Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NEW 52. NEW 52. NEW 52.

And so it begins. DC Comics relaunch starts today with the Justice League #1. I've been reading around and the reviews have been mixed. Some people like it and are excited for more and other people are underwhelmed and unimpressed.

Obviously, a lot of people were not in favor of this move but only time will tell if this endeavor truly succeeds or fails. It's just the first issue so yeah, let's not get ahead of ourselves and give it a chance.

I don't actually care all that much about the Justice League. I'm more looking forward to something else entirely. Of course, Batgirl #1 with Barbara Gordon is one of them. It will be written by Gail Simone and pencilled by Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes. This will be coming out September 7th.

I'm also looking forward to Red Hood and the Outlaws #1. I love Jason Todd, even though he may be possibly insane, and I'm looking forward to a series about him and his own team of vigilantes and non-heroes. A team that includes Starfire and Arsenal. The series will be written by Scott Lobdell and pencilled by Kenneth Rocafort. Red Hood and the Outlaws is set to be released on September 21.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Don't thank me, thank physics."

Title: Batgirl Vol. 1: Batgirl Rising
Released on: June 7, 2011 (Trade paperback)
Written by: Bryan Q. Miller & Lee Garbett
Pencillers: Pere Perez & Trevor Scott

Stephanie Brown sheds her Spoiler costume and puts on the Batgirl suit when Cassandra Cain leaves it behind. Now she takes on the streets of Gotham by herself without permission from the head Bat and struggles to beat down the worst her city has to offer and prove her worth to the best. But most vigilantes never have a foolproof plan anyway.

Title: Batgirl Vol. 2: The Flood
Released on: May 24, 2011
Written by: Bryan Q. Miller & Lee Garbett
Pencillers: Pere Perez & Trevor Scott

The people of Gotham city are under the control of The Calculator and he's kidnapped Oracle. Batman is out of town. Nightwing is doing his own thing. Batgirl is the only one left and without Oracle, she's fighting blind.

What really sucks about this DC relaunch? The one from hell? Is that characters like Stephanie Brown, who took over the role of Batgirl in 2010, get pushed back into the closet like a prom dress. It's pretty and awesome and you don't regret wearing it but you forget about it...because you put it in the back of your damn closet.

I love her as Batgirl. She's hilarious, fun and not foolproof. I would have liked to have seen more issues of her. Instead now, we only get what we get and in September Barbara Gordon (somehow she heals from her spinal injury) jumps back into the suit. I feel cheated. She'll still be around as The Spoiler but she worked so hard to become part of the Bat Family and now it no longer matters.

Also, I think Stephanie and Detective Nick Gage could have had something. You know...a romantic something. It's probably a shot in the dark since she's about 19/20 and he's probably in his late 20s BUT they have a cute repertoire going every time they meet. They're adorable.

Such a shame.

(note: title quote from the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series.)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Annihilation, Jim. Total, complete, absolute annihilation."

I love sci-fi. I will literally forgo a night of hanging with friends in order to stay home in my jim jams and watch Doctor Who. Like for many, it started with 1982's E.T. but it's always been that I've watched more than actually read from this genre. In YA fiction, I haven't found many science fiction novels so when I read the description of Beth Revis' Across the Universe, I got really excited. Finally, I thought.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis: It's very last minute when Amy decides to leave her life behind and join her parents on the spaceship Godspeed as frozen cargo. She expects to wake up 300 years later with her parents on a new planet but instead wakes up when the system keeping her frozen malfunctions and reanimates her.

She's alone in this new world contained by the steel walls of Godspeed and scared of a society she doesn't understand. Amy's fear only grows when she finds out that waking up may not have been an accident at all. Someone on the ship may have tried to kill her.
In a world where ignorance is bliss, Amy and Elder, the future leader of the ship, race to find out the truth.

I admit that even though I was excited for this novel, I wasn't entirely sure I would enjoy it. But I read it and was delightfully surprised. It's pretty damn good.

I loved the descriptions of Amy's experiences as she's frozen, after she's frozen and after she wakes up. Another point to appreciate was that the book not only offered us Amy's thoughts but Elder's thoughts as well. So the story isn't just about her but about him and the people on the spaceship. And there were times where I came close to actual tears (I'm not crying, it's just raining on my face). The novel has a lot of tragic moments.

