Monday, February 29, 2016

Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #1 by Leth, Williams and Wilson

I first heard of Hellcat back when I was ready my She-Hulk comics. I thought it was interesting that Marvel decided to have a superhero who was merely human. She had no special powers except for the exceptional desire to help others. She resented and loved She-Hulk and did her best in a world that was not made for her. In fact, she thrived on it.I definitely relate to Hellcat, being in a world that not made for her.

I particularly enjoyed Patsy Walker's interpretation on the Jessica Jones show on netflix and her friendship with Jessica was possibly one of the only good things to come out of that season. (WHAT? COME AT ME BRO)

As usual, Josh got me the comic book of the first Hellcat, and I was particularly interested to see how they would reimagine her character.

I really enjoyed the illustrations and artistry of the issue. It had an Manga, Kawaii feel to it, which takes me back to my Otaku days in high school (and college and early 20s...). It's colored very brightly with her red hair standing out along with her blue and yellow suit. I really appreciate the intentional brightness because sometimes comics just seem to drag with the mood and how dark everything is and how dire everything is. Hellcat isn't drawn like that, which it's a joy to look at. You just feel happier looking at it's pages.

It's a very upbeat and happy comic too. It's also very tongue in cheek, and once you realize that (I'm a slow poke, so it took me a bit), you enjoy the comic for what it is. Patsy Walker is already an established superhero, who is biffles with Jenn Walters, or She-Hulk. She has some sort of superhero powers--she can sense who has powers nearby her and she can change her costume at will. She meets an telekinetic, who is named Ian or (Telekinian) and convinces him to use his powers for good.

Patsy gets into other trouble and Ian finds out that she's the actual Patsy Walker, the girl from the books her mother wrote when she was very young. The writers gleefully foreshadow that Patsy's past will come back to haunt her. Patsy comes up with a business plan, that she pitches to Walters and company about Heroes looking for paying work. Jenn agrees to help her, and Hellcat sets on her next journey, working in retail.

Hellcat is totally cute, and such a different pace from a lot of very broody, dark comics that Marvel is putting out recently. I would like to read the second issue, though I have a backlog of other comics that my husband also reads and passes on to me. Anyone else been keeping up with Hellcat? Does it stay tongue in cheek or does it go deeper into her dark past?

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Bookish Binger: The Kill Floor, 11/22/63

My husband and I had a discussion about this episode last night. I think my stance is affected by the fact that I've read the book recently, where as he read it a few years ago. He thinks that it's the right about of cheese, horror and camp that only Franco and Hulu could provide. He thinks in terms of King's adaptations, it's a pretty good one.

Me, on the other hand.... I think this Jake Amberson character is kind of a doofus. An impulsive doofus that makes really horrible and silly mistakes during the course of an episode that leaves you wondering how he ever survived in 2011 where everything made sense? He makes this rash decisions and without a headspace in which to tell it in, me, as the viewer, just feels embarrassed for him and wonder how the heck this guy is going to save President Kennedy.

Now, George Amberson/Jake Epping in the book also makes ill-timed and horrible decisions. But what I thought during the book was that, well, those types of decisions anyone could make. It was realistic, and there were some decisions that occurred that the reader didn't even realize it was a mistake until later.

I think the one flaw about the show so far is the fact that they killed Templeton way too early. I like the flashbacks of them talking, but I liked in the book he had more of a presence. I thought Al prepared him more for the time traveling. I get why Jake and Al had clippings in a book that showed JFK's assassination, but man, Jake was careless with it. It was like he just threw it wherever he wanted too instead of putting it in safe keeping. I thought for sure in the book he kept better care of it.

It was interesting how they combined two characters into one (the bartender and... the older man. I don't remember his name) and had him find the clippings. I'm not sure how they are going to utilize him, but I'm interested to see.

I thought they cast Harry Dunning very well. Mr. Fergie is charming and charismatic with the right amount of dangerous, and I thought he would kill Jake with a smile on his face. I wasn't too fond of Jake going right up to him in the first scene, because affecting the timeline (and changing it for the worse) was a huge part of the book and it just seemed like TV Jake was itching to do that.

