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


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

Review – Captain Marvel: Stay Fly

Captain Marvel: Stay FlyCaptain Marvel: Stay Fly, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Marcio Takara, David Lopez

If you’re not a fan of Captain Marvel, this issue probably isn’t going to make you into one. The three storylines are relatively light, though there is some sweet stuff — parts where Spider-woman, Rhodey, Kit, Tic and Chewie all appear. One of the storylines focuses on Chewie, in fact, with Rocket Raccoon along for the ride. There’s also a nice bit with Tracy, continuing the theme of her relationship with Carol.

A lot of this is funny/silly, and I love Takara’s art style. But it’s not any kind of gamechanger for Captain Marvel or Kelly Sue’s writing. It’s just fun.

I still think Carol/Rhodey is genius.

Rating: 3/5

Stacking the Shelves

I continued my very good behaviour this week by not buying anything. I did grab the trade of Thor: Goddess of Thunder, but I already has the single issues, so I’m counting it as a gift for my partner, who I will be with by this evening! Whoop. So I just have comics this week, including the new Carol Corps one from Kelly Sue, which I nearly missed but for a random tweet about it.

Captain Marvel & The Carol Corps Silk Spider-gwen

Nope, there are no female heroes in comics, nope, don’t know what you’re talking about…

Review – Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More

Cover of Captain Marvel Higher Faster Further More by Kelley Sue DeConnickCaptain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More, Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lopez

It’s no secret that I love Captain Marvel, so it’s probably not a surprise that I adored this, too. I love Carol and her stubborn determination to do what’s right, and the fact that she tries to do things that Captain America would approve of. I love her relationship with Rhodey (“I’m never gonna be the one who holds you down”!) and his acceptance of what she needs to do. I love the fact that she takes her cat into space with her, and I love her dumb banter in a fight.

I liked that this ties in with Guardians of the Galaxy, too — not in too obtrusive a way; you only need to know a couple of basic facts about the Guardians, mostly about Peter Quill and his father — so that we’ve got a sense of a whole universe, not just Earth’s problems.

Lopez isn’t my favourite artist for Captain Marvel, but the art is pretty good: clear, expressive, colourful.

Also, gotta love the casual queerness.

Rating: 4/5

Stacking the Shelves

A somewhat acquisitive week for me! But at least I’m keeping from requesting loads of ARCs, given I have a challenge to meet that means reading 55 of them already… (Yes, that’s not even all my backlog. Just 30% of it. I am awful.)


Cover of Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers Cover of Changeless by Gail Carriger Cover of Blameless by Gail Carriger

24965354 Cover of One Night in Sixes by Arianne Thompson

The first three, well, I planned to get them anyway, since I’m enjoying both series. The Tanya Huff I’ve been eyeing for ages. And One Night in Sixes is a bookclub read, if I recall rightly.


Captain Marvel Spider-woman

Looks like a tie-in event for Captain Marvel? Might not be so fond of that… And I am getting tired of seeing Carol looking terrified/helpless on covers. Spider-woman looks fun, though.

How’s everyone else doing? Up to anything interesting?

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is ‘ten books I’d love to read with my book club’. I am a member of an awesome group for SF/F, so that’s easy — except that we’re quite particular about the sorts of books we end up reading for discussion. So hmmmm.

  1. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison. This is kind of cheating, because we are discussing it. And actually, I’m supposed to be leading it.
  2. Mélusine, Sarah Monette. Because it’s so different to The Goblin Emperor! (It’s the same author under a pen name.) And it’s a bit more dark than I’d normally go for; I need some impetus to get on and read it.
  3. Century Rain, Alastair Reynolds. Or really anything by Reynolds; I used to like his work a lot, though I haven’t read any in a long time, and Century Rain was my favourite.
  4. Lock In, John Scalzi. We’re planning to read this anyway, but it does sound fascinating. We normally enjoy Scalzi, and this sounds like there’s a fair amount to chew over here.
  5. Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight, Kelly Sue DeConnick. Because hey, I love this series and I want to share it. And talk about how it could be even better and all the places we wanna see Carol go.
  6. Just about anything by Octavia Butler. I think we’ve probably already discussed some of Butler’s work, but it’s all great to talk about (and sometimes problematic, too, in ways that would make it even more interesting to bat it back and forth).
  7. The Unreal and the Real: Collected Stories, Ursula Le Guin. It’s most often Le Guin’s short stories that I find I want to discuss and pick apart to make sure I really understand them.
  8. The Just City, Jo Walton. And we probably will, since we’re big fans of Jo.
  9. Under the Skin, Michael Faber. I’ve been convinced to buy it, so let’s discuss it. I think someone in the group actually suggested this one, too.
  10. Anything by Ian McDonald. I think they might’ve discussed one of his books without me at some point, but I’ve read a couple of his older ones that’re really interesting too.

