Review – Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine

Bitch Planet vol 1Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine DeLandro

I originally received this to review, but because it’s very much designed to have double spreads and to be read across two pages, it just wasn’t readable that way. Fortunately, I’d preordered the TPB anyway. The problem is, I really don’t know what to think of it. I love the diversity of the characters, but I found myself only really knowing two or three of them for sure, each time they appeared. Part of that was the art and part of that is, hey, this is a women’s prison with a lot of inmates, and this is only five issues of the comic. There’s not really enough space to be properly introduced to everybody.

Despite the fact that I love the idea, and I love the trend of people getting the NC tattoos and how much it has spoken to many women, I don’t know if I actually like the product. But maybe it isn’t about liking — I do value the book. I like that it’s in your face and violent and, well, non-compliant. I like that it features a really overweight woman as a heroine who isn’t prepared to change to be somebody else’s ideal. I like that it offends and concerns ‘men’s rights activists’.

So maybe not my thing, but that doesn’t make it a bad comic.

Rating: 4/5

Stacking the Shelves

Hello, everyone! Thanks for the good wishes last week — my grandmother’s operation went okay, and she seems quite well, all things considered. Hope you’ve all had good weeks too!

Bought

Cover of Murder Past Due by Miranda James Bitch Planet vol 1

Cover of Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood

Cover of Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews Cover of Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Suddenly, I’m mad about Phryne Fisher. Even considering watching the series, if it’s on the UK Netflix! I’ve read a bunch of these already.

Library

Cover of Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood

Yes. Uh. As I said.

Comics

Shield #1

I’ve been looking forward to this one since I first heard about it!

What’s everyone else been getting?

Review – The Wicked + The Divine: Fandemonium

Cover of The Wicked + The Divine vol 2The Wicked + The Divine: Fandemonium, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson

I wish I had the first volume here, so I could have flipped through it again and got myself quickly back on board for this one. Not that it took too much to get sucked back into it, but in terms of the mystery, I couldn’t remember who I suspected of doing what and why! The characters stuck in my head, too, at least their roles, but their names didn’t. Partly my fault, because I’m not a visual person at all and I can’t ever connect names to faces, let alone in the second volume of a comic I’ve read once before. It doesn’t help that McKelvie’s style is much the same as it was for Young Avengers — I think, “Hey, that character looks familiar… no, I’m thinking of America Chavez.” Sigh.

The art is, as in the first volume, absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think I could imagine The Wicked + The Divine in any other style — it’s perfect this way. In many ways, this volume complicates the plot more, introducing more characters, more background, more twists. There’s still a lot more to discover, and despite the relative thickness of the book, I wanted more, right away, right now.

Please?

Rating: 5/5

Review – Hawkeye: L.A. Woman

Cover of Hawkeye: LA Woman by Matt FractionHawkeye: L.A. Woman, Matt Fraction, Annie Wu, Javier Pulido

This volume of Hawkeye collects a bunch of issues about the younger, cuter Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. What I kinda don’t get is how much like Clint she acts — she’s not the serious, dedicated leader of the Young Avengers here at all (and she doesn’t once that I can think of contact any of her team). The volume is mostly made up of new characters, aside from Kate and the antagonist, Madame Masque.

It’s fun, and the art is okay — I don’t like it as much as Aja’s — but I like Kate Bishop self-assured and telling Noh-Varr he’s a jerk, or helping Billy and Teddy save the world with love. We don’t get to see the Young Avengers off-duty like this much, which I guess is the format of these Hawkeye comics, but… I don’t know. And I half-expected her to come out with lines from Fraction’s Sex Criminals series: “This fucking guy”, etc.

She does still kick ass, but she also gets her ass kicked a lot, and often due to naivety and inexperience. Which is great, but, uh, the Young Avengers have taken down some pretty big threats, actually. Girl knows what she’s doing — and she has a support network other than Clint and her dad. A phone call to Billy or Teddy would’ve gone down well, Tommy could have been at her side in literally seconds, and America Chavez would gleefully have stomped Madame Masque’s faces. David could probably have set her up with a database, never mind files, if she’s gonna be a PI. Like, with Clint you can get him not asking for backup, because he’s a dummy. Kate isn’t. I’d at least have liked to see her think about calling her team, especially when she believes people are dying.

I don’t know, I guess one superhero being a dummy is kind of funny. Two is apparently overkill for me. Did like the gay couple who help her, though.

