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review 2017-07-20 17:48
Feels like this needs a more solid direction
Suicide Squad (2016-) #21 - Rob Williams,Adriano Lucas,Eddy Barrows,Eber Ferreira,Gus Vazquez

One of the things I loved about the original suicide squad was how political it was.   How it created strong female characters.   It had things to say, and it said them, and I think this might be why it felt so directed.  Pointedly so.  

 

I'm loving this incarnation of the Squad, but I think parting Flag and Harley up was a mistake.  It's things like that which make me feel like this has no direction.  I see the purpose of it narratively, but there seems to be no larger direction, no larger statement about the world and its politics, and that makes it feel like a bit like a ship at sea with no rudder to me. 

 

I'm hoping this pulls together soon.

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review 2017-07-13 00:41
Suicide Squad needs a new leader
Suicide Squad (2016-) #20 - Rob Williams,Stjepan Sejic,Otto Schmidt

So, I wasn't on board with Flag/Quinn, not completely.   It just seemed too weird a pairing to work, and I never really felt that chemistry.  I did like that he didn't treat her as badly as The Joker did, but I also never really felt that someone like Flag would be able to completely look past Harley's insanity and sadism.   

 

Still, it's a fascinating character study to see Quinn with Flag gone.   He'd been helping, not as much as she needed, but still helping.   And without him, well, Quinn is reverting.  I do wish Quinn wouldn't revert to a character who needs a man, or is codependent at all.   When paired with Ivy, she seems to need someone less.    That is: she's more confident.   She doesn't fall apart when they're apart, and is okay with them being on again and off again, especially since Ivy can feel too crowded, even with Quinn.   They both appreciate each other for, and despite, their obsessions and faults.   And they both encourage one another to be better, and that recognize that they deserve someone good to them, and good for them, when they're together.   

 

And this is relevant to this issue, because people tend to write Quinn as codependent, without fully appreciating that she not only doesn't have to be - but can be a fully fascinating character without being codependent.   It feels easy and lazy and while I appreciate this insight into her, I do tend to prefer her not quite this bad.   (I also question if Ivy will come into this.  Even when Quinn doesn't reach out, Ivy does tend to come back when Quinn really needs help.  I suspect not.   Ivy seems to be on and off partly because it's convenient to be that way: this story is about Quinn being codependent and Ivy's calming aspect, and reassurances that Quinn doesn't need anyone more than she needs to be mentally and emotionally safe - as much as possible for her - would ruin that storyline.)

 

This was less action and more about Waller's behind the scenes manipulations as well as deciding who will be the squad's new leader.   Still, it was fascinating and I continue to love this series.

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review 2017-07-09 02:35
No Longer Human (manga, vol. 1) by Usamaru Furuya, based on the novel by Osamu Dazai
No Longer Human, Part 1 - Osamu Dazai

This is technically the first volume of a manga adaptation of Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human. However, in reality it’s more like a work inspired by Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human. It has a lot of the same characters and a lot of the same events, but also enough important changes that the impact of certain familiar scenes and characters is completely different. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

The volume begins with Usamaru Furuya as a character in his own manga. He’s trying, and failing, to think up an idea for his next serial when he suddenly gets an anonymous email pointing him to an online “ouch diary.” The website contains three images: one of 6-year-old Yozo posing with his family while wearing a wide fake smile; one of Yozo at age 25, his expression lifeless and worn down; and one of Yozo at age 17, cool and handsome. Furuya proceeds to read the diary that goes with those images, to learn how Yozo fell so far so quickly.

Then readers get the story of Yozo’s life, starting with a few pages showing him as a child and middle school student, behaving like a class clown in order to get people to like him. The story quickly progresses into Yozo’s high school years, when he is befriended by Horiki, who Yozo believes is truly what he has spent his life pretending to be, a friendly and shiftless clown. Although Yozo starts off with everything in life handed to him on a silver platter, things rapidly fall apart, and the volume ends with Yozo’s first suicide attempt (I’m assuming the manga will include the next one).

