“Dead Male Birds” by Inci Aral

Ölü Erkek Kuşlar(Author: Inci Aral) + (Year: 1996) + (Goodreads)

(Around the world: Turkey)


Review:

Turkish literature strikes again.

I’m not sure how to weigh this book’s positives and negatives.

Turkish literature and modern Balkan literature are quite unusual in comparison to American and British literature even when the same genre (i.e. adult fiction) is concerned. The Western world puts a lot more focus on the plot, the twists and the turns in the story, of trauma, especially hidden one.

However, all the modern Turkish literature I have read is entirely centered on the characters. This book is not an exception. I will write specifically about Dead Male Birds, but everything that I say can easily be applied to every other book that I have had access to, that is set in Turkey in the last 20-30 years.

Dead Male Birds is a book about a woman who is torn between two men. The narrative is non-linear and, at times, very confusing. The main character, Suna, is having a conversation with her husband Ayhan, and she is suddenly elsewhere, in a different time and place, with her lover Onur. Then jump back – Suna is having a weird dream. Jump forward – we are in a movie theater and something completely different is happening. Then we are back to Ayhan, then months forward to Onur…

The writing is not without merit. The author is well-versed into describing emotions and emotional states. What is lacking is the reasoning behind the emotions. Suna is completely undecided on what she wants from her life, and more importantly, who she wants. Time and again she pushes both men our of her life, then draws them back in. We are privy into her desperation and sadness, but we never really find out why she is doing any of this.

The entire plot doesn’t really move much, to begin with. The story is very drawn-out, unnecessary long, and often repetitive.

The characters are developed to different levels. Emotionally, Suna is a very rich character. However, Ayhan is only represented by his actions toward Suna, and nothing more. Onur, the lover, is described up to the point where his relationship with Suna starts. After that he becomes this blank person who just pushes Suna’s inner drama.

I think the reason for this is that Dead Male Birds is a rather feminist book, or an attempt at one. It deals with the woman’s role in society, how her life is planned out, how she is not much more than a piece of furniture in the house. And while this book was written 20 years ago, I don’t think that much has changed for women in Turkey. They are still first and foremost wives and mothers, and then maybe, maybe, if they fight hard for it, they might try to be something else. That, however, carries yet another stigma – the one of the women who want to step out of the regulations.

One of my favourite parts of the book is the role-reversal between Suna and Ayhan. Ayhan, a scholar who has lived abroad, grows tired of his wife’s passivity, the fact that she is not as well educated as he is and also the fact that she doesn’t have friends of her own, doesn’t have a job, doesn’t have interests. At that point, he sees that she has been indoctrinated into being this person, and he doesn’t like it. So he makes a contract according to which Suna has to start standing on her own feet, to read and learn, to find friends and a job. Once that happens, she realizes that she can be much more than his wife, while he realizes that he doesn’t really want her to be that well educated after all.

For me, this is a real issue in countries like Turkey. From firsthand experiences from friends and, mostly, acquaintances, Turkish men often mistreat their wives and girlfriends because they see them as dull and boring, and they go to look for adventures outside of home. (Once at a social gathering I heard the following: “Give me a second to tell my girlfriend that I am in bed, so that she can go to sleep.” “But you are at a party.” “She doesn’t have to know that.” “But that’s not right.” “Come on, she is so annoying, she’ll ask me who’s here and so on, and she obviously can’t come, this is not a place for her.” And later that guy found another girl to keep him entertained.) But once those same “dull and boring” girls try to liberate themselves, they become undesirable, too loose, too frivolous in the eyes of society.

The author tries to make her own comment on this fact, but then forgets to build a story around it, so the book turns into an really long narrative of the suffering of three broken, damaged and selfish people.

“Lady Mechanika Vol. 2: The Tablet of Destinies” by Joe Benítez

Lady Mechanika Vol. 2: The Tablet of Destinies (The Tablet of Destinies, #1-6)(Author: Joe Benítez) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Not as good as the first one.

My general problem with Lady Mechanika, after two volumes, is that it doesn’t follow through. In the first volume she was decided on finding her maker. In this volume that story is completely forgotten and something completely different is happening on a different continent.

Not to mention that this is Lady Mechanika and the tablet of destinies, except that Lady Mechanika is not even in the story line with the tablet. So to call it like this would be something like “Aragorn and the One Ring”. I mean… uh… they are in the same world?

I firmly believe that this could have been much better, had the story been more condensed and had there been fewer sub-plots.

