The third Volume in a series that gives readers - especially newcomers - a sufficient glimpse into the origins of a celebrated series is easily one ofThe third Volume in a series that gives readers - especially newcomers - a sufficient glimpse into the origins of a celebrated series is easily one of the highlights of The Darkness Origins collection. Great artistry and writing are a mainstay as usual, with our favorite villains - Sonatine - scheming as usual while new forces enter the fray, further complicating Jackie Estacado's difficult life. There's nary a disappointing moment.
As usual, carnage, horror, and graphic violence is intertwined with tension and a growing sense of anticipation. However, most of the other conflicts aren't a laughing matter. The Angelus finally returns in a surprising new development, forcing Jackie to his wit's end, while the introduction of a new enemy - the Magdalena - introduces yet another conflict that Jackie's forced to deal with in a destiny he never chose to bear.
Excellent writing tempers the signature dark tone of the story with humor that will more than tickle your spine as the story progresses, and a new angle introduced to the story provides a much needed layer of complexity through mystery and hidden motives. Things are coming to a head for our hero, and the only drawback is that the Origins series is yet another reminder of how far Jackie's grown - and how vividly his story has changed with the shift of writers. If you're interested in the series but don't have the money to fork over for the Compendium, this edition in the Origins series is a nice primer for the casual reader....more
Another solid although somewhat confusing - for the uninitiated - compilation of an excellent comic series. In this edition, readers are treated to moAnother solid although somewhat confusing - for the uninitiated - compilation of an excellent comic series. In this edition, readers are treated to more of Jackie's history with his adopted family and even darker antics as he continues to develop his powers with the nefarious Darkness, a being of pure chaos and near-limitless power.
Jackie's still young, hot-blooded, sex-starved, and as flawed as we remember him in this series, and faces new conflicts after a screw-up on his part lands his family in a chaotic feud with the Yakuza. Mix in a plot by the ever-persistent Sonatine to steal Jackie's powers from him in addition to an excellent crossover that introduces a new hero - the Witchblade - to the story and you have the makings of another great and suspenseful series. Oh, and there's blood, gore, and lot's of the gratuitous violence and sadism we can't get enough of, in addition to those lovable Darkling sidekicks of Jackie's.
The only flaw I find with this compilation is that it leaves out a significant chunk of issues right when the Ian Nottingham arc just begins to cook and skips immediately to the climax of the arc, which will probably jar and disappoint most readers. I'm inclined to agree. Those who are completionists can purchase the first volume of the Darkness Compendium, which collects the first forty issues. Otherwise, it's still a solid entry that captures the essence of the series' beginnings and provides an excellent snapshot of the Darkness universe. ...more
A must-read for any comic aficionados, or those who were introduced to the series through the two games based on it. With excellent artistry and superA must-read for any comic aficionados, or those who were introduced to the series through the two games based on it. With excellent artistry and superb - and hilarious - writing, readers are introduced to characters that live and breathe on the pages, especially Jackie Estacado and the fantastic cast of supporting characters.
As the inheritor of the Darkness, a primordial eidolon with near-limitless creative power, Jackie is suddenly thrust deeper into a world of equally bleak conflict with forces both human and supernatural either thriving to harness its powers for themselves or outright destroy it. That doesn't even include the mundane trials Jackie goes through as a noted member of the mafia his adopted parent runs. Overall, it's an especially a macabre comic and gives a glimpse of the antihero Jackie in his earlier years.
We're also introduced to Sonatine, the cunning leader of the Brotherhood that seeks the Darkness' powers for themselves, and the Angelus, arch-nemesis born of Light that seeks to destroy the Darkness - and a propos, Jackie - entirely. The conflict culminates into an excellently-drawn showdown of wits as well as brawn when Jackie's powers are put to the test in a search to discover the weaknesses of the nigh undefeatable Angelus. ...more
The level of conceit in this book is nearly intolerable, but what would you expect from the same person who championed the horribly tepid and short-liThe level of conceit in this book is nearly intolerable, but what would you expect from the same person who championed the horribly tepid and short-lived show "We Got To Do Better", formerly known as "Hot Ghetto Mess"? Donaldson's shtick is far from the enlightening female perspective you were hoping for: it reads more along the lines of Michael Baisden in drag, and eventually loses any truly redeeming qualities half-way into it.
