I was sold on this pretty much right away by two things:
“I hope you like honey, because I have a bee in my bonnet.”
“It is I, Lord Byron. You know, from books.” “However did you find me?” “My eagle, Napoleon. He’s psychic.”
It’s a madcap ride, featuring Lucy (a girl who is rather unsure of her place in life and what her value might be), Lord Byron (from books), and Sham (“are you a boy or a girl?” “yes”). They’re not always in harmony (in fact, mostly they aren’t), but they’re hunting down vampires, each with their own motive. There are some great bits, including Lord Byron’s room full of rabbits, Sham’s bucking of gender norms (“is that Ms Sham or Mr Sham?” “no”) and fun dialogue.
However… it’s a bit too madcap, and that started to grate on me. It’s a bit “this is funny and quirky because I’m so ~*~random~*~!” I was in for a few chapters, and then my attention started to drift just because it was so scatterbrained. It sort of wraps itself up, but I found it kind of unsatisfying because it didn’t really seem to mean much. There was a bit of a power-of-friendship theme in the formation of the group, but otherwise… shrug. It sort of fizzled to a stop.
It was fun, but I’m glad it was from the library and can go back there now. If I ever gave half-stars, I might be inclined to now, to give it a 2.5.
Volume 2 of Heartstopper basically just continues the adorableness. If you’re not interested in a comic about a pair of boys — one gay, one bisexual — becoming friends, figuring out they’re into each other, and coping with things like coming out and getting along with each other’s friends, then it probably isn’t for you. The art is all in the same style on the cover, kind of doodly, and somehow that makes it more adorable to me, as well as quite distinctive (though there’s a couple of other artists with a similar sort of aesthetic).
I love the way Charlie and Nick are with each other; they have a couple of misunderstandings, and yes, one of those is at the start of this volume and is due to not actually communicating… but for the most part, they do communicate, and it’s lovely.
Look! It’s just adorbs:
They’re consistently adorable and I am so tempted to race ahead and read the whole darn thing. Buuut instead I’m being good and purchasing it volume by volume as it comes out.
(That Patreon with so many pages ahead is tempting, though…)
Heartstopper is just freaking adorable. Charlie and Nick attend an all-boys grammar school, and they really meet when they find themselves in the same form (odd, since Nick is in year 11 and Charlie is in year 10? but what do I know, grammar schools can do what they want in many ways; or mine certainly did, anyway). They quickly become friends, and Nick even coaxes Charlie to join him in playing rugby. They hang out together… a lot… and Nick quickly becomes Charlie’s defender and closest friend. And, of course, a mutual crush develops.
The art is cute, and while there is a little bit of angst and confusion, it doesn’t feel gratuitous. I’m a little mad about the cliffhanger this book ends on — and I know I could go looking for the rest online, and probably will, but aaarggghh, that so typical plotline where — well, I won’t spoil it, but suffice it to say that I want to get back to them being adorable, whether that’s as friends or boyfriends.
It’s also kind of awesome how British it is. And a grammar school, too! That’s a world I know well.
Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears – Baby Talk, Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez
It’s been a while since I read any comics, really, so I picked this one up on a whim. It’s quite a lot of fun: Jessica Drew kicks ass and takes names even when pregnant — even when she’s just had an emergency caesarian. That part isn’t realistic, but the bit about her learning to cope with giving things up, dealing with motherhood, and figuring out who she is now… that’s all probably pretty on the nose. And I loved Carol’s concern for her and how Jessica called out all the overprotective behaviour.
Does it make sense, coming right after the last Spider-Woman comic I read? Not really. It feels like they just decided to take a left turn out of nowhere for the fun of it. It’s comics, so you know it isn’t going to change much — for all I know, Jessica’s kid has been retconned out of everything already.
Still, like I said, it’s fun. And I do like the art in this TPB.