However, I had to fast forward through the cow scene. I think the show does horror very well, and whereas the book is spooky, the show is straight up horror.

Overall... I'm not a fan of the show, namely because I really liked the book. I loved how subtle it all was, and how much care and thought Stephen King put into time travel, the time travel paradox, along with all of the research he did. This just seems like... they only had brief amount of time to write the script and just went with the first draft. Then in order to lean into the cheesiness, they cast Franco.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Bookish Binger: 11/22/63, The Rabbit Hole

I reviewed the book by Stephen King, after I saw the previews for the Hulu miniseries. I was impressed that James Franco was involved, along with JJ Abrams. I figured, at the very least, it would be entertaining, and the miniseries proves that it's not going to go on for 6 seasons (or with Abrams' track record, a good 2 seasons and miserable 2 seasons before cancelling).

Usually what I've done with TV shows is binge watch them after they all have come out, and break it up into a few posts before calling it quits. However, this time, since for the first time I'm actually watching it on schedule, I would post weekly of my reactions, feelings, comparisons between the book and the show, and my hopes for future episodes. 

What I found interesting about the book was the setup that led up to the real conflict of Epping finally thwarting the assassination of JFK. I really liked that King took his time to really sink the reader's teeth into the implications of time travel, and the disastrous outcomes of changing those events. It really foreshadowed what was to come later in the book. 

Now, when I was younger, I definitely was one to complain when movies or TV shows weren't exactly like the book and wondered why script writers didn't just work directly with the author to write something that mirrored the author's vision. Obviously, I understand now that some things can't work for TV, like King's prologue of 11/22/63 leading up to Epping leaving to save the Dunning Family. Unfortunately, it's what I liked most about the book and so for the first episode, I was disappointed because I was looking forward to that part. However, I am fully aware that if the writers just carbon copied the book into the first episode, it wouldn't be effective, and I would have still been disappointed. 

Removing myself from the book, I thought they did a good job of creating the spookiness that King so often has with his books and the theme of time always trying to right itself. The visuals of the car crashing into the telephone pole moments after Epping steps away from it is harrowing, and it conveys that time is a sentient being, and it will do anything to keep time, and its events, on track. In later episodes, due to the shock of the events in this one (the fire, the beetles, etc.), I wonder how they are going to up the ante of preventing Epping from stopping the assassination. 

My husband tells me that there has been some criticism over James Franco's performance as Jake Epping. Considering that 11/22/63 is told in first person, I feel like Franco is going to be at a disadvantage since as the reader, you put yourself as the main character. Watching someone else play Epping, maybe the viewer won't connect as well. I think he does a good job of acting bewildered and out of place, both in 2011 and when he travels back in time. I also liked the montages of Epping walking around in 1960, absolutely loving the time period. Epping in the book romanticizes the 1960s, and it definitely shows that this one does too. 

Epping in the book, makes a ton of stupid mistakes that come back later to bite him in the ass. However, it's over a period of time, so it comes off more realistic and believable. My only problem with this Epping, and it's not to the fault of Franco, is that I think the writers wanted him to make all the stupid moves in the first episode in order for them to bite him in later episodes. There is a ton of foreshadowing in the first episode, which seems rushed, but then again, the book was 800 pages and could afford to take it's time.  

I am anxious to see how they are going to portray the Dunning family murder, and if Jake will go back through the rabbit hole to see the changed outcome. I wish they hadn't killed of Templeton so quickly because there seemed to be some more story there, but maybe it'll right itself later on. 

There is another episode night, so check out my next post this week! 

Friday, February 19, 2016

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Well, I read this book in 2 days.

It's a young adult novel, so it should go by for me quicker. I know some readers leave YA books behind, but I love the change in pace. Sometimes all we need is a good story that can be easily consumed. However, this series is not "brainless." Even though it's an easy read, it's so prevalent and smart in exploring environment, family and survival themes through the lens of someone that is easily relatable as Miranda.