I also got the distinct feeling that I was being hit in the face with that one John Acton quote, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely", which isn't a bad thing.  It was interesting to see just how controlled the society on the ship was and in a way it was pretty terrifying.   
This book definitely has its merits despite being a little slow in parts.  I'm also glad that this is the first in a series because there's so much more story to tell.

In the 2nd novel, Elder and Amy realize they have to find a way to get off the ship after hearing chilling news about Godspeed.

A Millions Suns has a release date of January 12th, 2012. It sounds like the plot thickens and I am intrigued to see where it goes next..

(note: title quote from Star Trek.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

1000 Paper Cranes

I guess it's true that you can go along in life and not care about the government or the politics in your town until they start messing up some very important things.

Like all places in the world right now, my city is in debt. So much so they're trying to cut back on things that a) people don't use b)waste money c)are really expensive and d) jobs (pretty sure 400 firemen were let go along with 1,300 government workers. Hello unemployment rate).

Which leads them to our libraries. LIBRARIES FOR THE LOVE OF THOR. They want to either shut them down or privatize them completely. Of all the things they could cut back on (like bike lanes or construction or government pay raises, etc), they want to cut back on libraries. One of the people's most important sources of information, literacy and education.

Being in school and working towards a degree, I use the library all the time. When my mother immigrated to Canada, the first place she visited was the library. It's there that she transitioned from reading Portuguese to reading English. I feel like the message my government is sending is that a) our needs do not matter b) that knowledge is for a select few (I thought we were done with this privileged bullshit) and c) they don't care.

I'm pretty sure they don't actually care since Doug Ford, a Toronto City Councillor, made the observation that there were more libraries than Tim Hortons in his area. So they care more about donuts and coffee than they do about books. Good to know, right?

There's nothing I love more than the libraries in my city because they give so much to the people that live here. So please, if you live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and want to help stop the government, sign this petition right here.

Let's prove that terrible stigma about petitions wrong.

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Wanda Maximoff is in the room, and she can speak for herself."

I really wish it could come out next week instead of at the end of the month on August 31st.

Issue #7 fills me with trepidation (just look at the art) especially since I've been hearing some not so hopeful rumors. Issue #6 ended a little happier with The Scarlet Witch coming back to herself and declaring that she would give the mutants back the powers she had taken away.

So issue #7 has the potential to beat the hell out of that happiness and take its lunch money. I am somewhat looking forward to that.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Apparently, the date of #7 has been pushed back to September 21. I learned this when I went into the comic store today and didn't find it there on the NEW COMICS shelf. Feeling like a fool, I moseyed on home all disappointed like and turned to the internet for answers.

Safe to say issues #8 and #9 will also be delayed. Damn MARVEL, quit playing games with my heart.

(note: title quote from Avengers: Children's Crusade.)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"A long time ago, before I put on this mask, I was afraid of everything."

Something I think all us female comic book readers can admit to wondering at some or another is, hey, where the hell are the chicks? Honestly, they're either gone half the time or secondary characters. And films about them? They are scarce and when they are made, they turn out terrible (see Elektra and Catwoman or you know, for your own sanity don't).

I'm just wondering why. Women can be awesome too and we have been known to kick a little ass with a heck of a lot of grace, poise and one or two witty (but cliche) one-liners.

There isn't really an answer to my question. The same question some fearless female legal adult (maybe) at comic con (dressed as Batgirl) asked a panel from DC COMICS. But she took it a little further than I did. She asked not only about characters but about female writers and artists. Safe to say the DC panel was stunned because their answer wasn't much of one. Only a week later did Jim Lee and Dan DiDio finally release a statement (through the DC blog...that's like breaking up with your girlfriend through an email but I digress) in response to not only her question but also all the other questions coming in from their readers.

"Over the past week we’ve heard from fans about a need for more women writers, artists and characters. We want you to know, first and foremost, that we hear you and take your concerns very seriously.

We’ve been very fortunate in recent years to have fan favorite creators like Gail Simone, Amy Reeder, Felicia Henderson, Fiona Staples, Amanda Connor, G. Willow Wilson and Nicola Scott write and draw the adventures of the World’s Greatest Super Heroes.

