I didn't know who Charles Vess was but after reading this album, both written and illustrated by him, I now know what he should be: an illustrator, an...moreI didn't know who Charles Vess was but after reading this album, both written and illustrated by him, I now know what he should be: an illustrator, and nothing else. Actually, I'll limit that even further, he should illustrate environments, and nothing else. The landscapes are beautiful, he has a real sense for the dramatic and also for small details, but the characters look extremely stiff, the heads are often misshapen and the facial expressions are all but nonexistent. He does manage to do a great job depicting Spider-Man in costume though, with all that flailing of limbs and weird positions that has become almost mandatory ever since Todd McFarlane, and I must praise him for that. But where at least some aspects of his illustrations have depth and come alive, the story is just as flat and yawn-inspiring as the the faces of Peter, Mary Jane, and all the other seeming puppets. There just is no drama, no build up, no excitement in the story at all. One would think that the dark brooding, inspiring landscapes would help the reader get drawn into the story, but sadly, I felt completely uninterested in how it would all end, I just kept turning page after page and wondering who these people claiming to be Peter and Mary-Jane Parker really were, what they had done to the originals, and why I should care about their fate in this utterly boring story. Sad to say, this one is a Spider-Man story that you should not bother with, as opposed to the vast majority of albums featuring my favorite hero in tights.(less)
I've been greatly fascinated by Feynman for several years now. I can't with certainty remember how it started, but it may have been when I first start...moreI've been greatly fascinated by Feynman for several years now. I can't with certainty remember how it started, but it may have been when I first started reading about nano technology around 10 years back (in the early 2000s). I remember reading about the gray goo problem over at Exit Mundi (A website about different end-of-the-world scenarios which you should definitely check out!) and the article there briefly explained how the physicist Richard Feynman first proposed nano technology several decades ago. I think this was my first introduction to the man and I distinctly remember being struck by the brilliance of the idea of making these multipurpose miniature machines.
However I was introduced to the great and late man, I soon read more about him, his adventures and his very special character. I read about he was involved in the Manhattan project, the investigation of the Challenger disaster and many other things. A few years later, I got and read Classic Feynman: All the Adventures of a Curious Character and I enjoyed pretty much every page of it. To be honest, that book is better than the present one and it has nothing to do (at least, not directly) with it not being a comic book. Maybe it has nothing to do with anything else than the fact that it contains so much, so many wonderful stories, that they can hardly be fitted into a graphic novel without it spanning several hundred pages in addition to the 260 of this book.
In any case, most of the really interesting and entertaining stories for Classic Feynman are here too and the illustrations, while nothing special, are good in a simple way and work just fine for a graphical telling of the stories. In addition, this book contains more in the way of fairly detailed scientific explanations than there was in Classic Feynman (at least the way I remember it, correct me if I'm wrong) so at least that was nice.
If what I've said so far sounds overly negative, it should not be taken that way. I very much enjoyed reading this, it's just that if you've already read Classic Feynman (or the two previous books which are collected in it), you should not expect anything new here; and if you haven't read it, I'd recommend that first. This is nice as an addition to the already existing material on Feynman's life and science, but it was told in a less impressive fashion than the other books so it might be less fitting as an introduction to the great man than Classic Feynman, even though it is shorter and a much quicker read. On the other hand, if you're a comic book buff like me, it's always nice to see a comic book adaptation of a few nice stories. And if you're a Feynman buff (also like me) you'll want to get your hands on pretty much everything about the man, at least everything good (among which this certainly belongs!)(less)
Del två av samlingsvolymerna fortsätter på samma vis som den första. Vi får en en gång se tre av de ursprungliga albumen samlas tillsammans med skisse...moreDel två av samlingsvolymerna fortsätter på samma vis som den första. Vi får en en gång se tre av de ursprungliga albumen samlas tillsammans med skisser, kommentarer och redogörelser för de gamla myterna från vilka historierna har hämtats. På denna sista punkt finns det här en berättelse som sticker ut: historien om Quark. Denne har ingen som helst basis i den fornnordiska mytologin och är därmed, såvitt jag vet, helt unik bland karaktärerna i Valhall-albumen (givetvis under förutsättning att vi utesluter allehanda bakgrundskaraktärer). Dock lyckas Madsen och gänget med att föra in Quark i myten om resan till Utgårdaloke på så sätt att denna resa får en logisk förklaring och att det hela binds ihop på ett snyggt vis. Detta skapar också den första (och, jag tror, enda bland albumen) följetongen vilken påbörjas i del 4: Historien om Quark och avslutas i del 5: Resan till Utgårdaloke.