What I also find interesting about this series of books is that they are more like companion novels, instead of sequential books. Obviously the first book, Life as We Knew It, should be read first, but the second, third and fourth book do not need to be read in order. I just so happened to read the third book second. I always wished that authors did more "world" building companion books, and I wonder how she'll utilize other characters from the first book in other stories.

In this book, Pfeffer picks up exactly where she left off with Miranda and her family. At the end of the last book, they were saved and given food from the government. Even though it seems like they were saved, the reader finds themselves asking the question, "Are they ever really saved?" Even though the immediate crisis of food is solved, Miranda and her family's fear changed from having enough food to survive to whether or not the food bags will be delivered that Sunday.

What I also love about this book is that Pfeffer introduced other characters in a seamless way and uses it to explore this dark, post-apocalyptic universe she created. She creates conflicts using man v. nature, and even man v. supernatural, which, is a good change of pace from "The Chosen One" and "Evil Empire" narrative. Even when people show darker sides of themselves, it's never in black and white, which is a realistic approach to humanity in the face of dire circumstances.

I think my favorite parts of the book is the stark contrast between Matt, Miranda and their Mother. Matt comes home married, and Miranda desires to be considered more of a grown up instead of a child. Their mother resist, and is in denial about the state of their world. Of course it's an allegory of the transition from teenager to adult, but the shift of the moon pushes the transition much quickly and much sooner than their Mom wanted and was ready for. With the arrival of other people in their lives, Mom is no longer the reigning matriarch of their little society, and has to contend with a democracy rather than a dictatorship.

Finally, Pfeffer exploring the relationship between Alex and Miranda. Miranda falls in love with him, despite Matt's objections and his insistence that he'll be leaving with Julia to become a monk. The reader questions whether Miranda loves him because he's just there and she has no idea what the future holds, or because she truly has feelings for him.  I wonder if Pfeiffer will return to Miranda's viewpoint in later books. I am interested to see if they stay together.

My only dissatisfaction with the novel is that Charlie was just a side character. I wanted to know more about Charlie and his backstory, but I guess in this future world, he's there to demonstrate that family isn't just blood, but who you choose to love and care about. When Charlie came to the house, I wondered if Pfeiffer was going to pair up Miranda with the "older, wiser" man. It's still YA, but it would have been interesting to explore due to the themes of survival and the reaction of her parents.

Overall, I'm still in on this book series. I have 2 more books to go. I'm not as terrified reading this as I was the first book, but I'm sure the terror is just deeply suppressed waiting to be utilized in a nightmare. I wonder where Pfeiffer will go next in the series. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Audiobook Wednesdays: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

This took me forever to get through. It's not because it wasn't a great book or not an entertaining listen, they were, but the snow storm kept me home (which was good) but also prevented me from listening to it until my drive resumed.

This book is leaps and bounds better to listen to then The Maze Runner. There, I said it. The language is much more colorful and the voice actor just embodies the character of Quentin much more than Thomas... but I also think that Thomas, other than the fact that he was a very smart kid that was used for a science experiment to help save the world, was a very bland character. I'm sure that the reader for the audiobook did the best he could with what he had.

I also think The Magicians is just a better book than The Maze Runner. The Magicians was definitely written for the Harry Potter crowd, a bunch of college students who waited for their Hogwarts letter and gave up hope... until Brakebills.

There are a few things that I don't like about this universe. I find it odd that Brakebills, a university, has uniforms and curfews. Like the Harry Potter series, what magic is used for has not been revealed yet, and almost makes it a joke that the magicians that studied at the school go on to become teachers, because what else were they going to do?

I watched the first episode of the new show that's on SyFy which I'll get into in another post, but I will say that I am very glad that I decided to listen to the audiobook instead of waiting to be done with the series.

First off, Quentin is a "butthurt," someone that feels like the world owes something to them. It's a refreshing point of view. He sort of mirrors that early 20 something viewpoint of "when is my life going to start?" and "there has to be something more than this." He goes on a journey and "grows up" during the course of the book. I put that in quotation marks because even though he obtains new friends, a girlfriend and learns magic, he still remains the same person at the beginning of the book. He's the protagonist, or maybe anti-protagonist(?) but he's not likeable, at all. However, Grossman does a good job of making other characters very likeable, and even though it's through Quentin's point of view, the reader sees the other characters, especially Alice and enjoys them throughout the book.

