they were setup to this brilliant painful ending where superhero fighting fucking destroys things and there's a ton of collateral damage. Oh sure, now we talk about how all these massive action scenes are full of off-screen death (or onscreen death if the directors have the courage of convictions) but we are living in a post 9/11 world where the Michael Bay movie happened and everyone just died (and there was a good six months when no one wanted to see movies that involved massive property destruction). At the time it seemed like such a novelty but even now it's pretty brutal.

It's not perfect. I found the "some say that this happened" bits rather sad and the ending felt a bit too perfect with Alan Moore leaving the title at an ending that no one could possible continue. Neil Gaiman was in charge of writing the title after this story and his Miracleman stories were boring until the company just folded with broken promises and limbo copyright. But it's quite brilliant and definitely worth a new read.

138.The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin - Again I love this series. Again I get used to the world and marvel at the way that it pushes in directions that I never expected and by page 200, I want to just keep reading until I am finished. I woke up at two in the morning and couldn't get to sleep on Saturday and so I read this book. And read the final 150 pages in one sitting because I wanted to keep going. Shortly before the end, I had to admit that I liked The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms better. This book shares too many of the same plot lines - young woman with a dead parent encounters the gods and then gets stuck in a long and drawn out conspiracy that involves the three main gods in this world. Also the protagonist of this book shares a personality with Yeine from the first book even though she is in this one. Only the world is different because now that Itempas is exiled from his spiritual fascism and the heavens have released the rest of the godlings. The possibility of demons is raised as the god/human children are magical but die. There's also a middle part where Oree is held in thrall by a cult and that feels a little too much like the camping parts of the last Harry Potter movie.

But the heart of the book seems to be Itempas, even though he's a secondary character, making the first stumbling steps into redemption that falls into his family and his ability to accept humanity as anything other than slaves. It's a beautiful book but I suspect that I will like it a lot better when I read the third book and see the whole picture.
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Books read in 2017 # 130-136 - Just clearing out the queue [Sep. 27th, 2017|06:11 pm]
Tim Lieder
130. The Orsinian Tales by Ursula Le Guin - So I read a bunch of books over Rosh Hashana but I read a lot of books before Rosh Hashana. In fact, I was sitting on these books and this book and the next one was going to go under the heading "short stories" because they embodied what most short story anthologies do which is to have a few good ones but a lot of meh stories. This is also a book that I quit reading, gave to a woman who used to come to the deli to read. She loved it so I gave it another chance and it's still pretty boring. The one story that stands out is the story of a man who encounters the same woman three times in his life. First, he is her suitor and he is impressed by her insistence on never getting married. Then he is a soldier for a usurper and she is the last holdout for the old king. He makes a deal with her brother to fool her into escaping and no one feels good about it. Again he is impressed, too impressed, like she is this shining beacon of independence that even he can't approach. And then finally he meets her when he is 70. He has been a soldier all of his life becoming a hero by putting out all the civil wars and uniting the country. She is a matronly grandmother. He is disappointed in her because she did get married and had children and attended dinner parties. She is bemused by him because he is a reminder of her youthful extremism. Since the story is from his perspective, he thinks that she should have died died a long time ago. There are other stories in this thing. Some are too long and some are quite good. It all takes place in the same European country at different times.

131. The Silver Age World's Finest, volume 1 by Various - So Batman and Superman really have no reason to hang out beyond the fact that they are both flagship heroes. This is a problem that has plagued the DC universe for years, but I was amused to see that their first adventure where they are stuck together on a cruise ship and learn about each other's secret identities was retold almost beat for beat in either the New 52 or the latest DC big housecleaning gambit. Anyhow the big thing that struck me is that calling certain eras in comic books Golden or Silver is seriously a misnomer. Golden Age is all crime fighting while Silver Age is goofy shit. So instead of Batman punching out criminals with bad pop psych (Two Face was literally driven mad from being ugly on one side of his face. All he needs is a facelift and he's cool - only the main plastic surgeon is stuck in Germany in a Concentration Camp - nope I don't think they realized how dark that was) he is playing to a host of time travelers and goofy clowns and the Riddler. With Superman in the mix, there's a lot of switching places or shenanigans where Batman and Superman are flirting with the same woman (but it's really a trick) while Lois Lane really seems like a very bad investigative journalist if she can't figure out Superman's secret identity. Some of these stories are fun but I had to read it slowly (I renewed it 10 times before I had to take it back to the library) because you can't read that many dumb Silver Age stories at once. Beyond Will Eisner, there don't seem to be many good stories coming out of these eras. But they are distinctive.

132. Flash vol 2: Speed of Darkness by I don't know - Why did I even include this one? It was ok but there was nothing memorable since it's the same crap about Barry Allen trying to mentor the younger Flash who is the nephew to his not-yet-girlfriend because reset button. There's a cool story about a former villain trying to make things right but yeah, this was largely forgettable shit and really nothing to even remember. Comic books like to hit the reset button but it gets real old to have to read the same fucking stories about a superhero's love life with the same woman that have been so done to death.

133.Before Watchmen: Minutemen & Silk Spectre by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Connor - For various reasons the DC Corporate's fan fiction cash grab was truly stupid. Everything that Alan Moore left as subtext became context and every mystery that you didn't care about was examined. Both of these stories were entertaining enough but neither of them justified their existence. The Minutemen had a little more to go on since it gave us the story of the lesbian heroine who was doing more than looking cool and being a lesbian. She was also tracking down child molester/murderers based on some tortured narrative devices that require time travel as she was supposed to have been a child in the camps but the story was taking place in the 1940s. Also it was supposedly the real book that Nite Owl was writing with all the scurrilous details. One bit where Silk Spectre avenges the lesbian's death (sorry I forgot her name) and The Comedian makes it all go away sort of explains why the Comedian is Laura's father. But yeah, it all leads to the Comedian framing Hooded Justice (who never takes off his fucking hood which isn't ridiculous in the original but feels real stupid when he's the focus) for all those child murders and then getting Nite Owl to kill him. That was a massive turd.

