Pages

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 2: Fandemonium

The local library didn't have The Wicked + The Divine Volume 2: Fandemonium. So I ordered it (and Volume 3) through interlibrary loan.

Fandemonium starts out pretty much where The Faust Act leaves off. Laura is trying to figure out what happened with Luci. Unfortunately her efforts are hampered by her being sick every time she even thinks about how Luci died.  But she teams up with Inanna in an attempt to find out exactly what went down.  Laura has also become famous in the aftermath of Luci, so she uses that fame to get her into speaking engagements at cons and the like to get closer to the other Gods.

There's a lot of things happening that are sort of drawn out (like the pages and pages of hard to follow party (of Dionysus I think?).  Cassandra (the journalist) turns out to be the 12th Goddess (Urdr, one of the three Norns).Laura is upset because she was hoping she would be the 12th.  Baphomet has decided to try going on a killing rampage to steal extra years for himself from the other Gods and Goddesses.

And then there's the ending....



...Laura IS one of the Pantheon.  She's the 13th member.  And she gets killed by Ananke!  What a cliffhanger!

I hope I can get my hands on Volume 3 soon to see the aftermath of this!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Birds of Prey Volumes 1, 2, and 3

Well I totally should have read these first to save the Aquaman graphic novels for last (because Aquaman was a lot better).  Black Canary and Starling are trying to start their team (Birds of Prey).  So in Volume 1 (Trouble in Mind) they invite Katana and Poison Ivy.  That was a pretty fun team, but then in Volume 2 (Your Kiss Might Kill) Poison Ivy betrays them.  In Volume 3 (A Clash of Daggers), the Dagger clan is after Katana; after dealing with that threat, Katana decides to stay in Japan, so the Birds of Prey (who also include Batgirl, who didn't really want to join them but I guess did?) need to recruit another member.  At the end of Volume 3, their team includes Condor, a guy in a flying suit they met in Japan, and Strix, an assassin from the Court of Owls that has been plaguing Gotham City (I've never heard of it before these books). 

The story jumps all over the place, even within a single volume, making it a bit hard to follow.  And even though I wanted to like these graphic novels, I really didn't care at all.  I almost didn't even bother reading Volume 3 because I just wasn't interested, but wanted to see the aftermath of dealing with Ivy (which I didn't get because they just sort of skipped ahead to the girls having been basically cured by Batman). 

So all in all, this just wasn't for me.  I'll go back to reading more Aquaman instead.

Aquaman Volumes 2, 3, and 4

I read them all back to back so decided not to write a separate review for each of them.

Aquaman: the Others was Volume 2, which seemed to start the whole Black Manta thing (Black Manta is a villain who has also appeared in the Aquaman rebirth comic series I'm also reading but not reviewing on this blog because I'm reading it issue by issue).  Black Manta has tracked down members of the Others, a team of super people Arthur Curry worked with prior to accepting his place in Atlantis.  His teammates were armed with powerful Atlantean artifacts, which is why they have been targeted by Black Manta.  It seems Black Manta is after a hidden seventh artifact which is more powerful than all the others.  I thought that the Others were interesting, but I wasn't given enough time to get to really know them as characters which was a real shame.  Arthur kept not wanting their help (which was apparently characteristic of him in the past) but his motivation had greatly changed - where previously he didn't care about them, now he didn't want to see them get hurt.  Black Manta was ultimately successful in getting the artifact (which is the scepter that was used to sink Atlantis) but he gave it to an unidentified third party.

Aquaman: Throne of Atlantis was Volume 3.  This one starts off when missiles from a surface world ship are fired at Atlantis (not by humans - they lost control of the weapons through mysterious means).  The humans think it's weird that the missiles fired themselves at empty ocean (because they didn't realize that's where Atlantis was).  But then the entire Atlantean war machine mobilizes with the intent of sinking Boston as retaliation.  This volume has members of the Justice League jumping in as Arthur must decide whose side he is on.  Volume 3 involves Arthur's half brother Orm, who is currently sitting on Atlantis's throne.  Arthur worries that Orm has the scepter that Black Manta took, but quickly realizes that's not the case when Orm orders charges laid in Boston to sink the city.  The staff is revealed to command those strange creatures from the Trench (Volume 1), who attack humans and Atlanteans en masse at the surface.  It turns out that Vulko, the first Atlantean Arthur met, was behind this.  Vulko wanted Arthur to resume his rightful place as the King of Atlantis, and felt that a war was the only way to get him to do so.  Vulko is brought back to Atlantis to await trial, while Orm yielded the throne to Arthur and so must stand trial in the surface world for killing so many when he attacked Boston.

