***There may be some spoilers ahead, but can these books really be spoiled at this point?***
So this time through Prisoner of Azkaban something struck...more***There may be some spoilers ahead, but can these books really be spoiled at this point?***
So this time through Prisoner of Azkaban something struck me about our general pop cultural acceptance that Albus Dumbledore is the goodest of the good, the best of the best, the most heroic of the heroes in Rowling's world (trumping even Harry because his sacrifice is genuine).
I am not interested in Rowling's intentions for the characters in this; I am interested only in what I see. And what I see tells me that only one character is good and great and heroic in the kind of goodness and greatness and heroism that interests me.
I am not saying that Dumbledore's a bad guy. He's no Voldemort, obviously (although I am not entirely convinced that Voldemort is the embodiment of evil we often think of him as), and he leads the battle against Voldemort's fascist rise, which makes him the Churchillian leader of English myth. He does sacrifice himself. He does risk his health and welfare to destroy horcruxes. He does protect Harry (while moving the boy around like the chess piece that the boy is). But what strikes me is that everything Dumbledore accomplishes is accomplished to maintain the status quo, and the status quo I see is far from worthy of maintenance. It is a status quo with a classic English power structure, rich white guys at the top (Dumbledore anyone?) and everyone else beneath. It is a status quo with the usual class divides. It is a status quo with some pretty hefty racism (goblins and giants and other Others). It is a status quo with institutionalized slavery (and Dumbledore himself uses a small army of House Elves to run Hogwarts without a hint of distaste). It is a status quo with a prison system of torture. And Dumbledore does nothing to disrupt that status quo.
In my opinion, the character who is the goodest of the good, the best of the best, the most heroic of the heroes is the one who rails against the status quo while simultaneously battling Voldemort, and she fights Mr. Riddle far more significantly than the rest of the wizarding world. And she fights the status quo in spite of being mocked for her beliefs by everyone at every turn. For me the paragon we should aspire to is Hermione Granger. Not Dumbledore and certainly not Harry Potter.
So with that in mind, what's not to love about Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It is the moment that Hermione comes into her own. She is the key to the resolution. She keeps them all alive. She's sceptical, she's smart, and she is potent. I love Hermione. Take that Hermione haters. (less)
Reading (or in the case of Star Wars The Han Solo Trilogy rereading) Star Wars books, with all their cheesie craptasticness is a great reminder of jus...moreReading (or in the case of Star Wars The Han Solo Trilogy rereading) Star Wars books, with all their cheesie craptasticness is a great reminder of just how bad George Lucas' universe is.
It is all contradictions and stock characters and pretty lights and bad plots and predictability and self-referential bullshit and unspeakable dialogue and sci-fantastic worlds. And that's exactly why we love them so much -- or at least why I do -- because they are drivel.
So when A.C. Crispin, who is obviously a fan of Han Solo, has her hero leading smugglers in an attack on an Imperial Fleet come to destroy Nar Shaddaa, it doesn't matter that it further damages his original trilogy character development (the worst damage was done by Lucas, after all, so the Creator himself set the precedent). And when Han comes up with the master plan that will help defeat the fleet (an ex-lover whose illusions would put David Copperfield to shame), and when Han is used by Jabba and Jiliac the Hutts to bribe the Admiral of the fleet, and when Han barely escapes from Boba Fett long before his Empire encounter with the bounty hunter (and makes him a mortal enemy by stealing his Mandalorian wrist darts), and when Han falls in love with the Millenium Falcon in about as banal a way as I can imagine, and when Han meets and befriends Lando Calrissian on the spot, who turns out to be a man who loves responsibility long before he becomes responsible for Cloud City, and when Han peaks out of a closet at a Darth Vader murder, it doesn't matter because its just as contradictory and silly as all Star Wars tales. And it's just as fun.
So I admit it ... I really, really liked The Hutt Gambit because I am a nostalgic git with no taste. But I'm okay with that.(less)
I bought this during a holiday bookstore visit. I saw "Star Trek" -- I saw Leonard McCoy -- I saw John Byrne...moreBloody fantastic! What a great surprise.