Grossman really takes his time developing multiple characters. Again, it's through the point of view of Quentin, but you become familiar and care about Elliot, Alice, Janet, Penny and even Josh and Richard. So when Grossman takes off running towards the climax of the book, you listen so intently and I found myself sitting in the car when I came home so I could listen to a few more minutes. What I appreciate the most is that Grossman does not do any favors for Quentin and shows, through the actions of his friends, that Quentin is a despicable character but also allows him, towards the end of the book, to reflect on his actions thus far, and make changes to them.

The pacing of the book is also something I have not read in awhile. Usually, these fantasy books have the vibe of "The Chosen One" and defeating the great evil that plagues the land. However, for Book 1 and Book 2, there is a lot of foreshadowing and world creation, but concentrates on Quentin's journey through becoming a Magician. It allows the reader to really explore the magical world, and their terrifying consequences of people who "have everything." When the group decides to take their magical journey, other characters decide to step up and in essence, is the chosen one.

I really enjoyed the book, and I can't wait to either read, or listen to the second book. My two credits on audible is up, but I do have another credit to spend now that I'm an audible member. Any suggestions? Comment below!

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Totally Awesome Hulk #2 by Pak, Cho and Oback

I wasn't sure but now that I've seen his whole name, I'm excited to actually recognize the illustrator of The Totally Awesome Hulk. I remember looking at Frank Cho's work at Baltimore Comicon back in the day and I also remember my friend Kat telling me she knew his girlfriend. Pretty exciting stuff.

The comic starts exactly where the old one left off: introducing Lady Hellbender, who wants to fight The Hulk. Living by a code of chivalry, he dodges her attacks. Her pet... monster, shall we say, steps in and The Hulk is wrestling with it as Lady Hellbender goes after Amadeus' sister.

Which is a huge mistake. Spider-man tries to help, and She-Hulk stops him, stating that she knows that look. She's right and he loses it, slamming Lady Hellbender into the ground. Oh, side note... I also didn't realize that the Spider-man was Miles Morales. He's completely in costume the entire time, and it was only looking at the ads of new comics that are coming out (which I mostly ignore), I would have never known (or Josh would have ended up telling me once he read the series.) Josh is super excited for his comic to drop and it seems like a way better Spider-man than the new Peter Parker.

It quick changes back to Bruce Banner, after absorbing the energy from a Kiber Fusion Reactor, is locked in a containment device underneath the ocean. Iron man and others are trying to figure out what to do and are quickly running out of options.

It snaps back to the new Hulk almost killing Lady Hellbender before She-Hulk and Maddy step in, defusing the situation.

I like the tone of the comic book, a mixture between Bruce's dire situation and Amadeus' new life with his sister helping him in the food truck. He's incredibly optimistic and he's just trying to figure out what to do and how to succeed with his new superpowers. I also love the inclusion of She-Hulk and Spider-man, which gives the Hulk some direction and a team to rely on. It's a very diverse comic, which is definitely appreciated.

It's an interesting choice that She-Hulk wasn't replaced, but I like how instead of just abandoning the Banner' backstory, they embraced it, leading up to how Amadeus obtained his powers in the first place.

My only problem is.... Maddy doesn't feel younger to me. She looks older, and she acts like the older sister to Amadeus. Maybe it's intentional? I don't know, but I have to keep reminding myself she's only 16, not the 25 year old that is depicted in the comic.

I can't wait for the next issue!

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Totally Awesome Hulk #1 by Pak, Cho and Oback

It's pretty awesome when your husband reads your blog and gets you comic books that you mentioned you would like to read. I've always loved the Hulk and She-Hulk, and found their origins and superpowers very interesting. I was really excited to read the new rendition of the Hulk with Amadeus Cho, who, to my knowledge, is a brand new character.

