Comics Roundup #4:

Good morning, beautiful comics people!

The sky is blue, I saw some daffodils today, and my favorite writer Kelly Thompson is teasing a secret new project on Twitter. I will be glad for anything she chooses to put forth, but I am desperately dreaming of a reimagined Nancy Drew? Maybe? PLEASE?

Also, Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing Captain America. Every once in a while there is a piece of news that makes me think that perhaps we don’t live in the WORST nightmare timeline, but rather the medium-worst. 10th-worst. In the worst timeline, we’d never get such a wonderful gift.

Anyway, onto other things: what I’ve read this fortnight!

The Long Ones

Image result for the prince and the dressmaker Image result for speak emily carroll Image result for spinning tillie walden Image result for taproot Image result for shattered warrior

I got my hands on a copy of The Prince and the Dressmaker a little early, and I loved it precisely as much as I thought I would. From the moment I first held that library book in my hands, I knew that I would need one to call my very own ASAP. It’s a gorgeous, weighty book in addition to being a gloriously fun read. I would recommend this to anyone, and although it is mainly shelved with teen books, I think it would be an excellent middle grade read as well. Speak, the graphic adaptation of the seminal teen novel, is breathtaking in its scariness, and while I am a self-professed Emily Carroll fanatic, I think, objectively, that she was the absolute perfect fit for this project, and her talent for absolutely freeze-in-place terrifying images carried the text into 2018 perfectly. Those were the two most perfect books I read this time around, though I liked Shattered Warrior much more than I believed I would (thanks in part to Molly Ostertag’s great illustrations) and liked Spinning by Tillie Walden fine, though the art style makes it hard to follow the story and distinguish which character is which. The only miss for me among the standalone books I read this month was Taproot. This is a classic example of good concept, poor execution. I appreciated the love story, but the plot was incomprehensible and the worldbuilding was poor. I hope to see this creator build on this book in the future.

The Short Ones

Image result for batgirl vol 3 mindfields cover Image result for Kim Reaper Image result for hawkeye my life as a weapon Image result for runaways vol 5

 

I finally finished the Stewart run with Batgirl vol. 3, and while I will always have a place in my heart for this version of Barbara Gordon, I am glad to be done with it. Elements of this run were far too cutesy and “current” but I still thought it was fun, and I am excited to see where Hope Larson takes the characters in the newest iteration. I also continued on with my slog through the post-hiatus Runaways with Runaways vol. 5, and I have to say that I’m excited to see what happens when Victor shows up on the Hulu series. He’s probably my favorite character. I’m still a big fan of this series despite the unfortunate and distracting art style. Same goes for a new series I started last week, Kim Reaper. I loved this first book a lot even though it is drawn in a way that would not normally entice me. My girlfriend LOVES this one, and I get why: it’s campy and silly while still being about death. What’s not to like?

And finally: Hawkeye vol. 1. This has been on my list since the beginning, and I finally made time for it. I’m glad I did! It is a hugely popular and much-loved title. Do I like it better than other books I’ve read about Hawkeye? Probably not. At this point I need to admit to myself (and to all of you) that men as superheroes simply does not light up my life the way, say, Kate Bishop does.

(Kate Bishop is everything, and I won’t hear a single word against her.)

That’s it for February! A piece of exciting personal news: I’m now a reviewer for No Flying No Tights, a wonderful graphic novel review site for librarians/teachers/book-buyers. When I have new reviews up, I’ll link them here! I’m reading some great stuff right now, so you’ll be able to see those reviews over there posthaste.

If you have any bones to pick or reading recs to share, please do so!

Comics Roundup #2: A Slow Start

Hello! Welcome to the end of January!

It feels like forever since my last roundup, but that’s probably because this has felt like the longest month of any year, ever. Something about the snow, the state of politics, and the lack of good new TV shows really slowed down time these last few weeks. Also slow? My progress toward my comic book goals. But here’s what I’ve read!