Aside from "conversate" actually being a word- it's called a back-formation, which isn't that unusual if you examine linguistic history; resurrect, for instance, is one- my criticisms of her work and arguments rest upon her parroting of the same trash and (self)righteous indignation we've been hearing for decades: Blacks don't demand enough excellence in their life, don't take responsibility for their actions and blame everyone else for their problems, don't take care of their surroundings, etc. The routine is tiring and clearly naive, from a historical perspective, although worthy of discussion. The key problem with her obviously impassioned concerns is that it progressively loses its introspective focus and quite garishly becomes a rant typified by a gimmick she uses.
Throughout the book, she uses a role play that supposedly describes the dual mindset in which she exists- one, might I add, that is so flawed and disturbingly racialized that her clear detachment from understanding the nuances of institutionalized class discrimination in Black culture becomes shameful: we have "Jam the Negro", the side of her offered up as the person with the "ghetto" mentality and "Jam the American", the supposed voice of reason inside of her that always wins the arguments. I'm certain you see the transparency here. Of course, while we do "have to do better" on some issues, the problem extends further than simply being a "ghetto" mindset. "Ghetto" is a word that, at least in America, has become racially loaded over the years and became a tool of propaganda used almost exclusively in American discourse to generate hatred against Blacks and other ethnic minorities with offensive stereotypes. Continuing that trend in the antiquated talking points she uses- while simultaneously failing to offer many solutions in spite of her elegies- only enables the continuation of this destructive thinking and approach to issues in our community.
In some of the ideas she offers a constructive solution to dealing with various issues in Black America, such as community programs that help deal with excess littering, even though much of the pollution in ghettoes has a history stemming from the racist NIMBY policy used by whites and large corporations(Cancer alley comes to mind), a fact she either doesn't know about or is unable to take into account when discussing this problem. She also admits the problems that make educational achievement in some areas a tough hill to climb. This point is especially one that deserves a "duh, you didn't know?" from anyone reading, especially if you're aware of the latest data from the Civil Rights Data Packet, or the recent findings that 48% of the schools in the entire US are below federal standard. Her naivete on some of these issues is astounding, and her inability to pragmatically tackle the problems she decries so passionately make this book a very pitiful entry.
Like the male-dominated "experts" in the field she's trying to stake her claim in, Donaldson is practically a broken record that hasn't found anything new to offer, a wasted opportunity. All the introspection that made her arguments tolerable in the beginning is lost on the reader well before this journey ends, relegating her book to another cheap offering from another shock jock. The self-ingratiation in her tawdry - and dare I say it? - arguments not only reveal a perspective that is unfortunately shallow, but also tragi-comically ironic. ...more
Regardless of personal opinion, this is a great book to read. He manages to offer some insight into the era of Post-Blackness - which, by the way, isRegardless of personal opinion, this is a great book to read. He manages to offer some insight into the era of Post-Blackness - which, by the way, is in no way similar to or related to the notion of Post-Racialism- with input from several others, although some more input from other figures is desired, since as he posits, Blackness operates on many levels. It will be polarizing due to its absolutist perspective.
So, what *is* Post-Blackness? Arising as a term in Art History, it refers to a Post-Civil Rights generation whose lived experience is "rooted in Blackness", yet not bound or constricted by it or the Racism that seeks to dictate how we define it. Contrary to the prefix, "Blackness" hasn't left them, so much as the collective consensus on what Blackness is as well as some of the lived experiences- instead of a society where racism was unanimously overt and the social barriers raised by institutional reinforcement are prevalent, those in the Post-Black generation exist in a culture where racism and its enforcement is incredibly subtle, if not invisible. While this remains a ripe period socially for Blacks, there remains a sense of distance- or in other cases, detachment- that accentuates the differences these generations have. Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s statement outlines both the scenario's possibilities and its problems: "If there are thirty five million Black Americans then there are thirty five million ways to be Black. There are ten billion cultural artifacts of Blackness and if you add them up and put them in a pot and stew it, that's what Black culture is. Not one of those things is more authentic than the other."
