Tag Archives: superheroes

Review ~ The Violent Century

This book was provided to me by Tachyon Publications via NetGalley for review consideration.

The Violent Century cover

The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar

A bold experiment has mutated a small fraction of humanity. Nations race to harness the gifted, putting them to increasingly dark ends. At the dawn of global war, flashy American superheroes square off against sinister Germans and dissolute Russians. Increasingly depraved scientists conduct despicable research in the name of victory

British agents Fogg and Oblivion, recalled to the Retirement Bureau, have kept a treacherous secret for over forty years. But all heroes must choose when to join the fray, and to whom their allegiance is owed—even for just one perfect summer’s day. (via Goodreads)

Why was I interested in this book?
I’ve been a fan of Lavie Tidhar’s writings, especially his Century Station stories. The Violent Century is not one of those…

What Worked
There is a small, poignant human story at the heart of this tale of superheroes and superhero-sized espionage. Unfortunately…

What Didn’t Work
The story was buried under a layer of style and structure that kept the characters at a distance.

Instead of quotation marks, dialog is sometimes set off with em dashes and is sometimes subsumed into the surrounding paragraph. The result made all the characters seem flat, like I was overhearing this story through a bad telephone connection or watching it through a screen door. I was too removed to care about the characters.

The narrative is jumbled through places and times. This could work, giving it a woven together feel, but sometimes the time digressions didn’t lead very far. Chapters felt like prologues and vignettes; it was only in the longer chapters that I ever got into a good rhythm with Fogg and Oblivion.

Overall
I don’t mind doing a little work when I read, especially when the subject matter is something that has been done, like superheroes. But reading The Violent Century was arduous. I kept hoping Tidhar would let the readers into the story, but that never happened.

Original Publishing info: Tachyon Publications, July 23, 2019
My Copy: Kindle and ePub ARCs, NetGalley
Genre: science fiction

Review ~ The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1: Squirrel Power by Ryan North, Erica Henderson (Illustrator)

Cover via Goodreads

Wolverine, Deadpool, Doctor Doom, Thanos: There’s one hero that’s beaten them all-and now she’s got her own ongoing series! (Not that she’s bragging.) That’s right, you asked for it, you got it, it’s SQUIRREL GIRL! (She’s also starting college this semester.) It’s the start of a brand-new set of adventures starring the nuttiest and most upbeat super hero in the world!
(via Goodreads)

Doreen Green is just a regular college student. Except that she can talk to squirrels (just ask her best friend Tippy-Toe), has size-equivalent squirrel strength (which makes moving in a cinch!), is occasionally late for class because she’s out besting baddies, and is a computer science major (not your run-of-the-mill “girl” major). Okay, so Doreen is not a “regular” college student. And Squirrel Girl isn’t your average, ordinary superhero either. She defeats cosmic villains with wit, rhetoric, and occasionally an army of squirrels. And, she has a theme song!

“Squirrel Girl, Squirrel Girl! Powers of both squirrel and girl! Find some nuts, eat some nuts! Kick bad guuuuuys’ evil butts!”

This book is so much fun. I have a soft spot for insanely confident, cool-with-being-corny characters. And puns. There are lots of puns. This volume includes volumes 1-4 and Marvel Super-Heroes #8 from 1990, which is the first appearance of a kinda deranged looking Squirrel Girl.

Publishing info, my copy: Marvel, Aug. 2015, paperback
Acquired: Purchased in December 2015 from Amazon
Genre: superhero

On Comics

PILF! Not to be confused with BAMF!

In the beginning…

The first comics I read were Star Wars comics. Star Wars was the first fandom I followed though no one used the word fandom in 1981. The comic books were a continuation of story, the off-screen adventures of all the characters I  loved. Yet, somehow, I knew that these stories weren’t really part of the story the movies were telling (might have had something to do with the hoojib). At a young age, I had a sense of what canon is. But that didn’t mean I could enjoy those other adventures.

A trend emerges…

Over the years, I’ve dipped in and out of reading comic books. Usually, “in” after my movie fandom has been riled. Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (yes, I really did like the 1990 movie) and James O’Barr’s The Crow are notable. Unlike the Star Wars books, these were the films’ source materials. They were also darker figuratively and literally (both black and white). They actually showed some literary merit (yes, even TMNT) and some really appealing art. But one thing was missing.

Art by Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor.

Today

The one quality I appreciate most about comics was missing from the smaller titles I was reading in the 90s. While they still expanded the stories I already knew, they went deeper, not afield. What I like about long-running comics is the changeability of their storylines. Continuity, or rather the lack thereof, is part of it. When I stepped back into comics after X-Men (the 2000 movie), I was confronted with several co-currently running versions of the X-Men universe. Canon takes on a new meaning. There are multiple canons! Characters have more deaths, rebirths, evil twins, and personal angst than a dozen daytime soaps.

My latest foray (this seems to happen once every ten years) has been Avengers fueled. Currently, there seem to be over a half-dozen Avengers and Avenger-related titles. I decided to dive in to some of the current Ultimate Comics. It picks with several global crises breaking out at once and several different lines being tied together:  Ultimate Comics: Ultimates (which is more or less the Avengers), Ultimate Comics: Hawkeye (a mini-series), Ultimate Comics: X-Men, and Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man. Despite some affection for the Sam Raimi movies, I’ve never been a Spider-Man fan. Which is why I was surprised that I like the series as much as I do. It’s definitely my pick of the litter.

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man begins after the death of Peter Parker. Our new friendly neighborhood webslinger is Miles Morales. He’s younger than Parker, the beneficiary of a lottery to a charter school and a bite from a stolen experimental arachnid. And he’s black. Miles is wowed by the super heroes around him (this is a universe populated with both the Avengers and the X-Men, as well as the recently deceased Spider-Man) and tries to do what’s right…while still being a kid who is unsure of every situation he finds himself in. Considering my recent rant about young characters, I don’t find that an annoying quality in Miles. He contemplates, he acts, he reevaluates…all to the best of his abilities and all with the sort of meta-understanding that he’s still just a kid. The art is great and I’m looking forward to the continuation of this line as well as, *cough*, Spider-Men.