Monthly Archives: August 2013

Supergirl #21-23 by Michael Alan Nelson (Comics Review)

Supergirl. Maid of Might. Girl of Steel. Superman’s cousin. She has been a mainstay of DC comics for a number of years and has featured in several different mediums over that time, right alongside big blue. Most recently, the character’s biggest break was as a recurring character on CW’s Smallville, a show that lasted ten full seasons and featured Supergirl in several key episodes during the later seasons. Played by Linda Vandervoort, this version of Kara Zor-El was an elder cousin who had managed to escape the destruction of Krypton but had become stuck in her pod’s stasis field during a crash on Earth. Other than the movie Supergirl where the character was played by Helen Slater, this was Supergirl’s biggest outing.

And then came the New 52 in September 2011 and rebooted her comics continuity, and even gave her a much bigger platform than before. Universe reboots tend to do that. I read all the first twelve issues and even the special Zero issue last year, but I struggled to connect with the character. I just couldn’t. Mike Johnson and Michael Green’s scripts had a lot of potential, but the execution often fell short for me. And I stuck with the title for that first year because I love the character.

With the advent of the announced creative change from issue #20, with Michael Alan Nelson being brought in (and new artist being brought in for #21, Diogenes Neves), I decided to get back to the title and suffer through the H’el on Earth issues so I could be caught up with everything that had happened since I had stopped at #0.

Note: Contains spoilers for the previous issues, especially the H’el on Earth event issues.

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Publishing and Marketing 05: The Reviewer Crossover

A couple months back I came across this blog post, in which a reviewer/blogger questioned herself regarding her worth as a blogger, and whether what she did mattered worth a damn. It is a very engaging blog post and raises several questions that I’ve asked myself several times since I read the post. Just the core idea of it is enough to spark off a flurry of questions.

As of writing this post, I had a rather brief discussion on Twitter with an author of several years’ standing and a reviewer I’ve been following for a while. The topic of this discussion: shouting in the void that is the internet and making oneself be heard among all the noise that is generated by the tens of thousands of bloggers out there. In an environment where new book blogs are cropping up almost everyday, where Goodreads and Amazon have given rise to an extremely prolific blog-reviewer culture, it is tough to be heard as someone who has something to contribute.

In previous installments of this column, I’ve talked about various things, whether they be publisher marketing strategies or industry controversies, or even spotlighting women in the industry. For this installment, I thought I’d do something a bit different from the usual.

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Aquaman #22-23 by Geoff Johns (Comics Review)

I keep saying this and I never get tired of it: Geoff Johns’ two years on Aquaman for the New 52 have been nothing short of phenomenal. From the very first issue, he has been turning out a great story and has worked with artists who’ve really gone the lengths to make Aquaman come across as a badass, kickass, and really fun character to read about. It wasn’t until the Throne of Atlantis crossover with Justice League however, that Geoff really began to up the stakes time after time, and he’s been on a really good run since then.

The series has been defined with all these epic arcs, each bigger and more profound than the last. So, in that context, it really is no surprise that he kicked off his latest arc, Death of a King, with a bang and that the last couple issues have been so bloody amazing. When I read #23 last night, it was definitely an experience, and it made me really excited to see how things are going to end up going down in #25 (out November).

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Thanos Rising by Jason Aaron (Graphic Novel Review)

Jason Aaron is, without a doubt, one of the best comics writers in the industry right now. He’s taken Thor: God of Thunder to stratospheric levels with his excellent writing and with the recent launch of the Thanos Rising mini-series, he was all set to continue that trend. He’s done some other work for Marvel before, and continues to do so, but really, its only his space opera styled stuff that I’ve read and he’s made me into enough of a fan that I’d follow him from book to book, no questions asked.

Which reminds me, I need to get a start on his Wolverine and the X-Men run at some point

Either way, with Thanos being such a central character to Marvel’s cosmic setting, I had some initial reservations on how Jason would deliver. And that’s nothing on his skills as a writer. Its just that Thanos is so much larger than life that there undoubtedly will be reservations. But an in-form Jason makes all these worries go away.