The new Hulk is Asian, which I thought was a great direction for the Hulk universe to go in. It's unexpected, simply because even though Asians are (stereotypically) linked to martial arts and cunning fighting technique, they aren't (stereotypically) known for their strength and large statures. It opens a wide range of stories, and I was excited to read it.

Hilariously, it opens up to a monster attacking the beach, and Amadeus Cho inhaling hamburgers, in preparation to become the Hulk. He's introduced as the 8th smartest person in the world, and he goes to save the day. He's 19, full of himself and flirts with everything that moves but is still very likeable. He has a younger sister that helps him as a robot and they go on a journey to catch the monsters that are roaming the earth.

It also does a flashback to Bruce Banner and what happened that made Amadeus Cho become the Hulk. There is a clever visual image of Cho putting the monster right where he wants him. The pair zoom to the next location to defeat another monster, where he runs into She-Hulk and Spiderman.

Yay for She-Hulk! Yay for Spiderman!

I like how there are other appearances of strong females in the comic, especially his sister, She-Hulk and Lady Hellbender. The new Hulk is a 19 year old kid who flirts with anything that moves, but the writers make sure to get his ass handed to him by the women he surrounds himself with. Amadeus is charming, and I like how they kept remnants of the Bruce Banner Hulk, making him very intelligent, which is what Bruce prided himself in.

I can't wait to read issue 2!

Friday, February 5, 2016

11/22/63 by Stephen King

I resisted reading this book. Yes, I did. I should really love Stephen King, and I enjoyed reading The Stand, but there is something terrifying about King's books. He has a "scary" reputation, and for the longest time, I didn't want to read his books in fear that I would be scared out of my mind.

I also stumbled onto the IT movie when I was much too young to watch it and it was so scary I couldn't sleep for weeks. Now that I think about that, I think that movie single handedly kept me away from his books all these years.

Finally, a weird side note, I remember in school, at some point, there was a discussion about Stephen King and that he "had ghost writers" to write his books for him and that there was no way he could have written all of those books himself. I seriously think this was a conversation in elementary school, but maybe it was middle school? I don't even know how those books came up, or why a bunch of kids were discussing the merits of King's work. Odd what you remember. I no longer think that, btw.

Anyway, our (Josh and I's) first Christmas together, 4 years ago, when we were just boyfriend and girlfriend, I got him this book. It was on his wishlist and it had just come out. I think it's a cool gift for someone to get you a new book on the book shelf. They are normally expensive and not usually in paperback. He read it, and told him that it was so good, but incredibly sad.

And I just... avoided reading it. Along with the fear of being scared out of my mind, my continued association of the IT movie and scared to go to sleep for a week with Stephen King, I also don't like reading sad books. When my husband says something that is "really sad," I know it's super sad and not me thinking it's just sad, so I don't want to read it.

However, Hulu is coming out with an 8 part miniseries of the book with James Franco, and of course, I have to do a "Which is Better?" review of the show versus the book. So that meant I found the hardback I so lovingly gave my husband 4 years ago, dusted it off and began reading.

The story is about a man named Jake Epping, who recently divorced his alcoholic wife. His wife paints him as an unfeeling man who doesn't cry, and a man that doesn't cry can't have feelings. This sort of writing, a first person point of view discussing the perception of another character is tricky and King has the chops to do it. The reader is then introduced to a man named Al Templeton, who overnight, looks like he's knocking on death's door. He shut down his diner, which for years, sold food for disturbingly low prices, so low that it was widely speculated that he killed pets or his food was rancid. He calls Jake, and tells him to meet him at the bar. He has something to show him, which is a pantry that leads to another time period. From there, Al wants Jake to do one thing; stop the assassination of JFK.

I am particularly impressed with King's research into late 1950s and early 1960s. He did an extensive job of researching Oswald's whereabout, his philosophies and more importantly, the events leading up to that fateful day. I was also fascinated with Oswald's origin story, so to speak, and as a horror writer, King expertly touched on his psychotic, smothering mother as one of the fuses to be lit that led up to his decision to assassinate Kennedy.

