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2016 Reading Review Post III: Uno Dos Read

Good morning though it probably won't be morning by the time I finish writing this, and welcome to my third reading review post of 2016! I'm extremely pleased with the amount I've read so far this year, and this is a continuation of what I was doing with the past posts - my thoughts on the books, vague reviews and whether I think you guys should read them or not. This book will contain another set of 25 books, bringing up the total to 75 books this year.

Recommendations will be marked with a +, dislikes will be marked with a -. Hope you guys enjoy! :D



Batman & Robin: Eternal, Vol. 1

Not many years ago, Batman and Robin worked the most disturbing case of their crimefighting careers: bringing down the organization of the human trafficker known only as Mother. At the time, Dick Grayson did not understand the scope of that case, but now its darkest secrets are coming back to haunt him and everyone else who ever worked with Batman!

I quite enjoyed this! It's titled Batman and Robin eternal, but is really more a story about the Robins having to solve a mystery together with occasional flashbacks to Batman. It suffered a bit from problems that frequently crop up in week to week comics, the tone tends to lean a little too close to soap opera for my tastes (what with the ever developing problems, and the approach to character conflict), which is what stops me from outright recommending it. But it's a really good story, with an entertaining ongoing plot and absolutely wonderful character interactions.

So, yeah. Not outright amazing, but the first volume at least has a lot of good in it. Especially if you like the relationship between Jason and Tim!

Robin War

It’s Robins vs. cops! Robins vs. Robins! Robins vs. Batman! Robins vs. the Court of Owls‽

Talking of stories about Robins...

This was an event storyline that ran across December, and while it also had a lot of good parts to it I liked it less than Batman and Robin Eternal. The character interactions were interesting enough, there were a lot of great individual moments... But it suffered from both the common problems with weekly stories, and also with event stories. It felt like it was meant to be a big thing with proper ramifications, but instead came across as a little soapy and disruptive and something quickly ignored. It has, in fact, been quickly ignored in all the comics that were a part of it which I think shows the flaws with both idea and story.

I mean, it certainly wasn't bad. But it was definitely wobbly, and felt like something that was being ignored even as it was being written. Which, you know, isn't so good as a book.

Booster Gold, Vol. 2: Blue and Gold

When disgraced future sports star Michael Carter discovered a time-travel device, he came to our time intent on becoming superhero Booster Gold - and making a fast buck! They were the duo who once bought an island and turned it into a casino - until it uprooted itself and swam away. Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, Justice League members and longtime friends, have opened pandora's box. OMAC soldiers are on the rampage, many of the old JLA are dead or missing, and all because Booster saved his friend's life. They may be back in the saddle now...but for how long?

I picked up this book because it involved Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, and it certainly delivered on that! This was basically a story where Booster and Ted go on a huge caper through time and (sort of) alternate universes, and come very close to confessing their endless love for each other multiple times.

It moved a little slow sometimes, and was a lot more serious than I generally like with my Booster/Ted centric stories, but it was still really fun and I'm glad I read it. I won't recommend it, because a lot of emotional beats rely on familiarity with the two characters beforehand, but it certainly did most of the things I wanted it to do and I can appreciate it for that.

Lex Luthor: Man of Steel

Superman has been called many things, from the defender of Truth, Justice and the American way to the Big Blue Boy Scout. In LEX LUTHOR: MAN OF STEEL, he is called something he never been called before: a threat to all humanity!

This was one I picked up because I really love Lex Luthor, and it's another one that definitely delivered! It's entirely told from Lex's viewpoint, and conveys his views in an extremely effective way. It's very good at portraying his mental state, how he thinks he's the one in the right but how that's actually pretty much the opposite of the truth.

A good point of contrast with it is the current Sinestro series, actually. Both use the villain's POV, both explore how the villain thinks that they're actually the hero of the story... But Luthor (as my copy was titled) does a lot better than Sinestro in actually showing the reality, in showing that while Lex might THINK he's the hero he's actually most definitely the villain. He may do good things sometimes, he may have some good ideas - but he'll always go too far, and he's never exactly right.

