Weekly Pull Review 12/17/14

Hey, look, it’s my 100th post! I actually meant to do that this weekend, for a rather bigger article, but… eh.

Ms Marvel #10- Marvel

Finally. It took forever for this one to come out. Ms Marvel has been consistently good so far, if a little slow at times. They’re really pushing the action forwards, though, with the conclusion of this arc approaching next issue. Lockjaw has really solidified the cast in this comic- he’s a great character, but one that can be very easily misused. (*Cough* Pet Avengers *Cough*). Kamala Khan is rapidly turning into one of my favorite characters in the Marvel universe, and she’s really starting to find her footing and self-confidence, as well as a very sarcastic, cynical sense of humor that just clicks for her character. The art remains awesomely quirky, which makes me really happy. Marvel has really loosened up on their cookie cutter art direction lately, with this book, Hawkeye, and a few others. It’s not to say they even remotely approach Image’s diversity, but they’re moving in that direction.

The Sandman: Overture #4- Vertigo

Yes, it’s THAT Sandman. And no, it’s not a Before Watchmen-style cash-in, it’s actually written by Neil Gaiman. It’s a 6-part miniseries, set before Dream’s imprisonment that began the whole series back in the day. The publishing schedule has been very, very slow, but I’m not complaining very much about the months between each issue, since the art is absolutely top notch, and you can really see how much Gaiman’s writing has matured. Also, you get to see the father of the Endless! How cool is that? Seriously, if you’re a fan of Sandman at all, you need to be reading this.

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Song of the Sea

I normally don’t blog about movies- I love them, but it’s not really my area of expertise. (Quick shout-out to If You Want the Gravy, a fantastic little movie blog run by a friend of mine. He also reviews obscure and awesome sodas.)

Anyhow, an Irish animated film is coming out on the 17th in limited release that I’m exceptionally excited for- Song of the Sea.

Why am I so excited for it? Well, it’s made by the same director and creators of The Secret of Kells, my favorite animated film of all time, and one of my five all time favorite movies of all time. The Secret of Kells is on Netflix. Go watch it now, and if you’re near a theater playing Song of the Sea, well- I think it’s safe to say it looks like a risk worth taking.

Weekly Pull Review 12/10/14

I know, I know, it’s technically the 11th, but I’m going to start dating theses reviews with the date I picked the comics up from here on out. Anyhow, on to this week’s comics I deemed good enough for my pull.

Bitch Planet #1- Image

I somehow utterly failed to realize that a new Kelly Sue DeConnick series was coming out until Tuesday night- but it was definitely a good surprise. Kelly Sue DeConnick is rapidly proving herself to be one of my favorite contemporary comic writers- anything by her is definitely going to receive at least a try. Bitch Planet might not have been something I’d pick up normally, since prison stories, even scifi ones, are hardly my cup of tea, but I gave this one a try, and the first issue already has me hooked. That’s not to say it’s perfect- the twist definitely confused me for a little bit, but that’s very likely to be my fault, so… Also, it’s pretty refreshing to have a comic book where the majority of the cast isn’t white. That’s still pretty damn rare these days. Valentine De Landro’s art is pretty well fitted to the book, and the dot-based backgrounds like you’d see in old comics really fits the aesthetic of the book. (I can’t for the life of me remember what that technique is called.) Also, having the title page be a two page spread four pages in? Actually works really damn well here. Very cinematic.

Copperhead #4- Image

Copperhead is really working well for me so far. It’s not that the story is particularly better than other good scifi police procedurals- and I do consider Copperhead more of a police procedural than a western so far, though it draws strongly from both- it’s that the comic focuses on a smaller, more focused cast than usual. It’s a consistent weakness of the genre, especially in comics- you have a limited amount of space to develop your characters, and introducing a giant cast just makes them all fairly forgettable. The comic Storm Dogs comes to mind- brilliant story, amazing setting, spectacular art, some of the best alien designs I’ve seen in a comic- but ask me to name the characters, or even describe more than a few, and I’d just have to shrug. It’s not that they are bad characters, by any means. I remember liking quite a few of them. Copperhead has avoided that pitfall by focusing on a smaller, more mobile cast, and it works extremely well. That, ultimately, seems to be its biggest takeaway from Westerns, rather than any stylistic element.