Rating: 2/5

Review – Hawkeye: Little Hits

Cover of Hawkeye vol 2 by Fraction and AjaHawkeye: Little Hits, Matt Fraction, David Aja, Matt Hollingsworth, Chris Eliopoulous

Clint Barton continues to be a trainwreck in everyday life. And Kate Bishop continues to care about him even though he’s really kind of a loser in many ways. And Clint has a really great dog. That pretty much sums up book two. And the whole run could probably summed up with, “Clint Barton makes poor life choices.”

I’m not 100% into this comic, but I do enjoy it, and Fraction and Aja are certainly very creative, funny, and willing to take risks. Sometimes I find that their style of storytelling doesn’t work for me — I’m not a visual person, so the 95% visuals issue “Pizza Is My Business” was difficult for me, and that’s not the only time they rely on very visual storytelling. So I think my reaction is a pretty idiosyncratic one; it’s a bit weird that I’m even into comics, since visual storytelling is hard for me, and the best comics really make use of that in combination with the words, instead of illustrating the words.

Still, reading it again helped somewhat with comprehension, and I’ll keep that in mind as I get onto LA Woman and Rio Bravo.

Rating: 3/5

Review – Captain Marvel: Alis Volat Propriis

Captain Marvel vol 3Captain Marvel: Alis Volat Propriis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Warren Ellis, David Lopez

There’s still some great banter in this book, and it’s a lot less silly than the previous volume felt. Unfortunately, the Black Vortex issue is pretty disconnected and random — I would’ve been interested to see more of Carol’s involvement in that storyline, and it is interesting to see her choosing not to go cosmic — but as it is, it feels clumsy, especially with all the exposition explaining what the Black Vortex even is.

The final issue is the most important, probably the most emotionally hard-hitting of this run. I love the people who support Carol in it — even if it took me a minute to realise that Steve was Steve — and the story is sweet (though I still don’t actually know much about Carol even knows Tracy). It’s a fitting return to Earth for Carol, in many ways.

I do wish Marvel wouldn’t run so many events, though. I’m not actually interested in the majority, definitely not as single issues, and it really disrupts ongoing stories with individual characters. The crossover events are going to stop being special if they keep happening all the time, and we’ve had so many lately, it seems.

Rating: 4/5

October TBR

I’ve been excited to get started on this — I think I’ve got a great line-up for this month. I’m enjoying switching the categories up a bit, and will probably do that every month, even if ‘ARCs’ and ‘library’ are probably gonna be a constant.

ARCs

  1. Made to Kill, Adam Christopher.
  2. The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu.
  3. Tower of Thorns, Juliet Marillier.
  4. The Palace Job, Patrick Weekes.
  5. Armada, Ernest Clines.

Library

  1. Ghost Hawk, Susan Cooper.
  2. Badgerland, Patrick Barkham.
  3. Ask a Policeman, The Detection Club.
  4. The Great Zoo of China, Matthew Riley.
  5. Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen.

Series

  1. The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, Catherynne M. Valente.
  2. Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie.
  3. Dreamer’s Pool, Juliet Marillier.
  4. Dragon Coast, Greg van Eekhout.
  5. The Dark Blood of Poppies, Freda Warrington.

Tor.com novellas

  1. The Witches of Lychford, Paul Cornell.
  2. Binti, Nnedi Okorafor.
  3. The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, Kai Ashante Wilson.
  4. Sunset Mantle, Alter S. Reiss.
  5. The Last Witness, K.J. Parker.

Comics

  1. Bitch Planet, vol 1, Kelly Sue DeConnick.
  2. Saga vol 3, Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples.
  3. Hawkeye: Rio Bravo, Matt Fraction.
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy: Angela, Brian Michael Bendis.
  5. Batgirl: Wanted, Gail Simone.

Challenge

  1. Hard to Be A God, Boris & Arkady Strugatsky.
  2. Burning Water, Mercedes Lackey.
  3. The Colour Purple, Alice Walker.
  4. The Enchantment Emporium, Tanya Huff.
  5. Rosemary & Rue, Seanan Mcguire.

Wildcards

  1. The Fox’s Tower & Other Stories, Yoon Ha Lee.
  2. Thornyhold, Mary Stewart.
  3. Timeless, Gail Carriger.
  4. Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo.
  5. ?

