Comic Review: Generation Hope #10 Marvel Comics

Generation Hope 10

As I mentioned in my review of X-Men Schism #3 I finally clicked who the youngsters were who appeared in several scenes due to the link with this issue. My curiosity got the better of me as I was wondering what I was missing so I bought this issue. Now that I know, well, meh.

It’s great comic if you’ve kept a keen eye on the X-Men I’m sure especially you get to see more from the exhibitions in the Mutant History Museum and we get to see what made Idie enter the fight in Schism #3.It also explores the dynamic of Generation Hope and how the work as a team.

The art by Tim Seeley is great as is his ability to capture facial expressions and mannerisms. The panel layout is coherent as is the dialogue.

But as enjoyable as the whole thing could be I really don’t fancy committing whole heartedly to X-Universe and all it’s interweaving connections right now.

 

Review and Giveaway: Regicide by Nicholas Royle (Solaris Books)

Regicide uk

Carl meets Annie Risk and falls for for her but Regicide isn’t a love story instead it’s about a map and Carl’s obsession with finding the streets it matches. Though it isn’t really about love or obsession either. What Nicholas Royle does is slowly peels away Carl’s psyche but what it feels like is Carl’s psyche unhinging as you read.

What really stands out is that it gets weird fast and then remains teetering back and forth on the edge of sanity/reality before finally leaping off the deep end. This isn’t an easy at times to follow especially as it’s not clear where Carl ultimately heading.

But through apparent asides and personal revelations Royle is really putting the reader in the same mental space that Carl inhabits and that makes this a haunting and disturbing tale.

It’s not often that books effect me after reading them but this one lingers especially when you start asking how unhinged Carl actually is and when you first started to notice..

Now as this is a meditation on the life of a record store owner as he deals with love and inner demons the way Royle does things is going to effect your connection to Carl. And as this isn’t a straightforward novel in terms of hero or narrative it requires an element of , especially when you’re fast approaching the last few pages with no apparent ending in sight.

But it’s those pages that make, rather than break, Regicide. It’s not a trick ending but it does pull back that final layer that leaves Carl raw in front of the reader.

There are however things that do feel oddities in this strange tale. One is a feeling of being slightly dated or least it being date ambiguous. The plot requires the absence of some pretty everyday technology and then wondering at the beginning why Carl does one thing, even though coherent with later behaviour it jars a little in it’s unexpectedness.

Even though those things stuck in my mind they weren’t enough to pull me out of the story and they are minor considering the effect of the whole book. And it’s nice to see a book that is confident enough to be shorter. Regicide weighs in at under 200 pages and carries more power for that.

Regicide is one of those books that is perfect for dark nights but if you hear a dog bark whilst reading I doubt you’ll want  to go to the window to investigate.

Competition: I ended up with two copies of Regicide so I’ve got one to giveaway (UK only sorry) just leave a comment to enter.

Deadline: 12PM 2nd Sept 2011.

Update: And the winner is:

The Randomiser by Mat Hayward

Review: X-Men Schism #3 of 5 (Marvel Comics)

X men schism issue 3

Right, I’ve concluded that this isn’t a ‘jumping on’ point for the X-Men. Not that it’s being sold like that but I’ve just figured out who all those youngsters are that wondering around and that’s only due to the link it has with Generation Hope ergo the youngsters are the ‘team’ of that title.

Speaking of children we get a clearer insight into the new Hellfire Club. And there exploitation of the X-Men’s individual weaknesses. Though it does make me think why no one has thought of this tactic before (maybe they have and I’ve not been around to see it).

A couple of questions come to mind including an object that there is one of suddenly multiplying. Why Wolverine so protective of Idie? is another. Plus when did Wolverine become think first and Scott become so mission over people focused?

Another think that is slowly starting to bug my that’s £2.99 for 25 pages with 22 pages of actual story. Is it just me that finds that pricey?

Overall this is turning into a slightly more confusing tale than expected. It’s a story talking to itself if that makes sense. And after this mornings post I’m wondering if it’s worth continuing?

Comics: My Problem With Mainstream Comics Featuring Several X-Men

For me the images above say a lot about how comic fans get their comics delivered. They don’t get one or two X-Men comics they get six. Apparently X-Men: Schism that I’m reading leads to X-MEN: REGENESIS (which Newsarama does a good job of covering). To be honest I’ve had my blinkers on and not really considered that Schism would lead to a relaunch of all the X-Men books but it’s naive of me really. I should have known better. Especially as I fell into the trap of buying X-Men Schism #3 and seeing Schism written on Generation Hope #10, which made it’s digital debut with that issue. So it must be important to the main events right?

Photo

And that’s how Marvel/DC get you to buy more than the issues you are interested in. You need to see what is going on off stage and what  is feeding in to the main events themselves.

