“Mockingbird, Vol. 1: I Can Explain” by Chelsea Cain

Mockingbird, Vol. 1: I Can Explain(Author: Chelsea Cain) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Do you know what the best thing about Mockingbird is? It’s just awesome. That’s it. Literally.

I feel like this series is entirely too underrated. I know that it has been gaining popularity. But still, by no means is Mockingbird one of the characters that you would think of if someone put the words “badass, “female”, “Marvel”, and “character” together in a sentence. And that would be sad.

Bobbi is, quite simply put, a hero that I would aspire to be like. And by that I mean sarcastic. The thing about her is that as much as she kicks ass and saves the world, she does it with humor, a sense of irony, and so much sarcasm. She is fantastic. True, she goes crazy, but so do all of us. That’s why I find her so easy to relate to. She is basically all of us, those who have ever wanted to be superheroes, but never really got the hang of it. Except that she did, which is what makes her the centerpiece of this entire review, obviously. And most of all, her Corgis. Everywhere. It’s a series about a Corgi queen. I kid you not. On second thought, maybe that’s why I can relate to Bobbi. I dream of having my own Corgi army.

Additionally, I loved the art of the first few issues of Mockingbird. Just as they ruined the Batgirl art for me, there came Mockingbird, which was just as awesome. I found everything about the art very pretty, yet simple, yet funny and full of hilarious little details, familiar faces, and Easter eggs. What more could one want? For them not to ruin it? Oh, oops, they did. I didn’t really like the last part of the volume. Uh…

I am not giving this volume the full 5 stars because as good as each issue was as a singular entity of sorts, the story didn’t add up to enough for me to be in awe. Sure, it was overall alright. Very much so. But I expected more. A bigger conclusion, as far as one would go for a first volume. I was left going “Now it’s coming… Any moment now… Yep, this is it… Um?”

That’s not to say that I’m not going to continue reading on. Quite the opposite.

P.S. In case you are wondering about how close this Bobbi is to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Bobbi, not that much, for me. This one is much better.Look-wise? Yeah, Adrianne Palicki NAILED IT.

“Sex Criminals, Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop” by Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky

Sex Criminals, Volume 2: Two Worlds, One Cop(Author: Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I liked this volume a lot!

The previous one was centered around Suzie much more than it was around Jon. And I liked her a lot, while my feelings towards him were very ambiguous. Especially between him as she sees him, and him as he is.

In Volume 2, however, we had the opportunity to spend more time with the “real” Jon, and I started warming up to him more. I enjoyed the first issue of the volume a lot, because it showed his own struggle, his attempts to be “normal”, his desire to do so, for her, if not for himself.

Which of course led to a lot of ups and downs in their relationship, which, I guess, is pretty normal. And I also liked that the authors were very persistent in their storytelling. A worse writer would have idealized Suzie and Jon’s relationship now that they have found each other. Instead, the two characters stayed themselves. Suzie was described as… let’s call it frivolous, in her sex life, prior to meeting Jon, and here we saw her struggles to abstain from other men. Especially Robert Rainbow, whom I actually liked a lot.

However, my most beloved character of this volume was undoubtedly Jazmine St. Cocaine. She was a fantastic comic relief and a nice breath of fresh air among the inner struggles of Suzie and Jon, their relationship trouble, and their attempts of escaping Kegelface. Not to mention The Wicked + the Divine porn version, which was absolutely brilliant and I’m so glad I read that one first, because it made the Sex Criminals issue even better.

I’m really excited about reading the next volume of the story and seeing how everything unravels!

P.S. If there is one thing I would change about the art, it’s Jon’s nose. Nothing has ever been as unnecessary and as distracting.

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“Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour” by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour (Scott Pilgrim, #6)(Author: Bryan Lee O’Malley) + (Year: 2010) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Finally writing this review!

I think Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour is a pretty good conclusion to the series. After the events of the last volume Scott hit rock bottom and his state was not much better at the beginning of this volume, not to mention that he was a total creep, especially with Knives.

The other thing, which I thought was cool, was the fact that things with Envy were resolved, as she was maybe the only villain/anti-hero that concluded their story-arch in an amicable way with the heroes. I was also impressed how the narrative slightly changed. Up until this volume everything around Scott was described more or less the way HE sees it, but here we were able to see that Scott is maybe not the most reliable narrator after all. Which made me like Envy more than I expected!

This takes me to the battle of the two Scott’s. Even though this book is mostly fun, I can’t not see how there are some pretty accurate descriptions of emotional states, which through the magic of comic books are instead made into reality. In this case I am referring to the fact that Scott had such a strong inner battle for staying sane and not be overcome by sadness/depression/etc. that it actually manifested and it was the power of love and hope that helped Scott defeat it.

The point of the volume, the showdown with Gideon, was a little underwhelming, simply because he was described as too formidable an enemy in all previous volumes. However, I loved the story with the cat, especially the one panel where Scott cuddled the cat! Another thing that I appreciated is how they went back to Scott winning a life in one of the previous volumes, as at the time I read it, I was really hoping it would not be forgotten later on.

Overall, this has been a great series and I am glad I read it!