So, yes, I really liked it! I'm not going to recommend it, because even I found the tone a little heavy going at times and I'm generally quite fond of villain narratives, but if you have any interest in Lex it may be one to check out nonetheless.

Batman: Europa

The impossible has happened and Batman is on the verge of being taken down by an enemy he cannot defeat: a virus for which there is no cure! And the only hope for his salvation is 
The Joker! Who infected Batman, what does the Clown Prince of Crime know, and how will the Dark Knight get that information? Together, the enemies crisscross Europe, desperate to find answers before time runs out.

I mainly picked this up in the spirit of me from about a year ago, who was really into the relationship between Batman and the Joker, and... Yeah.

I mean, I wouldn't go as far as to state that I disliked it. It was a good story, with really gorgeous art and interesting character dynamics. It just leaned a little too hard on the audience presumably really liking the Joker, and neglected the plot a fair amount as a result. A lot of it seemed confusing, and even more seemed not exactly well thought through.

So, yeah. I wouldn't anti-recommend it, but I also had a lot of really big problems with it. Enjoyable a lot of the time, but confusing a hell of the lot more.

Robin: Year One

For years he fought alongside Gotham City's greatest protector, the light to Batman's irrepressible darkness. Against all manner of foe he braved inconceivable odds, ever skirting the line between heroism and death.

His name is Dick Grayson. Before he became Nightwing he was the first to don the mantle of Robin. When his parents fell victim to the machinations of a mobster, millionaire Bruce Wayne, known to a precious few as the Batman, took the young orphan under his wing. For months Grayson trained in the ways of crime fighting, until at last he was ready to patrol the night with his mentor. But the training ground and the threats of the real world are two very different things. For the newly anointed Robin, it would be a baptism of fire.

Batman gave Robin his Direction. The evil of the world would shape his destiny. This is his story.


THIS BOOK.

As you can probably tell, I really adored this entire thing. It's all about Dick Grayson, not so much his origin story but his early years. And it's just... So, SO well done. It reminds me exactly of why I love Dick Grayson, with all of his brightness and battle optimism and just sheer goodness. It was wonderful!

Also wonderful: how this series highlighted his relationships with other characters. I've always vaguely liked Bruce and Dick's relationship, but in the way where I haven't actually read that much of it so can't really comment. It still isn't my favourite Bruce-Robin relationship (see below for what THAT is), but it was adorable in this and made me feel so many feelings. SO MANY.

So, yeah, this was absolutely amazing and I really adored it. If you like anything to do with Batman, or even just like the feeling of happiness, I would definitely recommend this! +

Batgirl: Year One

A look into the action-packed origin of the original Batgirl, Barbara Gordon! This volume collects the 9-issue miniseries that uncovered Gordon's transformation from average citizen into costumed super-heroine.

THIS BOOOOOOOOK.

This is roughly in the same... IDK, group as Robin: Year One? There are a lot of similarities between them, but I would actually say that Batgirl is better. It's just as adorable as Robin, gets the characters involved just as well and has a just as interesting plot that really honours the comics. But, beyond that, a lot of the common themes just seem to work a little better with this book.

Both Batgirl: Year One and Robin: Year One are largely about characters finding their own way, and establishing themselves in a way that is both related to Bruce and separate from him. And the themes of independence and growing as a person, while they work well with Dick, work extra well with Barbara. It's a very feminist work, in a way, and one that is entirely supportive of its lead and what she's trying to do even when things are going wrong for her. It never judges, it never humiliates and it always respects. It's exactly the kind of book that she deserves.

...So, ahem, yes. I really loved this book, and I'd definitely recommend it to anybody. It was wonderful! :D +

Justice League of America, Vol. 2: The Lightning Saga

The JLA has discovered that several members of the Legion of Super-Heroes from the 31st century are in the present. With the help of the JSA, Superman and his team must track down all seven Legionnaires to discover why these heroes of the future have traveled back in time!

I read this because I was reading through the JSA series, and they decided to do another random crossover...

