The Movement: Fighting for the Future, Gail Simone, Freddy Williams II, Chris Sotomayor
Volume two of The Movement is a little disappointing in that it’s also the last volume. Some things are wrapped up, but really you’re just left feeling this frustrated sense of how much has been left undone, how much potential exists within this mismatched group of characters. I love the fact that the story itself brings this up, in a way: people warn Virtue that her team doesn’t fit in with how existing superheroes work and think, and she says essentially, well, one day they’ll have to. Change is coming.
Change is coming, and maybe The Movement was a little too soon, a little too blatantly diverse, a little too brazen about being a new sort of superhero team. Maybe it’s just that it’s difficult to launch a new set of superheroes without serious support — some of which the team gets, in Batgirl’s appearance in a couple of issues. Successful as the Young Avengers have been, they don’t have a current comic either, while Cap and Iron Man and all the mainstays are going on (and on, and on).
I love what we did get, though: a complex team made up of people who complement and clash with each other in equal measure. It’s a team of diverse voices, not only in terms of skin colour and country-of-origin and sexuality, but in terms of political ideals too. Katharsis is fairly blatantly not down with some of the more liberal ideas held by other members of the team. Burden comes from a religiously conservative background and is only just opening up to new ideas. It’s not just a liberal hippie love fest.
And on a lighter note: I love that we saw the hinted-at date between Virtue and Rainmaker. Cute.
The Movement: Class Warfare, Gail Simone, Freddie Williams II
It took me so long to get around to reading the second volume of The Movement, I thought I’d better reread the first. Perhaps it was very much of its moment, both in terms of the content and in terms of the effect on me: I wasn’t as taken with it this time round, though there’s still lots to love. The diversity of the characters, in terms of sexuality and gender and even political views. It’s great for the way the characters struggle against each other: they don’t automatically have the same opinions, and some of them clash on fairly fundamental levels (and yet friendship can win out — note to US politicians: try not seeing your opponent as total scum).
The art is still awesome; I love Virtue and Rainmaker in particular. And Tremor. Okay, I just love the art, okay. I do wish at times there was a bit of a brighter colour palette — I can tell I’m reading a DC comic just from the gloomy colouring! Though it is also appropriate to the world that these characters are living in, so it does make sense. (Marvel’s Young Avengers are a much more privileged group, after all.)
Batgirl: Death of the Family, Gail Simone, Daniel Sampere
There’s a lot of individual elements I like in this book — Barbara’s bravery, her struggles with her anger at the people who put her in a wheelchair, her sheer ferocious intelligence (and yet she spends so much time punching her way through problems, sigh), some of the family issues that are brought up… But where it ties in with the other Batfamily books, it feels clumsy. I don’t know what’s going on with Damien, with Nightwing, etc. Nor do I really get chance to care, since it’s all a whirlwind of action.
The art is good, expressive, etc, but ye gods, I forgot how dark DC comics can be. Grit, grit, and more grit.
I do like Alysia’s coming out; I like the casual way Barbara takes it, and yet how important the moment still feels.
Red Sonja: The Art of Blood and Fire, Gail Simone, Walter Geovani
Gail Simone’s run on Red Sonja continues to make the She-Devil about a lot more than tits and ass and the male gaze. Her relationships with other women are important, but here we also see how she relates to the rather male-oriented world around her. I love that it makes no excuses for what Sonja is like — low on hygiene, high on hedonism, low on distinction, high in violence… And she’s a character you can love anyway, because there are things she cares about, regrets that she has, and she clearly inspires people around her in many ways. Despite her faults, she has friends, and she knows exactly who she is.
The art is mostly lovely, though some of the variant covers do veer back to the tits and ass version of Sonja, I think. And the… ‘chibi-fied’ ones just made me wince. C’mon, don’t infantilise this powerful woman who would hate to be portrayed that way…
Sonja’s adventures continue to be more episodic and disconnected than cohesive. It’s not a superhero story with a massive arc and a need to obsessively buy loads of tie-in comics. Which is good, I think.
Tomb Raider: Season of the Witch, Gail Simone, Nicolas Daniel Selma
I never got into Tomb Raider as a kid — though it helps I didn’t have any games consoles until I was a teen — but I recently played the reboot and loved it. The survival aspects were great, and I needed to think tactically about taking out enemies, etc, etc. Season of the Witch doesn’t, in my opinion, bring anything really new to the story. It deepens the stories around some of the relationships, but in many ways the actual plot is a re-run in miniature of the game — without such high stakes, it seemed; there weren’t many characters to lose anymore.
You’ve got to love, though, the tension between Reyes and Lara, and the way that plays out; but especially the deep friendship between Lara and Sam. I hope that remains an essential part of the series.