Note: This is a review for the Thanos Rising mini-series, which is 5-issues long. I’ve read the issues individually, rather than reading the graphic novel, which won’t be out for a few months yet.

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Comics Picks of the Week 21.08.2013

So, this is a new weekly feature I’m rolling out on the blog. There are so many comics I read week in and week out, that just doing an end-of-the-month list isn’t enough. At least, I think it isn’t.

As a mega-crazy reader, there are so many good things I want to talk about that there just isn’t enough space for all of it. And additionally, I really do want to talk about these comics.

In no particular order, here are all the comics I read last week (a full reading list of 2013 is available here), and my top picks from that list.

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Bechdel and Mako Mori: Team-up or Deathmatch?

In the wake of the international success of Guillermo del Toro’s latest movie, Pacific Rim, there has been a lot of chatter about the characterisation in the movie. Specifically, people have been talking about the characterisation of Mako Mori, the only female character of note in the movie. Many people have condemned her as a weak, ineffectual protagonist, while others have hailed her as a great example of strong representation of female characters in movies.

I myself fall in the latter camp because I loved the character and I was able to look beyond what false trap that the character generates and consider her within the context of her culture and her own dialogue. You can read my thoughts on Mako in my review of the movie here.

One of the fallouts of Pacific Rim has been that a Tumblr user came up with the “Mako Mori Test” to evaluate female characters in movies. You can read more about it here. The test is a response to the fact that Pacific Rim fails the much more popular and long-established “Bechdel Test” but, for that user, was indeed a good representation of a female character, as I’ve already said. Clearly, the older test has some limits and the newer proposed test seeks to address those deficiencies.

So the question becomes, how do the two tests fit in with each other? Are they in conflict or can they be used together? That’s what this editorial is about.

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Manifesto: UF Now On Sale

So it has finally happened for really realz.

As I’ve blogged several times already, I have finally been able to get a short story published. Titled Dharmasankat: Crisis of Faith, this short story is an Indian Urban Fantasy sometime in the 1800s and acts as an origin prequel to my novella Dharmayoddha: Warrior of Faith, for which I’m still hunting for a publisher, without luck. There will be a follow-up novel Dharmachakra: Circle of Faith at some time in the future once I’m done with my current novel WIP Cloak of Secrecy.

Manifesto: UF is now available through Amazon as a digital book. You can purchase it here. I haven’t yet had a chance to read the anthology myself, but I will be correcting that first thing next month, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve read full novels by several of these authors already and I’ve been fairly impressed with their work. And all props to editors Tim Marquitz and Tyson J. Mauermann for putting this anthology together and taking a chance on an unpublished writer like myself.

I hope that you, the readers, will look favourably on the short story. And even if not, thanks for reading all the same. That’s the least I could ask for.

Cheers, all!

Manifesto UF

Reviewer Subjectivity

Friend and reviewer Ria, over at her blog Bibliotropic, posted a while back about subjectivity and objectivity in reviews. Her post was borne out of her experience reading a novel that, while in and of itself was a good piece of fiction, did not measure so well when put in context of the genre it was written in. In short, she was writing about subjectivity and objectivity in reviews as an experience, rather than a review style or mindset.

And it got me thinking about my own experiences. I had never really considered this before, you see. I approach each novel, each comic, as an object on its own, without the context of the wider genre or industry first and foremost. That evaluation is something I do subconsciously, without thought, and it is automatic. In my reviews, I rarely if ever mention whether the piece of fiction being reviewed compares to the industry/genre at large. I merely note if it is as good as other books/comics I’ve read, and even then, I use a very sample of such works, only the ones that I consider to be absolute best.

And therein is the contradiction of it.

