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review 2018-03-14 11:24
Quite fun comic collection - like the film
Kingsman: The Secret Service - Mark Millar,Matthew Vaughn,Dave Gibbons

Having already seen the film, I knew what to expect from this comic collection. From a creative team like Millar and Gibbons, this series tells us about a young man recruited into the British Secret Service, what he has to go through to make the grade and various steps in his development. There’s unsurprisingly bloodshed, death and some sexual content. The series works well, slightly tongue-in-cheek, well-illustrated and interesting.


Recommended to all fans of Mark Millar and of fun exciting comics.


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review 2017-06-23 14:52
The Life and Death of Martha Washington
The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-first Century (Second Edition) - Dave Gibbons,Angus McKie,Frank Miller

The first time I read Give Me Liberty, it was in the late 1990s. I was working as a sales assistant in a comic specialty shop and the owner had actual copies of single issues of a very hard to find mini-series. It blew me away after I read it and I never thought how beautiful Martha Washington was, that strong female leads do make a difference then. It was then, I did not follow up any of its sequels... until the release of The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century was released, a complete chronicles of her life since birth until death.


Re-reading Give Me Liberty was so refreshing. If there is any thing about Martha Washington that she was born in 1995 in a ghetto so poor, that the US government housed these poor people into what was meant to be a social welfare but turns out to be a prison. From there, we get to know how smart she is with computers. Right up to the 21st century, the world that we know of is different. Its a different Earth and its a mess-up one. But do not get me wrong, I love how the creation of this universe is and with Martha Washington in it, you will understand what Give Me Liberty really means.


After the first series, the sequels came in (Martha Washington Goes To War, Happy Birthday Martha Washington, Martha Washington Stranded in Space, Martha Washington Saves The World & Martha Washington Dies) and what was a brilliant created universe from Frank Miller and beautifully drawn by Dave Gibbons, the same award-winning creators of DC's The Watchmen, every thing just felt spiraling down hill. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy some bits and pieces of it. I can see the evolution of change in the art from the earlier days of when Give Me Liberty was published in 1990. It was much later that I felt the consistency and the beauty of the art was gone. Same goes for the sequels that felt more like fillers. Until towards the end, was it a fitting ending? Well, to me it already felt what was kept as a universe that is messed-up truly stays true and that is more than enough to enjoy reading it.


Martha Washington is a strong female character that truly is a rarity at that time for female leads in the comic industry then. She was the Ellen Ripley of the Alien universe - strong, brave and justifiable. Besides Wonder Woman, Martha Washington was the only female comic book character that do stands out because of her beliefs and what was written the experience and journey she went through. As the rest of the characters, not many of them stayed long. I always wonder what happen to Raggyann and it was not explained. Still, I am glad I found a copy of this and able to read her whole journey. Thank you Frank Miller & Dave Gibbons for creating such a wonderful series. Without you guys, change will never happen and Martha Washington shows us that change and righting wrong is what hope is.

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review 2016-06-26 12:24
Review of Watchmen by Alan Moore
Watchmen - Dave Gibbons,John Higgins,Alan Moore

(This review has been originally published here)


I will start by stating that I am reading this graphic novel in 2016, and I am reviewing it according to the reading experience I’ve had at this moment in time. I have heard so many good things about this book, and while I completely understand the reasons why it had been considered a masterpiece of its time, it is also difficult for me to disregard certain flaws and see it from a perspective of what it might have represented back then.


Watchmen includes a cast of complex , flawed and overall “grey” characters, who make you constantly question the meaning of morality. There is no true villain, no true hero; no right or wrong, simply a matter of perspective – and a great dose of self-righteousness.
This approach obviously defied the traditional superhero concept, by adding meaning and very human traits to previously black and white type of characters.


A beautiful essay on hypocrisy and the very specific nature of humankind, Watchmen explores humanity, politics, morality, and everything in between. While someone tries to enforce his anarchic ideals upon the entire world, someone else with enough power to make a change, chooses to do nothing. In this aspect, Watchmen is deep, beautiful, thought provoking even.


Another great thing is the art, despite being obviously outdated nowadays. The carefully crafted visual motifs and patterns, the configuration of the panels, the parallelism between scenes, it all flows seamlessly.


My biggest issue with Watchmen is how women were portrayed. Trying not to get into a deeply controversial debate about sexism, the explanation could be as simple as Moore can’t write female characters. I would go so far as to say that women are pretty useless in this book. They don’t exist independently, their purposes are either romantically or sexually related. Considering this graphic novel represented pretty much a revolution in the comics genre, it’s sad that this revolution didn’t extend to the portrayal of female characters.


My other issue had to do with the fact I wasn’t emotionally engaged. The complexity of the characters could have made them more relatable, but instead, I found myself unable to connect or relate to any of them. And this leads to another deep internal debate: Why are all characters in Watchmen so difficult to relate to? Is it because we feel we are somehow better, as humans?

