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review 2016-12-30 01:19
Not the strongest Suicide Squad story
Suicide Squad Special: War Crimes (2016) #1 - Bud Smith;Lydia McDonald;Lisa Mitchell Parker;Joe Saldibar;Gus Sanchez;Trista Payte;Christopher Luke Trevilla;Marvin Waldman;Aaron Dietz;Michele Vazquez;Owen Cooney;Megan Elizabeth Corry;Janice Bevilacqua;Christine Conte;Chuck Howe;Shelley Hirsch;Heather

I think this tells me something about Ostrander and Yale: how much of an influence she was on this series.  I knew because Ostrander himself has said so, but there's knowing and having the point illustrated.  


This is illustrating the point, to me.   


It's all Suicide Squad, but not as much as the original.   Again, there's something there in the oldest and newest series.   The older one focused a lot on the political, balancing that with character.   Given what happens in the Deadshot mini-series - both of them, in fact - and the dealing so overtly with current political issues, it was clear that both Ostrander and Yale weren't interested in towing lines.   They wanted to tell a good story, and lines be damned.   


They succeeded.  I'm not sure if it's the current writing clime where some topics are taboo, or if it's the new lineup - with Harley - or if Ostrander simply was truly buoyed by Yale, but this felt like it was trying too hard to capture what the original had.   (Much like the movie, it felt more like it was told to get toned down and it did.   If the movie, and this comic, had gone further - or perhaps been allowed to go further - I think it would have been a boon to both of the stories.)


The newest series lacks some of what the original has - the political commentary is what I'm thinking of in particular - and may not be quite as risqué, but it at least acknowledges what happened previously - and I"m thinking of Deadshot in particular here - and makes up for this by dealing so well with the characters.   Or at least it does for me.  I've heard rumblings and complaints about the character backstories, instead of one continuous story, but I personally love them.  


The problem with this is that it feels like it's trying to straddle.   It doesn't get risqué, but doesn't quite manage to be as in depth with the characters as the current series, either.   So I feel like I'm left without either of the two things that truly attract me to the series I love.   (Not to mention, even though the original series may have not done constant character studies, they went pretty deeply into the character psychology.   Oracle, and Deadshot, and Mindboggler?   Amazing what they did with them.  Minboggler has been on my mind: the more I think about it, the more digitizing her, then having Dybbuk fix her, and having her revert to Leah - she doesn't have all the insecurities, after all, is mind-blowing.   She and Dybbuk also decide to get married, so Jewish AI wedding?   I want one of those!)


That being said, the felt a little flat.  I've read a lot of praise online for this, but I don't know.   It just didn't make me feel all that strongly.   It was a good story, and a good execution and everyone was in character - but the political commentary could have been much more scathing, as it often was in the original series.   


I'd be hesitant to buy anything new by Ostrander in this.  I'd sample the work, certainly, and read reviews before I did.   Because his original run was amazing, but I don't think hoisting Harley on him - I keep bringing her up because I feel like she was the weakest character in this - or limiting what he can do does this series justice.  Or maybe Ostrander changed his writing style or his views of the world, and that's okay.   I just find it doesn't make as compelling a story for me. 


I'm glad there was a lot of the elements in there: the politics, the way the characters interact - with them often not getting along like gangbusters - but it just wasn't enough for me.   Maybe if I hadn't read his earlier works, I'd be more impressed - but I have, and so I wasn't.   


Onto more Squad, although I took time to catch up on comics and read some new ones I acquired first. 

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review 2016-03-26 18:36
Tables Without Chairs #1 by Brian Alan Ellis and Bud Smith
Tables Without Chairs #1 - Brian Alan Ellis,Bud Smith,Waylon Thornton

I kinda find it hard to define what Tables Without Chairs #1 actually is. A literary journal of sorts, or a split book more likely even not really, where two writers are working together to achieve what? To have fun first and foremost, but which is also deliberately avoiding classifications or labels. Tough cookie that one.

Brian Alan Ellis´ and Bud Smith´s approach to writing is similar enough, even both have their own distinctive voices, that I see how it makes sense that they work as a team. Plus they rather obviously share the same craptacular kind of humor. The book itself has the rawness and lo-fi quality of a home made record, including monster illustrations by artist and musician Waylon Thornton, of the ´you have to see it to believe it´ kind. Oddly enough they fit, even you know, monsters. Or whatever those things should be.


I´ve read and enjoyed Brian Alan Ellis´ Mustache book, but Tables feels more cathartic but that´s just my uninformed opinion. There is a story of sorts, with “Sexy Time in the Spook House, Oh Yeah!”, a first person narrative told in punchy and quick stories within stories about some guy or the other and him being a reject of a woman. Heartbreak! From smart ass anectodes to spiraling into an abyss of his own making, where BAE at the same time challenges my own observations of what is happening with his lean prose. Similar to Mustache it´s very much an idiot male perspective, with shallowness and sex as something that happens, to - plot twist! - genuine moments of tenderness and feelings. Despite its decidely grittiness it´s rather lovely.

And then it finally moves into Obscurelandia, they do things differently there!, with "Ha-ha! Sad laughter."

Obscure insofar that those are a lot of one-liners, just how seriously I should take them I am not sure. Taking the piss at publishing and everything that comes with it, including by extension taking the piss at himself, it feels like a stand-up comedian routine who totally unironically pokes fun at everyone and everything. Including self-reflection in that kind of "my life" way, told ironically of course. Which might only be fun for other writers, or maybe it isn´t funny at all. The cynicism is strong with this one. From the Indie lit scene to Goodreads to the #amwriting hashtag, BAE doesn´t shy away to confront those who take themselves all too seriously with their own dead set idiocy. He is a smug one, that Brian Alan Ellis.

"When other authors recommend how-to writing books to you on Goodreads, like wtf they trying to say?"

That a correct sentence would be, "wtf they´re trying to say?" Maybe? But that is just a guess. :)

Or about those? "How-to blurb a book", which skims the line between nonsensical and the ridiculousness even seriousness with which books are blurbed by other authors.

"[This writer] writes like a sadistically imaginative child who plays house by burning down the house."

BAE ´s characterization is rather tame, tough, nothing really to piss off anyone, or so I would think. Anti-litery advice of sorts, even he does offer good advice as well, like:

"If a publishing house is willing to print your books out on rolls of toilet paper, sign with them immediately."

This guy clearly knows what he´s talking about, can´t argue with that. Or my favorite:

"Writing is like sending an SOS out into the world and not quite getting the help you need, if any at all."

#LifeSucks #GetUsedToIt

Bud Smith´s approach to storytelling, in his ´Calm Face´ novella, seems to be a slightly more mature one in comparison to BAE. No bullshit, no pretense, intimate yet natural. Minimalistic, maybe a tad unpolished, but what I like most about his stories is that those are about mundane, every day life things that could happen to everyone, and nevertheless go slightly wrong for stupid reasons. Building a jacuzzi in your apartment, DIY style, is apparently not the smartest thing one can do. Life lessons, kids, life lessons!

He is witty, has an eye for keen observations while feeling natural even those novella in stories are more like short sketches than anything else. A first-person protagonist going through his daily life. That´s pretty much it. How Smith describes those interactions is the real thing as they are nevertheless rather detailed. Those are random, even rather odd, moments in life. From having his morning coffee, to commuting to work, to dealing with a screaming neighbor, seeing a doctor, to his favorite sandwich place closing it feels a bit like reading someone´s diary, or sneaking into a party coz you are a friend of a friend of a friend.

"Know who else came? The lady downstairs who I’m at war with, but that’s normal. She always comes up and knocks.

This time she told us to keep the noise down. I said, “YOU’LL HAVE TO CALL THE POLICE!” and opened the door just enough to slam it for effect. Fun!”

The zen like, stoic quality with which his characters go through life is what makes the story quirky and fun. There is also some undercurrent of longing in them too, which I appreciate. Somehow to do right by the world, a desire to build something out of those puzzles and broken pieces that is worth having.

"City bus almost runs me over. Bus driver has calm face. I have calm face. All bus passengers have calm face. We´re all good here."

What I particulary like about this short sequence is that it captures the moment so well.

Or as Gwen Beatty praised the book so eloquently, more eloquently than I ever could. "A couple of dicks wrote a book!"

Those are some likeable dicks you want to hug and punch in the face. Yeah, you definitely want to punch them in the face.

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review 2013-02-22 00:00
Uno Kudo: Naked: 2 - Bud Smith;Lydia McDonald;Lisa Mitchell Parker;Joe Saldibar;Gus Sanchez;Trista Payte;Christopher Luke Trevilla;Marvin Waldman;Aaron Dietz;Michele Vazquez;Owen Cooney;Megan Elizabeth Corry;Janice Bevilacqua;Christine Conte;Chuck Howe;Shelley Hirsch;Heather if you LOVE eyecandy, have a poet's heart, or just love unpretentious stories, you need need to go pick this one up! full review coming soon!
My two cents: This is an absolutely amazing book. It is the product of an art collective and draws in the best of art to explore nakedness. It is all around gorgeous! An initial scan is a delight for the eyes ... so much to take in and see. I found myself gawking at the array of art styles, photography ... and the colours! The art alone makes me a happy camper. - See full review and page captures here:
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