Comics: The Girl from the Other Side; Nancy

THE GIRL FROM THE OTHER SIDE: SIÚIL, A RÚN vol 2

First read of the year is a strange one. Also it’s the second volume in the series as I started and finished the first one on the last day of 2019. A series I hadn’t heard of until browsing the library’s ebook catalogue and the cover just stood out for me.

Who is this strange creature and why is this little girl with it? I also loved the stark colors. And the inside, like pretty much all manga I’ve read, is only in black and white. 

There is a fairy tale-likeness to this series. A young innocent girl separated from her family and into the house of this beast with horns. But he is no vile monster. He looks after her, feeds her, and cares for her. She calls him Teacher. But she can not touch him for those who touch these beasts are cursed. 

The curse itself isn’t really explained much in the first two volumes but it is horrible enough that people have died, villages emptied, and armed soldiers sent to look for this possibly cursed young child in the woods.

A fascinating series with beautiful artwork

NANCY BY OLIVIA JAIMES

Book 2 of 2020 is another comic. This one also one I hadn’t heard of before. Apparently it started in 1938 and was at its height in the 70s (in over 700 newspapers). Growing up in Singapore, our one newspaper was (and pretty much still is) The Straits Times and they didn’t carry Nancy. Or at least I don’t remember that they did. I remember they had Sherman’s Lagoon and Baby Blues. Probably Peanuts.

So it was another case of browse the ebook catalogue and oh this looks fun and hit download.

And what a delight this was. Seeing the cover I expected an older comic so I was thrilled to see how phone addicted Nancy was – and also soon realized this was the new Nancy. One that was published from 2018 with its first-ever female author who goes by the pen name Olivia Jaimes.

And Nancy is such a hoot. She’s grouchy and she’s sassy. And it was such an absolute delight to read. I just loved every page of it, especially those meta ones!

Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu makes me want to know more about hockey

 

I know pretty much nothing about ice hockey! I grew up in a land where hockey = the kind with rounded sticks and a round ball and is played in a field. Very different kind of hockey.
And to be honest, this book was requested from the library because I saw “Check, Please!” on the Reading The End blog and thought, oh, a comic set in a restaurant? Yes, please!Turned out to be a different kind of check all together. But this comic has now turned me into a…. well, not a complete turnaround into a hockey fan but at least someone who’s curious now about hockey and wouldn’t say no to watching a game!

I love that the main character is a newbie, a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team. Bittle (or Bitty as he’s known) is a former figure skater, a baking aficionado (he makes pies!) and is gay but still hasn’t come out yet. And the teammates he has! There’s Shitty who’s funny and smart and deep. Holster and Ransom are in an amazing bromance. Then there’s Jack, the handsome captain with a sad past and who Bitty has the biggest ever crush on.

Check Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

It reminds me of manga, mostly because of the way Bitty has such big eyes. And there’s a cuteness to it that I would never associate with ice hockey.

So even if you don’t care an inkling about ice hockey like I do, Check, Please! is a fun comic series to try out! Also it will make you hungry for pie.

Last week’s #comics

Buffy Omnibus Vol 1 and Vol 2

I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to read the Buffy Omnibuses. I’ve read Season 8 (loved it) as well as the High School Years (not so much). It was so much fun being back amongst the Scooby gang and also Drusilla and Spike (I love how I can imagine Drusilla’s accent as I read her speech bubbles, which are very true to her character – poetic and also a bit insane).

Pop Vol 1 by Curt Pires

A fun enough but violent comic set in a world in which celebrities are grown and bred and one manages to escape. The storyline wasn’t the best but I really loved the pop art style of illustrations.

Ghost Vol 1 and 2 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Alex Ross, Phil Noto (Artist), Jenny Frison (Artist), Patrick Thorpe (Editor)

In this case, I’m not a fan of the illustrations. To be honest, I couldn’t really tell the male characters apart (and there are quite a lot of them). I do like Elisa, the mysterious Ghost, who has a strange power and an unknown past. The storyline gets a bit better in Volume 2 as we find out more about what’s happening in the city. Not exactly DeConnick’s best but it’s still interesting enough so far (especially since I am just now only finding out about Elisa’s past life) that I may continue. However, it looks like Vol 3 wasn’t by DeConnick so we’ll see how that goes!

The Best We Could Do – Thi Bui

This beautiful and moving graphic memoir opens with the birth of Thi Bui’s child, in the first chapter, titled ‘Labor’.

And this book, this work of labour that Bui started in 2005 and was released in 2017, is perhaps even more relevant today, in this climate of walls and bans and constant discussion about immigration, both legal and illegal.

