Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
Confession time: I haven't read much Shulk before. Like... any, at all. I know from friends that her comic tends to vary greatly in quality and while everyone agrees that you should start with John Byrne, me and him... we have a complicated relationship. But I've been a fan of Soule's since I started reading the new Marvel Star Wars titles, and was searching his name in the library catalog and found this. I grabbed it.
And it is fantastic. Just the right touch of absurd humor and fun. Jen is starting up her new practice after realizing that she was only hired by the law firm she was at because they were hoping she'd bring in a new and exciting line of clientele, i.e. the superhero crowd. With the help of paralegal Angie Huang (who I absolutely adore!) and, hey, look, it's Patsy Walker, she emancipates Doctor Doom's son and investigates a law suit that she's involved in that makes the others named in the suit turn suicidal when it's even mentioned. The latter is a bit darker than the first and the change in artist reflects the shift in tone. Both artists do a fantastic job.
Done with a fun, light tone, I love this, from cover to cover.
A James Baldwin quote for his birthday -- August 2, 1924
Oh boy. Sit back for this one, because I've got a lot to say. While it as eventual, in my great Daredevil reread, to come to this point, I'd even put off reading this, because I knew that I'd have to deal with this hot mess of a storyline.
And that storyline is how they deal with, or rather how they get rid of, Milla Donovan. Spoiler, poorly. The answer is, they deal with her poorly. I mean, it's not a surprise, at this point, since we've gone through two whole volumes of her barely being mentioned, and not by Matt, but by Foggy, begging Matt to contact her, and then one appearance as she inconveniently comes to Rikers Island when a riot is just about to break, allowing Matt to treat her like shit in order to save her. And then he fucks off to Europe without seemingly giving her a second thought. He even has a sexy adventure with a woman who reminds him of Karen, because let's not stop beating that dead horse!
The comic starts with Milla demonstrating that she no longer possesses any of the character traits she was established with in Bendis' run. No, seriously. Smart, capable, independent no more, she's a codependent mess, sitting by the window and moaning about Matt going out as Daredevil, because, even though that's the thing that attracted her at first, it has now become the sole source of her anguish.
She recounts their relationship from the beginning with some major retcon-colored glasses. First off, let's compare Matt's reaction in the original comic to Milla's accusation of having had a nervous breakdown after Karen's death, a painfully honest and defeated, "... Maybe," on Matt's behalf, to the new version:
"It's not true!" And this plays into something I'll address by the end of the review, and that's the really poor handling of mental health that dominates this storyline. The very idea that the heroic lead of the comic would have been so emotionally vulnerable by the death of his longtime lover that he'd have had a nervous breakdown that shifts his personality and impairs his judgment is obviously TOO MUCH for a comic about an emotionally vulnerable hero who consistently deals with damaging situation after damaging situation.
But it's okay! Because, turns out, she didn't leave him because she was confused by his admission, or worried about living in Karen's shadow, or the fact that she never would deal with Matt's shit unless it was on her own terms. Oh no. now...
Did you miss that? Let me highlight it for you:
IT WAS HER BLIND GIRL PRIDE. That wasn't at all written by a white, ablebodied man! Listen, sighs. I'm not saying that Bendis was perfect, but he tried. During his run, he introduced Milla, reintroduced Becky Blake, who is now a lawyer and new partner in the Nelson and Murdock firm, and, of course, my lady, Echo. Reading it now, there are so many cringe-worthy moments dealing with disability, but Bendis made an effort to address it, even when he failed.
It's not his problem alone! Daredevil was always plagued with this problem. Hell, even the Netflix show isn't immune to this.
Funnily enough, the Ben Affleck movie remains the most informed and sensitive portrayal of Matt's disability, and that was made and released during Bendis' run on the comic. (Seriously, despite what people say, the director's cut is a pretty good movie.)
So, Milla is apparently done struggling with her blind girl pride and is now simply wallowing in being so ridiculously incompetent and vulnerable, some of her scenes play out like bad horror movies containing people with disabilities. She's seen stumbling around her own apartment in her underwear, asking if that silent, threatening presence is, in fact, her husband.
This remake of Wait Until Dark looks really trippy...