As far as Silk Spectre is concerned, Laurie runs off to San Francisco and ends up with hippies. She takes bad drugs (that are engineered to make tripping hippies into consumers) and accidentally kills Frank Sinatra. Also the Comedian shows up to scare her boyfriend away forever (so I suppose that explains why she ends up with Dr. Manhattan) and then she comes home and THEN she goes to the New Minuteman meeting depicted in the original series, even though that makes no fucking sense because if she went through all of that WHY is she a teenage girl going to a vigilante team meeting in a costume that her mom picked out for her? She's supposed to be innocent in that first scene, not so innocent that she doesn't fuck Dr. Manhattan, but innocent enough to think that it's better to go along with her mother than say no. Such dumb fan fiction.

134. The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin - It's very weird reading two books by the same author at the same time. I usually avoid doing it, but this is a strange one because I was so intrigued by this book where there's a lot of talking but they are talking about such great things when it comes to revolution and making an anarchist society and how people can still feel trapped and unappreciated in any society (but since Le Guin's anarchist society doesn't have charismatic leaders, they don't have the gulags - however, they DO have people willing to use violence to keep things in line) and how capitalism can infect everything. It's really quite beautiful and it provides no easy answers (even though ultimately the capitalist society is utter shit for 90% of the population).

135.The Stories of Your Lives by Ted Chiang - The first half of this book was intimidating becasue not only is Ted Chiang writing about language, math, neurobiology and Babylonian mythology but it's obvious that he knows what he's talking about. And then that damn golem story happened and it was just a snore - ok, it wasn't just a snore, it was a story that illustrated just how annoying cultural appropriation is and that's a weird thing since it's a British society appropriating a Jewish magical troll doll thing, but it's still appropriation and it doesn't seem like he has much to say in regards to golems besides making them like robots and giving them the slavery story. But there are also bits about words and 19th century pseudo science. The rest of the stories have the same disappointing dirge. So this is half a great anthology and half a lot of stories that are trying too hard.

136. Volkhavaar by Tanith Lee - As I read this book I thought FINALLY! Finally I am reading a book by Tanith Lee that reminds me of why I loved Tanith Lee. This book is a compelling fantasy with compelling magical sociopaths and magic that is rooted in the human condition. The writing style is beautiful and the thing is a tight 190 pages which means it takes a few days to read. I needed a good Tanith Lee book because I slogged my way through the Blood Opera trilogy and that was all boring and stupid and so miserable. Her Daw stuff might not be her best era but it is her most consistently decent era.
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Books read in 2017 # 126-129 - ALAN MOORE!!!! [Sep. 6th, 2017|10:16 pm]
Tim Lieder
126.Miracleman Book 1: A Dream of Flying by Alan Moore & Garry Leach & Alan Davis - Alan Moore hates secret identities. He rendered Rorschach unrecognizable when he took off the mask. Clark Kent wasn't even a factor in most of his Superman stories. It rather fits with his 80s deconstruction of superheroes to make the alter egos non-entities. I'm not sure if Miracleman was written before or after Watchmen but it does have a lot of the same obsessions with superheroes as power fantasies and the dangerous implication of actual superheroes walking the earth. Also Miracleman has a weird rights story where the original character was Marvel Man who was a ripoff of Captain Marvel who was a slight variation on Superman (almost certain that there were lawsuits). And when Miracleman made it to America, Marvel decided that they had a copyright on Marvel so Miracleman. And now Marvel has reprinted those original American comics and called Alan Moore "the original writer" because apparently Moore is taking his name off of his comic books as well.

So this is a pretty good introduction to Alan Moore. You got the shlubby guy who is just pathetic whose alter ego is the godlike hero. You got the godlike hero's former sidekick turned into a full blown psychopath (not really sure if "he was 15 and alone and really powerful" is a decent explanation) and then you got the conspiracies where Miracleman finds out that the funny evil doctor from his adventures was the guy who made him. All this leads to aliens and trippy impossible to understand prose that hints at future events. That's an Alan Moore 80s trope too. Every so often Swamp Thing or Miracleman would go crazy because it could. And he got a lot of praise even though it's not that great.

127.Miracleman Book 2: The Red King Syndrome - Well that was a load of shit. Ok, so Miracleman has discovered that Dr. Gargunza is his maker and just in time Gargunza kidnaps his pregnant wife. There is one cool moment and that is the guy with the sapphire teeth narrating one of the stories while decapitated. Like that's his last moment thought. But the rest is just a drag. Dr. Gargunza's plan involves putting his personality and soul into the baby. But his origin story is silly. Oh sure, we already got that he made the Miracleman family and that he kept them dreaming when they thought that they were having their fun adventures only to hit them with a nuclear weapon. But his origin story? Holy fuck that one is straight out of central casting. He was a poor boy trying to help his mother so he got in with a gang. But he was a genius so he managed to manage the gang activities enough to get everyone to kill the leader when the leader tried to rape him. And then he went to Germany and got in with the Nazi. The bit about being friends with Heidigger was funny. And then he started the program to become immortal and yeah, one of the people was a cute dog who becomes a killer demon dog when the right word is spoken.