So, um, yes. As you've probably already guessed, my opinion on this is much the same as my opinion on the Robin War crossover earlier. It wasn't a bad story, I actually really enjoyed the JSA issues within it, but it suffered from a lot of the common problems with crossovers. It was quite hard to really see what the importance of the event was, and this led to seeing it as just a slightly confusing distraction from the story they were doing in the JSA.

So, yeah. Definitely not bad, but the confusing moments tended to outweigh the properly good ones.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy / Lumberjanes, Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max / Lumberjanes, Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together... And they're not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

...Um, yes. If you can't tell, I LOVED THIS SERIES. I've been meaning to pick it up for a while, and I finally got around to it this year. And, yeah, I'm kind of sad that I didn't get into this before. And that it didn't come out when I was a kid. And that the camp isn't real.

It's just a super sweet series, and a really meaningful one. It's fun and sweet and never really takes itself too seriously, but it also examines really serious things and creates really wonderful characters. It's sweet and light and fun, but also unexpectedly profound and containing so many feminist things.

So, yeah, absolutely wonderful. And I'd really recommend it to anybody, especially if you like joy and happiness and all that stuff! +

Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Gods and Mortals

Collecting WONDER WOMAN #1-7, featuring the young Amazon's origin and her introduction to "Man's World." Before she has a chance to fully assimilate into her new home, Wonder Woman must battle the chaos of the Greek god Ares, as he plans to bring upon World War III!

I think the story behind me reading this is that there was a Wonder Woman sale on Comixology, and my self control was as strong as ever.

So, yes, this one! I ended up really enjoying it, even though I was a little wary of it beforehand. I will say that it has a lot of very eighties ideas in it, including several portrayals of women that made me go "uhhhhhh", but the story was solid and there was a lot of good within it. It certainly passed the Bechdel test! And also has a really interesting villain, and a few plot twists that I really didn't expect, and a lot of really gorgeous art within it.

I wouldn't recommend it, because it is a little too much of its time for my personal tastes, but it was a lot better than I was expecting and a generally fun read. Which, you know, is rather nice. Especially for Wonder Woman!

Batman: Red Hood: The Lost Days

After his death at the hands of The Joker, Jason Todd was resurrected by Batman’s foe Ra’s al Ghul as a weapon against The Dark Knight. Now, learn what secret events led Jason on his eventual path of death and destruction as he tours the DC Universe learning dangerous skills in an effort to find his way in a world that left him behind.

So, you know how I was talking about my favourite Bruce-Robin relationship...

This was another one that I've been wanting to read for ages, but only just got around to picking up. And, yeah, I absolutely adored it. I've always loved Jason Todd, but this took that love and increased it so very much. It was an absolutely wonderful series, really dark at times but also interesting and compelling and with so many interesting character interactions.

It also made me really ship Bruce/Jason! Which, you know, was nice. I've always found their relationship compelling, but this increased my appreciation of it yet again. A large part of the emotional impact of this book was based on the link between Bruce and Jason, and how they both responded to it and the dissolution of it. Their dynamic was captured really well here, and in a way that managed to be sympathetic to all parties.

So, yeah. If you want to know why people like Jason Todd, this is a good place to start. A really compelling story, with a fascinating plot and an amazing grasp of all the characters involved +

Harley Quinn, Vol. 1: Hot in the City / Harley Quinn, Vol. 2: Power Outage

Fresh from BATMAN: DEATH OF THE FAMILY and SUICIDE SQUAD, Harley Quinn returns to her first solo series in the New 52! The writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti (ALL STAR WESTERN) and Amanda Conner (BEFORE WATCHMEN: SILK SPECTRE) unleashed Harley on an unsuspecting DC Universe, as she encounters various heroes and villains ... and leaves no one unscathed in her wake!

And now onto Harley!

This was part of another sale, because self control is for other people, and I'm really glad I picked it up. I was a little wary of the series beforehand, but I loved Starfire (see below) and so I decided to give this a go. And it is, generally, really good! The character, ever since the animated series, has always deserved a tiny bit more than she's been given and with this she finally gets it. Some details of her characterisation disagree with my personal interpretation, but the plots are really good and the characters involved are lovingly treated throughout.

The humour won't be for everyone, and the amount of casual murder is quite something, but this is generally a really lovely series that does a lot of good for the character. I'm not going to recommend it, because I didn't quite adore it to the level that I've adored other things, but it was generally lovely and I did generally really like it.

Batman: Under the Red Hood

Batman is confronted with a hidden face from the past — it’s the return of the vigilante Red Hood who appears to be Batman’s one-time partner Jason Todd, the same Jason Todd that died many years ago. But the Red Hood’s violent ways pit him against the Dark Knight in his hunt for the very person responsible for his death: The Joker.

SPEAKING ABOUT ADORATION.

I picked this up pretty much immediately (read: as soon as I got paid) after Red Hood: the Lost Days, and it didn't disappoint. It's more Bruce's view of the conflict between him and Jason, but is told in a really sympathetic way and has excellent story beats.

The entire plot is really compelling, the conflict is absolutely gripping and the characters involved are written amazingly. It's extremely dark upon occasion, but really lovely and appreciative of the characters and the legacy of the characters. If you like the Batfamily, or even want reasons to like them, I'd definitely recommend this. Amongst the best of what Batman can do.

Can everybody start fanboying this instead, pls? +

Vixen: Return of the Lion

On a mission against the mega-mobsters of Intergang, the Justice League makes a stunning discovery revealing the truth behind the death of Vixen's mother. Long ago, poachers were fingered in her murder, but stunning proof arrives exposing the identity of her real killer! And the man responsible is still alive, making a vicious play for power in the homeland Vixen left years ago.

I liked this one, but was expecting a little more from it.

For context: this story was written by the current writer of Ms Marvel, who is doing really good work over there. This was good, and a really interesting look into Vixen, but still seemed to be missing a lot of what makes Ms Marvel great. The character interactions felt a little flat, the plot was relatively slow and there were a few moments that had me yelling at the screen with how cliched they were.

It definitely wasn't a bad story, and it did a lot of good things. But I came into it expecting to love it, and came away a little underwhelmed. Part of that is my preconceptions at work, I admit, but I felt like the writer was going to do something really interesting with the character and never quite got there. Interesting, certainly, but never quite reaching the heights that it deserved.

Daredevil Legends, Vol. 2: Born Again

In this larger-than-life theater, the forces of corruption and redemption have at one another wih a Wagnerian intensity that rivals the very best this medium has ever produced. At stake - one man's immortal, indestructible soul.

And now onto one that I liked a lot better than I was expecting!

I'm not at all a big fan of Frank Miller, exactly the opposite in most cases, but I actually ended up really enjoying this. The blurb... Says pretty much nothing about the plot (thanks Miller!), but this is the Daredevil story where the Kingpin finds out Matt's secret identity and immediately sets around ruining his life.

It does some things wrong, if they go down a similar route with Karen in the Netflix series I will cheerfully start throwing things, but it's a surprisingly tight story with a lot of really satisfying beats. The plot is gripping, the characterisation is really great and Matt... Matt is really absolutely wonderful in this. A fantastically compelling character, who you can't help but root for even as his life falls apart.

I'm still not a fan of Miller, but I still felt like this was a wonderful story with a lot to offer. I'd definitely recommend it, though... If you can find a way to read it without giving any money to Miller, I would also recommend that. +

Catwoman, Vol. 6: Keeper of the Castle

Meet Selina Kyle – Crime Boss of Gotham City! Spinning out of the events in BATMAN ETERNAL, Selina has accepted the family mantle and embraced her true criminal side, but is Gotham City ready for her reign? And with the Cat away, who’s the stranger haunting the empty rooftops of the city?

I've seen people I respect raving about this for months, and I finally decided to pick it up out of curiosity a few weeks ago.

It started off a little slowly, but grew into something really compelling that I really loved. It's not so much a superhero story as it is a story about organized crime and what women must do to hold on to power, and once it'd established that I found it really compelling. The plot is fascinating, the characters are great and I'm really fond of Valentine's (the writer's, as will become obvious with the next word) writing style. It was definitely a slow build, but sticking with it revealed a really compelling story that was definitely to my tastes.