Denna berättelse utgjorde även handlingen i den tecknade film som producerades om Valhall, och en stor del av bonusmaterialet i detta album utgörs av berättelsen om hur denna kom till, av skisser och om hur arbetet fortlöpte för denna film specifikt samt hur det fortlöper för animerade filmer i allmänhet.
Den sista historien är starkare förankrad i två relaterade myter om hur Loke lurar bort Idun och de äpplen som hon årligen delar ut till asarna för att dessa ska hålla sig unga samt hur dottern till den jätte som får äpplena gifts bort med en av asarna. I redogörelsen för hur denna berättelse kom fram och hur den baserades på de gamla myterna görs tydligt att Madsen och de andra har gjort ett mycket bra jobb i att få två vagt relaterade berättelser att flätas samman på ett mycket fint vis.
Man ser här att berättarna har blivit allt skickligare på att väva samman en bra historia. Speciellt imponerande är även att det inte i början fanns någon förutbestämd plan för hur kommande album skulle se ut, men att tidigare etablerade förhållanden och relationer karaktärer emellan ändå lyckas passa in så bra i berättelserna här, utan att varken påtvingade, krystade förklaringar måste hittas på eller problem med kontinuiteten uppstår. På denna sista punkt finns dock ett problematiskt undantag: Tors fisketur med Midgårdsormen som mål har redan i första albumet (ingående i den första samlingsvolymen) placerats i det förflutna, något som kommer orsaka problem senare då skaparna vill få med denna berättelse i ett senare album. Den problematik som därmed uppstod har redan kortfattat nämnts i kommentarerna, men detaljerna kring detta lämnas till samlingsvolym 3, i vilken denna berättelse ingår. Dessvärre får vi i Sverige vänta några månader innan denna volym utkommer…
I övrigt gäller samma åsikter som jag uttryckte för förra volymen: fantastiskt välberättade och illustrerade historier som samtidigt utgör en utmärkt introduktion till de fornnordiska myterna!(less)
En fullständigt underbar samling berättelser! Jag introducerades till dessa serier (och därmed också till den fornnordiska mytologin) redan som liten...moreEn fullständigt underbar samling berättelser! Jag introducerades till dessa serier (och därmed också till den fornnordiska mytologin) redan som liten vid besök till barn- och ungdomsavdelningen i mitt lokala bibliotek i Stockholm. Genom åren har jag lånat och läst om dem gång på gång samt även många gånger funderat på att själv införskaffa dem, men är nu glad att jag inte har gjort så förrän nu då dessa samlingar överträffar de ursprungliga utgåvorna med sitt utförliga extramaterial.
Det bjuds här på skisser, berättelser om hur projektet startade samt allehanda anekdoter från arbetets gång (bl.a. om hur Madsen besökte en av mina favorittecknare, Jean Giraud "Moebius", vilken gav honom tipset att använda riktiga miljöer som förgrund till bakgrunderna i serierna). Dessutom finns två extra berättelser, en om Odens resa genom Utgård till Asgård i begynnelsen, och en kortare historia om Ragnar Lodbrok som även medverkar på ett hörn i del 3: Odens vad.
Serierna själva är fantastiskt berättade, en slags nordens svar på Asterix. Fastän fokus här ligger på gudarna och myterna om dem behandlas även vikingarnas traditioner, samtidigt som berättelserna ibland får inslag av sociala och ibland även smått politiska kommentarer. Vissa kanske skulle invända mot att dylikt tillförs, men det är minimalt och förstör inte på något sätt berättelserna i sig, det kommer mest med i inledningarna och avslutningarna av historierna.