And Michael Moran manages to find a way to turn the dog back (same word) and instead of just getting the dog as far away from Gargunza as possible beats the dog to death. And then brings Gargunza into the atmosphere and hurls him into earth. Then the baby is born and the baby can speak full words. In the next story will be the baby talking like an adult because weirdly genius level babies were the rage in the 80s. It is really rather dull like Alan Moore is just repeating all of his old tropes. I strongly suspect that Moore started this comic when he was an unknown in England and then finished it after he was super famous. But the story is on coherent story. It's just that it seems like the second book is showing signs of boredom.

128.Promethea book one by Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III - The opening part doesn't have much hope since the origin story is very much like Miracleman. Normal person suddenly discovers that she is an all powerful super powered being and then she can't get back to her normal persona. Only this is Alan Moore several generations after Miracleman. He is deconstructing narratives sure but he's also celebrating the things that he loves. Promethea has a lot of snake goddess and Egyptian iconography but ultimately Promethea is about story telling and how it frees us up and how a story can take on many forms. So most of the story is in the hospital where the protagonist goes into the land of dreams and meets the various Promethea. Alan Moore also likes to use a lot of magic stuff including the four elements and Tarot cards but not necessarily in this one. The most Moore part of this is when a Promethea from the pulp era shows up and the villain is the pulp writer. The pulp writer is divided into the five different writers by the protagonist who did a paper on that era.

This is much more fun than Miracleman but it is annoying in the way that Moore seems to have problems with female friendship and depicting it. The protagonist and her best friend seem like bros engaging in a lot of gay panic humor instead of female friends. I know that I am engaging in sexual stereotyping here too but it just seems much more like bro talk.

129.Promethea Book 2 by Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III - So the story begins still in the hospital. Alan Moore talks about transgender rights as one of the Prometheas is a comic book writer but it ends in the way that many transgender romances end in fiction. The male lover finds out and kills the transgender one. The weird Egyptian god assassins invade the hospital but the protagonist makes everyone into a Promethea and the trippy fantasy bits are quite amusing. There's also a bit where Promethea fucks an old wizard who says that she is going to end the world (she does end the world which is kind of cool but I don't know if that comic is at the library) and then when Promethea goes to the Temple to destroy them, she finds that they are having a child's birthday party. So instead of killing them (Alan Moore is no longer giving us heroes who kill puppies) she opens their minds and makes them see things from her perspective and engage in the stories.

The last chapter is about the Tarot Cards. Not surprisingly I would have read everything Alan Moore ever wrote when i was in college. Not so much today.
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Books read in 2017 # 125 - More Punching! [Sep. 6th, 2017|10:01 pm]
Tim Lieder
125.One Punch Man # 6 by One & Yusuke Marata - Looks like I am getting closer to the part of the story that goes beyond the television show. This book is all about the same aliens who are really powerful and just destroying everyone. Of course, Saitama comes in at the end and just beats everyone in the spaceship until getting to the final boss who just wanted to come to earth because there was a prophecy that he couldn't beat someone on earth or he would find a challenge. Saitama calls him an idiot. It's very meta since this is the existential crisis of the hero who can totally beat everyone up without a sweat. So now they are challenging each other and to be continued.

Kind of frustrating. I think I am reading so many books because I count all these Japanese manga comics as one even though they are mostly chapters in a multi-part saga.
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Books read in 2017 # 124 - Kung Fu Novel [Sep. 6th, 2017|09:04 pm]
Tim Lieder
124.The Book & the Sword by Louis Cha (translated by Graham Earnshaw) - So that's what a kung fu novel is about. Cool. I should say more. Ok, this is a kung fu novel which sounds like a strange misnomer since kung fu is movies not books. How are you going to just describe something that is so visual? But there are plenty of books about things that are visual or seemingly better told visual. There are war books and books about sports and books about driving. Sure it's better to see a character jumping to the wall and throwing the archers into the pit, but we all have imagination.

The story itself is definitely serialized with the plot dashing around from secret societies to politics to one large set piece where everyone thinks that one family is responsible for the kidnapping of one member only to burn down the house before everything gets sorted out. And then there are points where the army separates everyone and somewhere in the middle is the favorite plot of many of these books, the one where the emperor is the brother to the head of the Red Flower Society (because he was switched at birth and is really Chinese and not Manchu). Next thing you know the narrative ends up in the Muslim territories with the Uighers and Chen is int he middle of a love triangle as he is in love with both sisters - one is an amazing tactician and fighter and the other one is beautiful. That's pretty much it for the latter. The father wishes that he was Muslim so if he married both daughters he would treat them as equals instead of as wife and concubine. Then they are running from wolves through the desert and there's another old couple that really thinks that Chen is just a player and tries to let the wolves kill them. The emperor comes back when even though all the main characters are totally beating the Chinese army, the Muslims completely lose off camera because history.

The ending is weird because both the main goals - kill the emperor or get the emperor to push out the Manchus - are obviously not going to happen. But it's still a thrilling bit at the end especially since most of the formerly invincible kung fu fighters start dying. I don't know if there are other Louis Cha books out there but I kind of want to see them. I mean there are other Cha books but are they translated? I don't know.
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Books read in 2017 # 120-123 - Boring Comic Books. [Sep. 6th, 2017|08:32 pm]
Tim Lieder
120. American Vampire vol 2 by Scott Snyder & Rafael Albuquerque - When I initially did this, I was trying to see how much I could read in a year. Turns out that I can read about 100 books. Now it's book 120 and I don't feel like I've read more. But the difference is that I am reading more graphic novels. I always counted graphic novels but I also refused to count the ones that were just fluff like the Angel season 8 series that basically serves as fan service to people who want to know about Angel getting along with that dragon and nothing else. So now I am reviewing all the comics I read and i think I might have made a mistake in that endeavor, mostly because I am reading a lot of dumb ones.

