Comic Talk: Hawkeye My Life as a Weapon

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Title: Hawkeye My Life as a Weapon
Artists/Writers Matt Fraction, David Aja (Illustrations), Javier Pulido (Illustrations), Alan Davis (Illustrator)
Published: March 13, 2013
Publisher: Marvel

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
The breakout star of this summer’s blockbuster Avengers film, Clint Barton – aka the self-made hero Hawkeye – fights for justice! With ex-Young Avenger Kate Bishop by his side, he’s out to prove himself as one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! SHIELD recruits Clint to intercept a packet of incriminating evidence – before he becomes the most wanted man in the world. You won’t believe what is on The Tape! What is the Vagabond Code? Matt Fraction pens a Hawkeye thriller that spans the globe…and the darkest parts of Hawkeye’s mind. Barton and Bishop mean double the Hawkeye and double the trouble…and stealing from the rich never looked so good.

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I’ve come to accept that I’m a DC girl. I’ve tried to claim that I enjoy both for a little while now, but frankly I favor DC titles over Marvel. That’s okay though, because while I favor DC I still read Marvel and enjoy them. Fraction’s Hawkeye is literally gold. One of my friends had been telling me for months to pick up Fraction’s Hawkeye and I kept putting it off and finding other things to read. Another one of my friends picked it up when we were in the comic book shop, bought it, read it and then slipped it into the pile of trades we were swapping. I stared at it, glowered at it, picked it up and fell in love.

I get it now. My Life as a Weapon has some amazing art. The characters are well drawn, distinguishable and what I found really interesting is the tonal focus in each arc. The trade starts heavy with blues and purples then moves to sepia tones, then in the final arc it’s full of vibrant primary colors (red and yellow to be more specific) which really makes the story even more dynamic. The writing is brilliant. Clint says what everyone is thinking, drinks coffee directly from the carafe of the coffee pot, bemoans inanimate objects and what I like most of all, doesn’t take himself seriously. Kate Bishop is a thing of beauty and I love her and Clint’s interactions and relationship. Her character is written strong and stands on her own against adversaries and Clint’s presence in a scene. What I like even more is the respect that they have for each other.

My Life as a Weapon features three stories that wrap up within the volume, so there’s no cliff hanger. There is a short fourth story featuring Kate when she was with the Young Avengers and how she and Clint first met. This story also maintains the beautiful art and rich color saturation and great story telling as the other three main stories.

Overall pink4
Beautiful artwork, great story telling and amazing characters. I am looking forward to reading more of this series.

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This is exactly why you need to read this title if you haven’t already.

Manga Review: Drug & Drop v. 1

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Title: Drug & Drop volume 1
Author/Artist: Clamp
Published: February 1st 2013
Publisher: Dark Horse.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
The first Legal Drug series went on hiatus in 2003. Drug & Drop will again follow the lead characters Kazahaya Kudo and Rikuo Himura. The new manga will reveal Kazahaya and Rikuo’s pasts as well as the background of Green Drug, the mysterious drugstore where they work.

Kazahaya awakens from a disturbing dream of the sister he had to part from, Kei—covered in blood and clutching close to her. If it’s a case of seeing spirits three’s one young man Kazahaya and Rikuo can go to for advice…

picadillypink Drug & Drop is the continuation of Legal Drug a trilogy put out by Clamp in 2000. I was so excited when I saw that this was finally available in the states, as Clamp is one of my favorite manga circles. The art is beautiful with amazing backgrounds and even more beautiful characters. This picks up right after the events of the last volume of Legal Drug. We’re thrown right into the action and a continuing story line. As it is Clamp you need to pay attention to details and wording because it hints at things to come.

I love the ‘guest’ character who shows up this volume. I love him in his own series, and I’m really hoping that he shows up more throughout Drug & Drop. I’m trying to avoid spoilers, because Clamp is so convoluted and intertwined. I cannot talk about the art enough, it is beautiful. Their line work is flawless, and their characters are all so beautiful and memorable. The story telling is great, as this volume ended on a cliff hanger (I need to go pick up the next volume asap!)