Image result for black panther vol 1 Image result for batgirl of burnside vol 1 cover Image result for ms marvel hardcover Image result for america vol 1

One thing I struggled with this time around is my nonexistent foundational knowledge of comic books. While Batgirl vol. 1  and Ms. Marvel vol. 1 were blessedly easy to follow for the uninitiated, Black Panther  was almost unreadable and America vol. 1 was a challenge. In general, I find anything related to the Young Avengers really difficult to understand, with the notable exception of Kelly Thompson’s Hawkeye, which we all know I adore. I have no idea why that is except that they’re perhaps intended for folks more familiar with the Marvel universe. I am glad that this run of Black Panther exists and I’m so sad that they cancelled it, I don’t think I’ll be reading more. America I might give another shot, simply because I think America Chavez is such an awesome character and I think Gabby Rivera does a great job with her, regardless of the confusion of the plot. While some say that America and Ms. Marvel are both good for newcomers, I have to say the latter is a MUCH better choice. Ms. Marvel was always intended for those of us who haven’t read too many comics before. It’s an absolutely wonderful story with awesome illustrators, and I can’t wait to read more of it.

Now, for Batgirl. I read this one because I am a huge Hope Larson fan, and I wanted to read the earlier issues of Batgirl in order to have some background knowledge for Larson’s run. I enjoyed it, but I read some reviews afterward that mocked the ditzy, teen-soapiness of it all. I think that’s a crotchety and borderline-sexist assessment, but there were certainly kitschy parts to this one. I didn’t mind it and I intend to read the whole thing, but be forewarned that this is a common opinion among readers.

Now, for February: I’ve definitely gone overboard on my purchases and hold requests lately, so I want to work through the backlog of things I’ve accumulated in my office and my house. Here’s what I have on deck:

Boom! Studios: Slam! vol. 1, Lumberjanes: To The Max! vol. 2, Mech Cadet Yu #1, Heavy Vinyl #1-5, Goldie Vance vol. 2

Marvel: Runaways vol. 5, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl vols. 1 & 2, Spider-Gwen #1, Hawkeye (Matt Fraction) vol. 1, Hawkeye (Kelly Thompson) vol. 2

DC: The Flintstones vol. 1, Batgirl vols. 2 & 3, 

Archie Comics: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1, Afterlife With Archie vol. 1, Archie vol. 2

Dark Horse: Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8 vol. 1

Image: The Wicked + The Divine vol. 1, 

Other: SpinningGarbage Night, Strong Female Protagonist

That feels like a long list, but it’s probably about as much as I read this month! I’m also working on the Read Harder Challenge this year, so an update about that will be forthcoming! Stay warm, y’all.

Comics Roundup #1: Heroes, Campers, and College Kids

Hello, and welcome to my first-ever roundup of all the comics and graphic novels I’ve been reading this month.

I know it’s only January 15th, but I was so excited to start reading comics that I’ve read 15 different titles already. One a day! I’m going to try to break them up into some semblance of categories in order to write about them, so here goes (sorry about the probably formatting issues in advance):

The Heroes

  

As someone who’s read very few comics, I wanted to make sure i got a little bit of everything during my first pass. I’d started Runaways when the TV show came out, so I was already 3 volumes in. I read vol. 4, which came two years after the end of vol. 3 and marks a pretty distinct departure from the original run. I actually think the new direction works well, and I’m excited to finish it and read the new Rainbow Rowell reboot. That’s hopefully a goal for February!

I also decided to try Young Avengers for a similar-but-different type of reading experience. I found that one to be a little to enmeshed in the world of Marvel, so I didn’t like it nearly as much. My favorites, however, were definitely the first issue of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Pink and Hawkeye vol. 1,  which I read because I’ve become a big fan of Kelly Thompson on Twitter and wanted to read some of her stuff. Thus far, she might be my favorite creator in the industry, right up there with Sarah Stern, the colorist MMPR:P. Together, they made me realize that superhero comics can be flashy, silly, feminist fun without leaning too heavily on dark, muddy colors and brooding, “damaged” heroines. I think I might only want to read about badass heroes named Kim for the rest of time. Can we make that happen?