På det stora hela, mästerverk som serier och utmärkta introduktioner till den nordiska mytologin.(less)
A massive tale of the Jack-the-ripper killings containing a mixture of truth and fiction. Incorporating both down to earth realism and occult mysticis...moreA massive tale of the Jack-the-ripper killings containing a mixture of truth and fiction. Incorporating both down to earth realism and occult mysticism, the result is both a seemingly believable tale of what actually happened (I say seemingly since I lack the proper knowledge relevant subjects to really make a judgement) and a weird story of old rituals and mystic symbolism. As I know of Alan Moore's fascination with the latter and the fact that he seems to take such thing seriously, I could not help but be somewhat deterred by these segments, even though they added positively to the story. Nevertheless, while this made the skeptic in me frown, the appendices countered this effect. Here we are treated to a thorough discussion of the many different sources for the scenario presented in the bulk of the book, with lots of explanations as to which parts have good support in fact, which are more speculative and based on some specific theory, and which are complete speculation or invention on the part of Moore to improve the story. The book is, in other words, no attempt at a purely scholarly treatment of the facts in the form of a graphic novel, but rather a heavily factually informed speculation of how it could have happened. It is an excellently told tale and nicely illustrated too. The work that must have been put in to this quite boggles the mind and leaves one massively impressed by the work discipline which Moore must possess.(less)
The mood is perfectly set and the illustrations are beautiful. Sadly, the tale itself is not very well told. It has some interesting mysterious elemen...moreThe mood is perfectly set and the illustrations are beautiful. Sadly, the tale itself is not very well told. It has some interesting mysterious elements which drives the reader to keep reading to figure out exactly what is going on (it's a very confusing tale) but there is no structure to be found what so ever, just one quick scene after the other. The end result is a kind of weird collage of scenes of horror and sex, which is nice but which also forces me to stop at three stars. Read it though, but don't expect anything more than a likable short story.(less)
A neatly told history of an important literary movement. Told mainly by the late and great Harvey Pekar. The bulk of the book consists of the life sto...moreA neatly told history of an important literary movement. Told mainly by the late and great Harvey Pekar. The bulk of the book consists of the life stories of the greatest of the movement: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, with a bunch of accompanying stories thereafter about the movement as a whole and a lot of smaller names within the movement as well as those without it but closely related to it in some form. The stories are told in a straight forward way, as is always expected when reading Pekar (and the other authors match the style, intentionally or not) and the artwork is functional but nothing more than that. Worth a read for anyone interested to know more about the Beats, both about their works and their lives, told in a simple informative, unimpassioned way with mediocre artwork. This may sound like a bad review, but it's not intended that way. It is simply the result of wanting to point out that this is not an entertaining book, and probably not intended that way either. It is simply informative and interesting for those wanting to know more about its subject, like reading an illustrated Wikipedia-article without the policy of non-biased reporting.(less)
This is just a brilliant work! Frank Miller at his best. The tale is one of a dark future where nuclear war looms in the not so distant future and mut...moreThis is just a brilliant work! Frank Miller at his best. The tale is one of a dark future where nuclear war looms in the not so distant future and mutant gangs roam the streets. Batman is retired and so are all the other heroes. Bruce Wayne is an old tired man now and so is police chief Gordon. Events make Wayne put on the costume again and return to his crime fighting ways, an act which upsets Gotham and soon America at large. Two face has been released, seemingly cured but immediately returning to crime, the Joker comes out of a catatonic state upon hearing of Batman's return, and the police, the media, and regular citizens of Gotham have differing views on Batman and the justification of his methods. After a while, it becomes inevitable that the president calls in Clark Kent to try to talk to Bruce...