The premise is one ripe for philosophical, social, and metaphysical exploration, if not a legion of scholarship. Sadly, we only see this explored modestly, although efficiently still. Toure intersperses personal anecdotes with a mixture of scholarly and artistic insight in other cases, and at his best transcends the reader's expectations as he delves into the rather conflicted nature we exist, both as a collective struggling to uphold the status quo while simultaneously attempting to establish coda by which we all should operate individually. It's a galumphing exercise that in the end could've been cut short or expanded with further input from additional Black perspectives, which sadly were lacking in some areas. His razor sharp examination of art, music, Walker, Chappelle, and other figures - not including himself- makes for great reading and offers insight into the myriad ways that Blacks move and operate within the spectrum of their identity both in public and private.
Of course, however, there are some weaknesses to his arguments, typified primarily by the lack of insight from figures representing these areas. First, while his concept of Post-Blackness is all-inclusive and welcoming, it is also made obtuse by his diluted and vague definition- many will take issue with his insistence on seeing Blackness from an ethnic position, although I don't necessarily. This doesn't leave out the fact that while this view is especially prevalent contemporarily, numerous figures in the past have shared similar views of Blackness encapsulated by Toure's term; not to forget that some of the examples of Post-Black figures featured later on wouldn't qualify as Post-Black under his conception. All throughout, he alludes to a commonality Blacks all share and against arguments about authenticity and "realness" but fails to explicitly describe what this commonality is, let alone what Blackness is. As Shelby Steele famously said, "One of the things it means to be black today is that we don’t really know what the hell it means."
Blackness is like Art: there are clearly established parameters that designate its existence, yet there are myriad more variables introduced that make its essence impossible to be defined by simply one understanding. Sometimes, Blackness is recognizable; other times, it isn't. Sometimes, Blackness is social; other times, religious. Toure claims it is expanding toward infinity; yet the danger of this understanding is that it is contextless: unless we know where it expands from -as the constant binding our wildly divergent identities, then there is the chance that it will become so nebulous and all-encompassing that it becomes meaningless, used without abandon as a placeholder word like the very n-word or f-word in contemporary pop culture.
Therefore, while Toure's points about avoiding the establishment of a hierarchy of "Black" authenticity are welcome, one must realize that there can be pragmatic approaches to critiquing definitions or understandings of Blackness beyond spurious and banal examples of tired political or ideological tropes. He also lacks considerable insight on the heterogeneity of the phenomenon from those who also identify as more than one ethnicity, which would certainly have enriched discourse on the subject, especially regarding notions of authenticity.
Thankfully, Toure doesn't spend much time tying his hands together in an attempt to define Blackness, let alone from a Post-Black understanding, and while he enters familiar material later on, it remains an insightful read. He covers the ambivalence in which Blacks exist both as Americans and as people of African descent with amusing anecdotes that continue to unveil the delicate complexities inherent in concepts of Blackness.
In particular, he notes the importance of not rejecting or denying the immutably "Americanness" of our psyche. While we are very much African, which he makes sure to note, we are also very much African people raised and descending from American people and culture. Our history of course doesn't end with this revelation, but as he argues, offers Blacks existing in this "relationship" (which he compares, rather banally, to a "battered wife,") incentive to re-examine our role both historically and socially. Any sane individual would tell a battered wife that she has the right to divorce that abusive husband, yet, this isn't an ordinary relationship.
Indeed, blindly disowning our American heritage in favor of a sanitized and romantic view of our culture not only runs the risk of serving a great disservice to the ancestors who did struggle to succeed for the opportunities most of us now have, it also leads to the same idyllic and often ignorant understandings of the things and people we've imagined. As an Afrocentric myself, the flaws of this thinking are clear, since our worldviews aren't being shaped by what we know and actively experience, but the same myth-making that fuels these cultural gaps.
In a far more nuanced interpretation of Black history and the role of Institutional Racism as Patriarchy, there are many things that have been done in order to hide the abuse and scars that exist among African Americans, and since, we have yet to discursively express this legacy of blues, struggle, and perseverance in a singular medium. That's something fundamentally American, and very much African in retrospect, and should not be avoided but sought for inspiration in the same ways we were motivated in the past. I don't know if I buy the rather commercialized Blackness Toure argues for later on, which straddles the line a bit too safely for me.
Racism and its problems still exist, of course, especially in a country that thrives on vanilla ideas of Race and Culture, and in the very least, it is our responsibility as Africans of American descent to continue the legacy left behind for us (both locally and globally) rather than wasting air with no effort behind our words. Will there ever come a time when this double-consciousness ends? Probably not until America herself becomes Post-American, whatever that will mean in the future.
