Summer Reading List ['17]

Summertime means longer days and more unstructured leisure time to do what you will with. Since scientists love to remind us that children get dumber over the summer months because they spend all their time riding their bikes in the street and stealing from convenience stores, schools love to assign Summer Reading Lists.
Summer Reading lists are great but they tend to be geared at children and highly filtered by “The Man.” Also, they always leave out graphic novels…
With that in mind, I’m going to generate my own! I have read all these books so don’t kick me in the junk if you hate them; they’re on the list of books I plan to read or think someone should plan to read.

In Case of Survival Summer Reading List [2017]

Continue reading “Summer Reading List ['17]”

REVIEW – I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young

Basically, I Hate Fairyland is the end of the world

Skottie Young has a way of infusing cute with crazy in a way that no one else can. While his artwork is well-known, I Hate Fairyland is a welcomed introduction to his writing and storytelling skills. Image Comics, the biggest indie publisher stays on brand by getting behind this title.
I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young is the story of young Gertrude getting trapped in the magical Fairyland on a quest to get home. Unfortunately she is awful at quests and decades have passed forging once adorable and idealistic Gert in a foul-mouthed (as foul as the magic in Fairyland allows), sadistic, one woman (in the body of a child) Apocalypse carving her way through every delightful and dangerous neighborhood in the land to find the Key that will get her home.
She’s the only one of her kind, trapped in another world and forced to fend for herself – It may be just for one little girl, but it’s the end of the world.
Gert is assigned a little fairy guide named Larry who is 50% storage solution, 25% useless guide, and 25% link to the audience to help offer perspective.
Continue reading “REVIEW – I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young”

Review: Orchid Volume 1 (Dark Horse)

When I first heard about Orchid (blurb and facts are down below), the brain child of Rage Against The Machine‘s Tom Morello, I had low expectations. Admittedly, I thought he was already skilled in one area, music, what were the chances he would be skilled in another completely unrelated one, comics.

I’d read interviews and press releases that made me think Orchid would be a heavy-handed political and social diatribe vilifying politicians and the rich and babying the rest of us, barely held together with pictures– pretty much a Chick Tract for social revolution.
When I finally got my hands and eyes on Orchid Volume 1[1. A copy of this title was provided for review by Dark Horse Comics.] I found myself wrapped up in a fast-paced action-adventure starring the quirky and blindly optimistic nerd, Simon, and the surly whore, Orchid, with nothing and everything to lose.
Volume one, covering issues 1-5, is a proper set up of the characters and why we should care about them. This post-apocalyptic world is vast, feeling vaster than the current world at times.
The first couple issues start with historical exposition set over elaborate, intricate scenes. I was reading on my kindle fire and often found myself zooming in to see what all was going on. Tom Morello (writer) and Scott Hepburn (artist) brought this somewhat over done setting new life. From fascinating creatures roaming the wild to the concept of people spending generations on “the derelict barges,” it all felt fresh and exciting.

But once the characters took center-stage it was hard to notice much else– though the art stays well done throughout– with the snappy dialogue and constant progress.
Orchid, Simon, and The Mask (this is an actual, literal mask but with so much legend and power it is pretty much a character in its own right) face more than their fair share of foes and near misses. At some points the adventuring hits a lull and I realized this is seriously heavy, seriously sad, and just generally serious.
That’s one of the greatest things about Orchid; it takes the path of children’s stories and parables, the lesson and the story work so well together that I didn’t realize I was being taught.
I was attached to the story and the characters and the world as not only a fantastic place but also the home of these people who deserved better. Before I knew it, after experiencing their world, watching their struggles, triumphs, and failures, and even getting a glimpse at the antagonists, I’d joined their revolution.
Almost every character — the exception being some villains who do seem to be more symbolic power hoarders than individuals– is fleshed out with a back story, from being a simple bridge folk whore to a nerd who wouldn’t be so out of place elsewhere where he was a slave specially trained because of his aptitude[2. I thought Simon was a time traveler when he was first introduced, until his manner of being was explained away sufficiently enough to re-suspend my disbelief].
You’ll be hard pressed to read Orchid and not to be moved or inspired on some level. Maybe simply by Simon’s unwavering courage and idealism, maybe by Orchid as a strong woman, or even by one of the “villains[3. Issue #5 SPOILER: I’m not willing to call Don Barrabas an actual villain so much as a survivor/victim/pawn who aligned with a man, Tomo Wolfe, willing to do right by him to accomplish much greater wrongs.]” who was somewhat of an ugly duckling (if the ugly duckling turned out to be a duck hunter-chef).
Sure, you might not feel you’re now expertly educated about class warfare or moved to “damn the man, save the empire.” But I can definitely say through Tom Morello telling Orchid’s story I felt heard, and seen, and important as a woman, and a person of color, and a nobody with no power or clout. Generally, as a person with things that can be or have been used to marginalize me. In Orchid, all those things that they use against us were the building blocks to make powerful characters, powerful ideas.
At the end of most comics the writer includes a short essay about their thoughts on the work. While I don’t really I care about nearly any issues, including class, in the real world, the passion Tom Morello shows for this project and this message is the kind of passion that can only create great things.