What about you guys? Any reading groups online to recommend?

Stacking the Shelves

This week, I have been super restrained. No, I really mean it!

Review copies

Cover of Brood by Chase Novak Cover of The Wicked + The Divine by Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen

I didn’t even request Brood — I’m not sure why Bookbridr sent me it, because it sounds like it might be a bit too gory for me. Maybe I clicked something by accident? But I’m glad to have an ARC of The Wicked + The Divine; I actually have a pre-order for the TPB anyway, but now I get to read it sooner.


 Cover of Do No Harm by Henry Marsh Cover of Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

I’m guessing I’m going to see a lot of Foxglove Summer around in the next couple weeks; it just came out on Thursday. I’m excited! And Do No Harm was something I spotted in the bookshop and ended up getting with what I had left of a book token: it’s all about brain surgery, which both icks me out and fascinates me. I can’t see myself as a brain surgeon, but neurology is fascinating…


Captain Marvel #9

Captain Marvel #9! I’m not caught up at the moment, but hey, it’s nice to support the Carol Corps.

What’s everyone else been getting?

Review – Pretty Deadly

Cover of Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnickPretty Deadly, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios

I’m having a bit of a hard time with this book. I didn’t find it as confusing as many other people seemed to, but I do feel that there wasn’t much to grab hold of. It felt like set-up, something that might’ve been better as a flashback in an established comic, because you get the feeling that the important stuff is yet to come. And worse, you don’t get much of a grasp on character — it’s like a myth in that sense, but there’s also the Wild West vibe and other stuff going on that makes me feel like it should be more than something pretty and mythic. I mean, we know what Deathface Ginny is by the end of this, but we have no freaking idea who she is. Allegiances and relationships and characters are all unclear.

Visually, it’s a stunning comic. I’m not a great fan of Emma Rios, usually; I really didn’t like the work she did on Captain Marvel. This worked better for me, though, and there’s some amazing pages here. They can be a bit crowded, though — full of panels, and very little script and explanation.

Overall I think it’s a cool idea and a cool team — I am a fan of Kelly Sue, and Rios’ style does look good here! — but I think it needed to be tightened up, pruned, written differently. I don’t know if I’ll read more of Pretty Deadly; I think I might look for like-minded reviews and see what they’re saying when there’s another TPB out. Deathface Ginny could be really, really cool, but there’s so little of substance here.

Rating: 3/5

Stacking the Shelves

Aaand it’s Saturday again, already! Where does the time go? Here’s my Stacking the Shelves post for this week…

Comics TPBs

Cover of Hawkeye: LA Woman by Matt Fraction Cover of Captain Marvel Higher Faster Further More by Kelley Sue DeConnick Cover of Ms Marvel: No Normal by Adrian Alphona

Cover of Black Widow: The Finely Woven Thread Cover of She-Hulk: Law and Disorder Cover of Red She-Hulk: Hell Hath No Fury

Sooo happy to have these TPBs. It’s awesome that Fraction has focused on Kate Bishop as well as Clint Barton; and of course I’m excited about Captain Marvel. Ms Marvel I’ve been intending to read for ages — I’ve actually been putting the comics covers in my STS posts as each individual issue released on Comixology, but now I own them in proper collected edition! Easier to read. The She-Hulk and Black Widow comics were impulse buys, but I love that I’ve had six superhero comics focusing on women hit my doormat this week. And hey, Captain Marvel film with Carol Danvers announced!

Just please don’t talk to me about the (probable? rumoured? I don’t even know anymore) casting of Dr Strange, because I’m not over the disappointment yet.

Dead tree books

Cover of If On a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively The Lottery & Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

17349743 Cover of The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett Cover of Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges

Cover of The Mistletoe Bride by Kate Mosse Review of The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

I came home from visiting my partner last Saturday, and there was a “small” spree. Oops? But I’d never bought anything from the new bookshop in St Pancras before (Hatchard’s), so I had to have a look. And I’ve been meaning to try more Borges and Calvino, and I like Shirley Jackson already, and…

Contributor copies

Cover of Lightspeed: Women Destroy SF ed. Christie Yant Cover of Fantasy: Women Destroy Fantasy ed. Cat Rambo

Nah, I don’t have a story in here (though if you know my name, you can find it somewhere in Lightspeed) — I’m a slush reader for Lightspeed, and Wendy Wagner was kind enough to make sure I got my contributor copies despite not getting my original email response about it. I don’t actually think anything in either volume came through me first, but I did read/rate ~30 submissions for the two collections, so I have done my bit. (I’m on ~50 submissions read/rated for regular Lightspeed!)