“The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 4: Rising Action” by Kieron Gillen

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 4: Rising Action(Author: Kieron Gillen) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Yes! Thank the Pantheon, the art disaster that was the last volume has been put to an end. I couldn’t be happier to have the beautiful art back. Having read as many comic books as I have so far, I think that Jamie McKelvie’s art is up there at the top for me.

In every single frame the art is so astoundingly beautiful that I am even willing to forgive some of the flaws in the plot.

This volume convinced me that The Wicked + The Divine is following a simple story arc, using simple art (in the sense that there aren’t millions upon millions of layers, textures and so on), and following a pace that is neither too slow, nor too fast. While I think that this is a very safe recipe, it also makes it easier to follow through with the plots and to not create a mess of story lines that go no where. At the same time, the story does draw the reader in and keep their interest.

There are two things that I support, and at the same time, would not mind if they changed a bit:

  1. The pace: As I said, thanks to the medium pace, the story lines get resolved. However, 4 volumes in, we haven’t moved that much forward in terms of the plot. The character development is more vigorous, but the general aim of the book is somewhere in the distant future, because only at the end of this volume, do we see the end of the first act. Ananke‘s words at the end of Rising Action are ominous and predict that there is going to be a completely different big arc in the book, and one that will have a much bigger adversary.
  2. The character interactions: The characters have a set of relationships with each other worthy of a soap opera, but it’s actually really hard to find the motivation for their actions. Why these two hate each other and those two don’t is usually determined by the alliances and enmity which serve the author. Also, taking into consideration that they are in a constant war, they don’t actually have that much time to interact.

Thank being said, I love Laura’s team. But not Laura herself. He-he.

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“ODY-C, Vol. 1: Off to Far Ithicaa” by Mat Fraction

ODY-C, Vol. 1: Off to Far Ithicaa(Author: Matt Fraction) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

UGH.

This is a strong contender for the worst comic book I’ve read. I’m not sure if it’s the worst one, but if I went back an ranked them, and this was not it, it would not be for the lack of trying.

The story, all on itself, seems like it could somehow work out: female Odyssey (Odyssia, to be precise) in space, shortly after the war in Troiia, is trying to fly home to Ithicaa while the gods are throwing obstacles in her way.

I mean… It has possibilities?

However, this comic book has one single positive side: the colors. They are very vibrant, out there and bordering with psychedelic imagery. That’s it. That’s all the compliments I can give for this volume.

Here’s a list of what I hated about it (which is everything else):

  1. All men have been wiped out of existence. Except for one. Ergo, we have to witness an unnecessary amount of boobs, vaginas, baby-birthing, and all things that should be private, but are shown in this comic book, because it has nothing to offer, outside of shocking images. This includes penises. There is one man, so obviously, we MUST see his penis. No, not really. I didn’t have a particular need for that.
  2. There is a very ridiculous system of women and women who can impregnate themselves, who are other beings, created in a lab. It’s a society in which everyone is a woman, but for some reason, some women have beards? And there are mouths everywhere? Like a serious oral fixation? (images at the bottom)
  3. I did say that it’s colorful, huh? Yeah, well, there’s colorful, and there’s I-ate-some-paints-and-then-fell-sick-and-puked-them-back-out. As in a mess of images, colors, explosions, vaginas, mouths, mouths, more mouths, blood, intestines and tits, and you’re not really sure what you’re looking at. (Sometimes that’s a mercy.)
  4. There’s no actual plot. They tried to create a space Odyssey, but failed to include the story. Some things happen, there’s no narration, the characters barely communicate, there are almost no dialogues, what is in fact written is random gibberish.
    I scrolled randomly an stopped at a random page and this is all the text there was in that page. It’s like this in every page:

    • “Something you must understand,” says the wizard, “Is my star is nothing like yours. This is a thing made for wishing by magicks that only a titan as I could conceive.” “What do you mean?” asks Odyssia.

  5. The entire comic book has NO point, whatsoever. You can take a look at the Goodreads page and how no one actually got what they were reading, because there was nothing to get. This entire comic book is an ego masturbation born out of lack of any good ideas. There’s nothing stylish, or provocative, or imaginative in this book.  It’s, in fact, so dull, that they are urged to throw everything gross, disgusting and unnecessary they have in a futile attempt at keeping the reader’s attention. “This episode has no point. There’s no idea. Oh, damn, what do we do? Here’s some bloody boobs. What? Not enough boobs? More boobs? So, do we have your attention?”

And lest you think that I’m exaggerating or making this up, here’s some pictures for your viewing displeasure.

NOTE: EXPLICIT AND POSSIBLY SPOILERISH ILLUSTRATIONS. (that is to say that this thing barely has a story, but there might be parts of what there is below.)

Continue reading

“Going Postal, Discworld #33” by Terry Pratchett

Going Postal (Discworld, #33; Moist von Lipwig, #1)(Author: Terry Pratchett) + (Year: 2004) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Going Postal definitely ranks among my top 3 Discworld books. That is to say, Equal Rites will ALWAYS be my favourite, as it was my first, and the one that got me into Terry Pratchett to begin with. After that, the list gets blurrier, but nevertheless, Going Postal is among best.

I saw the Going Postal movie no fewer than 3 years ago and I loved it. Which was my reason to postpone reading this book after I suffered from a severe Terry Pratchett fatigue. Now I’m back, and I’m happy to be here.

Going Postal is essentially a book about hope. Whatever else is happening in this book, it’s actually a wide frame of the story of hope.