DC Comics is the home of a pantheon of remarkable, iconic women characters like Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Batgirl, Batwoman, Catwoman and Supergirl as well as fan favorite characters like Black Canary, Katana, Mera and Starfire. We’re committed to telling diverse stories with a diverse point of view. We want these adventures to resonate in the real world, reflecting the experiences of our diverse readership. Can we improve on that? We always can—and aim to.

We’ll have exciting news about new projects with women creators in the coming months and will be making those announcements closer to publication. Many of the above creators will be working on new projects, as we continue to tell the ongoing adventures of our characters. We know there are dozens of other women creators and we welcome the opportunity to work with them.

Our recent announcements have generated much attention and discussion and we welcome that dialogue."

But when that statement is coupled with the fact that women creators went from 12% to 1% in the company, it isn't comforting.

If someone yells at me, "But we have Wonder Woman. She's a strong female figure that stands alone in comics", I will kindly ask them to name me 7 more stand alone female heroes before telling them to sit their ass back down in their desk chair. The men outnumber the women here. I'm not saying the men need to go. Not at all.

What I'm trying to say in this muddled thought filled post is that I wish to see more girl heroes that don't have an origin story tied to another male hero and that have their own running series. Sometimes I want to read about a girl who dresses up at night or in moments of great peril and does a little butt kicking by herself or with a bunch of other girls (oh gosh, the days of Sailor Moon seem so far away now). Independence, we fought for it.

They put these girls through hell where they experience a great amount of suffering and tragedy, some of which they don't recover from, but the men in these comics seem to bounce back faster and with a lot less damage. Women may be a small percentage of comic book readership but damn, we at least want to be treated fairly and we want the same for the characters we love.

Comics have such a long history and I feel like in all those years they should have at least learned the proper way to treat a lady.

Other interesting articles: ONE, TWO and THREE, FOUR

(note: title quote from Catwoman vol. 1 #59.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Oh, the summer night, has a smile of light, and she sits on a sapphire throne."

Hooked by Catherine Greenman: Thea Galehouse has learned to take care of herself especially with a scattered club owner for a mom and a recovering addict for a dad. She holds her own in the city of New York and at her competitive and distinguished high school. She's focused and self-sufficient but just one talk with Will, a senior at her school, unravels all of that and she falls for him. When Will moves on to college, Thea is surprised that their relationship survives it and that Will continues to try and involve her in his life. Then Thea misses a period and finds out she's pregnant. They decide to keep the baby but aren't prepared for the amount of responsibilities their decision comes with. Their parents help give them a place to raise their baby as well as support Will through school. But when a terrible accident threatens their fledgling little family, Thea will have to find strength and support from someone she least expects.

I haven't actually read a novel involving teen pregnancy before and this month there are two on my list that look really interesting. What interests me most with this novel is about her relationship with Will and their decision to start a family together. This book could go either way with a happy or sad ending. I'm hoping for one that is realistic yet hopeful at the same time.

Release Date: August 9, 2011.

Going Underground by Susan Vaught: Del is a good guy. He really is. He's just stuck in a terrible situation. At 17, he's trying to get his life back on track and move on from something that made him an outcast and a convict. Because of what happened, he can't get into college and the only job available to him is digging graves. When Del meets the perfect girl, his past and all its complications threatens to ruin everything. But what did Del do?

Been looking forward to this book since I heard about it 2 months ago. I have an inkling as to what Del may have done and in my mind I have no idea how something like that could escalate in such a way as for him to be charged with a criminal offense since he was so young when it happened. But I'm just assuming things here without having read the book. I can't wait to find out though.

Release Date: August 23, 2011.

Sign Language by Amy Ackley: The only problems Abby North ever had in her life were her irritating brother, her crush and her changing feelings for the boy across the street. But now her Dad is sick and not getting any better. Nothing seems normal anymore and Abby has no idea what she should do.

