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review 2017-04-19 01:30
My Hero Academia vs Invincible
My Hero Academia, Vol. 1 - Kohei Horikoshi,Caleb D. Cook

Recently, I had the chance to read two very similar yet different stories. On the surface, the concept is almost the same: A teenager getting super-powers and his exploits/ efforts from then on. But there was a world of difference between them for one of them was created in the US and the other was created in Japan.

 

Invincible, is a story about Mark Grayson, son of the most powerful superhero of his world: Omni Man (a Superman knockoff). The story starts from Mark acquiring his power one day in his teenage years and deciding to follow on his dad’s footsteps. He soon finds out that his father is an alien belonging to an evil empire who are hell bent on galactic domination and that his father was put on the earth to prepare it for the eventual takeover. His father proposes Mark should join the effort and he refuses it (as is customary of a hero). His father beats him to near death (not so customary of a hero) and leaves the earth. Now Mark has to prepare himself for fighting against the eventual takeover and also have to save it from itself until then.

 

If by this point you have a nagging suspicion that this story is a mixture of Superman, star wars and several other sci-fi stories thrown in, that is because it actually is. But one cannot actually fault the author for that. What I can fault him for would be the lack of zeal he shows for character development as compared to the sci-fi elements/ shock moments/ brutal fights that are so prevalent in the story. In a way, this is to be expected from a western superhero story. Apart from the hero himself and his father, the rest of the characters have a set role and they do not deviate from it or grow from it. The heroine and hero’s mother character have pretty much the same function. Devoid of their dependency to their husbands, they are nothing exciting or even memorable. Even marginally interesting characters like “I’ll even make a deal with the devil to get what I want” Cecil or Mark’s sociopath half-brother Oliver lack the necessary development and come off as abrupt most of the time.

 

Another minor gripe is that even though this is from an Independent publishing house (Image comics) as opposed to a big corporate such as DC or Marvel, and despite the fact that the author mocks the corporate comics storytelling, I found that the story had the same problems you might find in any DC/Marvel comics stories in the past two decades or more. Note: The key difference between Corporate owned comics and Independent Comics publishing is that the artists own the rights for the stories in an independent publishing company as opposed to DC/Marvel who only pay the author for the story which they own.

 

On the other hand, My Hero Academia is a story about Midoriya Izuku, a superhero fanboy who idolizes the greatest superhero of his time, All Might. Midoriya wants to be a superhero himself but unfortunately for him, in a world filled with people with super powers (aka quirks), he cannot as he has no quirks. One day, All Might saves him from a villain and impressed by his bravery, he decides to help Midoriya become a great hero by passing over his power “One for All” to him. All Might reveals to Midoriya that he has been looking for a successor to pass over his power as he was mortally wounded in a battle a few years ago which has severely limited the usage of his power. But this is a double edged sword as Midoriya is not yet ready to wield the “One for All” power yet and has to train his body to withstand the toll it takes. As he is, one punch at full power is all that is necessary to shatter his entire arm. All Might helps him get into the hero training school, UA Academy, where he’ll get the chance to not only train himself to replace All Might but also make friendship that might save his life down the line.

 

The primary difference between these two stories is the approach they take because of the cultural differences. Where Invincible concentrates on family, sci fi and doing what is right, My Hero Academia strongly concentrates on mentor-ship, finding your own way amongst trouble and friendship. My Hero Academia also benefits from the fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously a lot of times and goofs on almost every character thus keeping it light-hearted despite the story and the delicacy of the hero’s power. Coming to which, the delicacy of his super power is another strong point. Even though he has super strength, the hero is not invincible, making him rely more on his brain/ team work/ planning than on his strength to overcome the problems he faces. Most times, this makes for some interesting reading as compared to Invincible, which ends up relying on gore, brutality and shock value in fights. As a result, almost all the support characters are well developed or at the very least interesting even if some are just manga stereotypes.

 

Invincible also has the fault of relying on the trope of characters being almost beaten to death only to recover later which cheapens the seriousness that a brutal fight can have in a story. Although My Hero Academia has a similar trope (they have to if the hero ends up shattering all his bones in his arm after throwing one powerful punch), they try to use it with caution and after a certain point in the story, try not to rely on it. There are numerous minor details like this that makes My Hero Academia a pleasure to read and Invincible a chore. Last but not least, My Hero Academia is delightfully devoid of any agendas that western comics have been filled with in the recent years. Invincible has its share of force fed agendas that makes it tiring at times to infuriating at the rest.

 

You might still enjoy Invincible if you are new/unfamiliar with Super hero stories but if you have read your way through countless stories (like I have), My Hero Academia will please you more.