Which brings us to Volume 4, Aquaman: Death of a King.  This one was my favourite of the bunch.  The original king of Atlantis, Atlan (the Dead King) was awakened from his tomb.  He moves to reclaim his rightful place as King of Atlantis.  First he follows Mera to Xebel.  She tries to get the people of Xebel to stand with her and Arthur against the Dead King, but to her horror they side with him.  The Dead King attacks Atlantis at the same time a submarine fleet led by Scavenger attacks as well.  In the fight, Arthur is presumed dead after trying to telepathically control a monster of the deep named Topo.  Vulko got him out and cared for him while he was in a coma for six months.  After learning some uncomfortable truths about his heritage, Arthur and Vulko retrieve the scepter and call forth the monsters of the trench to help him defeat the Dead King once and for all.

Volume 4 ended with an epilogue that really makes me want to read volume 5.  Nerus, the King of Xebel, was charged by the Dead King with finding a trace of the remaining four kingdoms of Atlantis which everyone has presumed dead.  Nerus has found Orm and wants to join forces with him.  Apparently Nerus lied to the Dead King and knows where the other missing kingdoms are!  He wants to unite all seven kings to take down Arthur!  I can't wait to read it!!!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Aquaman: the Trench

So I have recently discovered I am a fan of Aquaman.  I started buying the new comic issues because I was blown away by the story.  A friend of mine at work recommended I read the new 52 series because she really liked them, too.  So here I am, less than two hours after finishing Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and I've already finished the first of this series (called Aquaman Volume 1: The Trench).  Aquaman is being laughed at on land as a silly useless superhero.  But when some mysterious creatures from the sea attack a village near his lighthouse, Aquaman will overcome prejudice to save the day!  I was a bit confused by some of the things going on surrounding the mysterious creatures (what exactly are they?  Aliens?  I don't think so but I wasn't really sure), but hopefully these questions will be answered in the next four volumes, which I've already put on hold!

Seriously, these new Aquaman stories are a lot of fun!  I recommend you give them a try!  :)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

So I finally did it.  I actually read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  I honestly thought I would have read it years ago, like while I took Children's Literature courses back in University.  I'm not sure why, but that never really happened.  I remember when the books were coming out, I used to tell people who asked if I had read them that I was waiting for book 7 to come out so I wouldn't have to wait like all you suckers.  When book 7 finally did come out, I then told everyone I honestly had no intention of reading them (even though I do like fantasy books).  And I honestly didn't.  I was quite happy to go through my life without reading them.  But a few weeks ago, a friend of mine decided that I *needed* to read them.  That friend will pay me $1 for every one of them that I read.  (My brother thinks I should have held out for more money). 

The first chapter is sooooo boring.  I know, I know, it's boring on purpose.  As someone who has dabbled in writing (and knows literature quite well) I was able to see that.  But it's still sooooo boring that I had a really hard time getting into it.  So much so that the book, which by all rights thanks to its size should have taken me maybe two nights to read took over a week (to be fair, it's been a very busy week with both a funeral and a wedding).  I also found myself wanting to read so many other things.

But I got through it.  And after the first few chapters it picked up well enough.  Only to be hurt by the fact that I have seen the first movie years ago...and remembered exactly how this story ended.  As other people have told me, the first two Harry Potter movies or so follow the books very closely.  So none of the things that should have been a surprise actually were.  :(

So enough with me complaining.  I didn't want to read it, but I did.  And the first thing I have to say is that this book is very, very well written.  J.K. Rowling is very, very good at describing things.  I really did love some of the phrases she used, and routinely found myself admiring her wordsmithing.

This book is quite simple in its way, being written for about ten-year-olds.  Harry Potter is an orphan left with his aunt, uncle, and cousin, who treat him terribly.  He's very much a male Cinderella, having to make sure everything is perfect for his spoiled cousin.  But everything changes on his birthday when he finds out he's a wizard who has been invited to attend wizarding school.  Not only that, but he is famous in the wizarding world, having survived the attack of the biggest, evilest wizard who happened to kill his parents.