My only gripe with Al's mantra that Kennedy surviving would fix everything, and it might have been
ignored because as a character stated in the book, "people see what they want to see," is that Civil Rights Acts were passed due to the combination of Kennedy's death and the whole country mourning along with LBJ's powerful personality. Before that, it was going to be almost impossible. Maybe Al thought, naively, I think, that it would still be passed regardless.

I enjoyed reading Jake's interpretation of the culture during that time as a man traveling back in time to live it. I'm unsure if King deliberately did this, but I felt like the "Land of Ago" was a bit too romanticized. That everything was perfect and everything was wholesome and joyful, and it may have just been Jake's perspective of the time because he was in love.

However, and I'm not sure if it would truly fit into the story, because it's the experience of a white man during the late 1950s and early 1960s, I wish there more about the struggle for civil rights in any capacity. Any mention of segregation, or voting rights was sort of an afterthought and it seems to be largely ignored. Now, it might be because many white people in the south that lived in isolated towns like Jodie wouldn't really talk about the marches or the struggle, or any conversation would steer in one, anti-civil rights way.

Finally, the science fiction and fantasy elements of the book appear in the right amount. I love King's explanations of time travel, and the appearance of the Yellow Card Man and the drive of time to "right itself" is done in the way only King can do it. I also loved the silent horror of the book that isn't in your face but lurking in the shadows as you read. You know the character is playing with fire, and things he doesn't understand, but you are powerless to stop it.

I don't want to give too much away because I think if you like fiction, historical fiction, time travel fantasy with a dash of thriller thrown in, this would be a good book for you, and I wouldn't want to spoil it. Read this book as soon as you can. You won't regret it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Mighty Thor #1 by Aaron, Dauterman and Wilson

When it was announced that there would be a new Thor, and that Thor would be a lady, I just sort of shrugged. Some people were very upset, but usually change along those scales doesn't bother me. It's unique and different but honestly, the change had no real impact on my life. I had questioned briefly why they couldn't have brought forward another female character from Thor, like Sid, but I digress.

My husband bought me the comic, and I am very glad he did. The art is just beautiful and on the cover, you see Jane Foster turned into the mighty Thor, with her strong arms and luscious hair, wielding Mjolnir. Half way down the page, however, you see human Dr. Jane Foster, looking sickly and bald. The other Thor is on the right side of the page (which I might add, taking the stereotypical 'female' stance with his booty popping out. Alright, Marvel, drawing for the ladies, I like it) in normal Asgardian dress.

It opens up to Jane undergoing chemotherapy. She watches on the screen the weather station in space, reporting the news and changing the weather. Suddenly, the space station shakes, and a disturbing image appears. Dead elves are in space with writing over them: So Begins The War of Realms.

With a sigh, Foster unplugs her chemo and calls for her hammer, and she goes and saves the day. Later she explains why she won't get better, and the reader takes a glimpse into present day Asgard and Foster's attempt to save all of mankind, cancer be damned. Of course she is worthy to wield the hammer. Of course she should be the new Thor.

Reading about Jane undergoing chemo, and forgoing her wellbeing to be Thor and to step outside of herself to save the world made me think of David Bowie. Through the pain of his cancer, decided to leave one parting musical gift for the world before he passed away.

I took a step back and even made me question and philosophize the meaning of life. I usually hate philosophizing and trying to answer the question of "what does it all mean?" However, the question of our legacy mulled around my head, and still does. What is the purpose of life? What is our legacy? What are we when we leave this world?

Dr. Jane Foster's legacy is her sacrifice for the greater good. David Bowie's legacy is his music and ability to be bold and daring, when no one else was. What about the average joe? What about me? What will I leave behind? Fortunately, no one ever expects it to be figured out right away and it's all OK. I'm normally OK with the idea of not knowing what my legacy will be and I will be again.

I'm excited to read the second issue of The Mighty Thor. Will Thor make an appearance or will it be up to Jane Foster to save the day once more? Will I continue to philosophize the meaning of life? Check back soon!