We’ll see how it goes but this particular experiment may end if I feel that I’m going to buying more than what I want just to feel I’m not missing out.

Speaking disappointments.  It wasn’t a new Dr Strange solo title coming in December it’s a Defenders title. Might be worth picking up but it’s not what I was hoping for.

Review: Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley (Bantam)

Maria Dahvana Headley  Queen of Kings

I tend to avoid the plethora of vampire novels on the shelves these days. I’ve had my moment indulging with vampires. Loving Queen of the Damned most of Anne Rice’s portrayals. Reading Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls and Drawing Blood. Devouring most of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. And embracing the original (an arguably the best) incarnation in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. To name but a few.

So there has to be something special in order for me to embrace a new take on vampire mythology. And at first glance Cleopatra being a vampire could be mistaken for a gimmick. Especially seeing titles like Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter are doing the rounds.

Queen of Kings tries to blend fantasy and history, aims for an mythological feel but also, oddly, an emotional grounding. This is quite a big ask for any writer and for a debut author, if they manage to get it right, it’s going to put them on the map.

So does Maria Dahvana Headley manage it? There is a reason it carries a quote from Neil Gaiman on the cover. She does, almost effortlessly. It’s quite astonishing when you read the historical note at the end (and I mean after you’ve read it. Don’t skip!) where some of the seams of fantasy and historically reported reality lie.

It’s not all perfect but we’ll get to imperfections shortly but for now let’s stick to history. Cleopatra was killed by an asp, wasn’t she? Not in Headley’s version of history. Headley’s twist seems quite natural (considering we are dealing with the myths of Egypt and Rome and elsewhere) especially Cleopatra turning to the goddess Sekhmet.

What was surprising is that I was expecting her to rise to power again in Egypt and basically being continually being bathed in blood. Though this isn’t what happened. Instead we see her as a loving and devoted mother and wife whose actions are underscored by the needs to protect or avenge her loved ones.

I really enjoyed the way that Headley plays with myth and history especially when she starts mixing different pantheons as her  logic shows how Roman and Egyptian gods and their domains can be both exist and interact.

Though being a debut it’s accepted that they’ll come with imperfections. And for me it wasn’t to do with the story, or the characters, or problems with choices of what and where the important parts of the story should be. All that felt natural.

What makes it feel rough in places was the tightness of the storytelling and the tendency for chapters to constantly build to payoff even if that meant splitting up scenes that would have gone smoother without starting a new chapter.

I’d definitely say it’s better to be too lean than overly flabby but as this isn’t a thriller and doesn’t need to be constantly moving. I think Headly could have indulged herself and the reader a little bit more by lingering on minor descriptions, and in some places taking time to explain more. I do need go back and check when happened at point near the end that seemed to melt away forgotten or perhaps dealt with in a throw away line or two.

But those skills will, I’m sure, mature with future books. And as much as it does make for an occasional pause for clarity I’d much rather that than wading through pages of filler trying to make a story longer.

Headly is a very accomplished storyteller and myth maker who has marked out her own place in this years releases. One who I can see loosening up and indulging a little more whilst building on her storytelling strengths in future books.

Queen of Kings is my fantasy debut of the year so far.

Comic Review: X-Men Schism #2 of 5 (Marvel)

Xmen schism 2 1

The trouble with Marvel seemingly releasing digital editions at random is I’m not quite sure when to look for the next book. I assume they are releasing these at once a month. I’m sure it’ll settle down. But it’s not helping a sense of rhythm.

Anyway, leading straight into the aftermath of last issue in X-Men Schism #2 we have Sentinels coming online all over the globe and a mix of mutants and other super heroes.

Some slightly random observations I have no idea who the kids in the school currently are or what powers they possess. There is some connection to Idie and and Wolverine.  Cyclops has aged. If you’ve seen X-Men First Class the Hellfire club has been altered beyond all recognition though I’d place money on the new person in charge being a mutant. I’ve never seen a girl go to quite the extremes one character does over a ‘kitty’. I enjoyed the idea of the current events  trending on twitter.  I’ve never quite seen Namor as an x-man.

Frank Cho’s artwork is really excellent. Especially the panels show over events around the world with Jason Arron’s dialogue make a good combination. Some of the personal choices look a little strange like Colossus’s teeth. But there is no arguing that we’re seeing a team on their game.

The pressure in the story is mounting quickly and it feels like there is a still a lot yet to be revealed. One interesting change in the dynamic I mentioned is the collaboration between the other heroes and the mutants but the low numbers of mutants seems to be creating a survive first and then fight each other second vibe. I could be calling that wrong but it makes sense.

I bought this on release so I assume I’ll have to wait a full month for the next one. Beats a year between books I guess.