Hell, maybe she doesn't know what Matt sounds like coming home. God knows, we're not shown anything of their relationship. When she is, in fact, kidnapped by Gladiator (and, oh, I promised a discussion on mental illness and we'll get to good ole Melvin Potter in a moment!) Matt's rage seemingly comes solely from the fact that they dared threaten Matt's WIFE. Like... if there is only one panel in this entire volume that shows both Karen and Elektra's deaths haunting Matt, I'd be surprised. There's at least one. And it comes across here as... that it doesn't really matter that it's Milla, simply that women are possessions in Matt's life and basically interchangeable as they continually, well, die. The women, mind you, because they killed Foggy off but, whoops NOT REALLY! Because dudes more often than not don't get permanently fridged.
And all the behavior I have described from Matt so far? This is why I am continuously defending the character from people on the internet who cannot tell bad writing on a fictional character from a genuinely toxic real person. Cough.
I take this quote from a wonderful character analysis on Daredevil-themed Tumblr blog redringsideseats:
In Brubaker’s run, a lot of Milla’s previously-established power and autonomy is taken away, and her strength and complexity as a character suffers as a result. The previous drawn-out suspense and drama of her relationship with Matt, the ebb and flow of their dynamic, gets smacked down by the harshness of reality. Milla becomes a victim and not much else; yet another of Matt’s loves to suffer a tragic fate at the hands of his enemies.
Oh, and Milla had now been poisoned by Dr. Fear, as the aforementioned Melvin Potter was, and is now totes bonkers because BLURB BLURB BLURB CRAZY PEOPLE! And responsible for the death of a completely innocent man who she secondhandedly shoves in front of a subway train. Because crazy people, phhffft, am I right? Not only can our hero character no longer admit to maybe having had a nervous breakdown, we descend into the dangerous, hysterical crazy people thing, and Milla is susceptible because... she went to see a psychiatrist? Seriously, like... that's the level of mental health shaming we're on here?
The building of Melvin's character, any sensitivity he'd been shown, is gone in an issue, and Milla, well... she's not only incompetent and blind, codependent, and suffering from a major case of OVARIES, but she's CAH-RAZY now, too. It should be noted that, when fans talk about this storyline, they talk about her being "poisoned," so as to avoid many of the troubling implications.
But I suppose we ought to save some of this for the next volume.
And still three stars? Hell, it was a suspenseful read and I couldn't put the fucking thing down. But the myriad issues, the ableism and sexism, come to the fore in Brubaker's run and was it any surprise to anyone that readers were so relieved when Waid took over? (Yes, I'm ignoring Andy Diggle.)
And speak of the Devil...
A guest star from Matt Murdock will always make my day. Though... they both wonder how they'd never come up against one another, and I sort of went ??? because aren't they both defense attorneys?
Love this art, too. Bummed that the artist changes halfway through.
This is CUTE AS HECK! I think I've always just picked up the wrong She-Hulk comics, because I've never been a fan, but I was searching for Charles Soule, and this came up so I grabbed it. And absolutely love it so far.
Hmm. This is one of those books I have to think about for a little while before I write a review. I really loved it. But it is not without problems. But I need to separate those from what I felt emotionally as a Tolkien fan.
I read this earlier this year, for the romance bingo, or tried to. It was a pleasant enough read, but only that; there was absolutely nothing that made it exception or even all that romantic or erotic for me. It was actually boring. I went through a slump right after, or else I would have just finished the damned thing, but I couldn't even get myself to do that. I probably would have ended up giving it three stars. Maybe that'd have been too generous for as ambivalent as I was to this book. And ambivalence seems like the perfect description. The cover and the title wrote a check that the novel itself just could not cash. I wanted fun, I wanted absurd--it certainly was the latter, but in a dull sort of way.
Oh, so much better than the first volume! If still... Sighs. Star Wars has a problem, and it sort of always has, but I've never noticed it the way I have with recent books and other media. And that's the fascination with the "true believer" Imperial. And I'm just not interested in how cool a fucking fascist they are. There's a difference between a good villain, and one I'm supposed to drool over. But the story's moving better, and I like Threepio's involvement, even if he seems a bit out of character.
For the longest time, I meant to update that, if you are going to directly criticize Tolkien for his use (or lack thereof) of women in his books, you have to do better. And while I think Carey still isn't up to the level with any of her characters as an Eowyn or, certainly, a Galadriel, I do slightly take it back now, because Lilias became a lot more interesting when she gained a semblance of self-reflection. ( And I'm told that Cerelinde gets insane character development in the next book, which the character that she is an analog for, Arwen, never does.)
It still bothers me that Lilias is a combination of Saruman and Galadriel and got her power from a male dragon. Also, Carey has a fully anti-Elf--excuse me Ellylon--agenda, which I have issues about all on their own, and will make my eventual review.