Books like this are interesting to me because the central problem in the story has a ripple effect that seems to complicate other areas of the main character's life. I know it's going to be a sad a book (arm yourself with a tissue box) but I think it will truly be worth reading. I also love the cover. I remember when I was younger, my mom would take me to the toy area at wal-mart and I'd always search out the Eight Ball, ask it questions and then shake it. I was hoping for the magic plastic ball to tell me what would happen.

Release Date: August 23, 2011

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce: When Gretchen was little, her twin sister was stolen away by the witch in the woods. Ever since then, Gretchen and her brother Ansel have felt like the branches of the trees in the forest have been reaching out to take them too.

Years later, when their stepmother abandons them, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina where they are taken in by Sophia Kelly, a candy maker.

Life is finally good for Gretchen and Ansel until she meets Samuel, the town outcast, who tells her that the witch isn't gone and that she's looking to make Gretchen her next victim. But Gretchen is determined to fight back against the evil in the forest. But the more Gretchen learns about what the witch is and the way it chooses its prey, the more things become unclear.

All she knows is that something dark is coming and it won't be leaving until its needs are met.

A new novel by Jackson Pearce who you will remember wrote Sisters Red. This time around it's the fairytale of Hansel and Gretal she's reworking. It sounds interesting enough and I don't think I've ever seen this tale retold for young adults. Do correct me if I am wrong. I really enjoy how much fight and force that Jackson Pearce's characters have so I'll definitely be checking this one out.

Release Date: August 23, 2011.

(note: title quote from Barry Cornwall.)

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Those who droop with August heat..."

Want to go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman: It's Abby's first year in high school and it feels like everything is going wrong. Everything except for Luke, her online friend. Luke understands and always knows the right things to say to make Abby feel better. Then Luke asks for them to meet and when they do, Abby realizes Luke isn't who he said he was. Abby goes missing and now everyone has to figure out where she is and why it happened.

You hear about cases similar to this often enough on the news for what this book describes to not seem so far fetched. I know this book will affect a lot of people since the fictional story comes from something that actually happens. And I'm morbidly interested to see how the story will unfold and what will happen in the end to Abby in the end.

Release Date: August 1, 2011.

The Cupid War by Timothy Carter: Ricky Fallon has the worst luck. Just when he decides that yeah, maybe he doesn't actually want to kill himself, he slips off a bridge and dies. There's no rest in the afterlife which Ricky finds out when he's given the job of being a Cupid. He gets to help people fall in love while wearing a pink bodysuit, dealing with his horrible boss, and surviving attacks from dark and creepy entities called Suicides. But all is not well in the afterlife when he discovers a new breed of Suicide, much nastier than the original, so it's up to Ricky Fallon to prevent evil world domination and save the day by kicking a lot of butt.

When I heard about this book a few months ago, I got really excited. It sounds like such a hilarious adventure and Ricky Fallon is the most unlikely hero I've heard of this year. I mean...what hero ever wore a pink body suit? I thought Cupids ran around naked with conveniently placed clouds.

Release Date: August 8, 2011.

The Implosion of Aggie Winchester
by Lara Zielin: Aggie Winchester is 16-years-old and could care less who wins the title of prom queen at her school. But whether she likes it or not, she's involved. Especially when her pregnant best friend runs for prom queen and her sick mom, the school's principal, is rumored to have burned prom votes.

I think this novel looks so appealing to me because of the cluster of interesting complications that Aggie has to face: her sick mom, her pregnant friend, her friend running for prom queen and the scandal of burned prom votes involving her mother. It's a lot to take on so I hope the author doesn't leave anything dangling or sloppily resolved.

Release Date: August 9, 2011.

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles: Luis Fuentes is nothing like his brothers. He has dreams that he wants to accomplish. But when Luis falls for the wrong girl, a dark and complicated world opens up to him and just when he thinks he's got a grip on things, he learns a terrible family secret that changes everything.

I'm a fan of the first two novels to this series and I've been looking forward to this 3rd book ever since I read the second one. I admit that I've always been more interested in Luis' story because he was so different from his brothers. He's studious and wants to be an astronaut and he didn't seem to be that affected by the things his brothers were. I hope this one has a happy ending filled with large romantic gestures and a white horse. I'm joking about the horse.

Release Date: August 16, 2011

(note: title quote from Sarah Orne Jewett.)