This story is just adorable. The setting is a little odd — half realistic, set in places like Belgium and Paris, but half invented (at least I don’t think it fits into our timeline), but I really enjoyed the designs and the cute relationship between Sebastian and Frances. I love the fact that Frances is never really bothered by what Sebastian wants: okay, he wants dresses, that’s her job, so she’ll do it. The best bit was maybe her telling the king that Sebastian himself was perfect, and it was the expectations and the fear of disappointing his family that ruined things.
It’s not exactly period appropriate in terms of how easily Sebastian seems to be accepted, but hey, when reality sucks, why not fix it sometimes?
Lumberjanes to the Max: Volume 1, Noelle Stephenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke Allen
Lumberjanes is really fun and really cute. The art is very typically Stephenson’s style, very much like Nimona, which I rather enjoy — it manages to be expressive and dynamic without appearing painstakingly polished. I enjoy the character designs a lot, perhaps especially Mal and April, and Ripley is just tons of fun. It’s meant for a younger audience, mostly, but I think it can appeal on other levels as well, especially with the puns and references — not many kids are going to understand why Jen (I think it was Jen) shouts, “By bell hooks!”
It’s pretty much all about ladies, and that’s pretty darn badass. There’s an adorkable crush between Mal and Molly, and the whole thing is about the friendship between the girls and how it helps them with everything that’s going on at the camp.
Which also involves magic and Greek mythology, no kidding.
I really enjoyed it, in an uncomplicated and delighted way.
The Unbelievable Gwenpool: Believe It, Christopher Hastings, Gurihuru, Danilo Beyruth, Tamra Bonvillain
Like Deadpool, only pinker. And less gory than the little Deadpool I’ve read. It very much doesn’t take itself seriously, of course; there’s a lot of comic violence, silly twists and odd meta. Some of the meta is oddly poignant — the commentary on the fact that Captain America doesn’t ever get a happy ending, for instance — and some of it is just silly. Why does Gwen Poole costume up? Because an extra might get killed in Comic Book World, but the hero never does!
It’s fun, and I actually really enjoyed the way Batroc the Leaper was used. It says Gwen skips an origin story, but in a way I’d say Batroc briefly does the whole mentor thing with her, and we get some hints of how she came through to Earth-616; if there’s ever a plan of giving her more of an origin story than that, I hope she stabs it in the face, because that would be less interesting than her running around maniacally having fun in a world she knows to be a comic book.
I think the joke might get old after too much of it, but for now, I’d try more Gwenpool. And the art is adorable.
Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 27th March 2018
If you’ve read Sarah Andersen’s other books or seen her comics online, you know more or less what to expect from this book. It’s not groundbreaking, it’s not a story, it’s just a bunch of cute strips by someone who is having a lot of fun and has some things to say — and that’s great. This book did change things up a bit by including a section on art and being online in this day and age; not bad or untrue, but I was kind of disappointed that it wasn’t more strips speaking for themselves (although the section is illustrated).
It’s a fun collection, and I still find myself saying “it me!” when I read Andersen’s strips about anxiety, introversion, etc. Not sure how much of this will be new if you’ve read the strips online, though — I read them only sporadically, and still recognised quite a few.
The Refrigerator Monologues, Catherynne M. Valente, Annie Wu
If you’re not into comics, you might not know about the trope of “women in refrigerators”, recognised by Gail Simone. Basically, it involves female characters who are killed off to further a male hero’s story — like Alexandra DeWitt, who is literally shoved in a refrigerator to die for the manpain of Green Lantern. Catherynne Valente takes a bunch of those stories and lets the women speak for themselves. If you like working it out, don’t worry; I won’t spoil which women are included in the line-up.
It’s a fun bunch of stories; they don’t end well for the women involved, because that’s the set-up here, and there’s a certain amount of rage at how this shit keeps on happening in Superhero Land (not to mention everywhere else as well). So if you’re looking for a transformative work that changes these stories, that’s not what this is. For now, it just gives the women voices; lets them tell their half of the story.
I enjoyed it a lot, and I’ll be looking out for a copy just to have — I borrowed the copy I read. The art included is pretty cool too (though this is a prose work, not a comic).