The whole tale draws you in like barely anything else in the world of comics. Miller is dark but also funny, there's a lot of satire in these pages told mostly in the form of media reports. We get to see shallow news reporters cutting of serious input, pacifist by-the-book liberals going one-on-one with more Batman friendly persons in live tv debates, and street interviews with ordinary people responding to their actions amidst the chaos the arises. When reading this book, one gets the feeling of watching live coverage of real life events as war and chaos erupts on the streets. Nothing is presented in black and white, the standpoint of the writer is never really apparent as you find yourself leaning back and forth between different views on the actions of vigilantes. There are parts which can be read as supporting Batman against the by-the-books cops and pundits as even the new Batman hostile police chief finally that Batman is "too big" upon being asked by subordinates if they should intervene as Batman tries to stop the looting and violence in the streets of Gotham, but the argument put forth earlier by the previous police chief Gordon, one which seemingly finally converted the new chief to this way of seeing things, is not that Batman is necessarily justified in his actions, but rather that his importance is so big that you can not simply claim he is not justified, or at least not that he should be opposed. This does of course constitute a stance, but not one in support of Batman, rather one of acknowledging that the complexity of the situation is such that it's impossible to be completely against Batman even in the light of his obviously illegal methods.
I may be reading too much into all this, but I think Miller is very good here at subtly pointing at the complexities of law vigilantism and the corrupt corporatism which is behind at least some of the people that Superman lets himself be controlled by. There are, in other words, lots of elements of politics and poignant satire of the serious as well as the mundane.
The book comes highly recommended to pretty much everyone whether you are a comic book fan (as I am) or not, and more specifically whether you are a big Batman fan or not (I'm not).(less)
A very nicely told dystopian tale of an alternate history of America. In this world, costumed vigilantes started appearing in the late 1930s, fighting...moreA very nicely told dystopian tale of an alternate history of America. In this world, costumed vigilantes started appearing in the late 1930s, fighting crime and protecting people. They had no super powers though, they were merely well trained and outfitted with weapons of various sorts. Political forces are a very important part of the story here as some of the "heroes" start working with the government in their foreign conflicts. The most important role in these is played by "Dr. Manhattan", the only super hero in the story to have real powers. And what powers he has! He got them from accidentally being trapped in a nuclear test chamber. The explosion seemingly killed him, but he somehow reassembled his body into a new form. He looks vaguely human (apart from the blue skin) but has godlike powers, being able to directly see the inner structure of matter and look at future and past events as if they were happening right now. His involvement helped America win the Vietnam war and later gives them the upper hand in the cold war.
The story moves between different time periods, from the 30s and the first appearance of masked vigilantes, to the 80s (the present when the book was written) where vigilantes have been outlawed with a few exceptions such as Dr. Manhattan. Focus is not on traditional super hero crime fighting, but instead on political struggles, particularly those concerning issues that were important at the time (such as the cold war, nuclear war, the third world war, in short: war and destruction and the end of the world) as well as personal struggles and developments.
Without getting into the details of all this too much, I'd like to finish rather quickly with an overall judgement. It's an interesting tale with a more realistic version of how the world would react towards super heroes if they did exist than the view seen in most super hero comics. I suspect this take on the issue was also far more original by the time this book was written, which should explain why it seems to have gotten far more praise than I'm prepared to give it. That's not to say I didn't like it, in fact I liked it very much. It's just that it contains too many elements of naive depictions of characters' psychological processes and has a bit of irritating pseudo-intellectual attempts at scientific and philosophical discussion concerning Dr. Manhattan and his powers to see into the future and past. This discussion is mixed with a bit of talk about human nature and the value of life which frankly, doesn't fare much better than the previously mentioned "philosobabble" of time.
These issues does bring the book down from the category of "works of genius" in which many seem to want to put it, and it's possible that I had too high expectations of it. In any case, it certainly is not brilliant, but definitely very good. The book is, in other words, highly recommended, but don't expect a masterpiece.(less)
A really amazing and unique story about a super natural mask that gives it's wearer amazing powers and seeming invincibility, but which also twists th...moreA really amazing and unique story about a super natural mask that gives it's wearer amazing powers and seeming invincibility, but which also twists their mind and makes them do things they wouldn't ordinarily condone. The main character in the beginning is Stanley Ipkiss who discovers the powers of the Mask by accident when trying it on. Stan then goes on a revenge tour against all who have wronged him. The Mask later falls into other hands with less egotistic motives, but nevertheless, gradually twists the mind of it's new owner too.
The story is full of humor and strangeness. Just like in the Jim Carey movie adaptation, the Mask let's it's wearer change appearance, turn into all kinds of characters such as a barber telling a long haired mugger that he needs a hair cut and a carnival worker making balloon animals, and make objects appear out of thin air as he needs them. Unlike the Jim Carey movie, the Mask wearer turns not just silly, but violent and cold. The book is full of mayhem and gore, blood and guts. All of it displayed very graphically.
