Poor Wonder Woman. She's my favorite DC hero, though it's been years since she's had decent writers, engaging storylines, or epic adventures. And thisPoor Wonder Woman. She's my favorite DC hero, though it's been years since she's had decent writers, engaging storylines, or epic adventures. And this book does little to buck that unfortunate trend. In the wake of recent events, I was hoping for a good story dealing with the consequences of Wonder Woman's [justified] murder of Maxwell Lord and an exploration of her humanity, but this book failed to provide any real depth or clarity on those fronts.
I have a number of issues with this book, not the least of them being that this is not a book at all, but rather a collection of issues 6-10 of the current Wonder Woman monthly comic series. The reader is dropped into the middle of an ongoing plot with little introduction or frame of reference. This book ends abruptly, but the conflicts introduced in this story continue on in the monthly series, so readers are left without any resolution to the story. This wasn't a problem for me [I don't read her monthly series, but I know enough to follow along], but I have a problem with the way the book is being sold. There is little indication that it's not a complete story, and seems to be marketed toward Jodi Picoult fans even more so than comic book readers.
Which brings me to my next issue: Jodi Picoult. I have nothing against her. In fact, I know very little about her, but she strikes me as one of those writers of "Mom" novels--like Mary Higgins Clark or Janet Evanovich--the kind who write semi-trashy murder mysteries for beach reading. Surprisingly, Picoult is the first woman to take the helm as the regular series writer in Wonder Woman's nearly 70 year history. In accordance with this momentous occasion, I was hoping she might have some unique female insights into the character. Nope. The plot is new, but a lot of the dialogue and themes are rehashed drama about WW's difficulty and confusion trying to fit in among humans. There are a few good lines (usually involving the Golden Lasso of Truth), but those are few and far between.
My biggest gripe has to be with the jumpy and inconsistent plot. She's a best selling author, so I have no doubt the Picoult can write a coherent novel. I'm not sure how she approached writing a comic book, but I can only imagine it went something like this: She sat down, wrote out the complete story, then threw out every fifth paragraph. That's the only explanation I can come up with for why this story is so full of holes. Settings change at the blink of the eye, characters appear and alter the story with no explanation, and entire plot lines are abandoned and never addressed again. Some of them are small enough to be excused, but for the most part they make for a shaky a confusion read.
In all honestly, this book deserves only 1 star, but I added another in honor of the real star: Wonder Woman. Regardless of how poorly she's written, there's something endearing and heroic about her that always seems to shine through. ...more
The title of this book is a tad misleading. It suggests a self-help guide providing the reader with tips on how to emulate Hepburn's charisma or succeThe title of this book is a tad misleading. It suggests a self-help guide providing the reader with tips on how to emulate Hepburn's charisma or success. But that would be absurd and unachievable. Rather, it's a series of vignettes and anecdotes showcasing the qualities which made Hepburn such an alluring, unnerving, and enduring Hollywood persona.
They said she was box office poison, too. Then she won an Oscar.
(And another. And another. And another.)
This is a fun read for Hepburn fans looking to celebrate her memory, but not in the mood for a detail-dense biography. What a strange coincidence that today would have been her 101st birthday. ...more
PRIDE OF BAGHDAD is another successful attempt by Brian K. Vaughn. The idea of using the true story of escaped zoo animals as an allegory for the U.S.PRIDE OF BAGHDAD is another successful attempt by Brian K. Vaughn. The idea of using the true story of escaped zoo animals as an allegory for the U.S. invasion of Iraq was genius. Vaughn delves into an exploration of freedom, whether it can be given or only earned, and the consequences of striving for it. The plot is full of creative turns, surprises, and one particularly haunting backstory scene. The characterization of the individual lions is strong, though it was difficult to overlook the "Lion King" feel that pervades the entire book. This may simply be the necessary byproduct of any story featuring talking safari animals, but it would have to be my one outstanding criticism of the book. The art is gorgeous. This is the first I have seen of Niko Henrichon, but I will certainly be alert for his work in the future. PRIDE OF BAGHDAD is definitely worth a read, if only to experience the shocking conclusion which hammers home a strong commentary on the U.S. involvement in Iraq. ...more
Not my favorite novel, as far as Vonneguts go, but still a very good book compared to everything else out there. It's an early work, and not as cohesiNot my favorite novel, as far as Vonneguts go, but still a very good book compared to everything else out there. It's an early work, and not as cohesive as his peak writings. The story becomes a little disjointed as it weaves between the major acts, but it all picks up eventually. I also didn't get a good feel for the characters. Or caricatures, perhaps. We're told a lot about their personalities, but I didn't feel like we actually spent enough time with any of them to decide for ourselves. For example, near the end of the book, we're told that one character is despised by the entire world, though I'm not exactly sure how that came about or what he did to deserve it. Despite a few faults, it still contains the rich appeal to secular humanism and the critiques of religion that made me love Vonnegut in the first place. I loved his take on luck and success, best summarized by the novels protagonist: "I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all."...more
I'm sure that some windy literary critic could write an entire dissertation comparing Slaughterhouse Five's portrayal of World War II and HOCUS POCUS'I'm sure that some windy literary critic could write an entire dissertation comparing Slaughterhouse Five's portrayal of World War II and HOCUS POCUS's portrayal of the Vietnam conflict. But I'm not that person. Whereas aliens and time travel bathed Slaughterhouse in the light of sci-fi surrealism, the depictions of war in HOCUS POCUS are much more raw and adult.
