Sunday, July 5, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: June 28th to July 4th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by photographing my tiny and adorable dog beside every book I read, barring the digital comics I get in single-issue form.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I edit them and appear here in digest form every Sunday.

Not pictured: I creep ever closer to the end of CABLE & DEADPOOL. Someday I'll even finish it.

I also started the issue of ANDROMEDA SPACEWAYS INFLIGHT MAGAZINE from the Hugo Packet. I guess I should probably photograph Murchie with it, seeing as how it's a book-length volume with a proper cover, but... yeah. I bug the little dude enough.

Finally, I busted out all the stops and finished A MEMORY OF LIGHT last Sunday instead of pacing myself. I was like, "I'll just get to the end of the three-hundred screen chapter," but that quickly turned into, "OMG I MUST READ EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW WITH NO BREAKS."

Y'all know how it is when you finally reach the climax of one of the defining series of your childhood.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, curls up inside a high-sided dog bed lined in beige plush. Before him rests a hardcover copy of Nimona. Its cover features an illustration of three people: a blonde white guy in golden armour, a pink-haired white girl with pink wings, and a dark-haired Asian guy with one arm.

You've read Noelle Stevenson's NIMONA, right? If not, please be aware it's a super-awesome comic about a young shapeshifter who decides to become a villain's sidekick. There's hilarity and emotional resonance and good bad people and bad good people and A FRICKIN' DRAGON.

I like it when there's a dragon. Please fill me in on all the things about dragons so I can read or watch them.

This was my third time through NIMONA, which I followed in its original webcomic form, so I regret I cannot include it on any of my Best of 2015 lists. I'm also sad, sad, sad I can't nominate it for a Hugo next year, since I don't believe there's enough new material in the print edition to qualify it as a full-on 2015 modified reissue.

Sadness.

I won't review NIMONA here, but I did write a fairly detailed response for Lady Business's Superheroic Women event. Be forewarned: the piece includes some spoilers, and I think the warning was embedded in the cut tag so it doesn't appear within the post itself.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Best of 2015 (So Far)

Friends! My birthday is here!

In my world, birthdays are for doing happy-making things and celebrating the good times. I'm visiting the magical land of North Dakota today, and y'all know I'm gonna take advantage of America's large number of Mexican restaurants in my never-ending quest for tacos. One of the restaurants in this here town gives you a free meal on your birthday, so guess where I'm going for lunch.

Tiny Deadpool is with me, and I shall photograph him beside every taco (or taco platter) I eat on this trip. You can follow my progress on Instagram

On the blogging front, I want to step away from our regularly scheduled programming to highlight my Best of 2015 (So Far). July 2nd is as close to the middle of the year as you can get, so it’s an appropriate time for that sort of undertaking. Yes?

In the order I read them, excluding rereads and with links to my reviews where such things exist, my 4.5- and 5-star reads for the first half of 2015 are:

Cover of Saga Volume Four
Saga Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 5 stars

I guess it’s possible Vaughan and Staples will someday craft a SAGA arc to which I do not experience a strong emotional reaction, but it’s hard to believe it. You know?

I feel so much for these characters, y’all. So. Frickin’. Much. SAGA is the comic and the hold-outs among you must rush out and read it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Year With Marvel: Dogs, Dogs, Dogs

Dogs improve everything they touch, and Marvel comics are no exception. The Marvel Universe sports a small but powerful assortment of awesome canines (or canine-type people), my favourites among them being:

Cosmo

Two comics panels, one beside the other. In the first, a man in a gold helmet says, 'Look, I've been through some stuff recently. Reached the end of the universe, met space zombies, that kind of thing. You're kind of... taking my freak to a whole new level.' The second panel featuress Cosmo, a brown dog in a space suit. He replies, 'You have seen end of universe, and met space zombies, and talking dog is what freaks you out? Bozshe moi.'
From NOVA (2008) #8

Cosmo is my favourite psychic Russian space doggie, because that’s a category I rank. He operates out of Knowhere, a space station located within the disembodied head of a dead god (just to keep things cheerful). In his capacity as chief of security, Cosmo breaks up fights, liaises with newcomers, and runs the teleportation field that helps sanctioned individuals easily enter and exit the station sans spaceship.