I’ve always been drawn to epic tales. Beowulf, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars. But for me, there was always something missing. I could never entirely get behind the goal. “C’mon, subjects! Let’s get the king back on the throne!” Or “To arms, vassals! Let’s return the princess to glory!” In my book, kings and princesses are the bad guys. But what was really missing from these epic tales was the unspoken but ever present dirty five-letter word: CLASS. Who rules and why? Who has a lot and who has nothing? And why the hell doesn’t somebody do something about it?! In Orchid the cool monsters, the narrow escapes, and epic battles are front and center, but somebody finally does something about the remorseless inequality that mirrors our own world. And that somebody is Orchid.

Orchid is successful as something new and different, something intriguing and engaging, and something worth reading.
I’d stand up to The Hangman for it.
[rating:5/5]
 

The facts about Orchid Volume 1 direct from Dark Horse:

When the seas rose, genetic codes were smashed. Human settlements are ringed by a dense wilderness from which ferocious new animal species prey on the helpless. The high ground belongs to the rich and powerful that overlook swampland shantytowns from their fortress-like cities. Iron-fisted rule ensures order and allows the wealthy to harvest the poor as slaves.
Delve into the first chapter of Orchid, the tale of a teenage prostitute who learns that she is more than the role society has imposed upon her.
CREATORS
Writer: Tom Morello
Artist: Scott Hepburn
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Cover Artist: Massimo Carnevale
Genre: Action/Adventure

Publication Date: July 11, 2012
Format: FC, 112 pages; TP, 7″ x 10″
Price: $17.99
Age range: 14
ISBN-10: 1-59582-965-2
ISBN-13: 978-1-59582-965-8

 

Graphic Novel Review: DOLLHOUSE VOLUME 1: EPITAPHS

Publisher’s blurb:
The Rossum Corporation’s Dollhouse technology has gone viral with a synchronized phone call that wiped the minds of everyone it reached, turning them into mindless killers. Those who avoided the call–including show favorites Echo, Alpha, Mag, Zone, and Griff–must try to survive in the sudden apocalypse and be wary of Rossum’s expansive technological reach.

In DOLLHOUSE VOLUME 1: EPITAPHS (Dark Horse) [1. This book was provided for review by Dark Horse] we get a look at the worst case scenario for the imprint technology used in Dollhouse the TV show. Robo-calls are made to just about everyone in America and if the person at the other end answered the phone, they were hit with an imprint. The imprint erased their personality and replaced it with that of a blood-thirsty killing drone.
Imprinted people have no actual reasoning or logic, just standing orders they’re compelled to obey. If every last person is dead, they don’t just snap out of it because the job’s done. Nope. They can either go on to task number two, be erased, or be reprogrammed.
Is a person still a person if you remove them from their body? Similarly, is a body still a person without the individual person inside of it?
It has always been easy enough to decide that a zombie should be killed. A change takes place that removes them from the Human bucket. Not only do they die but they also look dead and act inhuman.
What if they only did one of those things? Would we be so quick to pull the trigger or swing the bat if Mrs. May still looked exactly the same except with a new rage behind her eyes?
Continue reading “Graphic Novel Review: DOLLHOUSE VOLUME 1: EPITAPHS”

Comic Review: The Strain #1

The Strain #1 [1. Review copy provided by Dark Horse]
When a Boeing 777 lands at JFK International Airport and goes dark on the runway, the Center for Disease Control, fearing a terrorist attack, calls in Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team of expert biological-threat first responders. Only an elderly pawnbroker from Spanish Harlem suspects a darker purpose behind the event-an ancient threat intent on covering mankind in darkness.
* From director Guillermo del Toro and novelist Chuck Hogan (Prince of Thieves)!
* Adapted for comics by Eisner Award-winning writer David Lapham!

I’ll be honest, I have no idea if The Strain is going to go apocalyptic or not- but it’s a damn good comic.
Continue reading “Comic Review: The Strain #1”

I'd like my microchip now, please.