In closing, Toure's book is a telling portrait of Blackness as it pertains to the current generation. This book is very much as personal an adventure for Toure as it is for the person reading it, and I think many will trivialize this very real phenomena within our own community and miss the ulterior point of its existence, especially as it pertains to the gaze. There is nary a dissenting voice in the book that challenges these views, but I'm certain, as usual, there will always be opinions to be heard in this never-ending quest to understand ourselves as Black people. We've been arguing over what to call ourselves for centuries, from colored to Negro, from African to Afro-American, from Black to American, and now Post-Black. The true beauty in spite of all the semiotic chaos is that we can have our cake and eat it too, because Blackness will always be what we make it out to be, nothing more, nothing less. Toure dares you to tell him or anyone else differently. ...more
I finally purchased this book on Nook after a significant period of hesitation. I followed the Inheritance Cycle - formerly known as the Inheritance TI finally purchased this book on Nook after a significant period of hesitation. I followed the Inheritance Cycle - formerly known as the Inheritance Trilogy until the announcement of this book - of Christopher Paolini with a mixture of ambivalence and excitement that I couldn't quite shake. I saw the promise in Eragon, enjoyed Roran and Nasuada's story in Eldest, and finally saw the cosmology of Alagaesia begin to evolve in Brisingr into a character apart from its predecessors in spite of its disappointments. I chased the werelights of creativity that seemed to hint at a change in form and perspective for the fourth entry, and I have to say, despite the influences that continue to permeate Paolini's writing, that the final entry in this series ultimately becomes his own. While Inheritance is the most polished novel in the Cycle, it is inevitably the weakest plot-wise, inundated with the same problems that have marred its rich potential.
Christopher Paolini has stated before that Inheritance was split from his third entry Brisingr, due in no small part to how long the third book was becoming. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that this story doesn't quite begin very smoothly. In Brisingr, we learned the source of Galbatorix's nearly limitless power: the Eldunari, the gemlike hearts of the slain dragons of Alagaesia that he has harnessed to gain godlike power. His massive army, knowledge of the ancient language that governs magic itself, and seductive personality have made him seem invincible, and with Murtaugh - the half-brother of Eragon - and his dragon Thorn by his side, our hero Eragon and his allies' hope seems incredibly dim, even with the combined might of four races.
One unanswered prophecy given to Eragon in the first book offers him guidance: "When all seems lost and your power is insufficient, go to the Rock of Kuthian and speak your name to open the Vault of Souls." However, where this place is located is currently unknown. Instead of building a suspenseful plot detailing Eragon's search for this mysterious place, much of the beginning of Inheritance - in fact, more than 300 pages of it - is spent on a rather tedious campaign focusing on Eragon and his brother Roran's approach with the rebel armies of the Varden to the city of Uru'baen, where Galbatorix awaits them. While the battles are nicely detailed - obsessively in some cases - they nonetheless fail to move the plot forward significantly and lack any true sense of drama due to Paolini's characteristic implementation of deus ex machina to resolve any conflict. One of these moments feels especially contrived when its significance is taken into consideration.
Aspects of the plot that need the most development are unsurprisingly devoted little time, namely a surreal trip to the ruins of Vroengard. I enjoyed this segment and for once in the story truly felt invested in the events transpiring, longing for more. Needless to say, the answer that Eragon discovers there is so simplistic and cheap that I predicted it long before I reached the chapter, much to my chagrin. Paolini's attempt to make this new discovery seem organic to the plot also passive aggressively insults the intelligence of his readers and causes more problems than it solves and ultimately illustrates the consequences that come with creating antagonists too great to fall.