Cosmo excels in his role because he can get along with just about anyone who is not a racoon, from space pirates to would-be superheroes to Skrulls in disguise. He’s totally adaptable, far more easy-going than his grumpy exterior indicates, and willing to forgive you for being surprised he can talk--provided you make it up to him with a good ear-skritch.

He first appeared within the pages of NOVA (2008) and has had a presence within Marvel Cosmic ever since as a helper to the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Annihilators, and various other space-dwelling types. He hasn’t had a huge on-page presence these last few years, but does crop up in the pages of NOVA (2013) as one of young Sam Alexander’s newfound space allies.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: June 21st to 27th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by posing my tiny dog beside every book I read, barring the digital comics I get in single-issue form.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I edit them and appear here in digest form every Sunday.

Not pictured: I finally revisited the first two volumes of BTVS S10 and read the three single issues I bought during Dark Horse's birthday sale. Now I'm cautiously optimistic that the series may be trending away from the nobody-ever-gets-to-be-happy model that characterizes everything Joss Whedon touches.

On the Marvel Unlimited front, I read MESSIAH COMPLEX so I'd be primed to move further with ASTONISHING X-MEN. The arc also increased my desire to go back and read every little X-Men thing every from the very beginning of time up until last week (or six months ago, since I'm reading on a delay). I'm sad to see NEW X-MEN end with this event, but at least the kids are bound to crop up elsewhere. I know I've seen Anole on a recentish cover or two, and X-23 is with the time-displaced X-Men, and David has his day with the Young Avengers. Surely the others have their roles in the contemporary storyline, too.

Those of them who aren't dead, that is.

That done, I turned my attention to THE SENTRY, since y'all know MIGHTY AVENGERS got me interested in the guy. Marvel Unlimited's creator info isn't fully populated for this title, so I was thrilled to discover it's by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee, the pair responsible for THE INHUMANS. Whee! This miniseries (and its related one-shots, which really aren't since they carry on directly from the core series) has got me thinking about the superhero's ever-evolving role in pop culture, plus the way mind wipes fuck everything up.

Dear superheroic types: do not mind wipe people. It's a shitty thing to do. Professor X, I'm looking particularly at you, but the rest of y'all should also take note.

Murchie, a grey poodle with a fuzzy face and a sparsely furred torso, stands in a dog bed with pink, beige, and white striped sides. He is outdoors, with green grass visible in the background. In front of him is a paperback copy of A Memory of Light. Its cover features a man in a red coat. He brandishes a glowing crystal sword.

I've had The Doors stuck in my head for a while now, because A MEMORY OF LIGHT is the end of a thing I started just over nineteen years ago. That's a long, long time. That's more than half my life.

And you know what sucks? Someone tweeted spoilers at me last Saturday afternoon, and it looks an awful lot like they were serious.

Nineteen years, two and a half of them spent avoiding spoilers, and someone on Twitter swoops in and tells me how the Last Battle ends.

They didn't give me a blow-by-blow, here's-who-wins-and-how account, but it was still considerably more than I wanted to know before I read it for myself.

I'm so disappointed with humanity right now. If you see me talking about something and you want to share your general opinion (examples: "I wasn't big on the ending" or "I really liked the ending"), that's fine, but don't you come into my mentions or my comments with even vague details as to how a highly anticipated story ends. Don't do that to anyone unless they're vocally pro-spoiler and/or they've asked you to elaborate1.

The spoiler-tweeter upset me so much that I took a longer break from the Wheel of Time than I intended. I ought to be telling you I'm a short jump from the end and will likely have finished it by the time you read this, but instead I've gotta tell you I'm probably a couple days away from the final page. I'd like to finish it today, but there's a lot of book left and I'm not a particularly fast reader, so you can draw your own conclusions.

And I shall say no more than that, except that I maybe want to write a review-type thing for the series after all. We'll see how I feel about it when I do reach page 1168 (as I write this, I'm at around page 830).

Rest assured: I'll use spoiler warnings if I want to discuss my reaction to the ending, or to the things I'm uber pleased to have guessed correctly all those years ago.