Harry has to navigate the school, making friends, avoiding bullies, and getting points for his house.  Oh and of course learning magic along the way.  But an evil that the wizarding world thought long vanquished is stirring.  And it's up to Harry Potter and his friends to stop it!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is a book I can see very much appealing to children.  I honestly wish I'd had a child of about 10 to read it with - I think I would have gotten more enjoyment out of it.  That being said, I honestly did enjoy it in the end.  Not enough to rush back to the library and grab book 2 - I'm definitely going to be reading some other stuff before I even think of grabbing book 2. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Wonder Woman '77 Volume 1

A friend of mine at work really liked Wonder Woman '77 Volume 1 and suggested I read it.  I took it out mainly because I'm honestly not that familiar with Wonder Woman.  The little I know of her is mainly from Batman things where she pops up.  I've certainly never seen the TV show with Lynda Carter.  So I figured I'd give this a shot.

Wonder Woman '77 is actually based off of the 70's TV show.  Wonder Woman in this series is modeled off of Lynda Carter.  So if you're familiar with the show, I'm sure you'll catch lots of nods to it (including the spin!)

Wonder Woman '77 Volume 1 is a collection of five stories where she battles villains in a disco, her nemesis Cheetah, art thieves, and others in her quest for justice for all.  Her ideals are very sound and it's fun to see how she solves the issues in the story (I had no idea her tiara works like a boomerang!)  Reading this definitely made me want to check out the show with Lynda Carter - hopefully I'll be able to at some point!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Uprooted

I've  been wanting to read Naomi Novik's Uprooted since I first saw it in Chapters. A friend bought it earlier this summer and gave it to me after reading it. He's been bugging me to read it ever since. I finally made time to start it yesterday (just after I spoke with him as a matter of fact). And I have to say, the endorsement on the back of it from NPR was correct - I didn't want to put it down once I had started!

Uprooted is about Agnieszka, a girl who lives in one of the villages in the valley. The valley is surrounded by the malevolent Wood, which is kept at bay by their wizard, the Dragon. Every ten years he chooses a girl from the valley who will serve him without question for the next ten years. Agnieszka (and everyone else) knows he will choose her best friend, Kasia. But when the time comes, he doesn't choose Kasia. He chooses Agnieszka instead! And so she is whisked away to his tower without even a moment to say goodbye to her family.

That is, in a nutshell, what the synopsis on the back of the book says. And it is what happens at the very beginning of the book. But honestly, Uprooted is so much more than this synopsis! Agnieszka is a witch, unknown to everyone else in her village. The Dragon ended up choosing her because he recognized her gift and had to train her. But she will not be trained easily. All the regular wizarding spells aren't working for her. But she discovers the text from a legendary witch of folktales and is able to use those spells just fine. Unfortunately, the Dragon didn't think that actually WAS a spell book because nothing in it worked for him! So Agnieszka has to fumble along and find her own way with the grudging help of the Dragon.

And then things totally change! Uprooted becomes this political story, where Agnieszka goes to the capital needing men to help her and the Dragon deal with the Wood. The two of them managed to save her friend from the Wood, which is completely unheard of. While doing so, they found a way to harm the Wood, and figured that they could deal it a death blow with some help. The Dragon remains in the valley, sending Agnieszka to go to the king for help. But Agnieszka is very much a fish out of water. Because she is a witch, she is automatically admitted to the court. But she has no head or patience for the games of the court. And ends up on the run, framed for kidnapping and murder by the freaking Wood!

That sounds so ridiculous as I reread it, but it's honestly the truth. And it was incredibly well done.

So after dealing with THAT, Agnieszka and the Dragon go to confront the Wood one final time. They don't really have a plan, but they'll try to stop it or die while trying. And that ended with a rather epic confrontation with the Wood, which in turn ended in a very interesting resolution. I'm trying to avoid major spoilers here, but the conclusion was quite satisfying.

I also loved the characters. I think some of the political stuff in the capital wasn't as good simply because Sarkin (the Dragon) wasn't there. I thought he was hilarious, especially the way he always interacted with Agnieszka. (He was routinely calling her an idiot, but as the book went further along it got really funny because he would basically be saying "You idiot, I don't know how you're doing this but whatever, I'm not going to ask for an explanation because you don't really know what you're going but it's working somehow.") He got annoyed by her pretty much no matter what she did because her magic (and really Agnieszka herself) defied the way he thought the world (and magic) should function. And their banter really, really worked.

Agnieszka herself was someone I was able to relate to. I found this to be especially true in the political segment in the middle of the book. I'm not someone who is big on decorum and stupid political games behind peoples backs. And she really isn't either. She always means well, even if she's going to take a rambly path getting where she's going. And don't expect her to get somewhere clean!

All in all, I thought Uprooted was a fantastic read. It was definitely the best fantasy book I've read in a long while (the best one this year so far for sure). I'm looking forward to reading more from Novik in the future!!! :)