About the story itself, the pacing also felt slow, didn’t engage me enough to want to turn the page. In fact, at some point, the book felt more as an essay than an actual story. This influenced my levels of enjoyment and entertainment, and while these are highly personal and subjective, it will of course have an impact on my personal rating.


Overall, Watchmen is a great read and a major turning point in the comics genre, full of symbolism and historic influences. I’d still recommend it, specially if you are a comics fan. It might be a Hugo Award-winning novel and considered as one of the 100 greatest novels by Time Magazine, but of course doesn’t mean everyone will like it.


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text 2016-05-02 11:45
May 2016: Reading Plans
Divergent - Veronica Roth
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie,Ellen Forney
The Zookeeper's Wife - Diane Ackerman
Marked In Flesh - Anne Bishop
City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, #1) - Ann Brashares
The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
Watchmen - Dave Gibbons,John Higgins,Alan Moore

April was a good month for me, I didn't have a single sick day and I read eleven books.  My final April book lasted two days past the end of the month, unfortunately, but it's finished now and I hope to never think of it again *shudder*.


Hopefully May will mean a return to more uplifting books, looking at this month's challenge list I don't think that will be a problem.  Like last month I won't get started on May's books until tonight, the 2nd, also like last month (and every month so far this year) I didn't manage to actually read all the books I challenged myself to read.  I only have nine on this month's list, but as most of them are library books I doubt whether I'll actually be able to get all of them, not even considering whether I'd actually be able to read them all in 29 days.


May: My Free-Read Month (my self-imposed Jan-Apr challenges have ended or been temporarily paused and I can once again visit the library)


1. A Romance Set in the Future - Divergent (Divergent, #1) by Veronica Roth (others may say this isn't a 'romance' per say, but it has an element of romance, or at least it appeared to from the movie and I wanted to read it and it was already on my 'to read' shelf and I now own a copy, so therefore it's a 'romance'), 489 pages (read from May 2-5)


2. A National Book Award Winner - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, 229 pages (read from 5-7 May)


3. A Book from the Library - The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman, 384 pages (read from 7-10 May)


4. A Book that is Published in 2016 - Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4) by Anne Bishop, 399 pages (read from 10-12 May)


5. A Book - City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare, 485 pages (read from 12-15 May)


6. and its Prequel - Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1) by Cassandra Clare, 479 pages (read from 15-18 May)


7. A Book that Takes Place During Summer - The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Sisterhood, #1) by Ann Brashares, 294 pages (read from 18-20 May)


8. A Book with a Blue Cover - The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1) by Phillip Pullman, 397 pages (read from 20-23 May)


9. A Book about a Culture you're Unfamiliar With - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, 324 pages (read from 23-26 May)


10. A Graphic Novel - Watchmen by Alan Moore (might have to change this one as I can't get it at my library or Amazon, will have to think about it)


Anyone want to take bets on whether I'll get all the way through this list, or how many I will actually read?  I reckon six from this list and another two or three sneaky impulse pickups from the library that aren't actually on the list (although, considering how extensive my 'to read' shelf is any book I do pick up will likely already be on that list).

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review 2016-03-28 16:54
Watchmen / Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons
Watchmen - Dave Gibbons,John Higgins,Alan Moore

A formative volume in the history of the graphic novel.  My impression is that Watchmen is the title that took the genre from being the lowly comic book and elevated it to the graphic novel level, garnering more respect for the illustrated story.  As a child, I read stacks of comic books—Batman, Superman, Super Girl, Spiderman, plus the more traditionally female comics like Archie and Classics Illustrated.  We had an enormous stack of comics, which my cousins used to enjoy when they came to visit.  But I’m pretty sure that no one at that time considered them to be “literature.”


Watchmen takes many of the early tropes and turns them on their heads.  The costumed “super” heroes are far from being the uncontested good guys that I remember reading about.  .  Rorschach is arguably a psychopath, holding people to his very strict “letter of the law” standards of justice, not recognizing compassion or extenuating circumstances.  The Comedian is cynical from the very start and prefers expediency over the law.  Doc Manhattan is the only one who truly possesses what we would consider to be super powers—and they remove him so far from human concerns that he gets distracted by the inner workings of subatomic particles. 


We are left to wonder (and the characters sometimes discuss) what inspires a person to dress in tights and go out in the dark to fight crime.  Are they noble or crazy?  Or both?  What qualifies them to put themselves forward as crime fighters?  I found the women’s participation in this world very disturbing, as they most seem to be playing dress-up, rather than being functioning super heroes and they get pushed to the side as appendages to the men almost immediately.


The art work is detailed and dark.  The story line is shot through with the fallout from the Second World War (when society thought we could tell the good guys from the bad guys) to a Cold War reality where our former allies, the Soviets, are suddenly a huge threat.  Underlying the main story line is a comic book story, read by a bystander in the Watchmen’s world—a tale which is maybe even darker and more desperate than the main story line (and very meta). 


I can certainly appreciate the effort that went into the creation of this volume—the deconstruction of the super hero, they examination of the changes in society, and so on.  A little too dark and violent for my taste, however.


No. 216 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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