“The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man” by Tom King

The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man(Author: Tom King) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)


Review:

From the moment I started reading The Vision, I felt that something was creeping in on me. I knew that this was mostly supposed to be a dark comedy, at least from most of what I had read or heard about it. However, that was not the feeling that I got from the volume itself.

First and foremost, there is something that I really enjoyed: the ominous chill running through the entire volume. From the very beginning, I felt slightly disturbed by the characters, perturbed by their way of interacting and of viewing the world. Most of all, I was always, to one degree or another, unsettled by Virginia. This part is clear enough from the very, very beginning of the story, with the little “At the end of the story… will happen.” remarks.

However, the more I read, the more I felt like I’m missing something. I was trying to get why this family bothers me so much. It took me a couple of attempts at guessing, until I realized that what really, really bothered me, is that The Vision is not a story of a family. It’s a story of a lonely man who feels so disconnected from his world that he makes a new one for himself. It’s also the story of an orphan. A man, or a little worse than one, who has been brought to this world but feels no connection to it. He has no roots, no family, he didn’t grow, didn’t become, he just was. Also, one who is very powerful, but also deeply misunderstood. One who will always be out of place.

If you choose to see The Vision as I do, you’d realize that this is a coming-of-age story. Just a very unconventional one. And also very beautiful, yet tragic one. And I say tragic, because, in this volume, at least, I don’t think that the Vision achieved what he wanted to. Despite all of his efforts, he stayed on the outside looking in. There were many great moments in the volume, to illustrate how sad it actually was, from Viv‘s talk with her lab partner in the courtyard, to the Vision’s first lie and the reasons behind it, and most all, the entire “The Villainy You Teach Me” chapter. I absolutely loved this one, both the parallel between the story and the Shakespeare quote, and the choice of the quote itself.

And, by sheer coincidence, I happened to be listening to the Hamilton musical while reading The Vision. Which was the one part of the story that came out of circumstance, but gave me a totally new viewpoint. I realized that the two could be compared so easily. If you feel I am going way out there, please bear with me.

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a
Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten
Spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

ktchqqs75krf8i3rrjkg
And every day while slaves were being slaughtered and carted
Away across the waves, he struggled and kept his guard up
Inside, he was longing for something to be a part of
The brother was ready to beg, steal, borrow, or barter

20845886-_sx540_

Then a hurricane came, and devastation reigned
Our man saw his future drip, dripping down the drain

20845994-_sy540_

Alexander Hamilton
My name is Alexander Hamilton
And there’s a million things I haven’t done
But just you wait, just you wait…
***
When he was ten his father split, full of it, debt-ridden
Two years later, see Alex and his mother bed-ridden
Half-dead sittin’ in their own sick, the scent thick
***
Moved in with a cousin, the cousin committed suicide
Left him with nothin’ but ruined pride, something new inside
A voice saying “You gotta fend for yourself.” 
“Alex, you gotta fend for yourself.”
rtwt2ft3wibe7fp9vmsb
There would have been nothin’ left to do
For someone less astute
He woulda been dead or destitute
***
You could never back down
You never learned to take your time!

When America sings for you
Will they know what you overcame?
Will they know you rewrote the game?
The world will never be the same, oh

5048317-visionhero

 

If you want to experience The Vision, Vol. 1 the way I did, you can head over here:

“Watchmen” by Alan Moore

Watchmen(Author: Alan Moore) + (Year: 1987) + (Goodreads)


Review:

As this is most probably the most commented and admired comic books of all time, I think it makes sense that I would not be able to get through everything that makes it great.

In all honesty, Watchmen is quite frankly mesmerizing. Both the story and the art bring comic books on an entirely new level. If one would consider Watchmen just a comic book, then many “comic books” would not even have the right to try to claim that name.

Because Watchmen is, most of all, a philosophical novel. It juggles with many topics, among which most famously, the humanity of the characters. In a world where even humans struggle to be human – and I mean our own, – heroes are us. Because the Watchmen are not the likes of Captain America, Professor X, or Superman. They are humans who have taken the task of watching over the world. But who watches the Watchmen?

watchmen-ch1-pg1

If you have seen the Watchmen movie, you might have been left with the impression that Doctor Manhattan was the hero of this story. Having read the comic book, you might think that it was Rorschach. I would say that there is no hero in this story. It’s one full of disturbed, wounded, marginal people, who are trying their best to do what they can about the world they live in. Even the ones who choose to live in denial are not spared the reality of their lack of actions, or the consequences of it.

And as wrong as some of the characters might be, all of them are lively. Moore manages to breathe life into them, make them as real as we are, and just as flawed.

“The morality of my actions escapes me.” 

As deep and as intricate the entire book is, the one story that summarizes the whole, is Tales of the Black Freighter. It took me a while to catch on the story, because in the beginning some of the points it was making were still not connected to what was happening between the characters. But once we reached the end, I was mesmerized by the cleverness of this one, seemingly unconnected to the whole, plot line.

The one element of Watchmen that should never be overlooked is the fact that this book does not justify our world, or even us, the people in it. It doesn’t sugarcoat, and it doesn’t go into allegories which cannot be understood. What is special about Watchmen, in fact, is that it is a two-sided knife. There is much more to it than we can see, and it is still clear, if one has the right mindset. And the mindset is actually crucial to reading Watchmen, as this book is dedicated first and foremost, to us, our morality, and the justifications we give for our actions. Be it that we see life as too inconsequential to bother, or that we hate humanity to bits, and yet we’d sacrifice ourselves to save it, or even going beyond that, think that we love it so much that we justify our horrible deeds with other people’s well-being and future rewards.