This book is even more depressing to read after 8 baleful years of the Bush administration. When Vonnegut described what a shitcan our country would become, he could not have been more portentous. In a way, he's almost fortunate to have died before, in his words, "the excrement hit the air conditioning."
I guess Hocus Pocus is considered one of Vonnegut's "minor" works, written when he was past his prime. But for what it's worth, I don't consider it to be minor in the least. Hocus Pocus is a dark, scathing comment on how we've failed as a nation and where we're headed next if we're not careful. Read it. Then do something about it. ...more
She-Hulk has long been one of my favorite superheroes since she teamed up with the Fantastic Four in the mid-80's. Although she's relatively underutilShe-Hulk has long been one of my favorite superheroes since she teamed up with the Fantastic Four in the mid-80's. Although she's relatively underutilized, I've always found her to be an iconic character for a number of reasons: She's smart. She's a lawyer. She's funny. She's got great hair. And she's always seemed to be supported by a number of talented writers who know how to have fun, namely John Byrne and the late Steve Gerber.
This SHE-HULK series was launched about 10 years after her last comic was cancelled, and it was good to see her again in all her glory. Much of her new-found success is due to Dan Slott's talent as a writer. Going back to her John Byrne roots, this She-Hulk incarnation features humorous stories and a jade green giantess who delivers some great quips. Slott uses She-Hulk's legal career to the fullest and assigns her to a law firm which handles superhuman legal cases. This focus on courtroom drama makes for a number of funny situations and allows Slott to tell a stories that wouldn't normally fit the standard "superhero action comic" mold. This volume features a number of separate storylines which stand on their own but also weave together nicely to create an evolving narrative of She-Hulk's life and development. These stories are highly accessible, which makes them a great read for anyone unfamiliar with comic books or the world of the Marvel Universe. However, for the seasoned reader, Slott manages to add plenty of in-jokes and familiar faces [I loved the scene where the Thing single-handedly helps She-Hulk move into her new apartment]. Another fun gimmick of this book is that in the court of law, past comic book issues are admissible as evidence, so the She-Hulk's firm keeps a comic collector on its payroll. It's humorous ideas like this that make SHE-HULK worth reading.
The illustrations in these issues are divided between two separate artists: Juan Bobillo and Paul Pelletier. Bobillo's depictions are fun, cartoony, and imaginative, but they also lack depth and detail. As a result, many characters end up with stumps instead of hands and background characters and objects are rendered as amorphous blobs. Another complaint is that he draws She-Hulk a bit on the short and chubby side while giving her a tiny, circular head that looks like a lollypop on her massive frame. Personally, I was not impressed by his artwork, but I do give him credit for being stylized and...unique. Pelletier's drawings are done in the classic superhero style and don't really stand out from the crowd, but they are extremely well-done and highly detailed. Personally, I think they suit She-Hulk a little better, but in the end it's really a personal thing.
SHE-HULK volumes 1 and 2 are both humorous and intriguing books and make for concise, self-contained reads. In a comic book world dominated by CIVIL WARs and SECRET INVASIONs and INFINITE and FINAL CRISES, the irreverent adventures in SHE-HULK are a very welcome breath of fresh air. ...more