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Reading Review Post VI: The Review Wolf

Hello, and welcome back to a long overdue feature! The last time I did one of these reading review posts was before I started my new job, which was... Gosh, exactly three months ago now? WHICH IS A WHILE. Obviously my comment about keeping a more regular schedule turned out to be a filthy lie, for which I can only apologise.

But hopefully this'll make up for it! This post should take me up to 150 books read this year. Ones I really liked, and thus would recommend, will be marked with a +. Ones I really disliked, and thus would really not recommend, will be marked with a -

I hope you enjoy!



Zima Blue and other Stories - Alastair Reynolds

The stories in 'Zima Blue' represent a more optimistic take on humanity's future, a view that says there may be wars, there may be catastrophes and cosmic errors, but something human will still survive.

This is a book of short stories by Alastair Reynolds, who I've enjoyed books by before!

And... Meh? This shares the problem of a lot of short story collections, in that I liked a lot of the stories better than others. It also, however, has its own set of problems - in that even the stories I quite liked seemed rather samey, and thus the same level of meh. It never really moved beyond a dull drone for me. There were interesting ideas, sure, but most of the time they were delivered in such a way that I couldn't help myself from falling asleep a little.

This isn't to say that it's a bad collection, Reynolds' writing is still compelling to me and I did find myself absorbed in at least half of the stories, but... I suppose I was just expecting a little more, and it very much failed to deliver on that promise.

Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death

There' s animal. There's vegetable. And there's somewhere in between.

That's where Dr. Pamela Isley, a.k.a. Poison Ivy, finds herself. Instead of battling the Dark Knight, she is now a researcher at the Gotham Botanical Gardens, studying the possibility of creating plant-human hybrids.

But when her fellow scientists start turning up dead, she's both the natural leading suspect and the only person (or plant) who can crack the case.


...I really hope this entire post doesn't turn into a conga line of meh. <<

So, yeah, I didn't really like this one much either. I had very high hopes for it, it's Ivy's first solo miniseries and she's been deserving one FOREVER, but it just fell flat in so many ways. The plot was nonsensical, the characters were largely one-dimensional and it just didn't seem to know what it was doing half of the time.

Again, I wouldn't exactly call it terrible - the art was lovely, and you could tell that the people behind it had a real desire to do right by the character - but it just didn't excite me in the way that it should've.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF

Lunella Lafayette is a preteen genius who wants to change the world, but lives in fear of the Inhuman genes inside her! Now, Lunella's life is turned upside down when a red-scaled beast is teleported from the prehistoric past to a far-flung future we call...today! Together they're the most Marvelous Team-Up of all -- Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur! But will they be BFFs forever, or just until DD's dinner time?

Finally, one that I liked! :D

I really enjoyed this volume, and am still enjoying the series as a whole. It can be a little awkward to read at times, like a lot of people on the internet I was an awkwardly precocious kid and so I oversympathise with Lunella a hell of a lot sometimes, but that doesn't detract from the rest of it. The characters are incredibly well written, the art is lovely and the plot has a real sense of heart behind it. A really enjoyable book, with extra added dinosaurs to make things even more fun! :D

Starman, Vol. 5: Infernal Devices / Starman, Vol. 6: To Reach the Stars / Starman, Vol. 7: A Starry Knight / Starman, Vol. 8: Stars My Destination

Young Jack Knight, hero of Opal City, must stop the evil of Dr. Pip and save the enigmatic giant known as Solomon Grundy in this epic.

...So, uh, guess who went on a Starman reading binge earlier this year?

I've gushed at length about how much I love Starman before. But guess what, I'm going to do it again! This is an absolutely excellent series, that possibly holds the title of my favourite comic series ever. The characterization is amazing (Jack! The Shade! EVERYBODY! <3), the plots are incredibly absorbing and the whole feeling behind it just captures why I love superheroes so well. It's just such an optimistic series, that never lets the dark happenings within it overwhelm the light, and I LOVE IT. <33

My favourite volumes were probably 7 & 8, where Jack and co go to SPACE, but all of it is honestly worth a read. Go, go now! +

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous

She's your new favorite. She's everyone's new favorite. And now she's joining the big leagues. Look out world, Kamala Khan is officially an Avenger! But will being one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes be everything she imagined? Or is life as a celebrity harder than she thought?