I know that I am taking this review on a more philosophical level, rather than by analyzing the behaviour of the characters, but I rather think that Watchmen is not really its story, but what the story represents. While there are novels in which you have a beautiful narrative which could mean other things, but it is also important on its own, to me Watchmen is a different level if ingenuity, which should not be restricted between the panels of drawings.

And speaking of the art of Watchmen, it is, of course, beautiful, realistic, old-fashioned, ever so clever, and, I’d like to think, always valid. The symbolism, the creativity, the continuity, even, are undeniably shining bright and unlikely to be overshadowed by another piece of comic book art. I could even admit to not being too aware of Watchmen, until we discussed Alan Moore’s amazing descriptions while writing comic books, and how he’d go into details about every single part of the picture, to a point where the illustrator would have to but follow the instructions while drawing.

A real must-read!

“The Batman Adventures: Mad Love” by Paul Dini

The Batman Adventures: Mad Love(Author: Paul Dini) + (Year: 1993) + (Goodreads)


Review:

*** 3.5 stars ***

Okay, let’s start with this: I’m pretty sure  you know what got me to this story.

Having previously said that I’m not a Batman girl, I never really feel any specific urge to read yet another famous Batman novel. But everyone, to one degree or another, was interested by the Harley/Joker romance in Suicide Squad. Even a bunch of people who don’t know what a comic book is managed to get into it. (I would say that the latter could be explained with an entire series of psychological issues, among which hardcore daddy issues, but that’s another topic of conversation.)

So naturally, from everywhere, I started hearing about Mad Love. THE Harley/Joker novel, it seems. And to be honest, I was impressed with how they related some of the moments to the screen. Arguably, Suicide Squad was edited and cut up enough to lose coherency, but nevertheless, I enjoyed how they included so much of the lore.

Long story short, here I am, having read Mad Love. And I would say that it’s one of the Batman stories that I’ve enjoyed the most. The reasons are as follows:

  1. Batman is not even a main character in this. P.S. Batman sucks. Enough of this gloomy sociopath already.
  2. This book is seemingly very lighthearted and funny, while also being deep and disturbing, especially in the aspects of Harley and the Joker’s abusive relationship.
  3. This is the first time I actually cared about Harley Quinn. She is such a famous character/villain, but I’ve never really been interested in her. Villains usually go in to categories: crazy evil and coaxed into being evil. She is neither. Harley, as we see in this book, and as I believed for the first time, is truly mentally unstable. And that was actually cool to read about, as it made her more original and interesting.
  4. The Joker is not almighty. He’s not much of a mastermind either. She actually outsmarts him, even though she’s crazy so it doesn’t really count as much.

And in all honesty, there were a lot of conflicting emotions in me while reading Mad Love. The more I thought about it, the more upsetting it became, albeit making me even more impressed with Dini’s novel. Because there are many moments in the book where I was like “Ha-ha-ha… oh wait…”

Which brings me to the last part of my review: it’s okay to see disturbed people in comic books. It’s 80:20 of crazies:normals, and a lot of the crazies are the heroes themselves.

It is, however, upsetting to see how many young people want to be a part of a relationship like this. Many men, especially young ones, see themselves as Jokers, usually guys who want to be cocky and impressive; but more so, it’s worse when girls feel like Harley Quinn is a role model. Because not only is she crazy and murderous, but she is in an abusive relationship with a psychopath.

And in reality, I even personally know girls who want to, as the song from Suicide Squad “eloquently” puts it, “meet a gangster to treat them better than the others do.” (or something). We all know that the issue here is that a lot of young women want to be special to the one guy who would kill everyone, but love them more than anyone, and treat them special… But if you are a girl who thinks that, and is reading this post: Get your shit together, darling. The most you would get is a special slap, because your boyfriend is an abusive creep.

“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.

Day 3: “Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon” by Matt Fraction

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon

(Author: Matt Fraction) + (Year: 2013) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I am usually not as zen about anything. Ever. (Sorry, I’m from the Balkans.) But I have reached my most zen moment as far as comic books come: All comic books have something cool in them, but they are not all as cool for all people.

In other words, I see that Marvel and DC might not be my thing as far as comic books come. I LOVE superhero movies but the superhero comic books simply underwhelm me. I tried so many times by now. I have affection for Batgirl and Mockingbird, but  I am overall just unhappy with the stories and the graphics. I like the fact that in indie comic books they stick to one style. In superhero comic books, they do not. Therefore:

  1. I hated the art. I can’t sugarcoat it no matter how hard I try. One of the artists suffers from some kind of a lazy-eye fetish, because all of the characters looked disproportional and looking at different directions with each eye. The artist at the beginning and the end of this volume was too meh. I had a problem with reading the characters expressions, their faces being a blur of squiggly lines without any detail in them, and there was no background whatsoever. It looked just done in order to be done, I saw no care and interest in details.

The superhero stories themselves also bother me, simply because the stakes are so low that I can’t muster interest. The thing is, too much saving the world from total destruction is… too much. But there is another thing as well:

2. In comic books they do this thing where they make the superheroes basically too big. The world is small for them, every villain is too weak, every problem has a solution. Their lack of weakness makes it dreary caring about their lives. It is different in stories like Saga or Wytches or anything else that is not superhero book, basically. Because there you know that even if the character is battling a single villain, their life is at stake. They are so fragile that they can, in fact, be overcome. An Avenger, on the other hand… Do I believe he will die? Not really. Not at all. So why do I care? He is not saving the world and he is fighting a group of Russian(I think) mobsters. What stakes are there? That he has to save his immortal soul? Spare me. That is a characteristic of superheroes: they never change their personalities. So nothing new is happening in Hawkeye and nothing of the old is spectacular and no battle is waged, really. It is just his day-to-day routine. I have one too?! Jeannette comic book? I think yes.