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review 2018-05-23 15:58
Excellent storylines with a couple bumps
Transformers: IDW Collection Phase Two Volume 1 - Andrew Griffith,Nick Roche,Alex Milne,John Barber,James Lamar Roberts

I find the switching between MTMtE and RiD, to be honest, distracting, mostly because it doesn't feel like you're reading one continuous story.   It feels like distracting POV jumps.   Still, this is such an excellent collection, I only knocked off one fourth of a star.   The other fourth is for two reasons.   One: because I always find The Death of Optimus Prime to be integral to his storyline, but a chore to read.   Also, while Barber is an excellent storyteller, I'm spoiled by knowing what's to come: RiD isn't bad - in fact, it's a lot of fun and volume two was my gateway into this continuity because Dinobots - so much as his work gets so much more refined and nuanced later on, that this feels like an excellent author finding his way in retrospect.   And this is, to be honest, not a knock-down in my opinion: some authors intuit what to write and how straight away, but most have to work at it.   And if you ask me, I'd prefer the second kind of author.   The struggle to reach that excellence can keep them from taking it for granted, or thinking that they don't have to or shouldn't hone their craft: they are the authors who, in my opinion, continue to excel.   (There are exceptions both ways, but in my experience, this is what tends to happen.)


I say this because I feel like I've been comparing early Barber to early Roberts, and then to later Roberts.  For me James Roberts has been one of those authors who's knocked it out of the park with a couple exceptions: some issues got too moribund for my taste and then he quickly injected the humor back into Lost Light in particular.   I feel like I've been unfair to Barber, and so I'm explaining how I think of his writing at the present.   The fact that I have changed my opinion about him as he grows means I may change my mind again: I may find him to slip, or to reach a point where he becomes, hands down, my favorite TF author.   


I also am taking this much time explaining this because I think the context matters: how I view his work, and how it's evolved, does go into the rating.  This works much better for me in the context of what is to come, from these storylines and from Barber himself.   Reading this, I keep wanting to get further along, to what he does to Prowl, to the Dinobots in The Redemptions of the Dinobots, to Optimus Prime.   I'm also eager to sit back and enjoy watching the evolution of his writing.   So in a way, this is so high because in retrospect, that evolution is well worth watching and reading and it elevates this reading experience for me.   Furthermore, I'm less sneer-y now that I've seen it once, and I'm just allowing myself to sit back and enjoy the ride. 


Anyway, this has the Death of Optimus Prime and the beginning issues of More Than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise.   A bunch of fun so far.   I'm knee deep in Autocracy which starts off the next volume.   


Note: "allowing myself" at one point autocorrected to "blowing myself".  Vin's just being naughty now.

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review 2018-05-21 20:59
Transformers: The IDW Collection Volume 8 - Dan Abnett,Mike Costa,Andy Lanning,James Lamar Roberts

I was going to write a longer review, but no.   This gets weird, and not in a good way, in a  fucked up, this makes no fucking sense way.  


James Roberts co-writes one volume, the one that not only made the most sense but was the most complex, nuanced, and interesting.   It's the only one worth reading for the storyline.   The last volume, however, had one of my favorite artists.   So Livio Ramondelli? I will show up for his Transformers art, no matter how fragged the storyline is.   


Onto better stories in Phase 2!

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review 2018-05-20 13:21
Transformers: The IDW Collection, Vol. 7 - Justin Eisinger,Various Authors,Alonzo Simon

Infestation had problems, mostly that it was part of a larger thing and I feel like you don't get the whole picture when the two Transformers tie-ins - and they were all tie-ins to media like G.I. Joe and Star Trek - when just the Transformers issues are included here. 


And Britt was just ridiculous. 


Seeing Transformers vs zombies was kinda fun, though. 


Volume 2: 


Two got more interesting, as it involved details of how the world in general reacted to Autobots given the events in All Hail Megatron.  There's also collusion between Spike Witwicky - who was changed to Sam in the movies - and the Autobots.   


There's also the Spike and Scrapper issue, which will come back to haunt him later on.   


It's also not as nuanced, or balanced, or just plain good as phase 2, and this remains that way until the end.  If I remember correctly, phase 1 gets worse and then we get phase 2...


Volume 3:


Probably one of the more interesting volumes: Megatron gets a new body and turns his old one into guns.   That he gives to humans.   It's all about getting back at Optimus Prime and the Autobots by getting the humans to turn on them.   Some already have, some need a little push, but the thing is that Prime and the Autobots still insist on protecting the humans.   This is to prove how foolish they are for caring.  


And this also sets up a lot with Jazz, who kills a police officer - on live TV - to protect Bumblebee.   One of the problems?   Bee was already talking him down.   


I think this may be my favorite of the volumes in this series.   But still not nearly as good as phase 2.   Still, volumes two and three will come back into play pretty heavily for phase 2.  




Man, I kinda like that he came back, but... I don't buy a lot of this volume.   Like that Alpha Trion could bring him back, like trusting what he did to Sunstreaker, like if this is possibly why doesn't Alpha Trion bring back a bunch of people?    Isn't it worth the time and effort?


Anyway, yeah, Ironhide on a mostly dead Cybertron fighting Insecticons. That's pretty awesome.    Also, you get some insights into Ironhide and how he joined up the Autobots and why, and that's nice, too. 

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review 2018-05-19 18:39
Phase 1 is wrapping up
Transformers: The IDW Collection Volume 6 (Transformers Idw Collection Hc) - Mike Costa,Nick Roche,Zander Cannon,James Lamar Roberts

The first volume of the Transformers series - IDW 2009-2011 - kicks off this volume.   It's not as bad as I remember, it's just more of a typical action story than the later sister series, MTMtE and RiD.   And it suffers in comparison.   I'm interested in how Prime is positioning himself - as an unfit leader - and how it affects everything from there on out. 


It comes back in Death of Optimus Prime, or at least similar themes do, and this will be something I have to keep in mind for that issue.   


It's also going to be interesting seeing someone I like much more - and who is more appropriate to lead given the circumstances - take charge.   Overall, I wouldn't suggest this for anyone if they aren't deeply into the Transformers or unless they care about full impact for MTMtE and RiD; this isn't going to be many people, but this read will be worth it for them.


Bumblebee miniseries: 


I remember liking this more on first read.   A couple interesting ideas, but again, it didn't feel nearly as sophisticated as the stories that come after.   I think this had less impact on the overall storylines coming later, so there's that, too. 


I did quite enjoy the art in this one.   


Last Stand of the Wreckers: 


Roberts comes onto the scene in this reread.   For those not in the know, James Roberts is like my favorite Transformers author.   Possibly my favorite author on Earth.   So y'know, this is exciting.  I also have a deluxe hardcover of this that I will never, ever give up even owning this digitally.  I may dig this up later on and reread it for the extras. 


I can see Roberts here: a lot of what he will do later comes into play here, and yet... even reading it when I first learned of Roberts, I could see that this was early work.   There's humor here, but it's not as finely honed as later on, especially with the timing.   The pacing of horror and action and humor?   Roberts just nails it in MTMtE.   Last Stand is an adventure story - and a damn good one - without the balance found in MTMtE.   Then again, MTMtE was a sprawling 57 issue series that could afford to explore everything under the sun, and written by a more experienced Roberts.   It found the sweet spot and lingered there for the whole run - at least for me.   (I've read from others that they were less happy with it at the end, and I'm curious so see if after reading about why they felt that way, if I'll feel the same.)


The Wreckers go after Garrus-9 - and the who or what that is fairly literally a secret buried underneath.   And Roberts brings that same sense of horror in exploring what people - or bots - are really capable of.   This would have gotten four or four an a half stars on it's own, because the art is spectacular - particularly the coloring.   Just delicious!


Spotlight Prowl: 


I'm not quite sure I buy the Prowl in this one-shot: he's far too emotional.   Really, he's the Spock of the Transformers, if Spock was more into logic and less into morality.   Prowl does what he thinks the numbers tell him are right, and here he's... quite emotional.   He decides the numbers aren't quite right.   Prowl does horrific things in the name of the greater good, manipulates those who consider him friends, and is responsible for a lot of suffering.   But he believes he's good.   To be fair, he has good intentions - and if only intention was magical that way, he'd actually be good.  I think of him more as neutral: the good guys consider him good, to their own detriment, but he's enabled by the fact that people never question him too hard or punish him because of the shit he pulls. 


Prowl isn't a Deception.   He doesn't want to rule, he doesn't want to take over with strength, he doesn't want to be acknowledged for what he's done.   But.. is he truly an Autobot?   This makes me think of that, because if he was, he'd be like this always.   In MTMtE, though, he doesn't quite manage this compassion; he becomes more like a Decepticon in my opinion. 


Anyway, I really enjoyed the art.   It was quite stylized, and I didn't like this artist before, but they changed their style up a little and I do know.  


Onto volume seven.


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review 2018-05-18 23:38
I'll never look at pickles the same way again
Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything - E. Lockhart

One of the drawbacks of reading so many books is that I have extremely high standards since I've read some truly excellent pieces of literature...and also some major duds. I say all of this because I read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart 2 years ago and so I know she has the capability to write amazing young adult fiction. I chose Fly on the Wall specifically because the review that I heard on BookTube led me to believe that it was a retelling of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and because I had enjoyed Lockhart's previous book. What I didn't expect was for it to be chock full of really explicit sexual content. Why on earth did she have to describe penises in such revealing detail? And why did she keep referring to them as gherkins?! (And if I ever hear someone call them that or  refer to breasts as biscuits I'm going to slap them across the face.) The main character and the person who we view the story from is named Gretchen Yee and she is the prototypical teenage girl filled with angst. She attends a high school that focuses on the arts and her specialty is drawing comic book style characters (hence the cover imagery). Her obsession with a boy in her school leads her to make a foolhardy wish to be a fly on the wall of the boys locker room so that she can find out how he really thinks about her. (And this is where she begins to ogle the boys as they undress for gym class.)  I guess the story is supposed to be a character study or a revelation that what we think we know about people can be turned on its head if we see them at their most vulnerable. However, for me it was a letdown and vaguely nauseating. This was a 0/10 for me and I'll have to give serious thought to reading anything else from this author in the future.


PS There were also a lot of plot holes in the storyline and the ending truly fell flat. 


Source: Amazon


What's Up Next: The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius


What I'm Currently Reading: The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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