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review 2017-05-12 01:10
Love, love, love, love so much!
Transformers: Lost Light #5 - Jack Lawrence,James Lamar Roberts

Well, isn't this a trip.   We finally figure out what Rung's purpose is, and although I've been taking incredibly wild stabs in the deepest dark, I've been incredibly... wrong.   Each and every time.   At some point, I would just guess ridiculous things because I knew they were wrong, but it's not like I was ever going to stumble upon the truth.   Much like what's going on with Bee in Robots in Disguise, I figured Rung's Purpose was just something I wouldn't be told forever.   (Although after James Roberts stringing us along with Brainstorm's briefcase, I should have known this would be revealed eventually.  And y'know, Bee was revealed eventually, too.)


And I was giddy for this reveal: Roberts does string his readers along, but successfully.   He gives us enough answers to sate us, at least temporarily, all the while planting new mysteries and questions, just as compelling, if not more compelling, than the last questions.   


I'm now waiting to see what will happen between Cyclonus, Tailgate, and Whirl.   And while it may not have the implications of Rung's Purpose, while it may be a small thing relatively, I care enough about the characters for this to have inflated importance.   (And let's not forget that Roberts is a master of balancing Big Deals with Small Moments; he makes us care about the small things just as much as the big things, because we care about all the characters and sometimes they care more about the small moments than the big ones.   Multiple reasons are given for this: they care about the people the small things are happening to more than anything in the universe, or the small things are happening to them and make them have huge feelings that the big moments don't make them feel.   I'd argue, though, that Roberts is telling us the small moments are at least as important as the big ones, and that the More Than Meets the Eye issue that states the theory that it's the journey to find the Knights of Cybertron that's the real purpose backs this up.   It's about the time you spend with the people you care about that's the real point of life.)


And while there's action, and near death situations, the way this is framed - starting with Skids worried about Rung and ending with the reveal about Rung - it makes it all about him.   Yeah, what he does is a Big Deal.   But we don't start with that; we start with a friend worried about Rung's mental state.   How he feels is just as important as his purpose in life.   No, more important.   And that's why it starts with that scene.   


I can't even fully parse this issue.  I never can with these issues, partly because I know Roberts seeds each issue with something further off, sometimes years in advance.   There's also so much crammed in here, it takes multiple rereads to fully appreciate everything in here.   Still, the first reads are always fun at the very least, and Roberts clever one-liners always make me giggle out loud, usually in public.   


And while the art is incredible, I have to be honest, the art isn't the 'why' I come to this.   (This has been proven by multiple artists on Roberts' series, and miniseries.   It doesn't matter who's doing the art; I will buy it if Roberts writes.)  While this is still my favorite Transformers series, along with it's predecessor, More Than Meets the Eye, it currently ties with Black Bolt.   (Which is unprecedented.   Also, MTMtE was also written by Roberts, but with a different artist.)  


I'm already anticipating the next issue. 

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review 2017-05-08 00:46
I know just enough about Green Arrow to make some of this confusing
Green Arrow, Volume 1: The Death and Life of Oliver Queen - Nate Piekos,Benjamin Percy,Otto Schmidt,Juan Ferreyra

I can't quite tell when this is placed.   It seems like it's earlier on in Oliver Queen's life - but I'm not sure.  I also didn't realize Diggle was a character in the comics, and he may not have been until around the time Arrow premiered.   (I think he might have been integrated after, but I'm not one hundred percent sure on the timing.)  Just for those who don't watch Arrow or read the comics: Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow, or just Arrow, on the show and Diggle is his bodyguard on the show.  


Having Emi as part of this made me think of Queen's sister on the show, and I did some research and found out that Emiko - a character I didn't recognize  from the show - was in earlier comics.   Shado, who is in Arrow, is in fact in this volume, too.   Having read very little Green Arrow - some but very little - and having watched Arrow?  I knew just enough to confuse me as to the timing, especially since I thought all of Rebirth was set post The New 52.   This, however, is establishing Black Canary as a popular singer, from her previous series, and so I'm confused as to if they're incorporating any New 52, especially since they mentioned going back to their legacy.   I assumed this meant all of The New 52 was wiped away, especially with the missing ten years that has something to do with the Rebirth issue.   (Which I haven't read.   But even before Rebirth came out, I'd been reading about Wonder Woman exploring the missing ten years or knowing that they'd been stolen from them, and something weird going on in that series with that whole thing.)


I suspect that Batgirl and Black Canary were critically praised and popular enough that it would seem like a waste not to incorporate some of that history into Rebirth.   But again, this is confusing.   You're picking and choosing which elements to incorporate without telling us?   Why?   And while U disliked much of the previous runs, I did happen to like the parts they're keeping: Batgirl and Black Canary.   So I'm not complaining about Canary's role, but rather about how her history was incorporated, how all the histories seem to be incorporated in a rather random manner, and the lack of explanation forthcoming due to this.   


Still, it didn't effect my comprehension of this storyline.   It was distracting enough to knock off one star, although my irritation was rather minor.   (And if the author was told by DC to use Canary as was, I can't quite fault him, especially since I don't know how he was told how to incorporate this tackling.   As it is, it's simply glossed over, which is why I have questions and minor complaints.)


Hell, I wouldn't even be talking about this long enough if I didn't care about the source materiel - and I do.   From Dinah (Lance, aka Black Canary) needling Oliver for his liberal stances while he lives in a penthouse, to him overthinking his liberalism, there's a lot here in that relationship.   She's not afraid to call him out on his bullshit - and tell him that she likes the relationship better when he doesn't talk, and he's both willing to listen to what she has to say although he tries to convince her otherwise.   And even while she can see the hypocrisy in his situation, she knows he has his heart in the right place.   For all the light hearted teasing, all the needling, she truly cares about him, partly for the reasons that she points out as hypocritical.   It's that he cares so much about what she thinks that what she says bothers him, and while she might not change his mind, I think him directly meeting her points proves that he's willing to listen, think things through, and that he takes her point of view seriously.   What I'm trying to say is that this is just a fantastically layered relationship, even if it is small moments that flesh it out the most.   


While Queen is balancing his relationship with Lance, he's also taking care of his younger half-sister, Emiko.   When Lance and Queen discover missing homeless people, and that Queen industry is involved in their trafficking, Ollie gets his own hands dirty as he tracks down the people he needs to talk to in the office.   When he's betrayed, he puts his life in danger, and then those that he cares for most.   Luckily, both Emiko and Canary can take care of themselves, although even they may not be enough to take down those responsible.  


I wasn't sure how involved Diggle was in the end, and was surprised given his introduction.  Still, it fit perfectly while leaving a whole lot of questions, like what exactly Oliver did, and what will happen between them in the future given their vaguely hinted at past.   I'm eager to find out.   Despite the inconsistency in legacy versus New 52, this laid a solid ground for this series.   I kinda love it all.   

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review 2017-05-05 23:20
Tongues of Serpents - Naomi Novik

It took me two months to read this, because comics, depression, anxiety, and the fact that for a huge chunk of this comic everyone gets really hot.   And I'm not talking sexy, here.   No robot dragons.   Just a whole lot of sweating and thirst.   And I mean, obviously hyperbole, but jeebus, I needed something to happen!   Much like in her other books, Novik brings on the action fast and furious when it comes time for all that, but jeebus the first half of this book. 


And all my whining is highly unfair: I still love Temeraire, and I love how views the world.   They were, in fairness, trying to find something very precious they had lost, and while I found it boring, I still wanted to spend more time with these characters. 


And as always, the ending saved this from a lower star rating.   Enough happens between the characters to make this a very, very. very long character study of them all and how they get along.  Enough happens to certain characters that I loved them for that I was willing to overlook some of the faults in this novel - like the long, boring journey's where, like, nothing happens.  


Enough happens in the ending to set up the next book.   But, jeebus.   I need a break.   Oh, look, the Transformers/GI Joe crossover.   The one that I've been sitting on because I'm not very fond of the series, but new Transformers stuff so you know I'm going to read it.  I need at least that before I start on this series again.


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review 2017-05-05 01:07
A heavy focus on Viv
Champions (2016-) #8 - Mark Waid,Humberto Ramos

And while a lot of this is about someone using their logo - because they kept it open for everyone to use and another group put out a trademark on it - and how they're going to regain trust from those who believe they've sold out, there's a pretty big shift of focus to one of my favorite characters: Viv.   She's coping with a lot of big things.   Being on this team, trying to figure out her sexuality - and gender - and the deaths in her family.   Even though some time has passed two of her immediate family members passed away, she's still struggling and experimenting with coping techniques.   She shut off her emotions and is now trying to acclimate herself to having them - and dealing with the loss of a brother and mother.   


And she does it all with grace. 


Still, when she mentions this, the Hulk's feelings for her come back.   When she admits she just isn't into boys, but doesn't want to hurt him, he just hugs her and tells her he wants her to be happy.   At the same time, her father tells her that even thought he can sense her. and knows where she is, she can't leave home for days at a time.   She has to come back, and on time, or else.   (Most extreme grounding techniques ever?   Vision has that covered.)


And I really like who came up with the solution to the logo issue. and how he decided to do it.   It seems very in character, and since he was down on himself for not being intellectual compared to the others, I think this shows that he can think differently than them and use some particular skills - like understanding how other people feel and social media - to show that they can think through things and win without throwing a single punch.   


Love, love, love.   I just love this series. 

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review 2017-05-04 01:43
Marvel has officially done two things perfectly this week
Black Bolt (2017-) #1 - Leonard Bacon;Joseph Parrish Thompson;Richard Salter Storrs;Henry Ward Beecher;Joshua Leavitt;Henry Chandler Bowen;Theodore Tilton;William Hayes Ward;Hamilton Holt;Harold de Wolf Fuller;Fabian Franklin;Christian Archibald Herter,Saladin Ahmed

It was the codes that got me out of bed this morning, but this.   Guys.   This.   This is, by far, the best thing to happen to me today.   And yes, this is going to be a blatant love letter, not only to Black Bolt himself, but to Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward - aka my favorite new comics writer/artist team.   


Ahmed does what I expected, given Royals.   Black Bolt was exposed as Maximus, and after finding out the spoiler that Black Bolt would be in prison, it was fairly clear that this was going to happen.  In fact, I guessed it before the spoiler.   To get where he was, Maximus had to put someone in his place as he was condemned to be put in a space prison that only the royal family knew about.   There was no way he couldn't get out, without sacrificing someone else in his place.   Maximus cares about his own survival and personal power, and I can't see him fretting about putting anyone else in prison in his stead.  In fact, he was most likely gleeful about getting his brother in prison.   (And while it's not necessary to know this, it's a bonus if you know about the history between Maximus and Blackagar Boltagon, then you know why Maximus would be so happy to shove his Brother under the bus and into the isolated space prison, hopefully forever.   Well, not for me: I wanna see Black Bolt get out.)


Black Bolt's first concern is getting out, but only because he knows that Maximus has usurped his place successfully, not via a coup, but by becoming him.   What other way would they accept Maximus?   And knowing the danger his child, his ex-wife, and his people are in?   Well, he has to get out if he has any chance of protecting them from the callous madness Maximus will unleash on them.   I should probably also mention that Ahmed had said that this didn't need any past reading to jump into this series, and I agree.   Again, I think it's richer knowing a lot of this history, but Ahmed explains what has happened, why Black Bolt is there, and who Black Bolt is.   The explanatory page cover the history of the Inhumans and who they are.   Other than that, this story tells something new, something that doesn't need any previous investment in to enjoy what Ahmed is doing.   He's positioning Black Bolt at a low point to test his mettle and his inner strength.   (And without the problems I'm having with Secret Empire; no retcon, no changing the character. just using his surroundings to show how badly things can go for him.   Although he doesn't know about Medusa, and I'm wondering what will happen when he does, or if someone might get word and pass it on to him.   Especially since the letter from Saladin at the back says he'll explore what it means to be a parent.   Will he also explore what it means to be a single parent, or what his relationship with Medusa will be like under the circumstances?  I kinda, secretly hope so.   Even the mention of them makes me ship this so hard, because they're better together than alone or with anyone else Marvel has placed them with, even if they are first cousins.)


I'm also loving the small moments of compassion, like when Black Bolt tries to help this girl despite him not being able to find his way out of his prison.   It's not something we see often, but I'm wondering if that's because of how free Black Bolt is in some ways now.   Before, he had to think of his people in general, and what the best was he could do for the maximum amount of people.   Now that he's not their king, even if he still thinks of them as his people, he may be freer to do these small, good deeds for strangers without worrying about the long term consequences.   More than that, with this mysterious prison with no clear way across, much less out, he may feel that this help won't actually keep him distracted from his main goal - getting out, helping his family and people - that long.  But again, it's not something that's seen that much, although I keep pointing this out about Doctor Strange.   (He's one of the more compassionate characters, it shows most in the small moments, and a lot of writers miss that, or don't show them, in my opinion.)  Black Bolt isn't evil, and doesn't really have evil intent.   He simply makes choices that are completely on his shoulder - partly by choice as he doesn't allow anyone else to bear the consequences, as he feels it's all his responsibility - and sometimes those choices aren't great.   Then again, most of the times, it's two choices: bad and really bad, and he chooses the one he believes will do the least amount of harm.   They're hard choices, and he bears them with dignity and grace.   He simply hasn't had the chance to reach out to one person like this, and it's absolutely glorious to see.   (Especially given what happens and what is said to him about it later on in this issue.)


And while much of this is inner monologue, I was, to be honest, quite curious about what Ahmed would do with a character who couldn't speak, and was most likely parted from his interpreter, as a main character.   He quite frankly handled it brilliantly, and there's just so much love in me for his interpretation of this character.   It's the Black Bolt I always wanted, and that I think the world deserves.   He also makes the prison fascinating, between the faceless, and menacing voices, that boom out the creepy refrain of 'Name Your Crimes!   Repent Your Crimes!'   And the other inhabitants of the prison.  There's a mystery to unravel here. 


I do have a couple questions.   Black Bolt is muzzled.   Why?   Especially given the revelation at the end, the muzzle seems unnecessary.   Furthermore, this implies that his captors know who he is, but the Royal family is unaware that Maximus was spared while their ex-king was imprisoned.   Why wouldn't they tell the Royals?   Is there no way once Black Bolt is in prison?   Do they not care so long as they're told one prisoner is coming, and they get one?   Or do they believe that Blackagar has committed some crime that's worthy of imprisonment?   


And I'm not complaining here.  I love this story.   Every aspect seems thought out, and I doubt Ahmed would put this out without knowing.   Having read this excellent story, I simply have confidence.   (But please note, I will be annoyed if this remains unrevealed, or, horror of horrors, it wasn't thought of at all.   Then again, this seems a huge oversight if not, and this issue seems planned down to the last detail.   Ahmed's letter at the end shows a great deal of thought put into this character and world - so I have to believe he thought of this.)


So, Ahmed, get ready.   One fangirl has just been converted.  I love you in the sense that in twenty three pages - some with no words at all, some with only monologue, some with just that prison-voice - I'm already planning on looking to see what else you've written.   I do seriously hope you're writing more comics too, because if you ever come to sign near us, I will go to there and literally toss one dollar bills at you if you promise to keep writing Black Bolt forever.   (And yes, I know this isn't your choice, but a girl can dream.   Charles Soule was my favorite Black Bolt writer, but no longer.   I'm sorry Soule, you're still my second favorite and I still love your stuff to pieces.   It's just... this.   Yes, this.   And I have to say - every time I think I can't get madder at Marvel, something happens.  I might have to quit you if you cancel this five issues in like you've been doing to some of my other series.   So.   Mad.   Don't let them do it without a fight, Ahmed.   Please, fight for this series and us Black Bolt fans!)


And I promised this would be a love letter to Ward, too.   How can it not be.  Because I saw some preview panels before this came out, art only, and my heart gave a little flutter. Aw, shit, yeah.  The colors.   There's this weird muted background with bright highlights that has this creepy feel.   But this is a weird, and creepy, series, so as far as tone?   Matches the writing perfectly.   Normally I don't focus on things like a characters eyes, although there are those close up panels.   Even then, the character will say something, and well, it'll speak to me because words.   Even with Black Bolt's monologue, without actual speech I found the eyes stood out more: they had to speak to me.   Just like I've been critical about Anson Mount - because I needed to see if he could act with his facial expressions, and especially his eyes - I was not only ready to be critical of this art, I knew I would be.   I came to the Inhumans late, but read everything I could get my hands on, bought the newer series, inhaled them, and I completely fell head-over-heels in love with this character: the mythological wise blind/mad man aspect (although Black Bolt is mute instead of blind or mad), and how his Inhuman gift speaks to the power of words themselves.      Head over heels.   This artist was gonna get looked at hard.   


Or y'know, Ward could make it clear how Black Bolt is feeling through his eyes, piercing my very soul and making my heart flutter again.   Actually, that would probably be for the best now that I think of it.   So if I were to be as critical as I could be, he pierced my very soul and made my heart flutter with the full issue.  


Touché, Ward.   Consider me swooned.   And again, get ready, you have converted me into a fangirl for you, too.   (Neither you or Ahmed had to convert me into a Black Bolt fangirl, but that, quite frankly, worked against both of you. I would be overly critical if anything went sideways.   What could either of you to defeat my inner!critic except give me zero reasons to complain.   Mission: accomplished.)


I give up.   You've both defeated me, and made me happier than I had any right to be.  I love this comic so hard I can't even right now.   Also, you realize you've both screwed over any other comics I read tonight, right?   Because how else are they gonna stand up to this absolute beauty?   Give up, other comics.   You've met your match.   (Naw, I'll still love you to pieces, but also wish I was reading Black Bolt again.)


I will, by the way, reread this multiple times with anyone who wants because I kinda not-so-secretely enjoyed this more than Till All One #9.   (And that's about my second favorite series right now.   Because, to be honest, and shockingly, Black Bolt ties with More Than Meets the Eye right now.   Black Bolt hit all the right buttons for me.   All of them.)


One more thing, because this clearly isn't long enough.   The first chunk of this comic is Black Bolt monologuing, all alone in a prison.   Not a huge amount of wiggle room, either in writing or art.   Limited space, and one character?   They make it seem as interesting as if it were a group scene - and make it seem effortless.   No sweat, guys, they've got this!   And if anything, I love them more for it all.  (And am aware of how much effort this does take.   To which I say again: thank you.   You both obviously love this character, this world, and the story you're telling.  It shows.  And I for one could weep with gratitude for that effort, and for this beautiful, heartbreakingly gorgeous result.)


So much love.  I highly urge all of you who are thinking about getting into Inhumans before the IMAX movie/series to start on this series. 

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