Overall: pink4 Start with Legal Drug, otherwise you’ll be totally lost. Thankfully, it’s not out of print, you can get all three in an omnibus on Amazon or any bookseller. Beautiful art, great story. Can’t wait to read more.

Comic Talk: Morning Glories

Title Morning Glories Vol 1: For a Better Future.

Publisher: Image comics

Writer/Artist: Spencer, Eisma, Esquejo

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: One of the most prestigious prep schools in the country…But behind it’s hallowed doors something sinister and deadly lurks. When six brilliant but troubled new students arrive, they find themselves trapped and desperately seeking answers..and escape from a place where nothing is what it seems to be.

picadillypink This was a little bit of a different read for me. I’m drawn toward stories like this, but usually in standard novels, not so much the comic book/graphic novel world (though most of my manga run along this type of story as well). I really like this volume, and I’m going to read more of this series, I had just gotten distracted by some of the DC story lines. Now that I’m pretty much caught up with the ones that I’m seriously following, I’m going to go back to looking at a few Marvel lines, and some Image.

Morning Glories is a pretty wild ride. The story in this first volume is a little jumpy, often back tracking on itself and twisting into various little side teasers of things to come. The main arc is pretty dense and convoluted–the kids show up at a boarding school, all for different reasons, all having some seriously weird tendencies and all having the same birthday. When they contact their parents, its as though they were never born–one character’s parents end up dying. There’s a lot of layers stuffed into this one volume, and it took me a little while to get into the groove.

What saved this comic for me though, and what made me give it a five star rating is the cast. The characters are well thought out, well drawn and distinguishable from one another, despite being a large ‘main’ cast. Each character has a brilliant flaw, a little (or a lot) messed up, and they’re compelling with really clear motives. We don’t get the full reason why each one is there, but hinted back story of a few of the characters, I’m thinking of two in particular, are freaking awesome. They’re edgy without throwing it in the reader’s face. I LOVE the female characters, they’re intelligent and strong, and often take the lead in group situations. The art is phenomenal inside the volume, I’m not particularly fond of the trade cover.

Overall: pink4 This is not your typical “bad guys v. Good guys’ comic book where the hero swoops in and saves the day. Right now? There’s no hero, just a bunch of flawed teenagers stuck in a really messed up place. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to Lost (which I didn’t read) but that should give you an idea as to how layered/convoluted this is. Pick it up and read it with an open mind, and resist the urge to spoil yourself. Just read and and go with it.

Comic Talk: Gotham Academy v. 1

Writer/Artist: Becky Cloonan, Branden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl.
Trade includes: Issues 1-6, alternative cover art, character design sketches.
Released: June 17, 2015 by DC Comics.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:

Gotham City’s most prestigious prep school is a very weird place. It’s got a spooky campus, oddball teachers, and rich benefactors always dropping by…like that weirdo Bruce Wayne. But nothing is as strange as the students!

Like, what’s up with Olive Silverlock? Is she crazy or what? Where did she go last summer? And what’s the deal with her creepy mom? And how come that Freshman Maps is always following her around? And is she still going out with Kyle? P.S. Did you hear the rumor about the ghost in the North Hall?!

picadillypink: Stop what you’re doing right now, get yourself to the local comic shop, or the library and pick this up. It is a departure from the dark, heavily inked lines of the classic DC lines, the art here being bright and splashy with a watercolor overtone. Day scenes are bright and vivacious, with night scenes still maintaining that fresh burst of color, but being rich and deep in tone. The art alone had sold me on this comic before I even started to read the volume.

Then I read it. The characters are well rounded, vibrant and interesting. The main character is Olive Silverlock, a second year student who is tasked to show her ‘not boyfriend’s’ little sister around campus and be her mentor. Maps (or Mia) is one of the most refreshing characters I’ve seen in a long time. Overly excitable, a giant raging nerd–most of her time is spent creating her ultimate role playing team, and follows Olive with so much adoration that it’s hard not to love her. She and Olive stumble across a mystery that lurks in the shadows of the academy and decide to investigate further. Teaming up with the girl wonder team, is a kid who can get you anything you need for the right price, and a couple of bullies (who are later redeemed). The rag tag team which is a blend of Nancy Drew and the Scooby Do gang get into a bit of trouble, get in over their heads, and manage to save the day within the last few pages. I really love how each character has clear, distinct motives that differ from on another. Something that really stood out for me with this series is the drastic varying shades of gray that exist in the characters’ eyes. Things in Gotham are so often set in shades of black and white (I’m talking morality here right v wrong). It’s very fluid and an interesting addition to the Gotham/Batman verse. The villain that is introduced here has a very different side than what is presented in the main Bat verse. Not to mention Olive’s interaction both with Bruce Wayne, and Batman–not that I’m going to give any spoilers, but it’s really neat.

Overall: pink5 Beautiful art, great story with mystery, comedy and a bit of horror. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Comic Talk: Superman Wonder Woman (New 52)

Writer/Artists: Charles Soule, Tony S Daniel

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: The Man of Steel and the Warrior Princess. An alien and a goddess. They come from two different worlds. But together, Superman and Wonder Woman have teamed up THIS world from all who would harm it.

And they’ve fallen in love doing it.

SO far, they’ve kept their relationship a secret, worried that the world isn’t ready to find out that its two most powerful super heroes are more than just teammates. But secrets have a way of escaping. And the very different worlds that the world’s greatest couple have inhabited are about to collide.

Wonder Woman’s actions on Earth have angered the gods of Olympus, and Superman makes for the perfect target for their revenge. And Superman is not the only being to survive the destruction of his home planet Krypton–the Phantom Zone prison houses an entire dimension full of criminals, killers and worse, yearning to break free.

Gods and monsters alike threaten not just Superman and Wonder Woman, but everyone and everything they care about. Will their love spell doomsday for planet Earth?

picadillypink I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS. I could not put it down, and I’ve got it on order from my local comic shop (I picked this up initially from the library) and the monthlys are on my pull list, because I don’t want to wait for the trades to come out. Their relationship built on respect and mutual respect/affection. The characters of Wonder Woman and Superman for me have always made sense together and I like the draw between them in this series–despite it being set up rather quickly. They gravitate toward each other and round each other out really well. Superman is a little brash/younger in this relaunch and Wonder Woman balances him out. I love that while their chemistry is off the charts–they do argue, and it’s done really well. So much so that Batman (who may or may not steal the comic, but we all know I’m a Batman fanatic) comes in and lays down some hard logic, and is the voice of reason.

Like all good secret relationships, the cover is blown, in a rather cliched way but it doesn’t bother me as much as it normally would. Their response to it is flawless, both Supes and Wonder Woman taking it in stride. Batman on the other hand has a temper tantrum and blows up a monitor broadcasting the ‘reveal’ again and again. As much as I like the relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman, I really like how they both look to Batman as a friend, and for guidance. The power play between the three icons is something that fascinates me and it’s really nice to see them in a positive light here and working together.

There is outside conflict with Zod showing up, and Doomsday making his presence known. But beside this, this trade really is all about the relationship between the two powerhouse superheroes. They struggle to find time to themselves, and for each other. I really loved this.

Overall: pink4 I cannot get enough of this series. The art is BEAUTIFUL, the story really interesting and engaging. I’m curious to see where it goes.

Comic Talk: Batgirl Vol. 1 (New 52)

Writer/Artist: Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf, Vincente Cifuentes

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: Three years ago, Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, nearly lost her life when the Joker shot her through the spine. Ever the fighter, Barbara not only survived but after years of sitting in a wheelchair found a way to walk again.

Barbara has reclaimed her life and regained her independence, but must prove to her mentors Batman and Nightwing, as well as her Police Commissioner father, that she’s capable of doing it on her own. Even more important, she must prove to herself that she can complete the long journey to recovery.

