“Morning Glories, Vol. 1: For a Better Future” by Nick Spencer

Morning Glories, Vol. 1: For a Better Future(Author: Nick Spencer) + (Year: 2011) + (Goodreads)


Review:

The good news is, it doesn’t totally suck. The bad news is, it’s confusing, weird and not very memorable.

I would not deny that there is a story somewhere there behind all the teenage angst drama and the glorification of the main character based on reasons unknown.

The story of Morning Glories is set in a prestige private boarding school where something dark and bloody is going on. The story is interesting enough to push you to read forward, but ultimately, there is not much satisfaction in it, because none of the important questions are answered. The volume ends on a giant cliffhanger, with no explanation about what happens to any of the characters or why.

More so, the characters seem to be more of a moving power for the story than the story itself is, as the two are far away from being linked as of the end of this volume. And the said characters are such sad cliches that there’s no fun in watching them do anything.

  • Exhibit A: A nerd. He who shall fall in love with the main character and will always follow her around.
  • Exhibit B: Emo-goth sad teenager who cries for her boyfriend a lot and always needs saving.
  • Exhibit C: Heroine. She knows all, everyone is after her, they love her and love to hate her. She is always behind every plan and the mastermind behind every escape.

I gave myself a day to mull it over and decide my final verdict. But I don’t think I have the patience or desire to keep on reading this series. I’m mildly curious about the main story, but there’s so much unnecessary fluff around it, that it kills my interest. This book is incapable of anticipating the emotions of the reader and of finding original ways to keep the reader’s attention. None of the characters acts like a real person would, that’s probably one of the main reasons it’s hard to care about them.

[Image Comics] First issues, part 1.

Last year I did two separate lists, The Good and The Bad. This year I will separate the posts, but not based on quality, as much as the fact that there are just too many of them. I will still order them by rating, but the rating is as much objective, as it is a comparison between the best and the worst. The reason for that is that, honestly, there wasn’t much good to pick from. I might be getting pickier with my comic books, but I noticed that the stories in at least half of this year’s batch were so similar that they could have been from the same universe. Also, there were two main trends that were entirely too visible: cults and werewolves. As well as the fact that I found the art on most of the issues just plain ugly.

Snotgirl #1Snotgirl #1 (2016)
Author: Brian Lee O’Malley

As gross as the title sounds, Snotgirl is absolutely the best first issue I read from this year’s Image comics Humble Bundle.

For starters, the art is gorgeous! Even when it’s kind of disgusting, it’s also drawn with style.

I had theories about the plot, but I didn’t manage to crack what’s actually going on with Snotgirl, but it a completely positive way, because I’m now very excited to continue reading on.

And also, happy to say that Brian Lee O’Malley is as awesome as ever!

Demonic #1

Demonic #1 (2016)
Author: Christopher Sebela

Not a spectacular one, but definitely enjoyable. Also, the fact that a lot of the rest were so bad made it stand out.

It’s a classic story of possession, confusion and a feeling of impending doom, but somehow, it offers a nice twist on the regular story. I felt almost claustrophobic, following the hardships of the main character, and having to experience how doomed he is when his family is on the line. It was not a pleasant feeling, but I think the story was built well enough to create it, so it must be doing its job well.

Also, I am still curious about some of the things that the character mumbled about only vaguely. Even though I smell a cult coming in the future.

Rockstars #1Rockstars #1 (2016)
Author: Joe Harris

This one is related to the cults and gods that I mentioned earlier. There have always been theories about rockstars being devil worshipers, about secret meanings in their music, songs being played backwards, etc. The protagonist of Rockstars is especially interested in that and is trying to solve the disappearance of two girls who went to a rock concert, one of them to later be found dead and the other one never to be seen again.

I was curious, still am, about where the story is going to go, so I would say that this is the second best issue from the bundle. The art was also very pretty, especially the way they drew the female characters.

My problem with Rockstars is that this story was not necessary. People could have continued their lives without needing it. I will probably forget I read this, despite my interest. And also, I hated the main male character. He was just such a weirdo, and not in a cute way. (I imagine him as those people who stare at you on the bus, only to make you uncomfortable.)

Shutter #1Shutter #1 (2014)
Author: Joe Keatinge

Now this comic book has great art and lots of potential!

From the vert first page I knew this is different than the other things I read until I got to it. I really enjoyed the art as well as the concept, or what I got from it.

My problem with Shutter is not what I did find in it, it’s what I didn’t. For a comic book set in a world so much different than ours, there should have been a bit more introduction, and there was none. I just got the major idea that this is not our world, at least not our world today, and that the main character and her father used to be adventurers. Aside from that, it still remains a mystery to me.

However, I would say that if you are a fan of Saga, this might be a good comic book for you!

Black Road #1

Black Road #1 (2016)
Author: Brian Wood

Viking frontier? That’s what it felt like. The story takes place after the spread of Christianity in Norway (Norskk).