It might not be for people who are expecting a more traditional Catwoman story, but I'm going to recommend it anyway. It goes in a really different and compelling direction with the character, and if you're down for that level of experimentation I suspect that you'll find the entire thing exceptionally rewarding. +

Daredevil Legends, Vol. 3: The Man Without Fear

This classic tale explores Matt Murdock's formative years -- detailing the relationship between him and his father, and the events that led to the fateful accident that created Daredevil.

Another Frank Miller story (I'm sorry! There was a sale!) and another one that I surprisingly enjoyed!

Y'know, with caveats. While Born Again had a hell of a lot of good stuff that outweighed most of my problems, this had a little less of that. It was still really compelling and had really great character work, but was also slow and took itself too seriously and had... Troubling depictions of female characters.

Elektra is a great character, and I even liked a lot of how she was written here, but Miller often seems to see his female characters as objects designed to move the male story onwards. This is a hella common problem with male creators, even thirty odd years on from when this story was first released, but it's still most definitely a problem. That, combined with the darkness and the unshakable feel that Miller was taking the whole story a bit too seriously, made it a little harder to truly love this volume for me. It's very hard to unreservedly enjoy a story, when large chunks of it are about a sad wall holding a sexy lamp.

So, yes! It was good, but had a lot more of the problems commonly found in Miller's work. And since I think you've grasped that I have a lot of problems with Miller, that's the reason why I won't be recommending this story.

Cyborg, Vol. 1: Unplugged

Victor Stone has had his share of near-death experiences—it’s part of what made him the cyber-enhanced superhero Cyborg in the first place. But after his latest brush with death, something has changed with Vic’s cybernetics. They’re evolving, and no one can explain why!

But there’s more to Vic’s evolution than a new look and new powers. Something in his technology is calling out between worlds—and the message has been received by invaders who will stop at nothing to possess it. These Technosapiens aim to absorb all of humanity into their collective if it means a chance to get their hands on Cyborg.


I read the first volume of this pretty much as it was coming out, and while I'm glad that it exists and I can understand why people like it... It just wasn't for me.

It had a lot of the same problems that I see in the current Martian Manhunter run, actually. Except I personally like J'onn more than Vic, and so am more willing to forge through. It was definitely a breed of Sci-Fi, but that kind of Sci-Fi was the kind that I like a lot less. It felt very removed, and too reliant on concept over character. A lot of interesting stuff was happening, but I found it very hard to connect with what most of the characters were doing.

It was a good book, but just didn't quite jive with me in the way that other books have. Which is a pity, but then not everything can suit my personal tastes and nor should it. I wasn't very invested in it, and have since dropped it, but I'm very glad that it exists (or did exist, thanks to Rebirth) and I'm also extremely glad that it seemed very popular in its time.

Robin: Son of Batman, Vol. 1: Year of Blood

Before he was Robin, Batman’s son, Damian Wayne, was raised by his mother, Talia al Ghul, to lead the vicious League of Assassins. In this story, the son of Batman has freed himself from that destiny and is about to embark on a globe-spanning quest to atone for the horrible acts he committed during the most brutal portion of his old life: The Year of Blood!

Yay, this book!

I suppose this sort of works in contrast with the Cyborg run, really. It's a book where I can recognize that it has big flaws, the series itself is currently 11 or so issues in and I'm still patiently waiting for a plot that makes sense to appear, but it just jives with me in a way that means that I usually enjoy it. The art is lovely, the characterisation is really fun and it's a very nice read for when you want something a little brainless.

It isn't a great book, I have the feeling that it didn't exactly mean to slide into that brainless fun category, but it is definitely a lot of fun and something that I'm enjoying a hell of a lot. I'm not going to recommend it, but there have definitely been worse Damian stories and the sins that it commits are definitely not enough to stop my enjoyment of the book.

Starfire, Vol. 1: Welcome Home

Starfire stars for the first time in her very own on-going series!