Thanks to my comic book guru, Mateusz, for recommending it.

“Sex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird Trick” by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky

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(Author: Matt Fraction) + (Year: 2014) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I liked this volume much more than I expected. I had very high expectations which made me sure I would be disappointed. I was not. It was really interesting, funny and original.

I do not know whether it was a good or a bad idea, but I read Just the Tips by Fraction and Zdarsky before I did Sex Criminals and Just the Tips was basically all of the sex jokes and pictures from Sex Criminals in a separate book. Therefore, I was not spectacularly surprised or shocked by the jokes, simply because I had already seen them. But that does not mean that I did not appreciate Sex Criminals.

It is undeniable that the authors are very creative. There were many things that just “wow”-ed me. As in, how does anyone come up with anything as crazy as this?! Facts, however, are that these two guys did and the result was hilarious.

!!! WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE !!!

I found many things about the characters that would normally put me off and make me dislike them, but in this book it kind of just made sense. For example, I liked Suzie, even though she was a bit too frivolous… But it is a sex comic book, what else should I expect.

The thing that did not make a lot of sense to me was Jon. He just felt very unbalanced, somehow just wrong in an existential way, rather than being badly written. That is why I was not sure what Suzie liked SO MUCH about him. And this also made me question the foundation of their relationship and whether it would develop as much if they didn’t share their abilities. I am really curious to read more about it in the next volumes, maybe I will change my mind. But for the majority of this novel I felt like Suzie agreed to a lot of things she didn’t like because of her feelings to Jon.

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Generally, I found everything in the creative design of Sex Criminals very… right. The atmosphere, the writing, the characters, the jokes, it all just went in a great sync. I hope this chemistry does not change further on.

“The Star Diaries” by Stanislaw Lem

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(Author: Stanislaw Lem) + (Year: 1978) + (Goodreads)


Review:

What a fantastic book! One of the best ones that I have read this year!!! If you have not read it, and I assume that is the situation, I highly recommend it!

“I sat at my desk today, to write, and the chair said to me: ‘What a strange world this is!”

I will put this bluntly: I am highly aware that the English speaking world generally neglects the literature of the rest of the world, which is the idea behind the Reading the World challenge to begin with. I am also aware that among the world literature that does gain some fame, the Eastern block is not in focus. HOWEVER, I think that by not reading certain novels, The Star Diaries among them, people are committing literary crime. Because this book is brilliant in its writing, ideas and sense of humor, achieved through satire.

I read it in Michael Kandel’s translation, my Polish not being great as of yet(though I consider myself a good student), and I thought the writing was beautiful. I can only begin to imagine how lovely Lem’s original expressions are, because translations, no matter how good, always take away something from the original.

The language, overall, was very rich, changing between styles, even using a made up version of old and new language, in the Polish version, I assume, Polish, but also, and much credit to Kandel, of course, in the English version, a sensational mix of old and new English that I had some trouble with, but that only attests to it’s greatness, because it used expressions long out of use.

I am generally not a fan of satire, but this book was fantastic in that sense. The humor, so gentle and subtle and yet obviously there, was amazing. I usually put some berth between myself and humorous books, but I do not regret a second of reading The Star Diaries. Which brings me to the moment I will acquaint you with the book itself: The Star Diaries tells the story of Ijon Tichy, who travels from one planet to another and gets in all kinds of strange and comic situations. The stories are told in separate journeys, instead of chapters, and the journeys themselves were written out of order for 20 years. Some of them lean more on the philosophy, some more on the humor, but all of them are ultimately rewarding.  

Ijon Tichy is a great narrator. What he succeeds at the best is the fact that he takes all of the events that happen to him, no matter how strange or borderline disturbing they are, in a light-hearted and calm manner. He escapes narrowly from crashing his ship on numerous occasions, he is left stranded in space, he gets mixed up in all kinds of weird events, and he does it in an almost graceful manner. Even more so when he ponders whether he really existed, to begin with, when he creates the world, or gets arrested by robot fanatics.

Some of the voyages were better than others, some were longer and some, much shorter. I had trouble with the language, as I mentioned above, of the Eleventh Voyage, but the idea was brilliant and reminded me a lot of The Man Who Was Thursday. I will not let out any spoilers but it was great! If you ever wondered how the world was created, you would enjoy the Eight Voyage, in which Ijon goes to represent Earth in a gathering of the United Planets and understands how we came to be(a silly accident of oil spillage). He creates the history of the planet through a series of work mishaps during a project that he is in charge of in the Twentieth Voyage. The Twenty-first Voyage was admittedly challenging in a philosophical way, but also extremely interesting as it tells the story of how Ijon Tichy crashes on a planet of creatures that used to be human-like, until they started making genetic changes to their bodies and ended up completely robot and unable to return to the way they used to be, because they are torn by conflicts both of philosophical and religious character. (click for original Lem illustration)

I will leave you enjoy the rest of this mad and fantastic book on your own, but if you ever trusted my judgement, you will read it, because it is great! It incorporates all of the flaws of humanity, told in a humorous way, and also, as it seemed to me, though ironic, nevertheless full of the affection that Lem had for the human kind.

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