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DC Cinematic Universe: Some Concerns

So apparently, we are definitely getting a new Batman in about two-years’ time, and the role will be played by actor/producer/director Ben Affleck. For the uninitiated, we saw Christopher Nolan wrap-up his Batman movie trilogy last year with the Christian Bale-starrer The Dark Knight Rises and Ben Affleck has done comic book roles before in Mark Steven Johnson’s Daredevil.

This is certainly an interesting time for DC/WB since they just recently launched their own cinematic universe with this summer’s hit Man of Steel and we know that there are going to be three more movies in this “phase 1” at the least: Batman vs Superman (2015), The Flash (2016), and Justice League (2017). I blogged a while back about how DC could start building its own cinematic universe to counter what Disney/Marvel have been doing with an incredibly successful line of Marvel movies.

This “plan” of mine, called Justice League: Strange Union, called on WB studios to make movies with characters that we haven’t yet seen in a live action adaptation for the cinemas and to keep any characters they wanted to reboot for the eventual Justice League film where Martian Manhunter could be added in as a new character for people to get to know.

As things stand though, based on the information that came out of San Diego Comic-Con last month and from all Hollywood sources last night, my plan is pretty much what I knew it would be: a mere hopeful fantasy.

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X-Men #2-4 by Brian Wood (Comics Review)

I mentioned in my review of X-Men #1 by Brian Wood, that I was struggling to find an X-Men book that I could enjoy. That was a rather specific case and the thing is that uutside of Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder, I’ve had a really tough time getting into Marvel comics. With DC, the fact that they rebooted their universe in Fall 2011 and that I’m already super familiar with a lot of their characters helped me in figuring out what to read and what not to. Not so with Marvel. And that’s despite the fact that Marvel too rebooted their universe in mid-Fall 2012. Although, they didn’t do a hard reset like DC, merely started renumbering their titles and putting out new books while (presumably) cancelling the ones that weren’t bringing in anything. Still, given my lack of familiarity with many of their characters, I just can’t figure out what to read.

I gambled on Aaron’s book because I’d enjoyed the Chris Hemsworth movie, but that’s about it. I tried reading Bendis’ All New X-Men but gave up after the first issue since I couldn’t understand any of what was happening. The same applied to Simon Spurrier’s X-Men: Legacy. Recently, I’ve started reading more, gambling with the titles, but still, Aaron’s Thor and Brian Wood’s X-Men are the only books that actually get me excited. One of my main draws to Wood’s book is that is has an all-female team and features some of my favourite X-Men characters. And, the first issue was right darn excellent, and the three issues since, including this week’s #4, have been just as great at least.

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Aphrodite IX #4 by Matt Hawkins (Comics Review)

My reading of more of what Top Cow publishes continued lat night with the latest issue of Matt Hawkins’ Aphrodite IX, a series that was rebooted under his direction and features art by Stjepan Sejic, Top Cow’s premier artist. In the three issues that I’ve read so far, Matt has created a really interesting post-apocalyptic world and has populated it with equally interesting characters, whether they be the geneticists of Genesis City or the cyborgs of Speros, or the protagonist herself, Aphrodite IX.

The tale so far has been one of deceit, betrayal, assassination and a race of control, which are always great concepts to base a story around. And that is exactly what Matt has been doing so far.

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Red Sonja #2 by Gail Simone (Comics Review)

Quite unintentionally, sort of, last week was a full-on comics week for the blog. And it seems that it was also a week where Gail Simone was 2/2 for her releases, Batgirl #23 (review) and this one, the second installment of her Red Sonja reboot for Dynamite Entertainment. Her first issue (review) was an absolutely amazing issue and everything that I expected from the second one, I got, and then some.

Currently, the only other writers who are hitting the same kind of heights for me right now are Scott Snyder with Batman, Geoff Johns with Aquaman/Justice League/Justice League of America and Jason Aaron with Thor: God of Thunder.

Its also great to see that two incredibly awesome female characters in comics are being written by one of the best in the industry. Its heartening. I love it. And I want more.

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