It shouldn’t be too busy this month, so I’m hoping to really chew through the list. I think I’m gonna end up with a couple books left over from September, but I’ll stick them in wildcards if I get round to them.

ETA: I’ve gone wildly off-script because it’s a difficult month. Still hoping to finish a few more of these, though!

Stacking the Shelves

This week I was a little bit naughty and did some requesting on Netgalley, after doing a bit of a tidy-up of copies I can’t review because I didn’t download them in time, can’t find a library copy, etc, etc. But I’m still on 69% reviews-to-approvals, so I think I’m doing okay!

Received to review!

Cover of The Prophecy Con by Patrick Weekes Cover of The Paladin Caper by Patrick Weekes Cover of Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier

Cover of Badge, Book and Candle by Max Gladstone  Cover of The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu Cover of Made to Kill by Adam Christopher

I really need to read Dreamer’s Pool so I can read Tower of Thorns, and The Palace Job so I can read The Prophecy Con and The Paladin Caper. Oh, self, you do make work!

(Like I mind.)

Bought/gifted

Cover of Old Man's War by John Scalzi Cover of The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi Cover of The Last Colony by John Scalzi

Cover of Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi Cover of The Human Division by John Scalzi Cover of The End of All Things by John Scalzi

Cover of Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson Cover of Dragon Coast by Greg van Eekhout Cover of Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Cover of Talking Hands by Margalit Fox Cover of The Fox Tower by Yoon Ha Lee

Many many many thanks to Lois and Amy, who have belatedly celebrated my birthday by showering me with bookishness. (Some of the Scalzi is from Lois, and Talking Hands is from Amy.)

Aaand the final issue of Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps

Captain Marvel & The Carol Corps #4

By the time this goes live, I’ll be on the way to BristolCon with Robert from Bastian’s Books. So if you’re going, you might catch a glimpse of that rare sight — a wild Nikki. Bring a pokéball.

Review – Thor: Who Holds the Hammer?

Thor vol 2Thor: Who Holds the Hammer?, Jason Aaron et al

Normally I would list all the creators working on a particular comic, but there’s seven listed on the front and nine on the back.

This is a bit of a bitty comic, which annoyed me. There’s a couple of issues dealing with the ongoing story, but there’s also a lot of extra stuff — a short one about Thor sometime way in the future, a side story with Thor’s friends, one about Thor having a drinking contest, and then a “what if” about Jane Foster finding Mjolnir originally. That last one is especially difficult if you’re not familiar with Thor’s canon, because it really requires comparison with the original/referenced issues of Thor. (And it ends kind of weirdly, with Odin marrying Jane after Thor goes off with Sif.)

There are some awesome bits, like when the All-Mother gathers a whole army of women (plus the original Thor) to back the new Thor up in a fight. The fight between the All-Father and the All-Mother continues, and Frigga continues to hold her own and demand respect. And of course, there’s Thor going up against the Destroyer.

But, with all the extras, it didn’t feel like a satisfying progression. The main question it answers is a simple one: “Who is Thor?” Which… wasn’t a surprise to me, at all. And then it just leads into Secret Wars, which I’m not all that interested in, although most of the comics I follow are having tie-in issues. Ah, well.

Also, will someone please give the male Thor a shirt?

Rating: 3/5

Review – Rat Queens: The Far-Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth

Cover of Rat Queens vol 2Rat Queens: The Far-Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth, Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Sejic

I liked this more than the first volume, I think, but it’s weakened by the fact that while Dee is the centre of the plot, we still don’t really get to know her. In fact, we get flashbacks for Hannah and Violet. I’m actually getting more into the characters now, and especially the on/off thing with Sawyer and Hannah, but still… I don’t know, it’s not quite working for me. I completely forgot several side characters, and had a moment of confusion when they reappeared.

Fortunately, I do love the art — even the transition between artists (and props to Wiebe for putting his money where his mouth is and firing Upchurch over the domestic violence) was okay, and I like Sejic’s work as much or maybe more than I did Upchurch’s. It’s all pretty fun, and at least it’s sex-positive and the girls are in charge of their own destinies. I loved the moment between Violet and her mother particularly, for that. It’s not the cliché you’re no daughter of mine! moment, and that makes it more interesting.

Also, um, referring to Dee as a “chocolate princess”? Presumably because of the colour of her skin? Hm.

Rating: 3/5