Continuing, an intriguing arc involving one of my favorite characters in the series - Nasuada, and peripherally, Murtaugh - builds an incredible amount of tension and suspense, only to be abruptly discarded later on when the climax of Inheritance draws close. To say the defeat of Galbatorix is remarkably uninspired and random would be an understatement. The remainder of Inheritance - well over one hundred pages, mind you - is spent halfheartedly tying up the other aspects of the story. Some of it is intriguing, but a lot of it feels rushed and grossly underdeveloped.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the key problems with Paolini's work, exacerbated in this story, is his preoccupation with unnecessary detail and sideplots, purple prose, or collectively, filler. Many elements of the story felt repetitive at times, and in some cases needlessly sentimental. His awkward prose often made this issue more distracting, to the point that I felt myself routinely skimming through paragraphs until I found the meat. One of the most annoying examples of Paolini's habit of using pointless detail involves a description of a jailor's fingernails that lasts several pages. No really, this happens. Numerous violations of Chekhov's Gun occur in the story that are better left out entirely or referenced as backstory. What this leads to is a world with a lot of fascinating ideas that is buried underneath sub-par rubble and minutiae best left excised entirely or reserved for an appendix. A Tolkien he tries to be - with a scene toward the end of the story that is incredibly reminiscent of Tolkien's work - but a Tolkien he ultimately is not.
Concluding, Inheritance is emblematic of a trend in the current wave of fantasy - especially high fantasy - novels being published: the tendency of writers to inundate their stories with nonessential details, pointless side plots, and otherwise frivolous prose in the name of "epic storytelling". If "epic storytelling" were defined by stories that moved slower than Snalgli for mind-numbingly long periods of time, then perhaps this novel would be an instant classic if not the greatest exemplar of its kind. Alas, 'tis not the case here, but Paolini is by no means the first to commit this literary crime - Robert Jordan himself was criticized for this habit, with entire books in his Wheel of Time series being considered filler by some. However one cannot deny that Paolini's current literary oeuvre certainly has popularized it.
In ways, one can say this novel represents a shift in fantasy storytelling for the worst, for Inheritance, despite its positives, nonetheless remains an overlong narrative with lot's of style but little texture or substance, and its future is just as bittersweet as its ending. However, Inheritance also represents a sign of improvement from the last entry on Paolini's part, and in some cases reflects the best of the genre, although I remain uncertain of whether I'd be willing to revisit this world again, knowing the risks....more
So I read Kunjufu's book, and I have to say it's a mixed bag for me. While the statistics are nice, much of the critiques for women he "offers" isn'tSo I read Kunjufu's book, and I have to say it's a mixed bag for me. While the statistics are nice, much of the critiques for women he "offers" isn't really cogent, and his rather compartmentalized view of fathers is also pretty arbitrary. He touches on a few hot-button issues, notably child support and parenting rights, but avoid this tired trope. His book shines later on when he actually delves into what the book's about, with advice on health, insight on ways to appropriately make sure your child isn't limited by a faulty scholastic system, and recommends the best kinds of schools for your children.
Moralistically, this book's worth, while good-intentioned, will hinge on whether you share the same views ideologically as Kunjufu. There are certain points where the advice he offers hinges on your religious standing, and it's relevance becomes very subjective. He occasionally segues into paranoid rants about homosexuality before returning to the chapter's topic, and his rather patriarchal view of manhood will present problems to those whose understandings of sexuality and gender are more diverse. Otherwise, for the appropriate audience - and those who can cherry pick - this is a solid offering. When he's talking about the struggles boys will face, and how to cope with them - while challenging racist notions perpetrated by white supremacists- this book is a breath of fresh air....more
Visona's book is prolific and a much needed eye-opener to the richness of Afrikan cultures. Presenting a historical survey that spans the continent anVisona's book is prolific and a much needed eye-opener to the richness of Afrikan cultures. Presenting a historical survey that spans the continent and the ages, Visona gives readers a survey of the function and evolution of different styles of Afrikan art, along with historical context and their significance in the relative society. This isn't a stereotypical or patronizing work that rehashes the same old information- Egyptian art, etc., for instance- and the level of detail and attention placed in the accuracy of each section lends the much needed scholarly attention that this subject demands.
The Humanistic purpose and nature of Afrikan art is deeply emphasized, and readers will have tons of beautiful pictures and information to not only explain these various styles, from nyama to jeyan, but make the reader feel like they truly understand it. This is a much needed book that shatters countless myths regarding one of the most patronized forms of Afrikan cultures, and its increasing social relevance as the book covers contemporary Afrikan artists of note. From trickster costumes and masks to the Great Zimbabwe, to Akan stools, this book is exhaustive and will leave readers with a new appreciation for both the social and aesthetic contributions of Afrikans.
If you're an art history major, or a person whose hobby is art, this is a must....more