A sequel! A sequel! Look -- it's book four at last!
I reread the first three just before picking up this one; the transition was certainly jarring andA sequel! A sequel! Look -- it's book four at last!
I reread the first three just before picking up this one; the transition was certainly jarring and I saw a few errors in consistency, but overall this book fits in very well with the older books.
That's good and bad, as it turns out. The main thing that drove me nuts in the earlier books, especially the first two, was people jumping to conclusions instead of talking to each other, and most of the arguments between Akki and Jakkin made me want to reach into the book and slap them both. Yes, they're teenagers, but they're teenagers who've been living together on the run for a year and who can read each others' minds.
Also, this is the book where things with sex -- or the coyness around it -- can only be called weird. Again I say: living together for a year. In a cave. Granted, they had less need than usual to huddle for warmth, but still. These lines from the third book, A Sending of Dragons, remain the sweetest moment between the two of them in the whole series (and they aren't even together) --
When he really became bored with his own company and felt himself slipping back into the half-sleep, he invented imaginary dialogues with Akki. She ended every one of those conversations with a hug. He got so he could feel her arms around him, the softness of her cheek on his.
And the surprise gay secondary characters were...strange. Also the thing -- I'm trying really hard not to give spoilers here -- the thing with Likkarn was far too pat and undermined him a lot.
All of that aside! I really enjoyed this book. A lot of the questions thrown open at the end of A Sending of Dragons were explored here, and I was satisfied with the ending of this story because it didn't have answers. This is the story of Jakkin and Akki, not of Austar IV -- well, mostly the story of Jakkin, although Akki's role is somewhat expanded -- and its central concepts are trust and responsibility. Solving the world's problems (and giving it new ones) can be handwaved in the epilogue if the characters' stories are resolved.
I was pleased with most of Likkarn and amused by the complications poor Doctor Henk(k)y faced, and Sssargon remains ridiculous and cute.
I would love to see more of this world's questions explored, but I don't know if Jakkin's story can give any more than it has; what I'd really like would be other people's stories, more exploration of the consequences of the slavery laws being lifted, some coherent explanation of the mountain cave dwellers (who are bizarrely called "trogs" in this book with no explanation of the source of that name) and their settlements, and for someone to realize that the food economy of Austar is about to be smashed....more
So the thing I should probably say up front is that this is a parody comic, and I am in general a reader who does not like parodies. I get bored of maSo the thing I should probably say up front is that this is a parody comic, and I am in general a reader who does not like parodies. I get bored of making fun of things I like very quickly, and superhero comics are something (I know this will shock you!) that I like a lot. Also, superhero comics are a largely self-parodying industry (Young Justice will always have a place in my heart), and more can get redundant in a hurry.
In other words: I don't care about this as a traditional parody. I care about it as an actual comic with actual characters -- and, as such, it gets in some hilarious digs at mainstream comics! (Perhaps my favorite is the "Where Was She Then?" story, in which Lovebunny's past as sidekick Kid Caliber is explored. Did you know she once won the Academy of Superheroic Skills and Sciences' "Robin" award for Sidekick of the Year and marketed a "Kid Caliber training bra"?)
What raises this above embarrassment is, I think, the simple fact that Lovebunny is a competent superhero. What drags it down, sadly, are the author's lecherous fourth-wall intrusions. In the middle, Lovebunny's trials and tribulations are familiar to any superhero comics fan: she wants to establish a reputation, join a superhero team, get along with her crime-fighting partner, deal with a fellow superhero who's an ex, and so on. The art's black-and-white and rather pretty, although putting Lovebunny in sexy poses is sometimes more important than continuity (check out her boots in "Origins", which change heels in nearly every panel). Also, while it might seem petty to point out that there's a while lot of underwear flashing when Lovebunny fights (or sits, or does just about anything in her short-skirt costume) when half of the female superheroes in this or any other universe fight in bikinis, it is true that having a skirt (mostly) covering underwear makes it more risque. But then there's going to be a boot-heel of some sort coming at your face, so there are compensations....more