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review 2017-02-26 19:05
Gwenpool wants to be a Champion
Champions (2016-) #5 - Mark Waid,Humberto Ramos

So, first of all, I uploaded the wrong cover to this book and forgot to add this source link to my edits.  Um, oops.   So it may continue to have the issue one cover, sorry too the confusion!


That being said, I don't feel like Gwenpool added anything to this.   Not that she took away from anything, either, but her usual schtick is breaking the fourth wall and making a point about our world and how it's different from hers.   The thing is, the Champions were created as a counter-point to punching, and then leaving the cleaning up to other people.   They've tackled real world issues like racism head-on, in a way that calls for more complex solutions.  


Her usual antics didn't really add as a counterpoint because the Champions themselves are the counterpoint; when she's with Rocket Raccoon who's fairly violent, and blithely goes through his life unaware of the comic book tropes, well, yes, Gwenpool does act to point out those differences.   Then again, Rocket tends not to tackle bigotry, and he certainly wouldn't do so in the same way the Champions did.  


So when the Champions take this super seriously, and honestly try to find more productive ways to root out and eliminate bigotry, Gwenpool screaming about supervillains make this seem like the message - evil doesn't need supervillains, don't you know? - seem embarrassingly obvious.   Thanks, we go it.


Then again, Gwenpool is hilarious in this, even if the storyline itself is not only more somber, but particularly timely given the jerkface who is president right now.   The message and the way that the Champions deal with both the threat and Gwenpool herself are both on board with what this series is trying to do.   Even with Gwenpool's over the top antics, this was a fantastic way to get the message across.   


I'd suggest Marvel pulling Gwenpool from future Champions series, though.   Given the fact that they are both counterpoints to the 'normal' comic storytelling, they don't work together.   More specifically, the way they counteract the typical comic book narrative is grating when both work together.   Waid did what he could with this, but this is the first Champions story that is lower than a five just due to narrative issues.   Loved the art, loved the general storyline, love this series.   I was actually happy to see this crossover, until I read it and realized it didn't work as well as I thought it would. 

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review 2017-02-26 18:07
It's a bit better
Optimus Prime #3 - John Barber,Kei Zama

Im still going to wait for this to go down to two dollars on Comixology, or even a Transformers sale.   Maybe eventually another IDW/Transformers Humble Bundle?  The problem I have with this is the same problem I had with Barber's previous series: not only do I have more interest in the Cybertonians than the humans in the series when they are on Earth, this is compounded by the fact that the dynamics between the characters, the tension, everything seems to get better balanced when the humans are taken out of the equations. 


Not much happens in this issue, but the inner dialogue that Soundwave has going on intrigues me, and Thundercracker is back.   He's kinda hot to me, and I just love that he's still got Buster, his dog.   It absolutely endears me how he coddles her!   


Still, it's something I can wait for.   Still not loving the human-related storylines, or the art. 

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review 2017-02-26 17:32
Optimus Prime #2 - John Barber,Kei Zama

Not really enjoying the new character, the incorporation of GI Joes, or talky bullshit in this issue.   Not even crazy about the art: it's not horrible, but it's not great.   That being said, I did enjoy the character that came out in the end, and it's not as horrible as I make it out to be.   It's fairly solid, and it's more Transformers, which I really want.  


I'll probably just end up getting this on deep sale, though, via comixology.   I can't really say I enjoy this enough to keep getting it in paper format, and I have issue three - but I don't see that one issue changing everything. 


Unless that character who came in at the end of this issue takes over issue three...

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review 2017-02-24 07:00
Paul The Apostle: A Graphic Novel by Ben Avery, Illust. by Mark Harmon
Paul the Apostle: A Graphic Novel - Ben Avery,Mario DeMatteo,Mark Harmon

Experience the biblically based account of Paul the Apostle in COMIC BOOK format! Paul's life story, told to us in the Book of Acts, is filled with bravery, adventure, miracles, faith, and salvation, yet many people are not aware of Paul's amazing life. In Paul the Apostle: A Graphic Novel, the action packed Bible story of Paul is more accessible for kids of all ages, using a visual language they love and understand: science fiction comic books! This 144-page full color graphic novel uses awesome looking cartoon creatures, set in an action packed futuristic science-fiction universe.






While you may have been told the story of Paul the Apostle in church, you probably haven't heard it approached this way before! In this clever and artistic re-imagining, readers meet Paul shortly after he has been captured and imprisoned, awaiting execution. Coming to terms with his time on this mortal coil possibly coming to an end very shortly, Paul recounts the unfolding of his life's work, beginning with revealing that he began life as Saul, a guard dedicated to thwarting the message of the very people he would later count himself amongst -- proud and vocal followers of Jesus Christ. His work as Saul meant he would often arrest, imprison, beat, stone, even in some instances kill those who would try to spread the message of Christianity.



While on a road trip to Damascus, Saul is involves in a very serious motor vehicle accident. In fact, it sends him into a near-death experience that puts him face to face with big man Jesus himself. Saul comes back to life from this experience a changed man. Remembering his conversation with Jesus, Saul decides to change his name to Paul and start anew, spreading a message of love and kindness rather than animosity and intimidation through physical violence. 



above: I found the artwork in the dream sequences especially impressive!


This version of Saul / Paul the Apostle travels across many of the familiar locations described in the original biblical tale, and still incorporates many familiar historical / biblical figures (such as Emperor Nero), but in a futuristic, sci-fi like era. This is a little difficult to describe, and (if I may be honest) was even sometimes difficult to completely wrap my mind around while reading, but not so much that you can't keep up. It's a different approach, that's for sure, but I think that was kind of what Beartruth Collective (the publisher) was going for -- parents want their kids to learn their Bible stories but the stock version can sometimes come off as a bit dry and stuffy to young eyes & ears, so here's this fresh, innovative approach. Take a medium kids typically eat up -- graphic novels -- and tell the stories that way. 




My impressions


The Good: The overall quality of the book design in physical form is seriously top notch. Nice sturdy hardcover exterior, thick glossy pages inside that seem to really enhance the vivid color choices for the artwork. And that artwork! Holy cow, Mark Harmon (not THAT Mark Harmon, btw... sorry NCIS fans), you go! I freakin' LOVED the detailing in all the unique character illustrations here! As far as overall aestethic, I thought the design work was gorgeous! 


The Meh: While I like the unique concept of the book, the actual dialogue for the characters fell a little flat for me at times. Overall decent, I still had a good time reading Paul's story, but there were parts in there where it rang a bit corny, a bit trying too hard to be cool for the kids. There were also a few pages / panels where the text bubble layout got a little all over the place, so at times it took me a minute to figure out which way the conversation was meant to flow. 


I also noticed that the further along I got into Paul's story, the less it got to be about this sci-fi world and the adventures Paul went on... instead the dialogue turned more scripture heavy. Now, on one hand I can understand this because the point is for kids to learn Paul's story... but the point is ALSO to get kids interested... so as I was reading, I couldn't help but imagine some kids tuning out and closing the book once the story got pretty sermon-like and started to lose the storytelling aspect. Just my two cents. 




If your child has expressed interest in trying out graphic novels, but you are concerned about the potentially high levels of violence or sexuality in mainstream titles, this may be an alternative for your family. Beartruth Collective, at the back of this book, mentions plans to continue on with more adventures of other biblical figures in this graphic novel format, so I look forward to seeing what their future projects look like (once available)! 


FTC Disclaimer: Bookcrash.com & Beartruth Collective kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book & requested that I check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own.

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review 2017-02-23 01:14
What do we have here?
Transformers: Lost Light #3 - James Roberts,Jack Lawrence

This is a little more of a slow burn: even with Whirl fighting his long-lost, supposedly dead nemesis, even with the revelation of Rung's purpose - a revelation that is met with some skepticism given the mass displacement that would have to take place for this to be true, and even with the revelation of what Anode does?   


It's a lot about people talking.   And y'know what?   That's okay.   Despite not as much fisticuffs as I expected, I knew this would be good from page one.   Funny, warm, full of complex relationships, and ones that are constantly shifting, this is still a great read.   The greatest.  


I've just been telling Jessica that I think this is superior to MTMtE.  Saying something is superior to the Robots in Disguise cartoon?   Doesn't mean much: I think most everything, particularly in the Transformers franchise in general, is better than that.   (The Bayverse movies and Retribution not so much.)


Saying that something is better than MTMtE?   That means something.   MTMtE was not only the best Transformers book I've read, but it was one of the best books I've read, bar none.   Yes, including novels.   Yes, including classics.   And obviously, yes, including comics.   The thing is MTMtE doesn't loss any of its gloss: it's still as brilliant as ever.   It's just this is written by Roberts as well, and I believe that he's getting more skilled as a writer - which I quite frankly thought was impossible after reading MTMtE.   Then again, before reading Roberts, I was quite sure that fitting quite as much as he does into any comic less than thirty pages was impossible.   So he defies my expectations every time. 


That being said, yes, please, all this.   I will reread this with anyone who wants to pick this up - but I would suggest reading MTMtE first.   (And yes, I will reread that, too, including Dark Cybertron.)

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