“And this was known as the greatest of treasures, which is Hope. It was a good way of getting poorer really very quickly, and staying poor. It could be you. But it wouldn’t be.”

And then later in the book:

“Welcome to fear, said Moist to himself. It’s hope, turned inside out. You know you can’t go wrong. You’re sure it can’t go wrong…

But it might.”

Moist, as a character, is a personification of the efforts to be good. Or to be better. The struggle against the easy way out, which is to just take what you want (and not even need), as opposed to struggling and fighting for what’s worth it. I found Moist mightily gratifying to read about. He was just my type of a main character, crooked and wicked, but motivated to achieve more; aware of his flaws, morally ambiguous, willing to take a wild chance; Attempting to do the impossible, because where is the challenge, otherwise?

I liked the secondary characters a lot too. They were all cleverly constructed and very interesting. I know that many would say that this is always the case with Terry Pratchett, but I have grown to feel a gap between his books. As in, same author, same world, and yet there are ones that I loved, like Going Postal, and ones that I really, truly hated. And usually, I can set the difference with the witches (whom I adore) and everyone else, most of all the guards, who don’t interest me in the slightest. However, in Going Postal the characters are definitely not magical, but are awesome nevertheless.

I also found something else I was afraid I would never experience again: marveling at Pratchett’s cleverness. It’s just that whenever I dislike the story, I fail to pay attention to the details, and while this is a character flaw, I feel that it is more or less justified with the idea that you can’t force yourself to like something, and the more you dislike it, the more you dislike everything about it.

Going Postal has given me a new push into the Discworld, and I’m excited to read to the end of the series sometime in the not-so-distant future.

“Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes” by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes(Author: Neil Gaiman) + (Year: 1989) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Sandman could have gone very badly for me. I have been hearing about this, and even having been tempted to read it, before I got into comic books at all. Therefore, as you can guess, the hype was big and mighty, and therefore, so were the expectations.

Well, Sandman didn’t disappoint me. That is not to say that this isn’t a very dark and moody book, but it’s a very interesting spin on religion, deities, mythology and the power of those on the human life.

However, what needs to be mentioned, lest you are becoming less convinced to read the book based on my description, is that possibly the darkest and most conflicted character in Sandman, Dream, is also the one who unrelentingly believes in… hope.

For me, that is a very contrasting depiction of dream. I would normally say that dreams are positive and good, and at the same time, Dream, Morpheus, seems like a dark and brooding creature with little optimism and positivism. And yet, he is a hero after all. He takes care of the dreamers, lets no harm be done to them and fights more terrifying evils in their name.

The Sandman‘s quest in this first volume is aimed at rebuilding his kingdom after a century in captivity. During that time horrors have reigned upon earth and have been unleashed from the dream realm. It is Dream’s duty to collect them and restore the balance.

My favourite issue/chapter was that of Doctor Destiny. It seemed so out of place in such a novel, and despite that, it fit perfectly. Here I should mention that I was completely unprepared and totally surprised to see famous DC characters, such as the Justice League, John Constantine, and the Scarecrow (and, of course, mentioning Batman was inevitable). It seemed like a collision of worlds that I never expected to meet. But it somehow worked out. And the villain, Dr Dee, completely fit the description of dark and disturbing DC villains. While I thought that his form of violence, and especially his reasons for it, were not fully explained, and therefore, didn’t make total sense, at the same time, I just loved the wave of mass insanity and how Morpheus dealt with that.

Problems: I’m still not sold on the hardcore 80’s art. It’s funny where it should be normal and dramatic.

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“Sandman Special #1: Orpheus” by Neil Gaiman

Sandman Special #1: The Song of Orpheus(Author: Neil Gaiman) + (Year: 1991) + (Goodreads)


Review:

This was pretty cool.

I know that I should have probably stated with the original Sandman, and then gone to the specials, but I found this, and saw no reason not to go ahead. Considering that it’s not tightly related to Morpheus, I don’t think that I missed out on anything.

Note: Even though I hadn’t read the Sandman comic books, a couple of years ago, while binge-reading Neil Gaiman’s works, I did read a script for a Sandman movie. Keeping that in mind, I might not be explicitly familiar with the story, but I am more or less familiar with some of the characters from the script, and of course, with the rest from mythology.

I really liked this short story about Orpheus and Eurydice. It seemed kind of a random starting point for my adventures into the Sandman world, but then again, it was a pretty cool read.

What really bothered me, and this is actually pretty hilarious, was the style. Everything was good, except that… even in mythology, they were devastatingly 90’s, or even 80’s. The hair of all of the characters seemed so out of place that I, as a reader 20+ years later cringed at basically every illustration. It might seem mean to judge, considering that the comic book does belong to that period. But… no.

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Most of all, Edward Scissorhands over here:

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As far as the story goes, it’s a very sad one, of course, and also quite revealing as to the personality of Morpheus. His relationship with his wife and son was a very unpleasant one to read, and testified to the fact that he is not so much a deity, as he is a force of nature, of sorts. And one that doesn’t really comprehend human emotions.

However, I had two favourite scenes in this book. One was of Orpheus meeting Death, which was just so… well, cool! Him, in his Thracian outfit, and her, as a 90’s punk rock chick. And then there was one of the final scenes, that of Orpheus meeting the Bacchante. I don’t even know what that was supposed to be, but it was unexpected, gruesome and creepy, with a spoonful of gross.