Florida is so nice this time of year...the warm weather...the beach...and Starfire beating the crud out of the bad guys! You should really try to get down there and see for yourself. Starfire picks up the pieces and finds her new home in the aftermath of the storm! But while our hero helps her community heal, a creature from the underworld emerges to threaten all she hopes to protect! What is this creature's hidden motive? And why does it seem to get bigger every time Starfire punches it?


*HAPPY SCREECHING*

Reader, I LOVE this Starfire run. I enjoyed Red Hood and the Outlaws (or at least the one volume of it that I've actually read) a lot more than I was expecting, but this is a real return to form for this character and I really adore what they're doing with her.

The book is written by the same people behind Harley Quinn, and if anything their tone fits even better with Kori. The entire volume is a joy. It's fun, and it's bright, and it has an absolutely excellent grasp of the character and her situation. It's been the highlight of my month for the past few months, and if you're looking for a shot of joy straight to the heart you can probably do little better than this.

(Kori should still be getting together with Stella, though. That'd make far more sense.) +

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers

There’s a new rule in the galaxy: No one touches Earth!

But why has Earth suddenly become the most important planet in the galaxy? That’s what the Guardians of the Galaxy are going to find out!

Join Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Groot and--wait for it--the Invincible Iron Man as they embark upon one of the most explosive and eye-opening chapters of Marvel NOW! The secrets these galactic Avengers discover will rattle Marvel readers for years to come! But while London deals with a brutal invasion by the Badoon, the fate of the Guardians may have already been decided millions of miles away! Why wait for the movie? It all starts here!


I enjoyed this! Which sounds a little flat after my gushing over Starfire above, but... I actually did?

I think I picked this up in (yet) another sale, and found it a really fun look at the characters involved. I'm mainly familiar with them through the movie, and so it was nice to see what their comics incarnations were up to. It was a little confusing, which is why I'm not recommending it, but contained solid writing and great characters and a plot that was really enjoyable overall. And Peter! I am glad Chris Pratt plays Peter in the movie, because Peter is adorable and all should love him.

...Yes! I'm not gonna recommend it, but it was definitely good and I definitely enjoyed it!

Daredevil, Vol. 14: The Devil, Inside and Out, Vol. 1

For the past few years, Matt Murdock's life has been teetering on the edge of destruction. Now, pushed beyond the limit, Matt finds himself behind the eight ball with no clear way out, the people he calls friends slowly deserting him, and Hell's Kitchen gradually slipping out of control.

...Okay, so maybe the sale was a Daredevil sale in general. Alright???

This is another one that I liked, continuing the good run of books that I've had for this quarter! The characters were well written, the plot (Matt ends up in jail because everybody knows he's Daredevil despite him denying it in increasingly unconvincing ways) was compelling and there were several excellent moments in it.

My main problems with it, and the reasons I'm not recommending it, was that both the art and the tone were a little dark at times for me. Obviously you kinda have to expect this from a Daredevil comic, so it's probably more a matter of personal taste than anything else, but the art just seemed a little hard to see sometimes and a few of the ideas just didn't seem to fit very well within the story that they were telling.

So, yeah, I did like it! But, unfortunately, just not quite enough to recommend?



So, that's up to 75 books! Yay! :D But what's next? Well, as is becoming kinda a theme by this point, I'm slightly behind on writing this so I don't really know! I've got a few things lined up, including comic compilations and various books that I got at Christmas and haven't quite managed to get through as of yet. So, yeah, expect another one of these posts in a month or so. Maybe. We shall seeeeeeeee!

Hope you enjoyed! :D

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
night_owl_9
May. 1st, 2016 12:51 am (UTC)
YES for Batgirl: Year One and Batman: Under the Red Hood! So GOOD.

Starfire has her own series?! FINALLY.
doreyg
May. 9th, 2016 10:25 am (UTC)
She does! And it's really good and gets the character really well. I'd definitely recommend it. :D
ragnarok_08
May. 1st, 2016 02:17 am (UTC)
That's quite the list :D
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )