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Pull list; The Big Wide Calm review

August 26, 2014

I’ve got an incredibly light week this week, after two really heavy weeks, because Marvel doesn’t know how to stagger its releases.

I’ll be going to to the shop to pick up All-New X-Men #31, by Brian Bendis and Mahmud Asrar; Silver Surfer #5, by Dan Slott and Mike Allred.

I’ll also be doing reviews on Cyclops #4, by Greg Rucka and Carmen Nunez Carnero; Inhuman #4, by Charles Soule and Ryan Stegman; Original Sin: Thor and Loki #4, written by Kieron Gillen and Jason Aaron, art by Simone Bianchi and Lee Garbett; Savage Hulk #3, by Alan Davis; Uncanny Avengers #23, by Rick Remender and Sanford Greene; Wolverine #12, by Paul Cornell and Pete Woods; Wolverine and the X-Men #8, by Jason Latour and Paco Diaz.

So, I’m picking up floppies of two comics, and reviewing a total of 9 comics.

My most anticipated of the week winds up being Silver Surfer, almost by default. I’m loving what Bendis is doing on ANXM, and I’m glad to see Teen Iceman get a bit of focus, since he’s been largely ignored so far, aside from occasional comic relief. But even if this wasn’t such a light week, Silver Surfer’s a wonderful comic. It’s been so much fun. It’s that perfect balance of humour and heart that Allred’s books always seem to have. Slott’s been bringing his A-game to the book. I love this book.

To drift away from comics for a minute, I finished reading The Big Wide Calm, by Rich Marcello. I gave it three stars out of five. Here’s my review from Goodreads:

I got this as a Goodreads Giveaway. The whole time I read it, I had trouble deciding how I felt about it. In the end, I think it was good, but not great. There’s a lot of cheesiness to the writing and word choice, and a few bits of the story that are a little too much fiction, too forced and unbelievable. The characters have a strong lack of authenticity, for the most part, and an unnatural way of speaking. The main character’s arrogance shoots way past charming and right into irritating. The talk about the songwriting process is cool, and there’s a definite passion for it. On the other hand, the idea that, in this day and age, it’s at all possible for any musician to change the world is so ridiculous that it’s hard to believe that anyone actually believes it.

I suppose, as a bit of pop fiction, it’s enjoyable enough. But it’s also got serious problems that held it back a lot for me.

The dialogue is deeply unnatural. Characters don’t talk the way people actually talk. It often pulled me out of the story. Another thing that sucked me out of the story was the story. I’m going to partially spoil something here, so, you know, spoiler alert, if you were thinking about reading this book. Anyway, near the end of the book, she’s walking with her dad and her mentor. They get attacked by three guys. In the end, she almost dies. I won’t actually spoil the details of it. What I will say is that it comes out of nowhere, and considering the rest of the book seemed to be at least trying for a degree of realism, the whole thing just doesn’t feel like it fits the book at all.

I think what elevated it to three stars – aside from me being incredibly generous, as it probably only deserves two – was the discussion of the songwriting process. According to his biography, Marcello himself has done songwriting, and the parts of the book that talk about that are easily the most interesting and the most passionate. He’s channeling a lot more of himself in those bits than elsewhere in the book, and it feels a lot more authentic.

I’m not sure I’d really recommend this book, but I’m not sure I’d try to talk anyone else out of it, either. I’m not at all familiar with popular contemporary literature, but I’m sure there’s much, much better novels about music out there. Goodreads has plenty of lists of music-related literature. So if you want a book about a musician, I’d recommend trying out some of those lists.

Back to comics. Some other stuff I’ve read recently. I read Vol. 1 of Supurbia, by Grace Randolph and Russell Dauterman. The premise is that it follows the spouses of the Justice League. The problem with the book is that it follows the spouses of the Justice League. First of all, it’s not really that original a concept. But the bigger flaw is just how lazy Randolph was when coming up with the superheroes. They’re meant as more “realistic” copies of the Justice League. So there’s a Superman who’s become jaded, cynical and a bit of an ass. There’s a Wonder Woman who’s something of a misandrist. The Batman and Robin are gay lovers, because of frigging course they are (at this point, it would actually be more original for a Batman clone to not be gay). The only one who’s not kind of a dick is the John Stewart Green Lantern – the lone black guy is the only one who comes across as a genuinely good guy. The whole thing just winds up feeling so damned lazy. I wish Randolph had at least tried to make some semi-original heroes, rather than just going the easy route of doing “satirical” take on the Justice League.

More pleasantly, I read the first volume of Courtney Crumrin. It is wonderful. Just wonderful. The stories are like dark fairy tales. One story has a boy get eaten by a goblin. Another has a baby stolen and replaced by another goblin. So these aren’t what are usually considered “kid-friendly.” But the darkness just makes them more fun. Courtney herself is a great protagonist. She’s smart, sarcastic, brave, stubborn, and hates people. The book also does a nice job satirizing suburban social climbers who are so busy worrying about their social status that they become oblivious to anything else. Great book. Highly recommended.

Also read: Volume 1 of Bandette. So. Good. It’s adorable in every way possible. Paul Toobin’s writing and Colleen Coover’s art. The protagonist, Bandette, is a heroic thief, who steals from bad people, and occasionally helps the police (the second issue has her save some hostages). She’s got style and presto. A great wit and lots of friends. The humour is often irreverent. The art is a perfect fit, as she’s seldom still for more than a couple panels, often engaging in utterly pointless acrobatics just for fun. It is such a fun, adorable book. Read it. This is also probably a great book for younger readers, so if you’ve got kids or nephews or whatever, I’d recommend Bandette even more highly.

I’ve also started doing an archive binge on the webcomic No Pink Ponies (link goes to the first strip). It’s about a girl who opens a comic shop in order to spend time with a cute guy she saw at a different comic shop. It’s a cute comic. I occasionally see a bit of myself in some of the geeky bits. There’s plenty of good humour. I’ve reached February 2011, and it looks like there’s a pretty long hiatus coming up soon. Should make it easier to get caught up. After that, I might start in on another webcomic called Stitches. One of these days, I should do a post talking about some of the webcomics I read. There’s quite a few. Maybe I’ll start highlighting a different webcomic each week, as part of my Tuesday posts.

For personal news, there’s still none. I re-applied at Wal-Mart a couple days ago. This is the second time I’ve applied since graduating. So that’s what my life has come to: I’m hoping to get an interview for overnight stock clerk at Wal-Mart. Ugh.

That’s it for today.

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