Now, a musical interlude to brighten the mood:

(The song is just shy of twelve minutes long, making it an appropriate match to the end of the Wheel of Time. You'll probably want to keep it open in another tab or something if you choose to listen to it since I don't have twelve minutes of content below. I guess you may also want to know it's kind of a drug song, as are so many of the great songs of the 60s.)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Prophecies, Libels, and Dreams by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Cover of Prophecies, Libels, & Dreams, featuring a long-haired white person wearing a kilt and a long, flared coat. A ball of golden light hovers above their chest, between their outstretched palms.
I don’t spend nearly enough time telling y’all to read Ysabeau S. Wilce. Oh, I’ve gushed here and there, and I’ve bought copies of FLORA SEGUNDA for a couple of folks, and I somehow managed to convince a couple more to buy copies their own selves. But my efforts have all been low key, you know? And it’s been ages since I made a concerted effort to spread the word about one of my favourite authors.

That just won’t do.

A few words on what I consider a “favourite author,” so’s you know where I’m coming from. There are plenty of people on my mental list of authors whose work I regularly enjoy, but a favourite goes above and beyond that. Most of the time, I want to have at least three or four of a writer’s books under my belt before I’ll cautiously declare they’re a favourite, maybe, unless the wind shifts. It takes something pretty durned special to make me leap straight into the reader/favourite author relationship.

Ysabeau S. Wilce got on the list by virtue of one novella, one short story, and one novel. She’s that fucking good.

The novella in question--“The Lineaments of Gratified Desire”--served as my gateway into her work. By the time I’d spent three pages immersed in Wilce’s twisty-turny prose and the brutal, glorious world it described, I knew I had to seek out and devour everything this woman had ever written.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My Year With Marvel: Carol Danvers

An illustration of Carol Danvers, a pale-skinned blonde woman wearing a red, blue, and gold superhero costume. She stares directly at the viewer as she pulls on a red gauntlet adorned with brass buttons.

I'm at Lady Business today, talking about the marvelous Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel, Ms Marvel, and my number one choice for comics BFF) as part of Jodie's Women In Authority theme week. I hope you'll pop on over there to help me celebrate the reasons Carol is an effective leader and all-around great person.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: June 14th to 20th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by asking my long-suffering dog to pose beside every book I read, barring the stuff I get through Marvel Unlimited.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I edit them and appear here in digest form every Sunday.

Not pictured: I binge-read the final five volumes of NEW X-MEN (2004) last Sunday. Younger superheroes fascinate me. Many of these kids are powerful, but they're still learning how to be people. It's all terribly interesting.

Plus, a bunch of them die and/or or lose their powers on account of M-Day, so it also hurts. A lot. I mean, by the end of the series--spoilers coming up, depending on whether you adhere to my own Don't Worry About X-Men Spoilers policy--these kids are so fucking traumatized that they start inventing prophecies about their impending deaths because that's marginally better than dying for some senseless reason.

Ulp. Thank goodness I've read some stuff set after this and know most of them do make it through, even if they're never entirely okay.

I planned to start MESSIAH COMPLEX, an X-Men crossover event that includes the last two issues of NEW X-MEN, last night. Maybe I got to it; maybe I didn't.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, sits in a small dog bed with fuzzy beige lining. Beside him sits a white Kobo with Ms Marvel Volume One's cover on its screen. It depicts a brown girl from the nose down, one fist clutch before her chest. She wears a pink scarf and a black t-shirt with a lightning bolt on it. Atop the dog bed is a trade paperback copy of Volume Two, featuring the same girl punching a robber as she checks her phone.

Sometimes I'm a big meany who invades the sanctity of Murchie's tertiary dog bed in my quest for cute photos. Sometimes poor lighting and uncooperative dogs foil me.

At least neither of the books fell over and bonked him on the head this time. That's an improvement.

And hey! Here's a superpowered young person who's not horribly depressed! My library won the MS MARVEL, VOLUME TWO round of who-can-get-this-collection-to-me-faster. Sorry, Marvel Unlimited. Maybe next time.

I began with a reread of NO NORMAL (which Marvel kindly included in the Hugo Packet), then dove into GENERATION WHY. Y'all know I laughed my arse off at and geeked the hell out over Kamala's surprise team-up with Wolverine, and you'd better believe I squeed to high heaven over Lockjaw. Lockjaw is my favourite Inhuman. I hope he'll be with Kamala for a long time to come.