But getting back on her feet in Gotham City will become even more challenging when a very personal hit list is revealed in the hands of a new villain.

And Barbara’s name is on it.

picadillypink I have to admit that I’ve always been a Batman type of girl. I hadn’t ever read any of the Bat family–until I got sucked into the new 52 verse. Barbara Gordon due to a medical miracle has regained her ability to walk. She strikes out on her own, starting to regain her independence. Her roommate Alysia is awesome–while suspecting Babs is up to something, doesn’t push or go snooping around. One thing that I LOVE about this volume is that Barbara dons the batgirl cowl, but she makes mistakes, big ones. She struggles while fighting, being out of practice. I love the scenes with her and Nightwing and the retelling of their history and the love that they have for each other. The ending arc with Bruce/Batman was done really well, their interaction smooth and effortless. One thing that really stuck out to me is Barbara’s struggles especially with PTSD/night terrors. It shows that she is still effected by the events of The Killing Joke story arc. It’s a brilliant move by Gail Simone and I love it. The art for this volume is absolutely breathtaking, great colors, and easily read.

Overall I highly recommend this volume. Features a strong female lead, and great story.

Book Review: The Best Laid Plans of Boys and Men by Anne Conley


Title: The Best Laid Plans of Boys and Men
Author: Anne Conley
Published: Janurary 3, 2015
Publisher: Self.
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book to review by My Family’s Heart. All opinions are my own.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
The Best Laid Plans of Boys and Men tells the story of the whirlwind May/December romance between Taylor and Alexander. While Taylor is completely caught off guard by Alexander’s maturity and the difference between him and every other boy she’s dated, Alexander’s busy trying to figure out how to tell her he’s the lawyer suing her pants off.

This is a standalone story of approximately 30 thousand words, not part of any of Anne Conley’s series.

picadillypinkI LOVED this book. The characters were absolutely amazing and well rounded, and so believable which is something that really makes or breaks a book for me. Alexander is an interesting hero choice and I love his interactions with Taylor. Their chemistry from the first page was apparent and it only continued to escalate as the pages went by. Their story was intriguing and intense, and really kept me hooked until the last page.

The main story line really raised some great questions when it comes to relationships, and the importance of honesty from the start. This is a great intense read, my only complaint is that I wish it was longer, but as with other great books it’s just because I was so into the story. I’ll come back to this story and re-read it, it’s that good. The emotions, characters and plot are believable. It’s a wonderful story and I want everyone to read it. This is my first story by Ms. Conley, and it won’t be the last.

Overall: pink4

Throw back Thursday: A Wrinkle In Time


Title: Wrinkle in Time
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
Originally Read: 1993
Re-read Jan 1, 2015

Synopsis:
It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

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I’ve been wanting to do a feature like this for a few months, and I finally decided to buckle down and do it. Each Thursday I’ll be featuring a book from my childhood, re-reading it and informally reviewing it. If you want to join in, please do and link me your post. 🙂

A Wrinkle in Time is a book that’s stuck with me for years. I remember my mom buying the trilogy when I was in second grade, and hiding them from me because she felt that I was too young to read them. However, being the voracious reader I am I snuck downstairs, picked them off of the antique bookcase and smuggled them upstairs to read by flashlight under my blankets. Meg was someone that I wanted to be like so badly, she was smart, and strong and made a difference in the world. I really was too young to read them as I had nightmares about IT for weeks afterward. I ended up reading A Wrinkle in Time again, and the other two in the trilogy after finding an excerpt of it in the back of my English book. This time I identified a bit more with Meg, though a younger version.

I got the box set of all five for Christmas this year, and I quickly breezed through A Wrinkle in Time, getting lost once more in the pages and the story of Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin. Even now the details and story telling hold up so beautifully. It’s a simple, quick paced story with plenty of action and mystery. I love the details that are in the story, the narrative is so immersive and wonderful. L’Engle was a story teller, and it shows. Emotions are tangible and believable, and she creates amazing worlds. Camazotz is terrifying, even now, policed conformity something that could actually happen. The science is still very science fiction, yet the methods and logic behind it are still able to stand supported in 2015.

