Review: Captain America — Winter Soldier

Captain America: Winter Soldier by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Michael Lark, John Paul Leon and Mike Perkins

reviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstar

brubakerwintersoldier

A little before The Avengers came out in theaters, I found myself at Oxford Comics in Atlanta. I’d successfully jumped into Journey Into Mystery, thanks to recommendations from the Internet, and was hoping to jump into The Avengers. My source for the Journey Into Mystery had given me the number of a recent certain issue that I could use as an in, but I’d forgotten it. In the corner, I flipped through a few issues, hoping to just chance across it, but didn’t find it. What I did find was a few pages where the Avengers all described Captain America—specifically, some of them had a feeling he was cosmically linked to the American nation-state.

Continue reading

Review: Hawkeye — Little Hits

Hawkeye: Little Hits by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Javier Pulido, Steve Lieber, Francesco Francavilla, and Jesse Hamm 

reviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstar

hawkeyelittlehits

Reviewing the middle collections of serialized comics is hard for me. Despite my new and eager devotion to longform media (I’m currently picking my way through Star Trek: The Next Generation; the sheer number of episodes left in the real Star Trek canon is heartening and terrifying), I’m unsure how to review something in progress. Book and film series, of course, are the exception, since each installment should be a satisfying story in and of itself. I suppose I should take my cue from those, but individual comics and television episodes are still too fine for me to parse in my journey as a critical consumer of pop culture.

Continue reading

Review: Hawkeye — My Life as a Weapon

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Javier Pulido

fractionhawkeyelifeasaweapon

Last week, instead of airing another episode of the tepid Agents of SHIELD, ABC instead aired Creating the Marvel Universe, a hour-long commercial for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I say this as someone who whooped at the screen and side-eyed their efforts to pretend Edward Norton was never the Hulk. At the beginning, the talking heads discuss the difficulty of getting Marvel Studios up off the ground, especially since their A-list heroes—the Fantastic Four, Spiderman, and the X-Men—were (and remain!) controlled by other studios. The solution?

Continue reading

Review: X-Men: First Class — Volume 1

X-Men: First Class — Volume 1 by Jeff Parker, Roger Cruz, Paul Smith, and Kevin Nowlan

parkerxmenfirstclass

Traditionally, fans of mainstream comics separate DC and Marvel on the basis of realism. As one of my friends once put it to me, the heroes of DC are aspirational, while the heroes of Marvel are relatable. You aspire to being as good, kind, and humble as Clark Kent is, even if he had a fairly normal childhood; you relate to Steve Rogers’ being someone who failed at everything despite having the right intentions, even if he eventually gets the opportunity to succeed because of everything he learned from those failures. In short—Clark Kent is from Smallville. Steve Rogers is from Brooklyn. It’s not a hard and fast rule, obviously, since who you aspire to be and who you identify with is a very personal thing, but it’s a good rule of thumb.

Continue reading

Review: Gotham Central — In the Line of Duty

Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka with Michael Lark

brubakerruckagothamcentral1

The first I’d ever read about how civilians might react to superheroes in a non-positive way was reading about Marvel’s Damage Control. The series (composed of four limited series) follows Damage Control, a construction company skilled in cleaning up the property damage left behind by all those superheroics. I was paging through my brother’s copy of Les Daniels’ Marvel at the time, and I was blown away by the idea that there might be consequences for those actions. (I was, like, seven.) I never picked up Damage Control, but Gotham Central appealed to me on the same basis: superheroes can make life tough for people just trying to do their job.

Continue reading

Review: Daredevil — Volume 1

Daredevil: Volume 1 by Mark Waid, Paolo Manuel Rivera, and Marcos Martin

waiddaredevil1

I was about twelve when I was exposed to the film version of Daredevil. It came out in 2003, so I must have been about thirteen. We watched it because my dad has the kind of open mind when it comes to films that a director wishes ey could buy. It didn’t make too much of an impression, beyond cementing my brother’s resemblance to Ben Affleck for the family, and that’s been my major impression of Daredevil ever since. Given my previous antipathy towards Marvel, I saw no need to correct it, but something moved me to pick up this while picking over the graphic novels at the library. I’m quite glad I did.

Continue reading

Review: Fables — Legends in Exile

Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham et al.

willinghamfables1

I have a weird relationship with Fables. My brother went to the Air Force Academy, and, despite my atrocious memory, I distinctly recall sitting in a Borders (back in the day, obviously) in Colorado Springs, seeing how far I could read into Fables before my parents were done with their errands. I got to Volume 5—which is less a comment on my parents’ time management skills, but how quickly I read, especially graphic novels. Of course, that was before this book blog and during the wombat years, so it’s essentially as if I did not read it. However, the first volume has been on my shelf forever, so I figured it was time to revisit it as an adult…

Continue reading

Review: Hark! A Vagrant

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton is awesome. If you have somehow managed to connect to the Internet and somehow find this review without knowing who La Beatonne is (gosh, I hope I have jurisdiction for that by virtue of being French), go. Leave. Check it out and then come back. She’s a Canadian cartoonist who merges her deep interest and knowledge about history with often clever and occasionally delightfully juvenile jokes and has become quite a bit of a sensation. Every fandom I stumble across has their very own “Oooh, Mr. Darcy” parody. While I knew her big-girl book (Beaton self-published a book before this through her website) was out, I didn’t dream for a second that my library would have it, but there it was, sitting on the shelf, telling me that I could now review her for the blog. Aw yis, to quote one of her most famous comics.

Continue reading

The Sunday Salon: Literary LEGOs, Part One

I spent a half hour last weekend doing something I haven’t done in ages—building a LEGO set. I’ve long goggled at the skills of people who can put together astounding creations out of LEGO, but I’ve not been tempted to the hobby myself, for reasons of cost and space. But when I heard, at the beginning of the year, that LEGO had gotten the licenses to both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, I knew I was going to buy a set as soon as it came out—not only because I wanted one, but because the LEGO resale market would prohibit it. But this isn’t LEGO’s first crack at sets based on books. Today, I thought we’d take a look at official LEGO sets based on books—and next week, we’ll take a look at the amazing creations of fans.

Continue reading