I've also gushed about Ms Marvel before, EVERYBODY has gushed about Ms Marvel before, but I'm happy to do so again. Her solo series remains a delight, even after the sort-of reboot of Secret Wars. She's such a lovely character, with such excellent plotting and writing, that you can't help but root for her. This volume makes things a little more complicated for her, but still retains its basic sense of heart in a way that is really endearing.

So, yeah. In short Ms. Marvel's solo run is still one of the best comics out there, and I would DEFINITELY recommend reading it. +

Starbrand & Nightmask: Eternity's Children (Attended University)

They're former Avengers with tremendous power, but almost zero life experience. Now Starbrand and Nightmask are out on their own, trying to find their place as heroes, cosmic entities and...students? College -it's a whole new universe for this pair, posing more questions than their mid-term exam. Can two all-powerful friends share a tiny dorm room? How hard is intergalactic teleportation after partying all night long at your first kegger? And will they keep their grades up while putting bad guys down? Time to find out, along with Starbrand & Nightmask!

This has been cancelled now, as I'm pretty sure that I was the only one actually reading it going by the sales figures, but I honestly think that was an unfair decision because I really liked it!

It wasn't the biggest book, but it told a very nice self-contained story with a lot of heart. The characters were endearing, it did a good job at representation and the plot moved along at a steady enough pace that I never really felt bored. It didn't have much star power, and admittedly it was never really going to be that popular as a result, but it was still a thoroughly endearing series and I'm a bit sad it's gone.

Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler's Moon

Injustice reigns on Tatooine as villainous scum run rampant. Will Ben Kenobi risk revealing himself to do what's right? Then, Luke continues his quest to learn about the Jedi by heading for the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Plus: Han & Leia are confronted by an unexpected foe from Han's past!

I'm still a little dubious about how much I like Aaron's writing, but I must admit that I really enjoy his work on the Star Wars title.

This was a nice continuation of the first volume, and one that expanded out into the universe a little bit more. The characters are still great and entirely recognizable, the plot was definitely compelling and it maintained that sense of Star Wars that's always going to get me going.

It wasn't ground breaking, and I still prefer the Darth Vader series, but if you need a little extra Star Wars in your life you could certainly look in worse places.

Black Panther by Christopher Priest: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1

Black Panther reinvented as a sharp and witty political satire? Believe it! T’Challa is the man with the plan as Christopher Priest puts the emphasis on the Wakandan king’s reputation as the ultimate statesman, as seen through the eyes of the U.S. government’s Everett K. Ross. As the Panther investigates a murder in New York, Ross plays Devil’s Advocate in an encounter with Mephisto, and a new regime seizes control in Wakanda. When the truth behind the coup becomes clear, T’Challa finds himself an enemy of the state — and a major revelation threatens to destroy his relationship with the Avengers!

I've been slowly reading this series for a while, and have finally got up to the point where I can list the first collection of Black Panther here!

I really, REALLY enjoyed this. I've heard whispers of this being the best Black Panther run ever, and I'd definitely agree with those. This is an absolutely charming book. The characters are great (T'Challa! Ross!), the plot is fantastically engaging and the writing is some of the best that I've seen in comic books.

It's a very absorbing series that is very easy to read, and if you want a way to get into T'Challa and his mythology then this is definitely the way to go. +

The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 2: A Troubled Mind / The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 3: No Escape

An Avenger no more? In light of his recent violent actions, will the Avengers kick Spidey off the team? With a villain acting like a hero and a hero acting like a villain, one man has decided that enough is enough! The ghostly revenant of Peter Parker fights to regain control of his body, his mind, and his destiny! Is this the beginning of the end for Otto Octavius?