I bought this during a holiday bookstore visit. I saw "Star Trek" -- I saw Leonard McCoy -- I saw John Byrne -- and I thought, "I must have this." My whim needed to be fulfilled, so I fulfilled my whim.
I didn't expect much, though. I figured I'd be disappointed, but that would have been okay because the only reason I bought it was nostalgia. I could cope if it sucked. I mostly wanted to revisit John Byrne's art, and see what he could do with my favourite Star Trek character. I was wrong to have low expectations (mostly because of myself, though. I imagine the power of my personal nostalgia is a large part of this book's success with me).
Leonard McCoy Frontier Doctor takes place just before Star Trek The Motion Picture, and Bones McCoy is busy gallivanting around the Federation in pseudo-retirement, curing diseases, saving folks of myriad races, getting in adventures, reflecting on his career, repairing timelines, writing letters to Jim, and visiting old friends.
Those old friends were my favourite part. I expected to see Kirk (who was there) and Spock (who was not, which was a surprisingly nice ommission) and maybe even Scotty (who had his obligatory drink with Bones), but it was the unexpected cameos that gave me the greatest joy. I turned a page, for instance, and out of the corner of my eye, in a future panel, I saw a guy who looked familar, "Kooky," I thought, "That looks like Gary Seven." A page and a half later I found out it was Gary Seven. And Roberta was with him. Then the Admiral of the USS Yorktown looked like Majel Barrett, and it turned out it was her -- she was the former first officer of the Enterprise under Captain Pike. And on the same ship, who should be the Chief Medical Officer? Doctor Chapel, of course, looking like Majel Barrett with a different hair cut. Silly, I suppose, but it sure worked for me.
The stories themselves were light and fun and beautifully illustrated. The colour palette was perfectly Star Trek. Bones's beard was positively regal, and even the new characters, like Dr. Duncan and his hot Andorian lover, Theela, were a welcome addition.
I just wish Byrne had done more. Five issues in one graphic novel isn't nearly enough. (less)
Never have I read such an emotionally satisfying Batman tale.
As much as I loved The Dark Knight Returns (and what sixteen year old comic book geek in...moreNever have I read such an emotionally satisfying Batman tale.
As much as I loved The Dark Knight Returns (and what sixteen year old comic book geek in 1986 didn't?), there is something inaccessible about Frank Miller’s Batman that always pushed me two paces to the side. Jeph Loeb’s Batman, though, is a different guy.
Well, he’s the same guy, but Batman Hush invites us into Batman/Bruce in a way I’ve never experienced. I can’t pin down exactly why, but there are a few possibilities. First, he’s physically and emotionally vulnerable in ways I didn’t expect. He doesn’t just take a beating; he comes as close to death as he’s ever come, and it weakens him for every fight he faces for the rest of the comic. He doesn’t just care about people around him, he actually falls in love, opens himself to love and embraces the love that was always and already there. The invulnerable Batman and “Teflon” Bruce actually come together with a little bit of humanity, and this time around he actually listens to his allies and takes advice. Wow! Second, it could be that, for the first time since the Dark Knight era of Batman dawned, I’ve read a story arc that put Batman’s need for vengeance at the end of the queue. It still appears, particularly in Batman’s umpteenth beating of the Joker, but it doesn’t dominate the man, which means it doesn’t dominate the story. Third, and maybe most importantly, Batman Hush finally finds a balance between the Dark Knight and the World’s Greatest Detective. The two incarnations become one. Sure the mystery is a bit clunky, but Loeb really tries to deliver suspense, offering clues and red herrings like all good mystery writers should, and the cracks in the mystery are mercifully papered over by Jim Lee’s stunning pencils. Which leads to number four -- the art. Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, Lois Lane, Huntress, Oracle, they’re all sexy as hell. Nightwing, Robin, Superman, Batman, they all look the part of heroes. Joker, Clayface, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, R’as Al Ghul, Two-Face, Riddler, they all have their menace and madness intact. The flashbacks are beautiful, the action is often in motion, literally, the depth of the landscape and even the rain of Gotham is tangible. It is truly a luscious visual experience, and it perfectly captures all of the things Loeb wanted his Batman/Bruce to be.