When I reviewed Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human, I said that the beginning of the book, which dealt with Yozo’s childhood, worked best for me. Furuya opted to either skip most of that or include it as vague flashbacks. I thought, at first, that I’d be okay with this, until I realized that it really changed the overall tone. In the book, Yozo started off as a child who couldn’t empathize with others, had trouble figuring out what other people were thinking and why they acted the way they acted the way they did, and was terrified that people would see through his desperate attempts to fit in. The manga wasn’t as successful at setting the stage, and so high school Yozo was even more insufferable. Readers basically only saw Yozo at his absolute worst, looking down on everyone around him, drinking, skipping class, and paying for sex and doing his very best to not get to know the women he had sex with as actual people.

A few things I should add, at this point. First, Furuya aged Yozo down a bit. I don’t think Yozo met Horiki until college in the book, whereas in the manga they became friends during high school (with Yozo, the word "friend" can be assumed to mean nothing more than "acquaintance with whom he spends time"). Also, unlike the book, which alluded to sex but never mentioned anything in detail, there is quite a bit of on-page sex in the manga. One scene in particular did a good job of getting across the kind of guy Yozo was: he found himself distracted by thoughts of something a friend from school told him while he was having sex with a girl who’d just told him she wanted him to be her boyfriend. Then he couldn’t understand why she was so upset with him. I don’t know that the other sex scenes (four, total) were strictly necessary, though.

Now, back to the story/character changes. Another thing Furuya did was add a bit more to the plot. In the book, Yozo hung out with Marxists and took part in meaningless (to him) meetings and activities. The work annoyed him, but he stayed with the group because he couldn’t quite figure out how to leave and because others expected him to do things. In the manga, Yozo actually kind of liked being involved with the Japan United Labor Association, although he looked down on its members. He gradually realized that they were

planning terrorist activities, and he might have become even further involved if it hadn’t been for an incident involving a jealous boyfriend.

(spoiler show)


Furuya also ascribed emotions to Yozo that I’m not really sure he actually felt in the original book. For example, in the manga Yozo indicated that he actually cared about Ageha (I can’t remember if that was her name in the novel, too). I don’t know that the Yozo of the original novel truly cared about a single person, especially enough to admit it to himself. He cared about how people made him see himself, and that was pretty much it.

This was a funhouse mirror sort of adaptation, although the end result was still largely “miserable people doing self-destructive things." I’ll read the next volume because I already have it on hand, but I doubt I’ll be putting in an ILL request for the third and final volume.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-06-27 08:54
Compelling Evidence
Compelling Evidence - Steve Martini

This book was another one that started out slow for me.  I felt like he was pulling out all the big words he knew to stick in the first few chapters and the legal lingo was a bit much. I struggled through the first part but then got hooked as soon as someone died (of course) and then it really started moving for me and I wanted everyone to go away and let me read. Unfortunately, it was not a time I could be antisocial.  I did, however, spend one really late night sitting on the floor in a hotel bathroom so I could finish this book. It was good and I was surprised by the ending.  

 

This is the first book in a series and in the first few chapters, I wasn't thinking I'd be reading any more of his books but I quickly changed my mind. I am already looking for the next one in the series. Too bad this copy of the book didn't make it back to Fairbanks, Alaska. It had a little bathtub accident in Anchorage but it did enjoy Denali National Park. 

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review 2017-06-20 22:31
Well, that was surprising
Suicide Squad (2016-) #19 - Rob Williams,Tomeu Morey,Tony Daniel,Sandu Florea,Neil Edwards

I'm never sure what's going to happen with this, and, damn, it keeps surprising me.   Waller should have known better than to mess around with a Kryptonian like Zod, but, well...   She didn't.   She thought she could control people that she couldn't, and what surprises me most is her reaction to her abject failure. 

 

I actually suspected Flag would do what he would, and I'd considered Harley's reaction if he did.   (Her reaction may be the least surprising thing about this issue.)

 

I'm loving these characters, this team, and the stories that are being told.  I'm loving the stories that are being told.   

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