There’s nothing really spectacular about the story itself. It really reminded me of the setting of one of the comic books I read last year, The Goddamned. A tough, war-hardened viking takes a journey on a road full of dangers, blood and enemies.

What I did not dislike was the art. In comparison to some of the other issues, it was great. And that is to say, objectively speaking it’s not much more than mediocre. However, as a fan of the Vikings TV show, I saw a familiar setting and background, so I was cool with it.

The Black Monday Murders #1The Black Monday Murders #1 (2016)
Author: Jonathan Hickman

Another cult one!

I think there might a bright future ahead of this comic book. However, the first issue was so overwhelming. Remember what I said about Shutter above? Well, this is the opposite. There’s too much information, even though you have no idea what is happening. There are diagrams, sketches, names, dates, dictionary entries, historical facts.

Yeah, sure, the reader gets the gist of the story, but there’s also so much information that remains just hanging there, because you don’t know the characters, you don’t know the settings, you don’t know the symbols. What about the girl who kept talking gibberish? There was a family tree of the Rothschild line with some someone added with every generation? Was that her? What is that supposed to mean for me, as the clueless reader?

Also, there was a stark difference between the drawings of the men and the women. The females looked well drawn, while the males were usually a lot of messy lines and just blackness.

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And last, but not least: WHY IS TAYLOR MOMSEN IN THIS?

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The Discipline #1The Discipline #1 (2016)
Author: Peter Mulligan

*** 1.5 stars ***

CULTS.

Here it starts getting bad all over.

The Discipline, solely based on the cover, seemed somewhat spooky, so I was pretty excited for it.

It’s just SO CHEESY!

I would say it’s more or less Supernatural 50 Shades of Gray. The main character is a neglected, dumb 23-year-old housewife who is sorely lacking sex, so she, instead, likes to gaze at paintings with elements of bestiality. Until a mysterious stranger comes along, flashes his D(iscipline), and starts training her for a sex pet. Or something.

Romulus #1Romulus #1 (2016)
Author: Bryan Hill

*** 1.5 stars ***

Wolves! Secret orders! Cults!

The art is not bad. On the story I call bullshit. A secret order has super-ninja wolf-women, even though they also have much more formidable soldiers, and they keep the wolf-women until the women themselves are about to cause problems. Which implies that before that, they were preferred, instead of the super-soldiers. Okayyy…

Also, lots of angst, insecurity and “I’m not my mother”s.

Basically, I lost my patience with this one. I don’t see the point behind it being made. The story doesn’t have anything touching or badass, or even a thing you could root for.

Kill Or Be Killed #1Kill Or Be Killed #1 (2016)
Author: Ed Brubaker

This one begs the question: BUT WHY?

An extremely pathetic guy decides to kill himself because… because… well, uh, I guess because his best friend, a girl, is not in love with him? Or because she pities him? Something like that? And he is so f*cking pathetic that he fails at that too, by the way. As a result of his failed suicide attempt, a monster/demon starts visiting him to ask for souls, in exchange of his. And he finds out that he is a bloodthirsty psychopath.

There you have it. Whether you would enjoy something like that, or not, is up to you. I was facepalming the entire time.

“Bad Monkeys” by Matt Ruff

Bad Monkeys(Author: Matt Ruff) + (Year: 2007) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Before starting the book, I skimmed through the Goodreads reviews. Also, my flatmate, who let me borrow the book, she shared the opinion of everyone on Goodreads.

So, I need only but confirm this: This book starts amazing and then falls flat on its sad, miserable face.

The story of Bad Monkeys might not have the most original concept ever, but the thing is, I really liked the basic idea. I wish that it had continued working on that, instead of developing into a weird sci-fi-wanna-be-karate-freakshow.

The story is as follows: Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder. While she’s already in custody, she meets with a psychiatrist and starts retelling her story to him. Jane admits to being a member of the division Bad Monkeys of a secret organization, which deals with assassinating dangerous, evil people. Jane explains in detail her childhood, her integration into the organization, and what lead to her being in custody. While many of the things she says turn out to be the exact truth, many are proven wrong by the official facts her doctor manages to unearth in his investigation. Is Jane really part of an assassin organization? Is she simply crazy?

The thing which drew my attention was the idea behind the organization: it intervenes when a really evil person is set loose and is probably going to cause a lot of damage to society. The basic notion behind this, I would say, is the mistrust toward the justice system. If you asked me about it, I would say that I absolutely don’t believe that criminals get the deserved punishment. As there is no retribution, it’s really hard to believe in justice.

More so, Bad Monkeys puts a very simple question to its readers: If there was an ex-director of a Nazi concentration camp, who caused the death of half a million people, and who’s now 90 years old, and living hidden in the forests of South America, and a guy who has only killed one person, but he has found a lust for violence, and is fairly young, which one would you kill?