First full week of 2015; first chance for us to break all our resolutions and buy a load of books. How’s everyone else been getting along?
Late Christmas present from my dad. <3
At my parents’ place again for most of January, so this is what I got out of the library to keep me amused — as if I needed anything more than what’s on my ereader and on my shelves from their generosity at Christmas! Ahem…
Anyway, so far this year I’ve avoided buying any new books; I’ve finished the first book in my Open University course already, so I feel like maybe I deserve one, but I can’t choose. I do now have an Amazon wishlist which I’m trying to keep updated. If nothing else, it’ll serve as a list of ‘approved’ books when I do want to get something, and I’ve saved stuff I haven’t preordered yet onto there too.
This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is “Top Ten Books I Read in 2014”. This one you can probably predict if you follow this blog, but I won’t leave you guessing. Also, links don’t show up on my theme very well, so I’ll just say now that all the titles are links to the reviews I wrote earlier in the year.
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison. Yep, you probably predicted this one. I just loved it to bits — I’d have happily gone back to page one and started all over again right away. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but it was pretty perfect for me.
The King of Elf-land’s Daughter, Lord Dunsany. This is definitely not new to a lot of people, but it was new to me. I think I’d read one of Dunsany’s short story collections before, but not this one. It’s a lovely mythic/fairytale-like world. In style and the like, it’s not like the more typical modern fantasy, but that doesn’t put me off at all.
We Have Always Fought, Kameron Hurley. I haven’t read any of Hurley’s fiction yet; she may even be a writer who appeals to me more as a commentator than as a creator, since I did start God’s War at one point and put it down again. But I loved this collection of her essays. She very much deserved her Hugo.
My Real Children, Jo Walton. Again, probably predictable. I loved the characters in this — the sheer range of them, the ways small circumstances could change them. It was quite upsetting on a personal level because of the mentions of dementia, but the fact that it had the power to upset me only made me like it more.
The Movement: Class Warfare, Gail Simone. I think this is a pretty timely comic. This sums it up, from my review: “[T]his is a group of young people getting together against injustice. Not supervillains: injustice. Crooked cops who beat poor people and POC because they can. The whole system of privilege and disprivilege. It’s a team of heroes for the Occupy Movement, for the 99%, for the disenfranchised.”
Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge. Read this all in one go on a train journey and resented every interruption. There’s a great atmosphere to this book.
Behind the Shock Machine, Gina Perry. I’ve always been fascinated by Stanley Milgram’s experiments, and this was a great way of delving into them — looking at it not from Milgram’s point of view, not looking at the results, but at the people he used in this experiment.
What Makes This Book So Great, Jo Walton. This is kinda cheating, in that it’s a book chock full of the books Jo Walton likes. Not limited to a top ten, of course, but I have a feeling it could furnish the whole contents of this list.
Spillover, David Quammen. Fascinating stuff, with some very obvious conclusions that apparently still need to be said. We are destroying habitats, forcing animals closer together and closer to us: we’re creating the perfect situation for a pandemic. It’s going to happen again, as it’s happened before, and we’ve just got to hope it isn’t something exotic and deadly. Even the flu is bad enough when it sweeps the world.
The Broken Land, Ian McDonald. This is the only book in this list I didn’t give five stars. But it’s stayed on my mind the whole time, and the issues it examines aren’t temporary ones that’re about to go away.
This is gonna be a really interesting week to check out other people’s lists; I’m looking forward to this! Make sure you link me to your list if you comment. I’ll always visit and comment back.
Aaand time for another Top Ten Tuesday! This week it’s a Halloween theme — not my favourite holiday, really; I’m a scaredy-cat at heart. Anyway, here’s the theme: “Top Ten Books/Movies To Read Or Watch To Get In The Halloween Spirit OR Top Ten Characters Who I Would Totally Want To Be For Halloween”. Aaand I’m gonna do the latter. Most of them are comics characters, because actually I’m really bad at visualising characters.
Any Avenger. Comics/movies whatever. Especially one like female!Bucky or the Lady Avengers manips. Not that short red hair really suits me for anyone. Gimme a blond wig and I’ll do Carol Danvers? Scarlet Witch maybe?
Batgirl. From Gail Simone’s run. I’d just need longer hair… lots longer. Like it used to be, in fact.
Storm. Even mohawk!Storm. Maybe especially mohawk!Storm.
A female assassin. Shush, Assassin’s Creed counts for this — there’re Assassin’s Creed books too.
Kate Bishop. Young Avengers! We don’t need to imagine a female Hawkeye; we’ve got one. And I’d have a badass bow.