...Not really a spoiler, since the series carries on for about 4 volumes after that blurb, but NOPE.

This is another series that I've rambled out before (because I've got into a lot of long-running series this year, apparently) but I am again happy to do it another time. I really enjoy Superior Spider-Man. I'm aware that it's not for everyone, but I find it a really compelling story that does new and interesting things with the characters involved.

I really enjoy the exploration of characterization, I find the plots really compelling and I can't help but laugh at the writing. It's a very fun series, and while I enjoyed volume 3 slightly less than the 2 before it I still find myself eager to know where it goes next.

Batman & Robin: Eternal, Volume 2

The Dynamic Duo thought they defeated her for good, but Mother is back—and she’s ready to enact her grand plan! And, when the truth behind Batman’s greatest failure is revealed, one of his allies may walk away from the fight forever. And as the world burns, it’s up to Dick Grayson to save a generation from unspeakable tragedy!

Speaking of ongoing things...

I always felt like I should've liked Batman & Robin: Eternal a lot more than I did. It had a lot of compelling stuff in it, the bits with Tim and Jason were FANTASTIC and I will defend them to the hilt, but far too much of it ended up being a bit meh for me. I found the main villain a bit weak, the art often quite wishy-washy (THE EIFFEL TOWER IS TALLER THAN THAT, YOU GUYS) and some of the writing a little subpar.

I still really liked at least half of the writing, and thought that a good chunk of the characterization was absolutely excellent, but it left me colder than it should've and that makes me sad.

The Immortal Iron Fist, Vol. 1: The Last Iron Fist Story

Many years ago, in the mystical city of Kun' Lun, young Danny Rand stared at a suit behind glass - the garb of the "Immortal Iron Fist" - and knew that he was destined to wear it. But where did this costume come from? Why did it wait for Danny all those years like a shadow of his future? The answer to those questions will stun both him and his readers, as Danny Rand leaps from the pages of his breakout hit in Daredevil to his own history-spanning kung-fu epic that will shatter every perception of what it means to be the Immortal Iron Fist!

AND SPEAKING OF THINGS THAT LEFT ME COLD.

I was expecting to really like this, for context it's the work that Fraction and Aja did together pre-Hawkeye, but it was just a real brick of 'meh' for pretty much all of it. Interesting things were going on - villains! Mysterious shit! The hero being out of his depth in various fun ways! - but it was all told in such a way that I just could not care at all.

I'm not sure that I can even anti-rec it, to be honest. I didn't hate it, as such, but it was just so MEH.

Star Wars: Vader Down

When Darth Vader accidentally finds himself facing off against the rebel fleet on his own, he is sent crashing onto a nearby planet. Will the rebels seize this opportunity to put an end to one of their greatest enemies — or will they be made to feel the full power of the dark side?

Like, you can TELL that Gillen had a large hand in writing that blurb. XD

I debated over putting this with the earlier Star Wars entry, but in the end decided that it was enough of its own thing to stand separately. This was the first crossover between the Darth Vader series and the Star Wars series, and so contained interesting plot stuff with both of them.

...And as expected, I absolutely LOVED it.

The plot was really tight, the characterization was as excellent as ever and the writing was absolutely amazing. It felt like what a crossover SHOULD be, very tight and focused on its goals, and was really compelling as a result. I loved every single part of it, with Vader taking down literally everybody in his path being a highlight, and I'd definitely recommend giving it a go. +

She-Hulk, Vol. 1: Single Green Female

Single Green Female, outgoing, intelligent, great sense of humor. Enjoys clubbing, dishing with gal-pals and saving the universe.

I really enjoyed this!

I've come to realize that I find Slott's writing quite charming, and that's especially true here. This is a really nice story about Jen, focusing a lot on her doing lawyer stuff and basically getting her life in order, and I found myself really invested in it. The art is beautiful, the plot is lovely and it has a really good sense of the characters involved in it.