This one isn't that bad. In fact, I like the American Vampire series and I've read most of the books, only this is the second book and I've already read the ones around it. This can't feel like anything but a place holder. Book three gave us WWII and Japanese vampires with our anti-hero sneering away at the heroine's husband for being mortal. I also read the fourth or the fifth one where the evil roommate from the first series comes calling and there's a big fight and the one non-vampire dies of old age with his wife very sad. So when I read this one, I just read the seeds being planted for those stories. The anti-vampire group is trying to find a way to kill Sweet. The married couple is living happily but she's worried about her husband dying and he's worried about her eating him. And the evil roommate is back and she's out for revenge, revenge that she won't get close to. There's also Sweet trying to kill a bunch of vampires in Vegas but this takes place in the 1930s so Vegas is dull. It's ok, but the series has done better.

121.Howard the Duck: What the Duck by Chip Zdarsky & Joe Quinnones - with the pun title and the cloyingly cynical story I was worried that Chip Zdarsky was also the writer of Squirrel Girl and that would have hurt to think that Squirrel Girl was written by a douchebag. But thankfully Zdarsky wrote Sex Criminals and this has the same "I'm way too smart for my own good. Ain't I the coolest" attitude. Sure, the running gag about Spiderman getting beat up is funny but the rest of this thing is just an exercise in attitude over substance.

122.Doctor Who: Weapons of Past Destruction by Cavan Scott and Blair Shedo - So what do you do when you are doing fan service comics that have to take place at certain parts of the narrative? It seems kind of stupid to give the reader cliff hangers about Rose getting lost in the time stream or Jack potentially dying when the television show is already canon. The rest of this story is a repetition of what the first season was all about which was that the Time Lords are gone and everything is a mess. I don't even remember the ending but there was one race that was trying to make things right and another race that was screwed over by this planning.

123.The Flash vol 1: Lightning Strikes Twice by Joshua Williamson & Carmine di Grandomencio - So much for thinking that DC Universe Rebirth was a breath of fresh air after whatever the fuck The New 52 was trying to do. Barry Allen is young again! The other Flash is his best friend's nephew. Barry Allen remembers Crisis death! But really a lot of people get the Flash power and they all need to be trained or something. So where do we go? Exactly where you would expect. Flash feels great to have new friends. Some of the new friends are not good people. He gets a girlfriend! Someone starts killing off the other Flashes! Boo! The girlfriend dies. Maybe she's alive. Has he checked the fridge? The killer turns out to be his best friend and he had a good reason. At least as far as he thinks. They fight. Flash wins! Let's pretend this plot wasn't out of a kit.
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Really not liking the job prospects [Aug. 28th, 2017|04:21 pm]
Tim Lieder
So I know that not many people read this journal. Hell, not many people were reading livejournal and I am linking to that one but again Craigslist has put me on the shit list. I think it's CL itself since the flagging and deleting is too fast for competitor writers to go around trying to screw up things and get rid of my posts. Maybe they have bots who do it now, but of course this always comes at my slow months. I get that CL doesn't want too many people spamming away on their site but they already have a 3 ads within a 36 hour period rule. That should be enough to keep the spammers away from the site.

Instead they have an arbitrary rule about not posting too much in too many markets and they never follow it until they do. And then when they do follow it, they follow it to the point that everything is on a shit list. And one of the ways that they follow it is if you are making "too many posts" which means posting regularly. And of course, you are only posting regularly when your work dries up.

So when I don't have work, I post to CL and then CL starts noticing and at first it's one or two flagged and deleted posts. But the more I post the more eager CL is to delete me.

What I am saying is that is there any better site for finding the private clients that really pay my rent and bills? Craigslist is going to delete me and kill my postings for at least a month and there's no guarantee that I can do anything to get off of their shit list (even if I only post once a week they will kill that post). I should go to Cracked and send out more freelance pitches, but I like the semi-steady income that comes with people who need me to write all of their Criminology papers.
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Freelance Writer available for all services - term papers, personal statements, etc. [Aug. 28th, 2017|04:07 pm]
Tim Lieder
Professional writer available for all jobs. I have a Masters of English from Long Island University and my own publishing company (Dybbuk Press) through which I've published nine titles including She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror. I am available for all work including:
  • Term papers - MLA and APA
  • Thesis editing
  • Personal statements
  • Web site content
  • Resumes
  • Obituaries
  • Blog Posts
  • Dating Profiles
  • Business Communication
  • Publicity
  • Novel Editing
  • Writing Coach
  • Copywriting
I charge $25/hour. I take Paypal, Venmo and Chase Quickpay.

Please contact omanlieder-at-yahoo for rate quotes and samples.

Writing this since Craigslist keeps removing my ads.
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Books read in 2017 # 118-119 - Japanese comics (war and manga) [Aug. 24th, 2017|01:48 pm]
Tim Lieder
118. One-Punch Man 5 by Yusuke Muraita - And now we continue the saga of Saitama Gets No Love (but mostly doesn't care). This time the joke gets even bigger as the sea king is ultra-powerful and has to take down several all powerful characters as well as lame heroes like the dude on the bike who is the biggest hero in the C class but really is just a guy who rides a bike around and is brave. Of course, since Saitama's roommate/buddy/student is a cyborg he gets ripped to hell again. This is reminiscent of the ventriloquist coming back on the Batman cartoon just so they can complete rip apart his dummy in the most Saw way possible. And after the big monster destroys almost everyone Saitama comes along and of course he beats him, but then of course as soon as the danger is over there's one little asshole dismissing his victory as an easy. The rest of the book is about Saitama's quest to get enough change to use a vending machine. There's also the prophecy of the really big and nasty aliens who round out the Netflix show so this is exciting.