The comic presents a twist on classic super hero comics where the main character alternates between well meaning but violent vigilante which would make the Punisher talk about restraint, and dangerous criminal with personal motives, depending on the wearer and his current mood. It has a basically realistic setting (at least to the extent that any regular cop tv-show can be called realistic) of cops and crooks, mobs, crooked lawyers and bribed district attorney assistants. On top of this we have a layer of extreme unrealism with a main character who can take a shot through the head in one instant, and stand still making a joke in the next. The unrealistic elements are not even consistent. Sometimes, gun shots make a hole which then repairs in the next panel, sometimes a whole barrage of bullets fail to leave even a scratch. I'm saying all this as a compliment to the writers. They apparently decided to not stick to any specific set of powers and limitations, the reader never knows what to expect next from the Mask, there are no apparent limits.
This is the first collection of Mask comics and later, I'll tackle the second (and last?) one, we'll have to see if that one's as amazing as this was...(less)
This is the second collection of Mask comics. The madness and comedy from the first one continues. What's so great about this series is that it never...moreThis is the second collection of Mask comics. The madness and comedy from the first one continues. What's so great about this series is that it never gets old and repetitive. This is because the Mask constantly falls into new hands, which changes the events according to the new wearer's agenda. In the first collection, the Mask was first worn by Stanley Ipkiss, who used it for vengeance against personal "enemies", then it was briefly worn by his ex-girlfriend Kathy, who never really used it, and finally, it fell into the hands of the policeman Kellaway, whose motives was vigilantism. In this new collection, the Mask finds it's way into the hands of one among the very criminal elements Kellaway waged a war against. This gangster of course uses it for entirely different reasons than his predecessors, he takes over his mob "family" and starts eliminating the competition.
The drawings are at least as good as in the previous stories, and the comical madness goes on in the same style. One can only hope that the following stories (Wikipedia tells me there are a number of sequels) manages to continue to put the Mask into the hands of new kinds of people so that the stories continue to feel new and unpredictable.(less)
This is the second and concluding collection in English, containing the third and fourth part from the original French versions. It continues in the s...moreThis is the second and concluding collection in English, containing the third and fourth part from the original French versions. It continues in the style of the previous book, presenting the everyday life of a troubled person who nonetheless, is beginning to have a pretty good life. He now has a steady girlfriend with whom he now lives. All is not well though, his father committed suicide towards the end of the last book seemingly due to his advancing dementia. While struggling with this problem, another, arguably smaller one, is the disagreement he has with his girlfriend over whether or not to get a child.
The stories themselves are in the same style as the last book, extreme realism, everyday events, never transcending into unbelievable and exaggerated story lines. Nevertheless, he manages to intrigue the reader with nothing but likable (or at least interesting) characters.
Definitely recommended reading for anyone who likes everyday realism in the style of Peter Bagge and others.(less)
This contains the first to parts of Larcenet's Ordinary Victories, translated into English from the original French. The stories are about a photograp...moreThis contains the first to parts of Larcenet's Ordinary Victories, translated into English from the original French. The stories are about a photographer who has problems with anxiety. He's also sick of his work lately and feeling generally lost and lonely. Meeting his brother for some "big fat joints" and video games seems to bring some happiness into his life, but not much else seems able to produce that effect. After his cat gets a minor injury, he meets an interesting female vet with whom he develops a relationship which struggles a bit due to his neuroses, but seems to stabilize after a while. On the way he also visits his old parents, does a photo set with his dads' old co-workers and has the photos displayed in a show alongside one of his big idols of photography, befriends an old war veteran with a past he's unable to ignore, and has many other encounters.
The book tells a very personal moving story that really draws the reader in, while at the same time remaining completely realistic and never moving beyond picturing the everyday events of normal people. Some of the characters are unusually colorful and eccentric, but none some much that it becomes implausible. I just dove into the story and found myself unable to put it down until it was over. I'm now heading over to the next book, containing the English version of parts three and four. Expect a review of that later today!(less)