Mind control microchips are a fun thing to fear and speculate on. Well, for me. I’m kind of a scatterbrained-forgets-a-lot. I often mean to do things then hours (or seconds) pass and the thing is not only not done but also an annoying ghost of a memory. I lose all the scraps of paper I make notes on; I set reminders on my phone a leave it in another room; and, I have a dozen half finished projects I don’t know how to keep track of. I need a microchip. In my brain. Continue reading “I'd like my microchip now, please.”

I'd like my microchip now, please.

Mind control microchips are a fun thing to fear and speculate on. Well, for me. I’m kind of a scatterbrained-forgets-a-lot. I often mean to do things then hours (or seconds) pass and the thing is not only not done but also an annoying ghost of a memory. I lose all the scraps of paper I make notes on; I set reminders on my phone a leave it in another room; and, I have a dozen half finished projects I don’t know how to keep track of. I need a microchip. In my brain. Continue reading “I'd like my microchip now, please.”

A Discussion of CROSSED

Crossed is a graphic novel written by Garth Ennis, drawn by Jacen Burrows, and published via Avatar Press. The story is set in a world where suddenly there are people who “stop being nice, and start being real.” Unfortunately, “real” in this scenario is bloodthirsty, rape-crazy, and straight up ultra-violent.
Crossed” is how the infected in this universe are described because they develop a cross-like rash across their faces. The rash isn’t an issue. What is and issue is that fact that the infected, unlike other apocalyptic infected, want to rape you to death and mutilate you and destroy you as slowly and horrifically as possible. Because that’s fun now, and okay, because no one can or will stop them. Don’t get me wrong, the Crossed can and do feel pain — but they love it and it won’t slow them down. So, either kill them dead or don’t get caught.
One of the main themes in Crossed was not getting caught. Our protagonists pushed on and on in a constant effort to not get caught by the Crossed until eventually they realized that there are some serious flaws in a plan to live just so you won’t die.
anninyn and I both read volume one recently and needed to discuss it. So we did. Together. In detail. With spoilers, and swears, and graphic descriptions, and even some spoilers for the movie Serenity (which, if you haven’t seen you need to; so, go fix that ASAP).
Below is our discussion and we hope you join in on it if you’ve read the book too. Continue reading “A Discussion of CROSSED”

Post-Apocalyptic Graphic Novel (Comic): Sweet Tooth Vol. 1

Sweet Tooth, by Jeff Lemire (both art and story!), is an apocalyptic comic that benefits from being both familiar and unusual. The concepts, on the surface, allow for a easy suspension of disbelief while the details will keep readers enthralled.
Seven years ago a sickness struck the world down. If you weren’t sick, you would be eventually. The children would have been the hope of the future, since all the children are immune to the sickness. Unfortunately, every child born since the sickness was boron a human-animal hybrid.
Sweet Tooth stars Gus, a nine-year-old boy –with deer antlers growing out of his head–, who has been raised by his religious and paranoid father in a cabin in the woods ever since the whole world got sick and the only children born were part animal.
Early in the comic, Gus loses his father to either sickness or old age. Shortly after going out to burry the old man, Gus gets himself either rescued (or hoodwinked) by a badass loner named Jepperd. Jepperd promises to take Gus to “The Preserve,” where kids like Gus (human animal hybrids) are safe. Having only ever learned what his father taught him about people and the world, Gus is native but not stupid. He’s had almost no interaction with others but still manages to be kind without losing his instinct for self preservation.
Sweet Tooth manages to create a humor-violence-emotion hybrid. Each character is dimensional, reasonable, and interesting. Without saying too much, appearing too hokey, or over developed everyone is still fleshed out enough to be fresh and charming in their own, sometimes sadistic, ways.
I totally recommend this series. But, just in case my enthusiasm isn’t convincing enough, you can read this free preview of issue #1 (Volume 1 is a compilation of issue #1 through #5).

Why The CDC is My Favorite Government Agency

The only thing worse than having a boring job is having a boring job that involves relaying boring information to people who have no interest in your latest report about whatever you’ve been on about in that sad little corner of yours. The CDC is the kid with the rock collection on show-and-tell day. Sure there’s loads of facts and “interesting” things you can learn about hand washing, but NASA went to the moon.
Well, the CDC is taking the gloves off (then carefully washing their hands up to their elbows for 45 seconds) and bring out the pop culture references. They realized that zombies are hot right now and hell if that mess isn’t right up their alley.
Infection, plague, contagions, and wide-spread chaos? Jackpot!
Continue reading “Why The CDC is My Favorite Government Agency”