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A Reciprocal Love Affair With Books

Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.

Currently reading

Miles Morales: Spider-Man (A Marvel YA Novel)
Jason Reynolds, Kadir Nelson
Progress: 206/261 pages

Got my Halloween Bingo card!


And it's SO PRETTY! I've already got a few books picked out in my head, though it's not a definite TBR just yet:


Diverse voices - Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

Chilling children - Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone by Stefan Kiesbye

Terrifying women - Family Plot by Cherie Priest

The Dead will Walk - The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey or Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry

Terror in a small town - Bad Moon Rising by Jonathan Maberry. I'm not gonna double dip, so this is dependent on whether or not I end up reading Dead of Night, LOL

80's horror - I'm looking at Christine by Stephen King

Modern masters of horror - Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

Darkest London - Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which I've been wanting to read, but this is starting to get extremely ambitious with how slowly I read, LOL! So we'll see.

She-Hulk vol 2: Disorderly Conduct by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido

She-Hulk Volume 2: Disorderly Conduct - Charles Soule, Javier Pulido

Instant favorite. It's such a shame this run didn't last longer than it did, because I enjoyed absolutely every moment of it. It's almost mind-boggling to see Jen go through life as a professional, to see her humor and her friendships, most prominently with Patsy Walker aka Hellcat, without so much as a male regular in the series, let alone a love interest. Just putting that out there. I was pleased.


Oh, but Matt puts in another appearance, and Soule proved to me that he absolutely "got" the character, and his and Jen's interactions are priceless. Along with, mild spoilers, good ole Steve Rogers, who Matt and Jen find themselves on opposing sides of a civil suit against.


The conclusion of the blue file story was... okay, but the Cap story actually felt like the main event, and that was sort of anti-climactic afterwards, but it was well handled.


Quality stuff, and proof that superheroics and, ya know, punching stuff, doesn't have to be the main focus of a superhero comic to make it fun and interesting. Loved it!

Daredevil: Back in Black vol. 4: Identity by Charles Soule

Daredevil: Back in Black Vol. 4: Identity - Charles Soule, Dan Panosian, Goran Sudžuka, Ron Garney

I seem to be in the minority here, but this is what I was waiting for, the greatness that I saw in this comic from the beginning, the characterization of Matt that I knew Soule was capable of.


Focusing finally solely on Matt this time 'round, Soule takes him back to the character that I've always loved, takes him back to darkness and religion, and his complicated relationship with both. Also, kinda pointing out what an asshole he'd become in the Waid comics, which... I honestly gotta love.


This is also the reveal of how and why the world forgot his identity, and his role in it. What happened between him and Kirsten, him and Foggy. And, again, in the minority, but I thought it was wonderfully handled (though, I gotta admit, I'm gonna disagree with the priest here that he protected Kirsten by not revealing himself to her; he protected his own self, as he tends to do, and that's in-character, but the comic telling me it was something noble or justified made me side-eye it just a bit.)


There's a two page panel that I adored, that I think perfectly sums Matt's struggles in one image without words: Matt is being carried on his back, a Christ-like figure, with the worst, most evil influences in his life at the front, Kingpin right beside him with Foggy trying to reach over Fisk's shoulder to get to Matt, and Milla behind him with her hand on his shoulder. Elektra at the bottom of the panel, reaching for him, his father and mother at his head, Jack muscling past Bullseye, Karen behind him. The edges fade into darkness, with every character that's crossed his path, for good or for evil, crowding around him. This was modern Daredevil at its finest.

Black Panther: Wold of Wakanda by Roxanne Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates

Black Panther: World of Wakanda (2016-) #1 - Ta-Nehisi Coates, Alitha Martinez, Yona Harvey, Afua Richardson, Roxane Gay

Not terrible, but not terribly memorable either, the main problem being the fact that the stories told slot into and in between existing stories. So, it's supposed to be character-driven, but the bulk of it being about Aneka and Ayo going in circles and circles with the beginning of their relationship is tiring, and the characterization seems passionless. The last two issues, with Coates as consultant, play better, especially the White Tiger one, specifically because it has action in it, and is a self-contained story.


Considering the immense talent involved, and the fact that I was extremely excited for Aneka and Ayo's relationship, a disappointment.

Yeah, I plan to do a full review of this...

Daredevil, Vol. 17: Hell to Pay, Vol. 2 - Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark

Like I did with Hell to Pay vol. 1, but I gotta say, it's sort of killing my soul. I meant to go allll the way through the 2000's Daredevil, but Brubaker is making me so furious, I have a feeling I might just have to skip a bit. And next up is Lady Bullseye. Ugh. I knew these kinda sucked at the time, but I don't remember how they didn't actually make me want to punch someone or something. Because they do.


EDIT: So, I just realized that the next volume is, in fact, not Lady Bullseye but Cruel and Unusual. Which... is just so appropriate.

DNF'd at 46 pages

Dark Breaks the Dawn - Sara B. Larson

So, it doesn't seem like a terrible book, and I was appreciating the "out-there" world building, but it felt clumsy, and I wasn't connecting with any of the characters. I might have, if I'd stuck with it, but I... just didn't want to, LOL! It wasn't very inspired or inspiring. And it didn't really have the feel that Swan Lake ought to, if that makes sense.

She-Hulk vol. 1: Law & Disorder by Charles Soule

She-Hulk Vol. 1: Law and Disorder - Ron Wimberley, Charles Soule, Javier Pulido

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.

Reblogged from Ned Hayes Writing:

A James Baldwin quote for his birthday -- August 2, 1924

Source: http://nednote.com

Daredevil vol. 16: Hell to Pay vol. 1 by Brubaker and Lark

Daredevil: Hell to Pay, Vol. 1 - Lee Weeks, Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark

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.)

Reading progress update: I've read 75%.

She-Hulk Vol. 1: Law and Disorder - Ron Wimberley, Charles Soule, Javier Pulido

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.

Reading progress update: I've read 40%.

She-Hulk Vol. 1: Law and Disorder - Ron Wimberley, Charles Soule, Javier Pulido

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.

Reading progress update: I've read 431 out of 431 pages.

Banewreaker - Jacqueline Carey

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.

Royally Screwed by Emma Chase - DNF'd at 60-70%

Royally Screwed - Emma Chase

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.

Reading progress update: I've read 30%.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron Vol. 2: The Gathering Storm (Star Wars (Marvel)) - Charles Soule, Phil Noto

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.

Reading progress update: I've read 380 out of 431 pages.

Banewreaker - Jacqueline Carey

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.

Daredevil: Back in Black vols. 2 & 3: Supersonic & Dark Art

Daredevil: Back in Black Vol. 2: Supersonic - Charles Soule, Ron Garney Daredevil: Back in Black Vol. 3: Dark Art - Charles Soule, Ron Garney

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!