 

PS: There is also an anime version of My hero Academia that you can check out if you prefer anime to manga. While we are at the subject of Manga, you should also check out Hunter X Hunter, which is the best action manga I’ve read in a long while. It has an anime version too.

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review 2016-08-17 03:51
Status Update
Status Update - Annabeth Albert

This was very sweet and cute, and not just because of the dogs, though they certainly don't hurt. :D

 

Noah is a closeted professor at a conservative, parochial university and grew up in a conservative family with an abusive, domineering father. As such, he's super repressed, to the point that he's never even had sex, or even a kiss. He's convinced himself he doesn't need it and all he really needs from life is to make tenure. Adrien is a gamer geek and programer. Even his tattoos are geeky. He's outgoing and loud and has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth. He's great at long-distance relationships. A little too great. He uses them as a crutch for his own insecurities about relationships.

 

I really liked that these guys could learn things from each other, and not just be all lusty. I mean, there was lust, and the mandatory sex scenes, but this was really more about them getting to know each other - and themselves - because they each offered something the other was missing. 

 

I don't think I buy the whole road trip snow storm on Thanksgiving thing. Someone who lives out that way, does it actually snow that time of year? It's still autumn. Would've made more sense for there to be some sort of mechanical failure with the RV that then needed repairs to strand them, but whatever. I can be flexible sometimes if the story is worth it, and I think it is in this case. 

 

I also really appreciated the balance given to Noah's coming out. Too many authors think that conservative = hates all the gays. And yes, this is a larger problem with that demographic than it is among liberals, but there's also a spectrum. Not everyone meets the stereotype checklist, so I liked that Noah was met with both understanding and acceptance by some and misguided "help" by others.

 

I don't know if we'll have another book with these two later, but I hope so. I'd love to catch up with them at some point.

 

Narration: Sean Crisden isn't my favorite narrator. I find his regular reading voice to be on the droll side, but he voices these two well, and doesn't do that high-pitched thing for the women voices like some guys do, and he hit the emotional queues pretty well. 

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review 2016-03-04 11:15
My Hero Academia Vol 1
My Hero Academia, Vol. 1 - Kohei Horikoshi,Caleb D. Cook

This. This was exactly what I needed last year. I couldn't seem to read anything, so anime was my staple. But I kept hearing everyone sing the praises of this new series, so I had to give it try. Superheroes in manga/anime seems to be a thing now. Not too long ago, Tiger and Bunny came out. Now, One-Punch Man and My Hero Academia have come out roughly at the same time. I've only read the last but if the others are as good as this one, I may finally jump on the Superhero bandwagon!

 

Our hero, Izuku Midoriya, lives in a world where 80% of the population has a "quirk," a superhero ability that can range from water, gigantism, explosions, and even stranger ones. With so many people holding powerful abilities, the police forces were unable to handle them and so some rose up to take the mantle of hero and keep the peace. The best known hero, All Might, is Midoriya's personal hero as well. He wants to save people with a smile just as All Might does. There's just one problem. Midoriya is one of the rare 20% born quirkless. How can someone without powers ever be a hero?

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review 2016-02-06 02:25
Out-Foxed
Out-Foxed - Haley Walsh,Joel Leslie

Narrator status: Much improved! All the issues I had with the last two are gone here. The accents are still a little rough but at least Cashmere doesn't have any lines, so there were no Jamaican/Irish hybrid accents to put up with.

 

Foxe status: He really is TSTL and I'm glad the characters all acknowledge that - even while going along with his poorly thought-out plans. Hey, Skyler, you know who's good at trailing criminals and are actually paid to do it? The FBI. And you just happen to know somebody in the FBI. Also, his whole "I'm not telling you anything if you're not telling me anything" attitude was grating. Grow up, dude. Your students act more mature than you. I love you, man, but seriously. How you're not dead yet is beyond me.

 

SFC club status: OMG!! 

Phil and Rodolfo! I did not see that one coming! It's too perfect. Poor Jamie needs to get a boyfriend now. Maybe he'll hook up with the brokenhearted Cashmere Funk.

(spoiler show)

 

School status: Let's just make something clear. The Inland Empire really is this messed up. Just google "Inland Empire" and "Nazis" or "San Bernardino school" and "Nazi" and you'll see what I mean. So listening to the afterword that this was based on actual events didn't really surprise me. I thankfully live south of the western edge of the IE, where people are still relatively sane, so I don't have to put up with this kind of behavior, thank God. 

 

But anyway, the students are great, even if their parents aren't. Mr. Sherman really puts the "pal" in principal. I think he's my favorite secondary character. I was a bit suspicious of him in the first book but he's grown on me now. Skyler's mom also proves to be pretty awesome. 

 

I'm really enjoying this series. Now to decide if I'm going to continue with ebooks or wait for the audiobooks... 

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