119.Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki - I had to read this one fast in order to take it back to the library. So thankfully I got the full impact as this book seems to be two books in one. The first book is a Beetle Bailey kind of book where very cartoon looking soldiers deal with piss and shit and spit. Even the deaths seem comical as two soldiers are moving through the river and when one looks back the second soldier is gone because yeah, he was eaten by an alligator. But then the Americans come and it becomes a very angry and grim book about the stupidity of war. Mostly it's about the stupidity of the military with the Japanese military being particularly stupid in its insistence that the soldiers all act like samurais going to their deaths while referencing Dai-Nanko who is the Japanese equivalent of the Charge of the Light Brigade or Remember the Alamo (I know that I probably shouldn't see everything Asian through a Western lens but in this particular book it's appropriate since hero-worshiping famous soldiers who died en masse is a propaganda technique that infects many societies).

And perhaps the main differences between these soldiers and the Western soldiers is they didn't experience the trenches of WWI and they didn't have a body of recent literature that basically came down to FUCK THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE. Or maybe I'm straining here. Regardless, Japanese soldiers did not surrender for the most part. This was something that westerners admired but as one of those soldiers who was ordered to charge in the "noble death" standard, Shigeru Mizuki is very pissed off about it. Even in the 1990s when he wrote the new introduction to this 1973 book he is still angry about the commanders who put honor about life. Soldiers are supposed to die and their lives are their commanders but their commanders should actually have a fucking plan and in the difference between modern Japan and imperial Japan there is a huge judgment.

No wonder Battle Royale was so popular. (hell there was a Seniors React video where most of the reactors saw one of the imitation movies - Hunger Games? - as a perfect metaphor for what societies do to their young people whenever there's a war.)
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Books read in 2017 # 117 - I finally read N.K. Jemisin and she is amazing [Aug. 24th, 2017|12:45 am]
Tim Lieder
117. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin - Because I was friends with N.K. Jemisin on Facebook I met a woman who knew her from the days when they both wrote Dragon Ball Z fan fiction. The thought made me laugh just because Nora is a bestselling writer who had several Hugo nominations by that point. But I kept thinking about that anecdote when I was reading this book and it felt serious respect for the fact that even when N.K. Jemisin was writing fan fiction for an anime that most people stop watching when they are 14, she was writing stories so great that years later, her fans from the Dragon Ball Z days were finding her and connecting with her on Facebook.

I can see why reading this book. There's a certain thrill to reading a book where you think you know what you are going to get and realize that it goes beyond your expectations. The opening chapters set up a world of politics where the protagonist is the leader of a tribal society in Darr who is called over to the capital of all the kingdoms by her grandfather, the lead Aramari and rule of all the hundred thousand kingdoms. The story thus far seems conventional as you have a central palace full of corrupt nobility and the daughter of the one noble who left that world being forced to come back to it and engage in the politics while learning about the world building. It's a good premise but it's also familiar. The fact that the rivals to the throne are going to be psychopaths is pretty much expected. Usually the twist is that the most aggressive rival is the secret ally while the one that seems harmless is the real villain.

Only when the first rival shows up with a "weapon" which is a human manifestation of the God of Night and we are in a completely different world. From a palace intrigue story the book pivots to a tale of gods and faith where the order of the universe is up for debate. The background is that three gods once ruled the universe but the Lord of Light killed Twilight and defeated the Night Lord and now the Aramari are charged with keeping the order in the universe. All of the court intrigue is still in place, but now Yeine is playing at a bigger intrigue than anyone else in the kingdoms can imagine.

The gods that are kept within the Sky are both terrifying and beautiful and the fact that Yeine has no choice but to partner with them only makes them that much more terrifying. But they are not just scary sociopaths like one finds in Tanith Lee. Despite the early scenes of Nahadoth committing genocide at the order of a past king who did not think things through when ordering him to attack the enemies, these are gods in all the existential pagan ways and they may seem random but they definitely have their wills.

Look. I feel like I am completely unprepared to even review this book. There are some books that are so good that they force you to read them all the way through and want even more. It's so much easier to review books that you hate because you can just slag off on them, but books that you love? Books that make you feel like you need to bring much more to your writing? Books that just grab you? If I was a professional reviewer (an interesting term since most book reviewers are freelance writers getting their feet in the door) I would have to write something amazing and profound about this book and send it off to the editor knowing that I didn't get half as much about what I loved about this book.

If I was an academic I could sit on this book, think about it, read other essays on it and then come up with a more comprehensive critical assessment. I will probably write about this book later. It really hit me that much.

But I am a blogger who decided to do this silly little project of reviewing all the books I have read this year and I have a couple of comic books that need reviewing before I get them back to the library. So I spent hours trying to get this right and still feel like I've inadequately described it. Basically any reaction from a reader of this blog short of "holy shit I have to read this book right away" is a failure but also I want to put every thought I had while reading this book. I can't. But you should really read it.
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Books read in 2017 # 113-116 - More Comic Books, mostly 90s [Aug. 21st, 2017|11:50 am]
Tim Lieder
113. Superman Adventures by Scott McCloud & Rick Burchett - While the main Superman stories were dragging the audience into a contrived Dead Superman story, the television show was giving audiences a Superman that is actually fun and hearkening back to the weird Superman stories of the 1960s. While Superman was still not as popular as Batman it had a goofy energy that allowed stories where Superman played baseball with aliens or Lobo showed up and did not necessarily have to kill planets. And of course, Scott McCloud is one of the best writers in the field. This is a Superman that can be framed with an American flag behind him and it doesn't feel silly or contrived in the slightest.

114.The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and the Great Lake Avengers by Various - When I was reading Squirrel Girl I wondered why such a great character seemed to disappear after her initial introduction in an X-Men title. She's hilarious. She talks to squirrels and has a tail. That's her power. Why didn't anyone do anything with her before now? The answer is apparently they did do things with her, only it was the 90s and the 90s was full of this kind of ironic hipster superhero storytelling was popular because everyone in Generation X was a hipster as far as the marketing guys went and they wanted ironic appreciation of stupid things. It was the OK Cole marketing generation. So this comic has Squirrel Girl written badly but it also has several other heroes that were dripping with hipster irony like the guy who keeps coming back to life and the flat dude who is like Mr. Fantastic but 2 dimensions. There is Big Bertha whose superpower is that she can make herself really fat but then vomit it all out and go back to being a model. Speedball even shows up because he was the Marvel character that was supposed to counter all the grim and gritty dark stuff.

The stories are stupid. There are some laughs. There's a Caterpillar superhero who keeps dying. But mostly these stories are "funny" as opposed to being funny. It's basically every bad imitation of a great comedy ever made. You see one movie and it's funny but then you see a bunch of movies that recycle those same gags and they are so not funny.

This is also a collection of the Squirrel Girl stories in several books including The Thing, which is the one that especially bothered me because it was that big move to give their heroes ethnic identities without actually doing the homework. So The Thing has his Bar Mitzvah (very convoluted explanation as to why) and his TORAH PORTION is Job. Fucking Job. Job is not in the Torah. Job is not even in the Prophets. Job is wisdom literature and it's a philosophical novel that requires a lot more thought that "well I guess I don't have it so bad" which is the Thing's dvar Torah. It was fucking pathetic.

115.Attack on Titan book 1 by Hajime Isayama - I get that Attack on Titan has a lot of stuff to say about totalitarianism and how fascists collect their people and I assume that there is a twist about the Titans being operated by the fascist regime to keep everyone in place but right now there's just a lot of big monsters eating people. I will hang on for a bit longer.

116.Down Set. Fight! by Chris Sims & Chad Bowers - I did not think that this one would be much good, mostly because I'm not that into football and the first chapter is all about the talented rookie who is being pressured by his gambler father to throw the game. And then he punches out the mascot. But then the story kicks in where the mascots have gotten sick of getting beat up so they are fighting back and now the father is out of jail and taking bets on football player vs. mascot. So it's got some charm.
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Books read in 2017 # 110 - 112 - Comic Book Mediocrity [Aug. 10th, 2017|10:10 pm]
Tim Lieder
110.Batgirl vol 1: Beyond Burnside by Hope Larson and Rafael ALbuquerque - I thought that the DC Universe Reboot was supposed to be the antidote to all that toxic crap that came out of the New 52. I think it might have worked in reverse in this case where one of the few decent titles from New 52 turned to crap with the reboot. And that's not fair. I think I respect this title as a lighthearted romp with Batgirl that gets over the darkness of the normal bat series. I just don't care about Barbara Gordon. She's out of the wheel chair. She is traveling Asia. She has the money to travel Asia. There are a bunch of kung fu masters trying to kill her old boyfriend who is a loser. They all have "student" tattooed to their arms and when she finds the teacher it turns out to be a scam artist who gives the students pills to make them smart and take their entrance exams.

I am sorry for spoiling things but when something sucks this bad it's more of a warning.

111. Memorpho The Element Man: Two Worlds One Destiny by Aaron Lopresti - What makes this one so aggravating is that these stories come from Legends of Tomorrow and every cover has better and more interesting characters. Metamorpho is just a dude caught in a trap who can make elemental crap going on. And then there is an evil industrialist with the daughter who helps Metamorpho because she was told and that's a plot twist we see coming a mile away (even without Ivanka to play the daughter with the fake conscience). She turns into fire or something. There are also pyramids and aliens and boring shit.

112. X-Men: Wolverine Gambit (Victims) by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale - As I read this comic I knew that it wasn't recent even though the copyright was from last year. It was way too 90s when the bringing together of two big name heroes (Gambit was very popular at one point) was all you needed. This mini-series was probably hailed as a classic in its time. It certainly fridged a character in the opening page. She was Gambit's friend introduced solely for this title and she died in a Jack the Ripper murder that was maybe possibly done by Wolverine. It wasn't but the writers said "yeah fuck it, we can make people believe that it is Wolverine because why the fuck now" and then it turns out to be Arcade. And even better, Arcade is now a psycho killer who killed his assistant in their annual "hey let's try to kill each other" game. That's it. Arcade did it. Arcade used to be fun, the guy who did the Most Dangerous Game but no one ever died. But nope, now Arcade is going to kill people. No wonder I haven't seen him for a long time.
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Books read in 2017 # 108-109 - Fighting Men [Aug. 10th, 2017|09:37 pm]
Tim Lieder
108. One Punch Man vol 4 by Yusuke Marata and One - Saitama again points out that he is impervious to criticism and pretty much every other monster. The sea monsters make an appearance in this one and they are going to be a major threat. At this point most of the plots have been set and they are just variations. The monsters come. They are unstoppable. There is a lot of screaming and gnashing of teeth and then Saitama shows up and punches them and they are gone. There are variations. Saitama gets rid of the meteor but that just means that it fragments into dozens of pieces that still cause destruction. The joke at the end that I should not laugh at was the plot where the hero is in jail and keeps breaking out of jail to capture more villains so he can get them in the jail and fuck them. Prison rape jokes should have died out years ago, but that one is enthusiastic and so stupid, I laughed. I feel bad about myself.

109.Odysseus: The Oath by Valerio Massimo Manfredi - This is the first of a two book series, at least I think it's a two book series. It is both slow and moves too fast. Odysseus starts as a child and tours throughout the mythology with his father constantly talking up Hercules and the whole "Hercules killed his family" story being played for thriller as it wasn't really Hercules but his deceitful cousin who shouldn't be king. The way the book was going I was certain that it would end with the beginning of the Trojan War but the Oath of the title comes around page 200 with Odysseus explaining that the Oath was because he didn't want all the kings fighting over Helen when she made her decision. But it keeps going and when the Trojan War starts, there is not much effort to flesh out the non-Homer material like with The Bronze Age. It skips years and comes to the point of Homer but from Odysseus' perspective. By the end of the book Odysseus feels bad about Ajax, Troy is destroyed and the sequel is going to be a retelling of The Odyssey. I just can't bring myself to care.
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Books read in 2017 # 107 - Hidden Gems [Aug. 10th, 2017|08:54 pm]
Tim Lieder
107. The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein - I don't always choose a book because I know the author or am excited by the themes. I don't buy all the books in my library. In fact most of my books were taken from free book shelves or bought in lots with other books. I might have a slight agenda when I choose these books but there is often a feeling of "what's it going to hurt" coming through. I don't know where I got this book. Was it at a science fiction convention or did it end up on the free books bookshelf outside Starbucks? I do have a good idea as to what I was thinking when I grabbed it. It's a book by a woman. It looks like fantasy. There might even be a Jewish element. And then I put it on the pre-selection pile for the pocket books and went through the queue of dozens of books before it, many unreadable, and it came up.

So there was a pleasant surprise when I read this book and found that not only was it well-written but compelling as Goldstein depicts a shtetl in Hungary shortly before the Holocaust with the tension of the town rabbi and a visitor who is having visions. For the first 75 pages, that's the idyllic novel. Just a town with a rabbi and a visitor and his golems that never work. And then the Nazis come. At this point the book works on a Primo Levi level with the move towards what people need to do for survival. It doesn't go into the most disgusting details but there's enough trauma to make the third act when the few survivors come together and the rabbi and the magician have their final confrontation.

I find it odd that I don't mention Kicsi, the main character, when I am reviewing it. Even though she's the only character in the second act, for most of the first and third acts she is just the person who watches as the perspective character.

Anyhow this is a short one and if you can find a copy definitely read it.
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Books read in 2017 # 106 - Portrait of the Hulk as a Young Douchebag [Aug. 1st, 2017|08:22 pm]
Tim Lieder
106. The Totally Awesome Hulke: Cho Time by Greg Pak, Frank Cho & Mike Choi - I have been arguing that Marvel's new direction is really amazing and I have a lot of examples to cite as proof that Marvel is a fun and diverse comic book company that puts out quality products that celebrate diversity and storytelling. Unfortunately, this is not one of the comics that I will cite in this argument. In fact, this might be the kind of comic book that the alt-right assholes would point to in that tired old "Marvel is just trying to push an agenda instead of telling stories" argument. That is a completely stupid argument because Marvel puts out white dude comic after white white dude comic that fail and they fall by the wayside. So here is an example of a book put out by Asian creators with an Asian hero and as much as I admire the effort, I found that it was ultimately a failure. The difference here is that I hope that Marvel puts out MORE comics with Asian creators and Asian heroes as opposed to the neckbeard contingent and marketing bros who assume that that's it. They got their shot.

But white supremacy should just fucking go away. It won't. But damn, it would be nice if I could just give a Hulk comic a bad review without discussing the diversity issue. If there were dozens of Asian superheroes with Asian writers in America, I wouldn't feel the need to address it. Maybe I should put everything on a global scale and compare this comic to One Punch Man, but of course that's ignoring years of cultural history on both sides of the Pacific and I'm already ignorant enough about Manga and Japanese culture.

Anyhow after you get past the "oh cool. An Asian Hulk" you have to deal with the fact that the main character is in that sitcom role as the fun loving horny dude who just wants to smash things with the sister who is the buzzkill. I've already talked enough about this subject, but yet this is really bro-ing up the bro culture. But also is kind of silly when you put women in that caregiver role. It's not THAT bad. The sister is stuck in the role and so is She-Hulk but there are villain women who are - um - sexy? I guess.

Also it took me a second to realize that the title was a crappy pun.

I really didn't like this one. The art was kind of cool but Cho Hulk is just annoying as fuck. And also why does She-Hulk get to be all cool and stable but all the dudes who are Hulk are raging hormones or temper tantrums. That just seems wrong.
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Books read in 2017 # 105 - How did the Bronze Age end? It's complicated [Jul. 30th, 2017|04:50 am]
Tim Lieder
105. 1177 B.C. The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline - Toward the end of the book, Cline outright rejects the title, stating that 1177 BCE is not THE year that Bronze civilization collapsed so much as one of the better dates to use since it was the year of a major battle. This was definitely a title that was made to bring in the readers. It even uses the Christian dating system instead of Common Era and Before Common Era.

Unfortunately the catchy title does not properly convey the rather dry academic work that is within the book. I do not feel like I am getting much context and many of these groups like the Hittites and the Myceneans fly by me with name checks of rulers that I never heard about before. There is a compelling story of a Hittite king but it all feels a little strained. The parts that I do latch onto are the parts about Israel (it was around before 1177 as it is named in a letter) and Troy because Homer. It's nice to think about how our western culture is held up by two epics about the collapse of the Bronze Age. But there is also the fact that neither of these events might have happened.

Most of the book is about the archaeological sites and these are great bits because a great deal of what we know about the Bronze Age is scattered, but this also presents a problem. How can we know what was going on in the Bronze Age, especially when most of the discoveries are recent? Most of this material is about the places where the cities collapsed.

Once it gets to the conclusion, it feels anticlimatic. Mostly the author is noting that there are several theories like drought, earthquakes, the sea people, etc. and yet there seems to be many explanations and it was probably the interdependence that meant that many of these places were destroyed after one of them fell. After a lot this verbiage, there is a shrug that states that shit happens and maybe it's just natural that societies collapse and besides we wouldn't have Athens and Israel without the end of the Bronze Age.

Ultimately the subject is fascinating but this is not a good introduction book since it expects the reader to know a great deal without providing the background. Who were the Hittites and what made the Egyptians so powerful? I found myself thinking about the fourth Gunslinger book and how it conveyed the feeling of an imminent collapse. I was actually pretty disappointed when the comics continued the Gunslinger series from Wizards & Glass and the villain in that book was the villain throughout. I wanted another villain. But I still loved Wizards and Glass because it showed the ways that people tried to carry on even as they were doing their part to destroy the old world.

I am not asking for that from a book about the collapse of an actual society or Bronze Age. But I shouldn't keep remembering it either.
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Books read in 2017 # 103-104 - Meh Superhero Comics [Jul. 25th, 2017|11:59 am]
Tim Lieder
103.Doctor Strange The Oath by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin - And I was just praising Vaughan too. But this is a mess, not even a decent mess, just a lot of crap based on the Dr. Strange mythos that keeps repeating his origin story (the doctor who treated his hands also found the Ancient One in a bad retcon twist) and reviving the troubling relationship between Doctor Strange and Wong, the manservant who keeps calling him master. Dr. Strange does say that its a voluntary servitude and he learned karate from him but yuck. I suppose this is one of those "hey new comic and new chance to introduce the characters" stories just like in the movies but it's so tired. It just goes over the same ground. Wong is Dr. Strange's servant (prefer the movie version where he's a cohort) and he is trying to find an elixer to save Wong that can also cure everything but you know it's not going to be allowed into the rest of the Marvel Universe since that would mean a disease free story telling tradition.

104.Hawkeye: Hawkeyes by Jeff Lemire & Ramon Perez - The art sucks on this one. I don't think that the artists were trying here. It's all blocky figures and maybe some kind of 80s New Mutants deal, but it's not really exciting. And then the story has a 30 years in the future element that is basically just serving to undercut the whole thing. At first I thought it was some time travel thing where the two Hawkeyes come together and will go back in time to keep them from giving up the New Inhumans (Mutants belong to Fox) but nope, it's just there to give us a post-apocalyptic future that goes badly for everyone. And then they come together in the present so what the fuck is that future all about?
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Books read in 2017 # 101 - 102 - Superhero Comics - Pretty good ones [Jul. 25th, 2017|11:18 am]
Tim Lieder
101. Runaways The Complete Collection volume one by Brian K. Vaughan & Adrian Alphona - Hey, I recognize that artist from Ms. Marvel! I know that Vaughan is a legend, but Adrian Alphona is impressive for the distinctiveness in the ways that people look and the expressions. Best of all, Adrian doesn't usually give us the butt first poses for women. There's a cover with the alien teenager flying that does that but mostly this artist is not objectifying and that's refreshing.

Beyond that, this book is a great story that was not planned out as an 18-issue miniseries but feels like it as it organically flows from one story to the next one as the six runaways come to realize their power, question everything that their parents were doing and take those tentative first steps toward figuring out their morality. I am rather sad that I didn't know about this comic until now and I find it even more ironic since I was publicly declaring that I was done with comics in toto when this came out (I also was talking about how I didn't want to read epic fantasy around the time that Game of Thrones came out with its third book but that's fine as I didn't have to wait forever for books 4 & 5).

The strangest part about this book was how Gertrude was supposed to be the hated teenager. She was supposed to be the know-it-all that no one liked and yet she was perfectly fine in the first issue. But later on, the parents take a special joy in beating the crap out of her and calling her fat, which just seems weird and cruel. It's only in reading the pitch where she's the hated one where it makes sense. So that's like the scene in High Fidelity where Jack Black states that Evil Dead 2 has the best soundtrack. It's only if you read the book and find out that the scene was taken word-for-word from the book except they were talking about Reservoir Dogs. So everyone is acting like Gertrude is a horribly obnoxious kid but she is actually a sweetheart with a pet dinosaur. Even the inevitable betrayal makes sense.

102.Astro City Victory by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson - This is the third Astro City I've read but the first one with a story that focuses on one character in a multi-part story. Maybe that's a coincidence. Maybe most of the comics are multi-part arcs and I just read the single issue collections. I like the single issue collections the most. Winged Victory is rather boring. She's too good and the story concerns a villain trying to ruin her reputation. I don't even remember the villain. I just grabbed the book to look him up and I still don't remember him. Karna-Something. Basically he's an alt-right troll who hates women. He's forgettable but the material about how she is doubting herself and how the group that gave her powers is also doubting her is pretty effective. Not nearly effective enough for me to love this story, but effective enough for me to like it.
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