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review 2018-01-31 06:41
An autobiography long on author's accomplishments, short on practical applications

 

The Way of the Writer, Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling is filled with the accomplishments of Charles Johnson, his philosophy in regards to writing and the benefits of academia. Somewhere among this rather high-minded autobiography (because that's basically what it is) are some insights about actual writing (that would be literary fiction with a capital L since Johnson considers anything else "pork" or industrial writing and not worth the effort).

 

Much of his philosophy is similar to John Gardner's who was his teacher and mentor. Indeed, one might be better off reading Gardner's On Moral Fiction as well as The Art of Fiction for more specifics on these two areas unless you're want to know more about Johnson's career highlights beginning in grade school.

 

I did find it interesting that he places more emphasis on plot than character development which could be considered a contradiction since one definition of literary fiction is that it's character driven. That's it you ask? Perhaps it's his lifetime as an academic, with thirty of those years as a teacher, that gives him, in my opinion, a rather limited point of view.

 

Though I'm now inclined to read at least one of his novels - to see if it is actually as good as he thinks it is.

 

 

 

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review 2017-08-26 19:06
Just stunning ending
Inhumans: Attilan Rising (2015) #5 - Charles Soule,Dave Johnson,John Timms

I read this on August 22nd, along with All-New Inhumans #11.    (Loved that ending, loved this ending, too.)   Medusa is faced with a choice.   She can choose to follow Doom's lead, or to recognize what a fascist he is - and fight back with Black Bolt.   She chooses the latter, having been told what's really happening.   She now sees through Doom's ruse, and is willing to fight him with everything she has. 

 

Except it's Doom.  He's planned for all eventualities, even this one, and he's more than ready to take on both Medusa and Black Bolt - even a Black Bolt with a destructive force.   

 

I didn't see this heartbreaking ending that speaks of cycles, of how violence and fascism thrive, on being doomed to repeat your mistakes coming the first time, and I did the second. I was afraid that it would lose it's impact knowing that surprise twist, and it... did not.   It's as impactful as ever, and I'm in awe of what this series did. 

 

The best of the Battleworld/Warzones mini-series in my opinion.

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review 2017-08-21 13:48
So I'm gonna get my Transformers geek on at the end
Inhumans: Attilan Rising (2015) #4 - Charles Soule,John Timms,Dave Johnson

When Black Bolt is captured and interrogated by Medusa, he both questions her loyalty to Doom and also tells her there are towers that broadcast signals that force people to accept the world as it is, rather than see what it could be.   Black Bolt isn't affected, and he tells Medusa that people are more willing to questions and less affected once they're made aware of the truth. 

 

They also talk about why Black Bolt hasn't been through Terrigenesis, and he answers that it's a matter of control.   Once you get your gifts, you're not allowed to choose where you want to go.  Your powers dictate that, and that's where you are for the rest of your life.   The example he uses is an artist who gets offensive abilities, and is put on the security team.   

 

Transformers time.   I didn't put it together, despite reading some about this in the Inhumans series by Jenkins and Lee.   I think that's because it's a little bolder here: it's a huge point in this series, a huge motivator, and stated far more plainly as a form of Functionalism than in the previous series.   In Transformers, the Decepticons were originally acting out against Functionalism, or the belief that what you turned into was your function.   Like Jetfire was told that because he was a flier, he couldn't be a scientist.   Fliers aren't scientists, they're made for battle.   They, much like Black Bolt, wanted the freedom to be whatever they wanted.   (Both Functionalism and Attilan had problems with racism of a sort: if you didn't turn into something good, or you didn't get top notch, or even good, gifts during Terrigenesis, you were outcasts.   Ravage was always treated like an animal because  of his panther form and in the Inhumans series - Jenkins and Lee again - there's a lot about that: a girl who's hands are deformed and is told that her best friend that they can no longer be friends, or Wuz, the boy who turns into an Alpha Primitive and is forced down into their literal underground society.   They are the morlocks of Attilan, these Alpha Primitives.)

 

Anyway, loved this issue.   The fact that Black Bolt is tortured is a plus, because I like seeing this in my favorite characters.  I also hope for a hurt/comfort story, and I like seeing how much they can take, even if there's no real comfort in the end.

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review 2017-08-21 02:10
Loving this once more
Inhumans: Attilan Rising (2015) #2 - Charles Soule,John Timms,Dave Johnson

Medusa sends Auran and Kamala Khan to infiltrate The Quiet Room.   Black Bolt takes charge, putting an effective end to said infiltration - or so he believes. 