This is a refugee story. This is the story of how Bui’s family escaped from Vietnam to the US. This is also a story of family – how her parents met, got together, and started their family. And how now, as Bui begins a family of her own, she realizes: “The responsibility is immense. A wave of empathy for my mother washes over me.”

 

It is moving, it is filled with memories, it is a tribute to her parents, to her family, to their lives in Vietnam and their new home in America.

 

 

 I’m using this book for “Asian refugee MC” for #AsianLitBingo

Comics good, comics bad

Angel Catbird

Perhaps I had too high expectations of this series. I mean, it’s written by Margaret Atwood after all. Yes that very Margaret Atwood, writer of The Handmaid’s Tale. And she has written a comic series about a man who can morph into a catbird. There are other half-human creatures around like half-rats and half-cats and half-ravens and even a bat-cat-man. That’s fine, that’s all good and fine, because hey, it’s a comic and anything can happen.

But there are so many issues with this comic I don’t know where to begin.

Perhaps with the very obvious villain (a rat-man of course) you can see coming a mile away, or rather, from that very first page that he appears.

Perhaps with the way so little seems to happen on each page.

Perhaps with all those very many cat puns.

Perhaps with the idea of this being Margaret Atwood, who as a kid probably read some comics and thought, eh I could do this. And then goes and writes this extremely simplistic and cheesy comic because, of course people who read comics can only understand black and white. I mean complex and subtle is meant only for readers of actual books, not comics. Pffft.

Perhaps with Dark Horse, who published these books and, I imagined, cowered at the thought of telling Margaret Atwood, THE Atwood, that her comics could be improved upon.

Perhaps the fact that with some hope of an improvement in Volume Two, I actually read Volume Two and groaned audibly when two female characters immediately start fighting over the man. Blech. (Making me think once again that her image of comic book readers equals young teenaged boys).

Ok I don’t want to think about this series anymore. I’m done!

 

And on to the Comics Good section of this post.


Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One, Vol. 1 (Injustice: Gods Among Us #1)


by Tom Taylor (Goodreads Author) (Writer), Jheremy Raapack (Artist), Mike S. Miller (Artist), Tom Derenick (Artist), David Yardin (Artist)

I read a comic BASED ON A VIDEO GAME you guys!!

And it was AWESOME.

I hate the cover but I picked it up partly because I thought the husband might want to read it. He’s a fan of Batman and Superman and this promised both of them in one comic. Then I saw the ‘Based on the hit video game’ blurb at the bottom, shuddered, but still threw it in my bag to bring home.

Why I actually read it myself, I am not entirely sure. Curiosity I guess. I have read a few Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman comics. I am not a fan of DC Comics and tend towards comics like Ms Marvel, Saga, Captain Marvel and my latest love, Spider Woman, with more prominent, less stereotyped female characters.

But I found myself intrigued by this very dark Superman, a Wonder Woman who’s pretty much egging him on, and a Batman who is like the voice of reason (!).

Also it was kinda funny.

#comicsfebruary: Strong Female Protagonist, Captain Marvel

Strong Female Protagonist – Brennan Lee Mulligan, Molly Ostertag (Illustrations)

I wish I could remember where I first heard of Strong Female Protagonist. It turns out it was originally a webcomic that became a book because of a Kickstarter project. The webcomic is still updated twice a week! But I would suggest checking the book out first as it collects the first four chapters of the webcomic.

Anyway it is, as its title suggests, about a strong female. She is Mega Girl. Or rather she used to be. She used to be one of the most powerful superheroes. She’s still got her superpowers but she’s just trying to be a regular college student now. So essentially it’s a story about superhero trying to be a regular person again. It’s harder than it looks.

Strong Female Protagonist – despite the ugh title – is a pretty good read. It’s fun, funny at times, has a great central character as well as some side characters that make you rethink the ‘villain’ in things. It definitely presented a different view of superhero life than is typical in comics, but which also does have similarities with Ms Marvel and how Kamala tries to figure out her life.