I'm really liking the new run on Daredevil--liking, but not loving, not yet. It's all been very surface level so far on Matt's character, and I want to see more, especially with all of the changes he's gone through.
Supersonic shows that the stories are too short, and pass too quickly; this very slim volume contains no less than four separate stories. The first is Elektra's, and of course I loved that, because it's Elektra, but neither character is really explored. Matt finds out that he might have a daughter, but the idea is mulled over once and dismissed, and then, as I knew from the beginning, proved false. And it passes in two issues. Hints abound on how/who made Matt's identity disappear, and... I'm fairly spoiled for the upcoming storyline, so... there's that.
The same goes with the team-up with Spider-Man: two and done. Not to say it isn't enjoyable, and Peter struggling with how and why he might trust Daredevil would have been interesting in more depth. As it is, I think it's the only person so far that Matt's confessed that he made his secret identity go away to, and that in of itself shows his friendship with Peter. But I want more.
The annual with Echo: Pure win. I loved it, loved the art, am so happy to see Maya make her return. There were small details that made me happy, like Matt always remembering to face her when he's speaking.
The one-shot about Gladiator: Oh, Melvin, what have they done to you? LOL! Meh, weakest thing in the collection.
Dark Art provides a more complete story, and so I liked it better. The Medusa cameo and the inclusion of the Inhumans, I really liked, and the villain was suitably awful. I can't help but feel like Blindspot takes the comic over and I know more about him than I do Matt's state of mind at this point, and that bums me out.
But I really like it. I like Soule's writing, as always. Would really like to see him really get his teeth into Matt.
Next volume's on hold at the library; I think it releases in August!
And now I'm running to catch up on reviews, both reading and writing!
The Fourth was... the Fourth; I live in the South now, so you never know if it's fireworks or someone shooting off guns. We stay inside either way. But it was a couple of days later that marked one year since my brother passed away very prematurely from cancer. It's been tough; our little family was reduced to just my sister and me. Needless to say, the spirit to read sort of fled.
Though I have been reading through a ton of graphic novels and trade paperbacks. I feel fairly confident in naming this THE SUMMER OF DAREDEVIL.
Hopefully, I'm getting back in the swing of things. We've gotten immensely good news lately, in that Scholastic just purchased my sister's second novel (w00t! Publishing date currently set for Spring or Fall of 2019!) with the option to purchase another. We're beyond thrilled obviously!
So, I'm going through a rough patch mentally, which mental illness will do, but there are great things on the horizon. Thank God, frankly, LOL!
It was fine. Much, much more typical a supernatural story than the Fox Children, with a nice building of suspense, of mystery. But the resolution felt more like modern American fantasy fiction, and left me with an overwhelming sense of 'eh.' And Geralt's stance on love seems INCREDIBLY out of character, considering his feelings for Yen and even Triss. Which bothered me because, yeah, these were meant for fans of the games, and it was released before the third one, which means that yen hadn't been properly introduced yet. But that shouldn't have made a difference; most fans know the lore, and even if they don't, it's a misrepresentation of the character. I kept waiting for him to break through it and say something about Yennefer, but he remained stalwart and... eh. A fun read, but nothing more than that.
Just a much, much better book than the first in this series, in terms of pacing, story and character. One of my biggest complaints was how Clare seemed unable to blend the main storyline in the first with the romantic storyline, and they both fought for dominance while it seemed like two whole books slapped together. They're interwoven perfectly this time, with the relevance to the main action apparent.
Clare also willfully defies expectations, subverts what was seemingly put in place in Lady Midnight. The thing is, I didn't always love what she subverts it for. Ever since Sarah J. Maas got popular, it seems like it's ALWAYS THE FAIRIES nowadays. Not that this is unknown to Clare; the Seelie Court makes a HUGE impact on The Mortal Instruments, but since the first book started as more of a Gothic tale of magic and unfulfilled love, it was a letdown, for me, to jump to the Faeries.
And the death (again) of a CERTAIN CHARACTER from the first novel was surprising, to be sure, and so was the hand that dealt the killing blow; I had assume that that CERTAIN CHARACTER was actually the titular Lord of Shadows, until I came to understand it was the Unseelie King and we were going full-out Faerie. I liked that CERTAIN CHARACTER and wished that he'd been more fulfilled as a villain.
