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review 2015-10-09 23:43
Yo. This book is funny.
Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection - Kate Beaton

I wish I had the words to describe what Kate Beaton's humor is like. It's sort of absurd, highly unexpected and laced with an undertone of trying to teach you things (I know, right?) But trying to actually encapsulate why it's so hilarious to someone who hasn't read it before is an impossible task. You pretty much have to grab one of your favorite strips and hold it out to them and be like "This. This is why it's awesome."

 

And since it's so hard to describe the humor, it's pretty much impossible for me to explain why this is a hard 5-star book for me, other than that I find the humor to be actually laugh out loud funny and delve into things I didn't think of. From her jaded, cigarette-smoking Wonder Woman to historical figures hoping the people they hate will kill one another to the Strong Female Characters, explaining the strips doesn't sound like it should be funny.

 

But OMG. So funny.

 

All of Hark! A Vagrant is online I believe, so if you're not sure if it's for you, you might want to head over to her site and read a few strips. You'll know very quickly if her humor works for you, and if it does, I cannot recommend her books enough.

 

Unfortunately, there's not a lot to review. it's a gag a day style series, without an overarching plot, so I can't talk about characters or plot or anything. I CAN say if you have visual difficulties or if English isn't a fluent reading language for you, her hand-lettering MAY make reading the dialogue difficult. Just something to be warned about.

 

But basically - I love this book. I think everyone should at least give Kate Beaton a try if they like comedy, or history, or the arts, and especially all three at once.

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review 2015-10-01 23:33
Mooooore Turtles!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 3: Shadows of the Past (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Graphic Novels) - Kevin Eastman,Tom Waltz

Splinter is gone, and the Turtles are off to get him back - with help from both old and new human allies, and this series continues to amuse me. :)

 

Also, I am doing my best to keep from making an "enter the dragon" joke in this review, but my will power may not last.

 

Familiar groups continue to converge, and I'm continually surprised it doesn't feel more forced. This time, we get Angel and the Purple Dragons, who aren't that happy about the Turtles being on their turf but aren't any more cool with the Foot Clan running around, so it's a tossup as to whether they'll let the Turtles do their thing, or attempt to teach them a lesson about gang violence.

 

I actually kind of like these Purple Dragons. In a lot of things, they're played sort of the way Rocksteady and Bebop were in the 80s cartoon series, but here they're presented a bit more like the gang in the original live action movie. They don't come off as cartoonish, like parodies of a gang, they seem like a group that would be legitimately in the city and legitimately dangerous to the people IN the city. Woo!

 

Anyway, the bulk of the plot is them trying to get to Splinter, and the baddies making their own plans for him. Ths Splinter is wonderfully calm and efficient and scaaaaary when he wants to be! There's a particular confrontation late in the volume with him that I particularly liked (no spoilers, but man I WANT to be all spoilery!)

 

I also like that this version of both Raphael and Casey Jones aren't as overtly violent and out of control, but it's all still *there.* Leo shuts them down hard when they start getting too out of control, and I kind of love it.

 

Overall, another great volume. I'm liking pretty much everything this series is doing, and am excited for more!

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review 2015-09-22 11:24
History lesson
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 2: Enemies Old, Enemies New - Kevin Eastman,Tom Waltz,Mateus Santolouco

With Raph back, the Turtles are a whole family once again - and we learn a bit about the past of the man known as Hamato Yoshi, before he became a rat known as Splinter.

 

It seems that every version of the Turtles plays a little with the backstory and this one is no different. And as always, without spoiling too much, there are parts of this I like and parts I don't. All I can say is, I'm with you, Donatello.

 

But in addition to that, we're also getting some familiar faces diverging. Krang. Baxter Stockman (and of course the Mousers). April O'Neil and Casey Jones meet up in a way that, surprisingly, has absolutely nothing to do with the Turtles (I'll give bonus points there).

 

The series is still very much in setup mode, but this is a really entertaining volume. It's not as silly and jokey as most of the cartoon versions, so if you're coming in with that mentality, you're going to find yourself in strange waters. It is a lot of fun, and it never really strays all the way to grim territory, but there are definitely some outright dark moments.

 

I really love the Turtles when they're all together and behaving like brothers. So, I really enjoyed a bunch of this. The fight scenes here are also tense and dynamic, which I love. So, overall I'm still really digging the IDW take on this mythos and am going to go dig into volume 3 here shortly. :)

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review 2015-09-17 12:09
Back to the Court
Gunnerkrigg Court Vol. 5 Refine - Thomas Siddell

One of the interesting things about reading the trade collection of a webcomic that you don't get so much with a more traditional comic collection is seeing things in greater context. Regular comics come in chunks of 20-32 pages usually, allowing for the story to be read as chapters. But for web comics, they're often released as individual pages.

 

For a gag-a-day, that's fine. But for story-driven comics, it can really make for a choppy storytelling flow. So you can let a few build up and read them as a chunk. But seeing the whole thing in one book, it gives the story all the context that can leak out in normal online presentation.

 

I loved Gunnerkrigg Court when I was reading it online, but there's so many things that reading it in book form make stronger. For instance, a lovely parallel between the stories that are being told about Annie and Kat by others - as the denizens of the forest begin telling myths and tall tales about Annie, the robots of the court are crafting something far more cult-like.

 

In this fifth volume, things are changing for our heroines. Kat is dealing with personal life issues she didn't see coming, as well as her ongoing quest to understand the advanced robots of the court. Meanwhile, after the disappointment of the announcement of the court's medium in the last book, Annie has come to terms with her new role, and is helping the court medium learn as well.

 

As always, the stories are funny and heartbreaking by turns, as we learn the truth about Rey's feelings about what he nearly did to Annie, the story of how Mort became a ghost, and just how much Annie and Kat mean to one another. Gunnerkrigg continues to be an absolutely stellar read, well worth the time for anyone who loves their fiction with a little magic and a lot of heart.

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review 2015-09-13 12:54
Nov. 20!
Alias, Vol. 1 - Jeph Loeb,Michael Gaydos,Brian Michael Bendis

With the TV series coming up soon, Marvel re-offered Alias, and I decided to give it a go. After all, I'd read Jessica Jones before, in the original Young Justice series, and I liked her there, so maybe I'd like this one too?

 

Yup!

 

Jessica Jones is a former superhero who decided to move into a second life as a private investigator. She doesn't regret it much. No, seriously. She doesn't miss it, she swears. She wasn't right for it and who would know better than she? But her actions give lie to that at every turn - she clearly hates snooping around people's personal lives sees her own personal life (such as it is) as a train wreck and yet she keeps trying to help people at every turn - even to her own detriment.

 

The tales in this book were really interesting - a variety of folks come to her for help, and somehow, stuff keeps going wrong. Her superhero friends are sort of there for her, but also sort of not. She's in a weird limbo place for superheroes and it makes for a slightly different read from the norm.

 

This is a Brian Michael Bendis book, and that means a certain kind of dialogue. If you know the name, you also probably know if you like that style or if you hate it. Me, I usually like his writing, but in this one the choppy dialogue even got to me a little bit. It wasn't bad but it could get irritating to follow at times.

 

But this is a great character who wouldn't be out of place in one of today's awesome urban fantasy series, and I am definitely looking forward to both more of this comic series and the TV show!

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