Lara Croft. She has comics! It counts! Badass bow, again.
Eowyn. Shield-maiden style, of course.
Nazca. From The Lies of Locke Lamora. She’s badass and she should be celebrated.
Zamira Drakasha. Scott Lynch again. Ditto!
Sabriel. Or maybe Lirael. From Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy!
Lots of kick-butt ladies. I didn’t deliberately pick them to be mostly the ladies who fight; it’s just those are the ones I can see myself doing better. Not such a fan of the long dresses and so on.
So, time for Stacking the Shelves a la Tynga’s Reviews! You know how I keep saying my haul post is going to be smaller “next week”? Well, next week it will be. I think? That’s the idea, anyway. Part of this I blame on going to Rainbow Rowell’s signing in Waterstones with Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts. I’d pick something up to look at it and she’d chip in with “that one’s good!”
Or I might just have no restraint. There’s always that explanation. Anyway, to kick off, here’s me with Rainbow Rowell!
If you look closely you can see a little frog in the picture. Which means this is a good time to plug my friend’s art project: basically, she’s made a hundred of the blighters and over the last few months, she’s been ‘releasing’ them into the wild, a few at a time. If you find one, take a picture of yourself with it and then move it to somewhere new! Most are in England, West Yorkshire area, but I know some have gone to London, some have been released in Cardiff and Swansea, and some are travelling round the world. If you’re going to Loncon, I have two to release there, so keep your eye out for Sad Frog Project!
My copy of Fangirl was signed, of course. I still need to finish reading it… But I loved the way Rowell spoke about it, spoke frankly about Cath’s social anxiety, spoke with enthusiasm about fandom. So I’m very glad to have a signed copy. As for the others, some I’ve been planning to get for a while — Two Boys Kissing and Code Name Verity. Leah forced Take Back the Skies on me, and we talked about the others enough to get me interested.
It’s a rather mixed bag, isn’t it? The first three were mentioned in books of essays I’ve been reading recently; I’ve enjoyed some of John Connolly’s other stuff; The Queen of the Tearling is getting interesting reviews; I thought my sister would like Premonitions but I’m gonna try it first; Permanent Present Tense is non-fiction and was mentioned in the neurobiology MOOC I’m doing; Liars and Thieves is a short by Karen Maitland, who I’m a big fan of!
An interesting bunch — I’ve been interested by The Copper Promise for a while!
I think I’m in love with Bookbridgr. I’m certainly super happy about getting The Vanishing Witch! I don’t think I’ve crossposted any of my Karen Maitland reviews here so far, but I’m definitely a fan.
Mostly non-fiction this week, as you can see; all my Steve Jones reservations came in, and I had a browse in the 610s-620s in the non-fiction section of the library. (Well, also the 560s, because dinosaurs.)
I didn’t actually magically get my hands on the second TPB of The Movement, but I thought it’d be silly to put up the cover of every single issue. So there y’go. And I imagine there’s no mystery as to why I picked up Guardians of the Galaxy.
Okay, I can’t believe how long this post has got, and I need to do a ton more things before I go to bed. When this goes live in the morning, I’ll already be out at the Race for Life, volunteering at a 10k event. And then on Sunday, I’m running in the 5k event. So I may not be very active this week, but I will visit back anyone that comments here, of course! Have a good week.
(Oh, and if you have some spare cash, sponsor me, please?!)
ETA: Except I can’t volunteer today due to travel problems, wah. But at least I’ll be around to chat to people!
I didn’t love this TPB of stories about Red Sonja as much as I did the first TPB Gail Simone worked on, but I definitely appreciate what she did, the way she drew together female creators for this, and also the stories they all chose to tell. Women are prominent in many of them, and there are some delightful lines — like, “What’s wrong with men? I know plenty of decent male fighters.”
(If you don’t know why that made me laugh, well, it’s the flipside of what you usually get. Normally it’s a man damning women with faint praise for whatever skill or job.)
The whole storyline consists of a frame story with the Grey Riders, who are hunting Red Sonja, and then a series of stories told about her by her allies. What I loved about those was the way they emphasised different aspects of Red Sonja: her body, yes, but also her links with other women, her beliefs, her skill at fighting, and her cunning. Especially loved the little hat tip to complaints about her costume when she’s first given it, with the lady who gives her it telling her that if men are watching her curves, they aren’t watching her sword.
Red Sonja is kind of a male fantasy fulfilment thing. The chainmail bikini makes no sense, and probably chafes. But Gail Simone has made me feel very fond of her anyway: she and her team take everything about Sonja makes it feel more real, more worthy of celebration. She might’ve started as a sexist fantasy, but she doesn’t have to stay that way.