And while there's an excitement in following the Blackthorn clan to London and Idris, I miss the melding of the flashy modern world, in the shape of L.A., mixed with the strange and unique of the magical world from Lady Midnight. Though at least England does provide a bit of that dark romance that I was missing from the first novel.
The end is a little bit of a letdown. No one wants a political council meeting to be the climax to such a huge tale, and the loss of one main character actually seems ridiculously mandatory and unnecessary; I wasn't even certain what she was still doing there or why another CERTAIN CHARACTER lashes out at her. Shrugs. And I thought I knew where it was going, where the story was taking me, with Jules and Emma, making them an echo of the tragic couple from the first novel, but that was another subversion and... I'm not certain how I feel about that.
Emma does remain probably the strongest character, in my opinion, that Clare has written; while Clary remains a favorite of mine, Emma sort of fulfills what I had wanted Clary to be.
A solid entry, and I enjoyed it far, far more than I actually thought I would. Despite being nearly 700 pages long, it read fairly quickly, and I never felt a fatigue, which is a testament to its spot-on pacing.
I do have to say, I think it's hilarious, in a series that references anything and everything in pop culture, especially with fantasy fiction, the fact that she openly avoids mentioning Harry Potter is howl worthy, considering this world started off as Potter fanfiction. So things that could have been written off as another reference actually seem like she's ripping them off, because none of the characters mention it. Not a huge problem, just something I thought was funny.
This is one of my best friend's very favorite books, and that's very unnerving, LOL! You always feel at least a little pressure to like it. Luckily, so far, it's really good. And I do love that she intentionally absorbed Tolkien's world and turned it on its head. Carey's Silmarillion game is strong!
So, straight up, I avoided Secret Wars like the plague, because I actually despise the big crossover events, so the fact that Matt's identity is now only known to Foggy and the fact that Matt seems to be a lapsed Catholic, and that he's now working for the DA's office, all surprised me. But not in a bad way, because, thank God, it's actually a new direction for the comics to take the character in. (Hugely unpopular opinion, but Foggy began to play WAY too large a role in the comics in the past ten, fifteen years.)
I know Waid's run was hugely beloved, especially since it added a bit of lightheartedness to the comic (again, unpopular opinion, I didn't dislike it, but I didn't think it was the best thing that had ever happened to the comic either; Matt without his angst is like peanut butter without its jelly) and so this has come under some scrutiny. But I enjoyed seeing it go in a completely new direction. My complaint would be with the story, and how it almost felt as if it had been cut in half, since a lot of it relies on events from Secret Wars, and how Matt is already training Blindspot, the introduction for that character only coming in the last issue of the collection. Which also allows for some surprises as to his identity, and that was fun.
And I liked Blindspot. A lot. And I really liked that he seems like a direct response to the criticism that there are an awful lot of white martial arts dudes running around New York; at one point, Blindspot even pointedly compares himself to Luke Cage in Harlem and Daredevil in Hell's Kitchen.
A strong start to a new run that I've heard only gets better.
I struggled with the rating for this one for quite a bit. On the one hand, I really enjoyed it; it kept me reading, an eager page-turner. On the other hand, when you delve into the actual content, it's just a repeat of the Bendis run, but not as well, in my opinion. Matt loses one of his oldest and best friends (in this case, Foggy, and, hey! But, unlike Karen, he can't stay fridged forever--'cause, ya know, he's not female. It's revealed by the end of the volume that he's alive and in protective custody.) The loss drives Matt over the edge, as before, though this time, instead of driving Matt to seek more control, which was a really interesting character choice, they go for the more typical 'he just wants to fight everyone.' Will he kill the people responsible? He better not, because that'd pretty much assassinate his character.
And instead of the the interesting idea of Matt suffering an actual breakdown after Karen's death, his personality shifting, and not being able to see it happening, this comic is littered with people, mostly Ben, telling Matt, SO THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE WHEN SOMEONE LIKE YOU GOES INSANE!
So, it's not in any way a bad comic, but it brings nothing new to the table, and the things it repeats, I feel it doesn't do as well as it did the first time around. Also? Can we talk about the fact that the writers of this comic never seem to understand that civil rights exists? And that's a problem that runs through all eras. And I'm aware that this comes from me being the sister of a deaf disabilities activist, but I notice it and it bothers me. Do you know how many blind protesters there would be outside of that courtroom? Especially since his wife is blind also and most likely has friends in the blind community.
And 'legally blind' is a thing. Someone please give the writers of the comics as well as the excellent Netflix show this memo. Because it's getting on my nerves.