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Rise of Alpha Flight (Captain Marvel (2016-) #1-5) – Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, Kris Anka (Illustrator), Tara Guggenheim, Felipe Smith (Illustrator)

marvelalpha

Captain Marvel, Volume 1: In Pursuit of Flight (Captain Marvel, Volume VII #1)- Kelly Sue DeConnick, Dexter Soy (Illustrations), Emma Ríos (Illustrations), Richard Elson (Illustrator), Karl Kesel (Illustrator), Al Barrionuevo (Illustrator)

captainmarvel

 

Captain Marvel Vol 2: Earth’s Mightiest Hero

cap2
So this is the order in which I read these Captain Marvel volumes, written by different authors. If you’re a fan of Marvel’s Agent Carter, you may already be familiar with the names Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas as they’re the producers of that TV show. They’re new to comics but have written for a variety of TV shows including Dollhouse, Reaper and Agent Carter (so says Variety). Their version was fun, but it didn’t have the depth of the ones written by DeConnick.

msmarvel1977

Anyway let’s rewind! Carol Danvers (Ms Marvel/Captain Marvel) has been around since 1968. She first appeared as a member of the US Air Force, then became Ms Marvel in 1977 – she was in an accident and fused with the powers of the alien Kree who was trying to save her. Somewhere down the line she became Captain Marvel and thankfully her swimsuit costume is now one with pants. And she’s got a more regular body shape than previous Carol Danvers, who well, just see below.

msmarvelbest
Earlier last year, I read the Ms Marvel series written by Brian Reed which wasn’t great. I just couldn’t get over the huge bulging thighs. And now I can’t really remember the storyline….

So the best version of Captain Marvel is definitely by Kelly Sue DeConnick, the rockstar of comics! She’s also written Bitch Planet, Pretty Deadly and more.

captainmarveldown

 

The two volumes of her Captain Marvel that I just had has such great writing and characters. It was funny and also full of heart. Also, this was the first time I’ve read any comics with Spider-Woman (Captain Marvel’s best friend apparently) and I kinda love her now!

#comicsfebruary – Captain Marvel, Buffy and more

 

Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Rise of Alpha Flight (Captain Marvel (2016-) #1-5) – Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, Kris Anka (Illustrator), Tara Guggenheim, Felipe Smith (Illustrator)

I like the look of this Captain Marvel – the hair!! Although I have to say I am always confused by Captain Marvel and the different versions. There’s another one by Kelly Sue DeConnick? Anyway, this one has some Guardians of the Galaxy in it, and Alpha Flight, which is apparently a team of Canadian superheroes that had its own series in the 1980s to 1990s. There’s a sasquatch! The Captain Marvel storyline was kinda fun – they’re in a space station and at first it seems like a diplomatic position (i.e. desk job).

Buffy: The High School Years – Freaks & Geeks (Buffy: The High School Years #1) –Faith Erin Hicks, Yishan Li (Artist), Joss Whedon (Executive Producer)

Buffy: The High School Years – Glutton for Punishment (Buffy: The High School Years #2) – Kel Mcdonald, Yishan Li (Artist), Joss Whedon (Executive Producer)

I was so excited to see this! It was an interesting choice of illustration style, a little bit cutesy and I guess more manga-like? At times I thought, this does look like Sarah Michelle Geller and Alyson Hannigan (although she seems more demure and less quirky in the comic).

The storyline though was a bit lacking I thought. I preferred the first one, where Buffy was worried about losing her friends. In terms of other Buffy comics I’ve only read Season 8 but I think those were a lot better in terms of storyline. Of course the high school years were far more innocent and carefree (well as carefree as a slayer can be), so I can understand the different tone they’re going for here. And I’d still read more of this series.

Book three will be out in July.

And apparently it has been 20 years since Buffy first premiered on TV!!

Blue Bloods: The Graphic Novel (Blue Bloods: The Graphic Novel #1) – Melissa de la Cruz, Robert Venditti, Alina Urusov (Illustrator)

 

Well this was definitely a very pretty comic. I didn’t realize it when I picked it up but this is the graphic novelisation of a YA series about vampires in New York. Where of course everyone is very pretty, even the boys. And all the girls have long legs. Also, everyone is very white. It’s like Gossip Girl, with fangs.

Amazingly, the actual YA series has 7 (?) books.

But I don’t think I will read the books though. And as far as I can tell, this is the first and only comic version of the series.

The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A Graphic Memoir (L’Arabe du futur #1) – Riad Sattouf
This book is a graphic memoir of a young boy whose mum is French and dad is Syrian. His dad is a professor and they move from France to Libya and then to Syria for his work. And life in Libya and Syria as seen through the boy’s eyes is at once exciting and sad and terrifying. The kids in Syria were relentless bullies, even though they were related.

I wanted so much for the mum to do something about it all. To put her foot down and say no, we are not moving to Syria. Or no, we have to leave – for reasons perhaps including the not very ideal living conditions in Libya (where a house with no one at home means anyone can come and claim it for their own!), the fact that their child didn’t know any Arabic. His dad is one especially strange man.

Curiously, the second book in the series focuses just on 1984-1985. I will have to borrow it from the library to find out more!