If you haven’t read this, please do. It’s a beautiful introduction to some amazing characters who are still so very close to my heart. I gave A Wrinkle in Time to one of the girls that I nanny. I strongly believe it is a relevant story to this day. It’s an easy introduction to science fiction and fantasy with touches of dystopian worlds. The theme of individuality and embracing oneself is something that needs to be brought back. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Book Review: Every Breath by Ellie Marney


Title: Every Breath
Author: Ellie Marney
Published: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Tundra Books.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft’s numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft’s passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn’t right–and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder.

While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he’s busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den–literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again…

picadillypink Where to begin? I am undeniably, head over heels for this book. It’s not fair for me to review it, because my review is going to be filled with lots of squeeing and whining that I need the second in my hands right.this.instant. And the fact that there’s a third book in the works? Sign me up for more please.

Okay, down to business. Every Breath is a strong, brilliantly crafted character driven novel. There is mystery, action, intrigue and good old fashioned sleuthing involved but the thing that drew me into this novel, and has me going crazy for the sequels? The characters. Mycroft and Watts are two of the most tangibly written characters I’ve come across, and it’s damn near perfect. They’ve been friends for a few months, and we’re dropped right into the middle of their friendship. It’s real, believable–not forced, nothing strained. There’s no in-jokes that we’re supposed to somehow figure out on our own. Their friendship is real. Watts bringing Mycroft supper because she knows he forgets to eat is something that stuck with me early on in the book. They take care of each other in the only ways that they know how to. There is a spark between them, that is more than friendship, but doesn’t detract from the original relationship that they have with each other. Speaking of chemistry, these two have it in spades, and I very much want to smoosh them together and declare everything happy and sunshine and kittens.

The plot is carefully constructed, unfolding as the story progresses nicely. The pacing is really great, not too slow, and not giving everything away all at once. It’s subtle storytelling at it’s best and it’s something that I really love in a mystery book. Coming back to the characters, I really love what Ms. Marney did, in keeping the teenage aspect to it. They’re disturbed and rattled by the murder of Mycroft’s friend. They make mistakes, they have nightmares, they’re shaken and rattled by things that they discover. They’re smart kids, but the base of it is, they are kids. Their investigation is their own, and they figure things out without it coming off as contrived or handed to them.

There are parallels to Sherlock Holmes-don’t let that deter you from reading this book/series. Every Breath is that good. It’s quickly become one of my favorite books that I’ve read, and it’s one that I’m going to have a very hard time restraining myself from literally throwing it at people and going “READ THIS”. (Yes, I have done this before, and it’s more common than I’d like to admit.) These characters are their own beasts, and their story is beautifully written and unique.

Overall If I could give this more than five umbrellas I could. If I could read the next two books in the series right this instant I would. Read this book. Read it and come and talk to me about it. *Thank you Tundra Books for gifting me a copy of Every Breath.

Book Review: Kamen Volume 1 by Gunya Mihara


Title: Kamen Volume 1
Author/Artist: Gunya Mihara
Published: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Gen Manga

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
In a world of fantasy and might, a lone warrior emerges. Kamen, a mysterious masked man appears among prisoners of war in ancient Japan and becomes a legendary warrior and defender of the innocent while his enemies rush to uncover his secrets.

Courtesy of banners04

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I loved this, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on volume 2. Set in Feudal Japan, Kamen puts everything upside down and upended, in a wild romp. The art is beautiful and vibrant, the characters well written and fully developed. There’s mystery and a lot of chances for plot development and even more character development arcs.

Kamen is a great shonen manga, which on the surface seems similar to other titles out there, but there’s enough complexity that keeps it from falling into the usual boring trap. It’s got great pacing and great action. I need another volume of this, and I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for it.

Overall: pink4