The Regular Kids

The first thing I read when I began this comics challenge was my beloved hardcover Lumberjanes: To the Max Edition vol. 1. I’m ashamed to say it, but I’ve had this book for over a year and didn’t get around to reading it until this month. The kids at work love it–I can barely keep it on the shelves–and I’ve loved the work of all of the creators involved, but I just never got around to it. Boy, thank goodness I finally made time! This book is lovely and fills my heart with joy and makes me so excited for all the kids who get to grow up with it. I’m so glad to live in a world where Lumberjanes exists. The same goes for the other camping book I read, As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman. This was an awesome and under-appreciated story of a queer Black camper coming to terms with her faith and her identity at a Christian summer camp. Definitely recommended on the strength of the story alone, but the art is also totally lovely and certainly enhances the writing.

I don’t have much to say about Giant Days vol. 2 except that I think I liked vol. 1 better, but I’ll certainly keep reading it and I’m certain I will keep enjoying it. Archie vol. 1 I totally loved, and not just because I’ve gotten into Riverdale recently. I’ve been a huge fan of the Archie comics since I was a little kid begging my mom for the latest Betty & Veronica in line at the grocery store. I think the reboot brings a necessary update without diminishing the joy of the original material. Archie & co. feel real without being dragged down by reality, if that makes sense. I was surprised by how much I liked it!

The Misfits

This category is called Misfits mainly because I couldn’t figure out where else they might all go, but I guess it also describes the characters in a lot of ways. Misfit City vol. 1, most obviously, fits into that category, given that it’s about a bunch of girls getting into trouble and annoying their neighbors looking for treasure and intrigue. I really loved that one, and I can’t wait for more issues. Similarly, Goldie Vance vol. 1 totally blew me away, which was partly because I started it without any idea what it was about. It’s always lovely to open a mysterious new book and have lots of cool lady characters, LGBT+ representation, and an interesting mystery. Welcome Back vol. 1 had all of that, too, but I found it a lot less compelling, probably because the frantic pace and constantly changing perspective made reading more of a chore than a joy. It was violent, too, which was not a strike against it exactly, but certainly felt jarring after reading so many feel-good BOOM! Studios titles in a row. My mistake, I guess! I think I’ll keep reading this one, even though it did trip me up a bit. Never a bad thing to stay on one’s toes! House of Women was another dark, confusing one, but I liked it because it was genuinely very creepy in a beautiful, stark sort of way. I definitely didn’t understand it, but that was O.K. with me.

The Kid Stuff

As a children’s librarian, I naturally read a lot of books for kids. Some are certainly better than others, and graphic novels are no different. Baba Yaga’s Assistant certainly falls on the Good side for me. The story was lovely and simple, but the incredible art by Emily Carroll brought a level of terror and suspense to the page that I don’t think anyone else could pull off in a children’s book. Her work leaves me spellbound every time. Can Emily Carroll, Kelly Thompson, and Sarah Stern become a super-team and make something together, please? I would honestly sell my soul for that.

Unfortunately, Mighty Jack and The Witch Boy left me dissatisfied, albeit for different reasons. Mighty Jack muddles through a broad interpretation of Jack and the Beanstalk with a cast of unlikeable, super-white characters. While the inclusion of a main character with autism was great, it didn’t make up for the bland negativity that radiated throughout the rest of the text. My main thought while reading was “We can do better than this for kids.” The Witch Boy, while diverse in its casting and creative in its worldbuilding, relied on too many tired tropes about gender for me. I know that was the point of it in a lot of ways, but the story felt tired and overwrought. It felt very much like Molly Ostertag was having an argument with a straw man about gender for 100 pages. Her work is beautiful, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of it in the future. This one just didn’t do it for me.

Wow, I don’t like ending on a negative note, so here are some goals for the rest of the month!

  • I very much want to read the new Black Panther series, or at least the first volume, before the movie comes out in February.
  • I’d also like to finish  Runaways (though I’m trying not to rush through it) and catch up to the current issue of LumberjanesHawkeye, and Archie.
  • I want to start some new series, mainly Spider-Gwen, Motor Crush, and Heavy Vinyl.
  • I also have some stand-alone books I want to read, like 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, Spinning, and the print edition of Strong Female Protagonist.