Much like the first volume, there is a recipe in which there is a male mastermind who has a bunch of generic soldiers and a female assistant, while Lady Mechanika on the other team finds unlikely friends and a mysterious guy who helps her from afar. Maybe if they hadn’t followed this already used story, it could have been much better.

I continued liking the art, however. It was very intricate and detailed, and also pleasant to look at. The more female characters come in, the more obvious it is that they are all the same when you remove the colors. But I will choose to disregard that and enjoy the general feel of the book which was pretty good.

“Lady Mechanika, Vol.1: the Mystery of Mechanical Corpse” by Joe Benítez

Lady Mechanika, Vol.1: the Mystery of Mechanical Corpse(Author: Joe Benítez) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

*** 3.5, but not enough for 4 ***

I enjoyed Lady Mechanika a lot more than I did Wraithborn. Considering my immense disappointment with the latter, I was almost scared to start Lady Mechanika.

But as I received both of these, and the 2nd volume of Lady Mechanika, from NetGalley, I had to finish it. I am glad I had this incentive, because ultimately, Lady Mechanika is by far better than Wraithborn.

Lady Mechanika is the epitome of steampunk. Everything about it is highly detailed and intricate. If you look at the illustrations, you would notice that there are layers upon layers of art and attention to detail and I can’t not admit how impressive that is.

The art, in general, was much better here than in Wraithborn. If you remember my review, I was aghast at the depiction of women. They are still very sexual in Lady Mechanika, but it’s done a lot more tastefully, to a point where I can agree that this is the wet dream of a classy high school boy.

I also found the story more intriguing. I enjoyed the main story arc about the mechanical people a lot. The part that didn’t impress me as much were the sub-plots and hints at other relations between the character that just add fluff to a story that could go without. Almost all characters are related in pairs and have common past. These two are siblings, those two worked together, the two men know each other, etc. etc. As far as the story about the Frankenstein-esque doctor who creates the mechanical people goes, there’s already enough suspense that everything else is just micromanagement of pages that need to be filled.

And speaking of, my major issue with Lady Mechanika: the writing. Literally. The author really wanted to write a book, didn’t have enough material for that, but he obviously had too much for a comic book. There is just SO MUCH DIALOGUE. It doesn’t go harmoniously with graphic novels. A book rat such as myself can tell you as much: when you are reading a book, you can take as many pages of text as there are; but if you are reading a comic book, you are not prepared for the insane amount of dialogue that is just out of place and both disjoints the story, and distracts the reader.

17122262_10208079221248197_1833619330_o

Looking at this, I remember what I thought when I was initially reading it: This is honestly outrageous.

[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.

16523160_10207879081444827_79127333_o16468784_10207879105645432_1951842084_n

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

16469039_10207879109405526_1095658604_n a-jenny_humphrey_taylor_momsen_gossip_girl-8671

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.

“Revival, Vol. 1: You’re Among Friends” by Tim Seeley

Revival, Vol. 1: You're Among Friends(Author: Tim Seeley) + (Year: 2012) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Pretty good, in comparison with a lot of the things that I have read recently. Revival is not mind-blowing, but it definitely has a lot of potential.

What is original about Revival is that it’s not your classic zombie story. Yes, the dead come back. But they are not this:

large

Not totally, anyway.

The dead have risen, and they seem to be acting normally. Have they received an extra life? Does everyone get a second chance? Are they okay? They seem to be. Until they don’t. Until people start noticing something off about them. Something in their behavior. A strange spark in their eyes…

If you have read Pet Sematary or Handling the Undead, you would not regard this as an original concept. However, the approach is different, especially in the medium of comic books.

I can’t deny that I was very curious about the peculiar representation of death and what lies beyond; and also, of how people, the “normal” ones, that is, act when they are put in such a situation. From the ones who try to rationalize it, to the ones who turn it into a sign of providence. So undeniably, Revival has interesting and colorful characters, the development of whom I will enjoy following in the other volumes, as well.

And although we get a lot more of Dana, than of Em, I’m pretty sure that Em is the character to follow in this series. She is, I think, the face of the moral issue in this comic book. I don’t necessary say that she is likable, as a person, but she is definitely the more vivid and deep character. And, of course, the crazier one.

revivalcomic

What did I not like about Revival, then? As I said, it’s not mind-blowing. It works, but it could also not work. There’s a story going on, but the first volume is separate incidents that have yet to add up to a story. The protagonist, Dana, is not the most consistent character. She’s a good caring mother and a dutiful cop in one scene, a random lady looking for casual sex in a bar at the next. (And honestly, how is that supposed to work in a small town in Wisconsin? Who do you think you will meet there, woman?)

However, I’m more than eager to continue reading and see where this journey goes…