It's nothing ground breaking, but I'd definitely recommend it if you want something a little lighter and extremely charming to boot. +

The Woods, Vol. 1: The Arrow / The Woods, Vol. 2: The Swarm

On October 16, 2013, 437 students, 52 teachers, and 24 additional staff from Bay Point Preparatory High School in suburban Milwaukee, WI vanished without a trace. Countless light years away, far outside the bounds of the charted universe, 513 people find themselves in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. Where are they? Why are they there? The answers will prove stranger than anyone could possibly imagine.

BUT IF YOU WANT SOMETHING GROUND BREAKING...

I picked up The Woods in a sale, based on multiple recs, and immediately found myself absolutely hooked. Tynion is another writer who I really enjoy most of the time, and he's in fine form here. The Woods is a very weird series, but an incredibly compelling one in most ways.

The characters are excellent and extremely easy to fall in love with, the worldbuilding is hella compelling, the plot is incredibly well done and the writing is absolutely phenomenal. This is one of the best comics that I've ever read, and I do not say that lightly. If you want something a little darker but undeniably amazing, go pick this up now! +

Justice League, Volume 3: Throne of Atlantis

When Atlantis is struck by a U.S. Naval missile gone awry, Atlantis--led by Aquaman's brother Ocean Master--attacks the East Coast of the United States flooding its major cities such as Boston, Metropolis, Gotham City and several others.
The Justice League comes together to help Aquaman turn back the tide, but they soon learn that they are woefully overmatched by the Atlantean Army, and must find a way to save the world from total annihilation.


...And back to the meh.

I feel like the NU52 Justice League run started off really strong, and then quickly took a nosedive into dull territory. The first volume was great, the second volume had compelling moments but the third volume... Ughhhhhhhhhh.

I'd still struggle to call it bad, it was reasonably well written in most respects and the villains had at least been given a little thought this time, but it was just completely lacking in excitement. I didn't care about Aquaman, I didn't care about Aquaman's friends and I didn't even care enough to pick up the issues of Aquaman that doubtlessly contained the other part of the plot.

It was just dull. Too much Aquaman, too much of the baffling Clark/Diana romance, too little Hal and Bruce. I might still continue reading it, but now with significantly less hope than before.

The Totally Awesome Hulk, Volume 1: Cho Time

Get ready for gamma-fueled entertainment as the kid genius decides he's gonna be the best Hulk ever -and just possibly brings the entire world crashing down into chaos!

I've never really been into the Hulk, but with the Secret Wars (Secret Wars II? Secret Worlds? I honestly forget the title) reboot I decided to pick this series up. And I'm extremely glad that I did!

I really liked this. It's charming in the way that the best of Marvel is, with a real sense of heart and a deft touch with the plot threads it chooses to pick up on. I found the characters really endearing, I found the plot really absorbing and I just liked the whole effect in general.

It's another one that isn't that profound, but that is still a really nice and joyous thing to read. +

The Mighty Thor, Vol. 1: Thunder in Her Veins

When Dr. Jane Foster lifts the mystic hammer Mjolnir, she is transformed into the Goddess of Thunder, the Mighty Thor! Her enemies are many as Asgard descends further into chaos, and unrest threatens to spread throughout the Ten Realms. Yet she wages her greatest battle against a far more personal foe: the cancer killing her mortal form.

I was speaking earlier about how Aaron's writing just seems largely like it isn't for me, and I think this is a shining example of that.

That opening sentence is a bit unfair, because I DID like large chunks of this. I still feel like Jane as Thor is inspired, and I liked large chunks of the plot and the worldbuilding choices that were made. It was perfectly compelling, and I definitely enjoyed reading most of it.

It's just... It still left me cold far more often than expected. Aaron often seems to have very little heart to his writing, if that makes sense, and that especially shows with Thor. There doesn't really seem to be much passion there. Things happen, emotions are obviously meant to be occurring, but it all remains far too dry and detached for my tastes.