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The Heinlein Juvenile novels ranked- because the Internet is suffering a desperate shortage of lists.

The Heinlein juvenile novels (they’d be called YA today) were my introduction into science fiction, much as the Hobbit was my introduction into fantasy. I have an enduring love of the books to this day. There are twelve main Heinlein juvenile novels, and Starship Troopers and Podkayne of Mars are frequently included in the list as well. Heinlein disagreed about Podkayne being on the list, though. I personally think Starship Troopers should be the one excluded, but I’m including all 14. Please note, this is entirely my own personal preference, others will have entirely different lists, I’m sure. I also tend to somewhat brush off the political subtexts in each book- they have very little to do with why I love the books, though I’m aware of them. Let me know how you order them, too. And from the bottom, with cover illustrations from the first editions…

#14: Rocket Ship Galileo- 1947

I don’t care if it features Space Nazis, it’s still the weakest entry among the juveniles. That can largely be explained away by it being the first of them, though, so I suppose that is forgivable. Also, Space Nazis are a thing in it. The characters are extremely thin, it has Space Nazis, it uses that damn rich/genius/magical/whatever uncle trope to kick off the adventure, there are Space Nazis, and did I mention Space Nazis?

Okay, so I actually still like it a lot, even if it is the weakest entry in my opinion. They kill Space Nazis! Woo!

#13: Starship Troopers- 1959

Seriously, were you expecting it higher? It’s good, but there are way, way too many moralistic speeches in it. It’s as John Galtian as a book can be without me hating it. It’s certainly not bad at all, it deserved its Hugo, but… Too many speeches, too little action. Also, remember that I’m judging it on YA criteria. It would be higher up normally, it’s just not great as YA in my opinion. I like it more reading it as a non-YA novel.

#12: Between Planets- 1951

So forgettable. So very forgettable. Also, least proactive Heinlein juvenile protagonist. I mean, seriously, he does nothing, even during the climax. Everyone else does shit for him. URRGH. Okay, he’s not completely passive, he does do a few daring escapes on his own, fights in the swamps of Venus, etc… but still, he’s just not quite up to par. As should be noted with all of the books lower down on the list, though, it’s still really good, because Heinlein. (Except for late Heinlein. Beware Late Heinlein. Therein lies madness; also Stranger in a Strange Land.)

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Weekly Pull Review

You may have noticed by now that my reviews are very overwhelmingly positive. This is, of course, because this is my pull we’re talking about here, so why would I be keeping any bad comics in it, unless I was perhaps not reviewing them to hide my shameful secret? That would be absurd, of course, and completely unlike me. Completely.

 

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1952 #1- Dark Horse

I’ve been a Hellboy fan for years, but I hadn’t added Hellboy to my pull until recently, largely due to the sheer amount of Hellboy their was. (I couldn’t afford that). Then, a couple of months ago at Rose City Comic Con, I won the complete collection of Hellboy Library editions. So…  yeah, I immediately jumped on adding it to my pull then. The same issue remains for anyone else wanting to buy Hellboy. Hellboy and the B.P.R.D is a side series meant to explore Hellboy’s early days with the paranormal government agency. So far… well, it’s up to a slow start. That’s not a bad thing with Hellboy, though. It’s a traditionally slow burning, or at least unusually paced series. Alex Maleev’s art isn’t quite up to the standards of Mike Mignola’s, but then, whose is? It’s still excellent art in its own respect. This seems like a decent starting point for a new reader wanting something for their pull, though I still think you should start from the beginning.

Five Ghosts #14- Image

This isn’t a bad issue, but I’m used to a much faster pace from Five Ghosts. Getting to see Van Helsing is cool, but the promised fight between him and Fabian Gray (possessed by the ghost of Dracula) (if you’re unfamiliar with the series, Fabian is a pulp action treasure hunter with the ability to channel the spirits of Dracula, Merlin, Miyamoto Musashi, Robin Hood, and Sherlock Holmes, hence the title,) doesn’t actually even start until the very end. Slow is pretty relative, too- Fabian and Van Helsing still kill dozens of ghoul-things throughout the book. The art remains as awesome and pulpy as ever, and Five Ghosts remains one of the absolute coolest books in my pull.

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