I’ll let you answer that for yourselves.

However, no matter how intriguing and thought-provoking this core idea was to me, the book came short on so much more. For starters, the main character, Jane, was so confusing. I, as a reader, had a hard time caring about her as a person, and cared only about her story. She herself was just some side noise around everything that was happening in the story itself. Also, the author made some valid points taken from religion and the Bible, but at some point, there was so much religion and religious remarks and comparisons, that I wasn’t sure where he was going. As a person, who on the surface seemed to lean more on atheism, than on religiousness, he definitely didn’t prove it but his use of Christian allegories.

And, last, but by far not least, the ending of the book was absolutely ludicrous. Somewhere around 1/3 in, the book started getting increasingly ridiculous and messed up. And not in a good way. From a slow, methodical thriller, it turned into a really bad acid trip, which to me was like “Why do I even care?”, which made me read with less and less interest.

I am stubborn. I read the book despite the warnings. Don’t be like me, save yourselves the time. Read something else.

“Kiralik Konak” by Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu

Kiralık Konak(Author: Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu) + (Year: 1922) + (Goodreads)

(Around the World: Turkey)


Review:

I received Kiralik Konak (The Rented Mansion) from a friend, and I knew nothing about it prior to reading it. I was vaguely aware of the theme, as I studied this period of Turkish literature in university, but nothing beyond that.

Ultimately, my opinion is that, while not being amazing, this book is pretty good. The low rating might confuse you, but I did not give it because I thought the book was badly written, but because I didn’t like the characters as people.

In terms of writing, I found the narration very nice, flowing, well put, without too much description, but still having just enough  for me to be able to describe the book as poetic.

The characters were very vivid. And that was their issue, for me. They were small, petty, greedy, ugly people. All of them were too focused on one particular thing in their lives. Each of them was unwilling to see another point of view. All of them were unpleasant. Seniha most of all. She was just despicable. She would describe herself as kind and gentle, but from the entire book it was obvious that, even though other people found her nice to look at and therefore at least admired her, she was not a good person at all. And it was infuriating to read her musings about how she is a victim because her dad didn’t send her to Europe to whore around and waste money, or how her innocence was taken away, while she was in fact knowingly active in seducing men, especially for their money.

So I would say that as much as this book is a narrative about the clash of virtues, moral, and different eras, it’s also about obsession, as every character was obsessed with what they thought was the best thing in the world. From Naim efendi, who couldn’t imagine not living in his house (it’s just a house?!?), through Hakki Celis, who really wanted to be more than other people by dedicating himself to things he thought were higher than everything other people did, to all of the money-obsessed social climbers like Seniha and Faik.

The most interesting thing, however, was main topic of Kiralik Konak: the clash between Ottoman values and the new, modern, free way of thinking. The way that the older generations would not be able to understand not only the behaviour of the younger people, but everything, all the way to their speech. And most of all, how this occurrence, which has been happening everywhere throughout history, developed in Turkey, and told in original, and not re-imagined a hundred years later. And even more so, this was interesting because values continue to change and a new era has started in modern Turkey. And this modern era is not really much more than a jump to the values of a hundred or two hundred years ago. On that, I shall not pass judgement here.

“Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft” by Joe Hill

Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft

(Author: Joe Hill) + (Year: 2008) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I usually try to be more guarded when reading something I have heard too many good things about, but in this case I let myself be optimistic. Especially because I was craving something scary, movie or book.

As it happened with NOS4A2, Joe Hill disappointed me.

  1. I felt no specific interest in the story or the characters.
  2. I did not like the art AT ALL.
  3. I was not impressed at all with the villain.

The most original thing about the plot were the keys, essentially. The entire notion of the different keys, doors and locks was cool and I would still be interested to see it in a different interpretation. I absolutely think that it could be the centerpiece of something more thrilling and/or scary.

But what actually happened was that this entire interesting plot line was just a tool for the development of a totally different story, that of the well-house and Echo. And Echo was a character I really did not care about. After all of the positive feedback I have heard about this book, I expected something creepy and the personification of creepiness and horror is the villain… who failed. Nothing was explained about her mirror scene and none of her actions were all that interesting. Sam was more chilling a character, but not by much.

The heroes, or as close as they got to that word, were honestly annoying. I can’t use a different description because that is what they were to me. Especially Tyler. From the way that he acted to the way he was drawn. I honestly shuddered of disgust every time he was shown. He looked like an overgrown gorilla, who happens to be enrolled in high school. Even a movie could have depicted him better. And personality-wise all of them were horrible except for Bode. Not because they were bad people, but because they were just wrong, faceless, lifeless, lacking any depth. Bode I partially liked.

I am not sure that I really want to continue with the series. Having failed at liking Joe Hill‘s biggest bestseller, barely tolerated his second biggest bestseller, and strongly disliked his first volume, I do not see this relationship going anywhere.