Batman Hush hit every emotional chord in me, and I loved being played. Even Batman’s mindfuck victory over the mastermind of the Hush conspiracy was what I wanted it to be. And then Selina Kyle walked away. So perfect.
Now, I admit that there are thematically superior Batman tales (most of Miller’s work and Alan Moore’s unparalleled The Killing Joke come to mind), but Batman Hush is know slouch, and it did everything else very right. For the first time in a long time I could actually see myself choosing a DC title over a Marvel -- that's gotta be worth five stars.(less)
I am mostly delusional but not completely delusional. I knew this book was going to be crap when I picked it up at that shack-like used book shop a co...moreI am mostly delusional but not completely delusional. I knew this book was going to be crap when I picked it up at that shack-like used book shop a couple of years ago, but my boy and I love Indy, and I thought it would be a fun book for him to read as his reading skills increased. I stand by that even after reading it; it's a decent movie-tie-in for a seven year old boy.
There're lots of sun and time faded photos from the Temple of Doom (and who doesn't love movie stills?), and hackosaurus Les Martin doesn't offer anything fancy. It's all sort of "this happened, then this happened, and now this is happening but that just happened, and then this happened and now it's over." Perfect for a seven year old boy.
And there is even a cool scene that I've never heard any reference to in any other version of Temple of Doom, wherein Indy is already under the Black Sleep of Kali, and he comes back to Pankot Palace to put Willie to sleep, reassure Captain Blumbart (of Her Majesty's Cavalry) that everything is fine, and spend a little play time with Chatter Lal and the Maharajah. It was probably a scene that Spielberg trimmed from the screenplay (a wise decision), but it was a lot of fun to read here, and it actually tightened things up a little plotwise.
Regardless, this book is pretty sucky. Martin removes all references to "Fortune and Glory" as an Indy motivator -- which is one of my favourite parts of Temple of Doom -- and then he removes the "nocturnal activities" seduction sequence between Willie and Indy. Okay ... fair enough ... this book is for children, so if you have to take out the double entendres, be my guest, but couldn't you also remove, say, the whole Mola Ram ripping a heart out of a guy's chest thing? God forbid a child hears that Willie and Indy might want to sleep together, but by all means let that same child bask in the horror of beating hearts being held aloft. The fucking hypocrisy is what gets me.
Oh well, this was fun for me regardless. A nice thing to do while my computer boots up every morning. It's Milos' book now, and if he misses the full fun of Willie and Indy flirting, he can watch it as soon as he's finished reading.
Cause, after all, who doesn't love watching Kate Capshaw booby snatching the pillar statue?(less)
What makes this comic fly is that it feels as though it is a genuine episode bridging the gap between Firefly and Serenity. I don't mean that it is me...moreWhat makes this comic fly is that it feels as though it is a genuine episode bridging the gap between Firefly and Serenity. I don't mean that it is merely a story that bridges the gap between television series and film, which it is, but that it actually feels like its very own live action episode.
Now I imagine that I feel so strongly because I am a fan of Firefly / Serenity, but I am pretty sure that you're not reading Serenity Those Left Behind or my review unless you are a fan too (if you are reading this without having seen the shows, howeover, stop what you are doing right now, fire up your Netflix and start watching), so you probably get my drift.
Those Left Behind could be a three act episode or it could be the basis for a season we were never able to see. It was probably precisely what it is, though, a prelude to the movie, wrapping up loose ends, surprising us with things almost forgotten, and prepping us for the coolness that was to come on the big screen. Regardless, it is an excellent entry into the Firefly / Serenity canon for a full blown brownshirt, a newbie brownshirt or a brownshirt in the making.
I'd sure like to see more ... on the tv, on the screen or even in the comics. C'mon, Joss. Take a break from Marvel and head on back to the 'verse. You really can come home again. (less)