It's a good book, and I'm definitely a fan of it continuing to exist. But the jury is still out as to whether it's actually to my tastes or not.

The Astonishing Ant-Man, Vol. 1: Everybody Loves Team-Ups

Scott Lang was a down-on-his-luck, divorced ex-con -- until he stole renowned scientist and super hero Hank Pym's size-altering technology in the hopes of saving his daughter's life. Through that act of doing wrong for the right reasons, Scott inadvertently learned how to be a hero himself. With Pym's blessing and his daughter Cassie at his side, Scott became... The Astonishing Ant-Man! But when a curveball upends Scott's life, will he continue to be a hero, or will he return to his former life of crime?

I liked this, but not as much as I liked the pre-reboot stuff.

I don't know why this was less to my tastes, really. All the elements are still there - Scott is still Scott, the plot is still whacky, the art is still undeniably lovely - but something just seems to be missing. There's a certain spark of charm gone, a certain lack of the spontaneity that made the pre-reboot stuff really interesting and compelling.

IDK, I'm still reading it and so I can say that it does regain a little bit of that lost magic. But... This volume is still kind disappointing.

Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Rise of Alpha Flight

Face front, true believers! The Captain has made her return and oh, how mighty it is. It's a bold new frontier for Carol Danvers as she soars to new heights in her greatest mission yet-leader of the all-new Alpha Flight space program. Yup, Alpha Flight. As earth's first line of defense, Carol and her team aim to protect the planet from extraterrestrial threats. But can Carol be a soldier and a diplomat? Especially when an unknown enemy emerges that Carol can't quite punch.

Remember the time before Bendis mysteriously made Carol a fascist for no apparent reason? Yeah, those were the good old days.

I liked this volume, because it all takes place before the batshit insanity of Civil War II that is currently making Marvel rather hard to read, but I didn't love it. The art was beautiful, the writing was charming, all of the characters were compelling enough...

But, IDK, again it seemed to lack a certain spark. Everybody was there, the plot was happening, the writing was obviously expecting me to feel a great many things - but most of the time I couldn't really read it with anything more than casual interest. It was entirely alright, but it'd be a stretch to call it anything more than that.

After Civil War II is done, though, I suspect that I'll look back on the heady days of alright and breathe a nostalgic sigh.

Green Lantern Corps, Volume 1: Fearsome

When a new menace, The Keepers, begins to march across the space sectors and devouring not only their natural resources but their entire populations, it is up to The Corps, severely outnumbered, to stop them. The Corps soon find one of their own held by the ruthless Keepers and must figure out a way to save their comrade and defeat the Keepers without the Green Lantern's most powerful weapon, their power rings.

Starting on a meh note, ending on a meh note. This post really has been full of a surprising amount of meh.

I honestly struggle to recall what happened in this volume, and I think that says a lot. It wasn't bad, I certainly can't recall anything that made me burn with an eternal hatred, but it still wasn't at all memorable. Stuff happened, people went places, the art portrayed this. I honestly struggle to say more than that.

...Which, again, isn't really an anti-rec. Just a hearty, and slightly disappointed, dose of meh.



So, that's up to 150 books read this year! Whatever shall happen next?

Well, I can tell you exclusively right now that I am hella behind again so there may well be a lot of posts like this in the relatively near future. I'm not sure if I'll be able to churn out many, I hesitate to commit to anything for fear of dropping off the face of the internet for another three months and thus failing out of this year entirely, but I'm going to try and catch up as soon as I can. There are a lot of books still to be mumbled over reviewed, after all!

Hope you enjoyed! :)

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
ragnarok_08
Oct. 26th, 2016 01:10 am (UTC)
Black Panther sounds pretty good :)
night_owl_9
Oct. 27th, 2016 03:32 am (UTC)
150! Nice! :D
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )