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review 2016-03-05 23:24
Rue Britannia - Kieron Gillen,Jamie McKelvie

Phonogram is the type of graphic novel that you feel really cool reading. At first it's a little confusing- it does that thing that a lot of fantasy books do where it just sort of throws you into the characters' world without much explanation. Pretty much all you need to know is that it takes place in England in the early 2000's, and the explosive Britpop scene of the 90's has faded into memory for most. Phonomancers are music-obsessed, and their spells and magic always relate to the energy that they feel when they listen to their favorite band, or are a part of a great live show. David Kohl is the Phonomancer that we follow through this volume: snarky, opinionated, and a bit of an ass, he's nevertheless easy to relate to in his struggle to let go of the scene he lived and breathed a few years ago. Even though at first glance he's moved on, his personality is still "rooted there"- and someone is messing with his memories. In order to save his own personality and remain a Phonomancer, he'll have to look into his past and face his future. 


Even though I had never heard of most of the bands David and his friends talk about, I can definitely relate to their obsession with music, as I was obsessed with Nirvana and grunge/indie in early high school and part of a fairly active metal scene in the last couple years of high school. Of course, it was nothing compared to the scale of what the characters in Phonogram experienced, but no matter how small the crowd, that energy was always there. And I remember the in-depth discussions of albums, songs, line-ups, live shows we had gone to and long-ago concerts we'd never experience... but our scene faded pretty quickly, and we all sort of faded into our own worlds with it. 

If you've ever felt that skip in your heart upon hearing your favorite song, if you've ever danced or moshed until your whole body felt like jelly and you knew you'd be a pile of useless mush in the morning, if you've ever argued with your whole heart about how music can change your entire being... this graphic novel is for you. 


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review 2015-08-31 22:01
Pop Gods and Mod Gods
Rue Britannia - Kieron Gillen,Jamie McKelvie
The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 2: Fandemonium - Kieron Gillen,Jamie McKelvie

A while ago I picked up a new series from the library called the Wicked + the Divine and really enjoyed it.  It's a series that follows the Pantheon, a group of people who have come to embody certain mythological figures.  


The first volume centered around Lucifer (Luci) and her arrest and subsequent death and the conspiracy that surrounds those events.  See full review here: Review


The second volume continues to follow superfan Laura and her continued investigation into Luci's framing and murder.


From the first I was kind of mad that Lucifer, my favorite character from the moment she stepped into the panels, was taken out of the narrative.  (And judging from the Cosplay picture featured in the back of this book I'm hardly the only one to favor her).  However, despite the complete lack of Lucifer in this volume, I was still hooked from beginning to end.  And just like the first volume, the ending left me grasping for another chapter.  What a cliffhanger!


Along with Rat Queens this has become one of my current favorite series.  Which is a relatively new thing for me.  In the past most of the series that were on my watch list were manga, Bakuman and Mushishi were both ones that I couldn't wait to read, but I've never been huge on western comics.  Now I find myself wondering if I shouldn't just get these things issue by issue so I wouldn't have to wait so long to find out what comes next.


We'll see.


Since, now I'm stuck waiting for the next volume of Wicked + Divine to come out, I figured I'd check out another comic by Gillen.


 Phonogram vol. one Rue Britannia is about this guy, who is kind of a jerk.  He is a phonomancer, he gets magical energy from music and music is his magic.  Listening to the right record at the right time, going to gigs, that's his life.  Or it was.  His patron, the person who brought out his abilities is dying and with her passing, he will die as well.  Well, he won't die, but he will cease to be a phonomancer, he will cease to be the memories he's made and the person he's become as her patron.


The story frequently references Britpop bands (and others) and it might be a bit daunting to those who have no idea what went on in the London scene in the 1990's, but the story is still a compelling one and even if some of the musical references don't bring back memories of shows or illegal torrent downloads, the atmosphere is still palpable.


The artist and writer did a great job with evoking young people and their obsessions with bands and what that obsession could become in the right environment.  In many ways I could easily see how this could be a precursor to some of the ideas in Wicked + Divine.  I do like the Wicked + Divine more, I find Laura to be a much more likeable and relateable character than David Kohl, who more often irritated me than gained my sympathy.


I also think the magic was better represented in Wicked + Divine than in Phonogram, but still it's definitely an interesting first volume and I'll probably grab the next before too long.


Both of these series would fit into the Urban Fantasy genre easily.  Fans of War for the Oaks by Emma Bull, especially would like these as they involve rock music and pop culture as well as magic. 



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review 2015-08-30 12:37
Turned out much better than I expected!
Rue Britannia - Kieron Gillen,Jamie McKelvie

But there's a story to go along with that.  I read the Wicked + The Divine, loved it, then bought this on sale without reading the .   Started this, really did not get into the nostalgia soaked Britpop storyline, still didn't read the synopsis, hated the main character right off the bat, and still didn't read the synopsis.   And I had this shame-filled moment that I'd wasted money on not only this, but the sequel as well.   Why, brain, why?


I put it away, and nothing else from Comixology was calling to me for this challenge.  So I figured I'd read this, right?   


Once you get past the opening, which probably would have been easier if I'd read the fucking synopsis, I found myself loving this, possibly more than the Wicked + The Divine.   


I usually don't break down reviews into categories except when I write six page reviews.  But I'm going to here, without the length involved. 


1. Main Character


David Kohl was surprisingly disarming: he was a dick, but he kinda knew it.   I found myself charmed by the way he admitted he made shitty moves, by the way he was aware that many people disliked him for his various faults, and how he owned those faults.   


More than this, these kinds of major flaws?   Made him more interesting than anyone from W+D.   I didn't find myself analyzing why I felt that way about characters in that series, and in this one, I constantly wondered why, and pieced it together slowly.   


He felt more full, more real even, to me, even with the magical system that's set up and that he's a part of.   When he admits he did shitty things because he didn't like himself, it's not that I liked him more for doing those shitty things, but, again, disarmed by his blunt honesty. 


2. The World 


The world has a little more mystery.   In W+D, it's told to you how the world works.   You know it's funky from the start, and you know all the rules.   While the storyline is well defined here, the world's rules not so much.   Why is there only a Goddess and not a God?   Is there a God we haven't seen yet?   


There's a bit to be said about 'less is more.'   And in this case, it works.   I knew how certain things would play out in W+D because I was told that was how it worked; without explaining to me how things work in this story, I worried more about David than most of the characters in W+D.   


3.  The Music


By grounding this with music that exists, it makes it a bit more relatable, as well as giving me bands to research if I didn't know of them.   It's just a nice little bone there. 


4. The Stakes


Reality is the stake, but only for David.   There's this dissonance of making it all-important, and not all that important at the same time.   It kinda blew my mind, in a way that W+D never has. 


And just a final note, I really do love W+D.   I just point it out in comparison here because a lot is different, and I think I like the differences here more than in W+D.   The other series?   Done by the same writer/artist team, and is amazing.   This is in black and white, so if you're addicted to color, at least start with W+D.   I think it works better for this series, though, as it adds to the nostalgia factor which plays a huge part in the story, as well as to the punkish feel of this world.   At least David's world. 


One half star off because the Comixology guided view won't let me see the glossary at the back properly.   It's too small for me to read :(



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review 2012-02-26 00:00
Rue Britannia - Kieron Gillen,Jamie McKelvie Well-done, but hampered by unlikeable narrator. Also find trippy metaphorland sequence almost impenetrable, but I'm not sure how much of that is not knowing the music and how much is not knowing contemporary England.
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