 

I'm surprisingly not enjoying Matt Murdock - who goes by Murdoch in this - or Auran or Nur, all of whom I enjoy immensely in the regular Marvel universe.   It's not the author, because Soule writes some of the best Daredevil in his new run.   And he's written Auran and Nur in Uncanny Inhumans, where I originally fell in love with their characters.  I just don't see why Murdoch is in this, and he feels like comedy that isn't really necessary.   There's enough going on that he's not really necessary at this point, but it's such a minor point that I'm not even going to knock a star off.   (It's more that once I stopped reading and thinking, 'hey, Murdoch isn't doing it for me,' it bugged me until I worked it out in my mind.)

 

Still, it's nice seeing these characters in new situations, because Kamala is Medusa's servant: she doesn't question Medusa and the Kamala Khan I know would immediately.  Still, many characters are put in positions where they act differently than they usually do, at least at the beginning.   Even Medusa acts differently, deferring to Doom completely, which she never would in the regular Marvel universe. 

 

The fact that Doom is looked at as a savior, even by Captain America, and Tony Stark, all the Avengers even, is proof enough that the characters are all going to be slightly different.   Medusa still acts as a queen, compassionate, although trying to save her people from a fate worse than death.   (Being turned into a zombie would be that most likely of all fates, so there's that.)   Kamala is still doing what she thinks is right, but again Doom is looked at as a savior rather than the fascist he is so the 'right' in this world can be warped. 

 

The world, and the characters, are the same - and different.   I love how playful this gets, even when it's not necessarily funny.   Like this mini-series is about underground resistance and fascism and fighting that, and helping people who are worse off than you. (Sounds like something we need right now, huh?)

 

It's fun because it's so different, it skews what is normal in the regular Marvel universe, but it's also rather serious - or speaks to serious issues and gives them their proper gravitas - and I love this mix. 

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review 2017-08-21 01:30
Oh, look an Inhumans review
Inhumans: Attilan Rising (2015) #1 - Charles Soule,John Timms,Dave Johnson

Apparently I reviewed this as a graphic novel - but not as a single book, so hey, look review!   This is a Warzones/Battleworld mini-series, a bunch of short series - usually four to six comics - that took place between Secret Wars* and the rebooting of the All-New Marvel universe.   AKA Secret Wars was a chance to start with ones and try to bring people in from the movies without forcing them to reread seventy+ years of back issues, or making them feel it was necessary.

 

Battleworld and Warzones was a reason for Marvel to get funky.   Doom, who ended up calling himself Lord God Doom, gathered together what he could save from the multiverses when they were imploding due to all those fun romps through space/time.   Alternative universes and time travel were warping the basic matter of the world or something?   But like I'll say later, horrible things happen to Rocket and then I bailed, so I never fully understood SW, or cared to quite frankly.   

 

You have multiples of people - Tony Stark shows up in multitudes of Battleworld series, for examples, each from different parts of Battleworld.   Each Battleworld is ruled by a regent - in this case Medusa.   In the beginning of this, an insurrection is traced back to Medusa's domain of New Attilan.   Lord God Doom is, unsurprisingly, not pleased with Medusa, and calls on her to stop these insurgents.   

 

Which brings her to the G-Man, a spirit of ignition.   Yeah, a Ghost Rider.   This G-Man is helping those who would dare oppose Doom, and the G-Man is captured, giving Medusa only two words to help her during his interrogation: Quiet Room.   

 

The Quiet Room was introduced in Uncanny Inhumans, I believe.  Black Bolt sets it up as a place of peace: no fights at all allowed in, and seeing as he hosts supervillains, aliens, and other assorted super powers in the world who are frenemies or pure enemies of his other guests.  Still, I had known this and was excited to see Black Bolt. 

 

And then he spoke.   And my jaw dropped.   I remember the ending to this series, and I love how it all plays out and it has to do with the fact that Black Bolt can speak.   Love the ending.   I'm so excited that I get to read and review this mini series issue by issue!

 

*An event that killed The Punisher prematurely and shot Rocket in his adorable belly, murdering him as well.   This was my breaking point and I said 'no more!'   People pointed out that they were killing everyone, then bringing them back, but apparently shooting Rocket in his adorable little belly is my breaking point.   Who knew?

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