Spidey! (1962 – present)

Spidey

© John Romita Jr.

He’s a mature man now, Spider-Man – after all, he’s over half a century old already. But he keeps his youthful appearance and spirit as well as Wolverine or even better – clearly he must be a Chosen One. And he is. One of the all-time fan favorites, appealing to readers of all ages and genders, Marvel’s mascot and ultimate scapegoat – Spider-Man has never had an easy life. He started out as a nerdy, bullied teenager, for God’s sake! And that’s everything but easy. He didn’t have a chance to become someone’s sidekick, learning from the best of the best, but  set out to begin his superheroic life as an angsty, pimply, awkward boy who suddenly was given (or cursed with) mysterious superpowers. He had to learn everything by himself, and paid a steep price for that knowledge. After all, the only people in Marvel universe who died and stayed dead are Parker’s uncle and his girlfriend. Even he himself died at one point, rather gruesomely at that. Clearly someone in the Marvel team has it in for him. And yet, he endures it all, and has the guts to make wisecracks about it. Arguably, he’s also the funniest Marvel character which, coupled with his unwavering, absolutely uncompromising morals, makes him a lot more convincing and likeable than Cap (yes, even after Civil War :P).

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Janny Wurts, The Master of White Storm (1992)

Janny Wurts co-authored a reportedly great trilogy (with Raymond Feist) and wrote an intriguing series of her own, among other things. I want to read more Feist before Empire Trilogy, and I have too many long series waiting in my reading queue, so I decided to spend one Audible credit on The Master of White Storm, a standalone novel from 1992. Read by excellent Simon Prebble.

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I liked it a lot and happily recommend it, both in audio and written form. Continue reading

Robin Hobb, Fool’s Quest (2015)

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It’s just a few months to the release of the final installment in Fitz and the Fool trilogy. And so it’s high time to review the middle book, Fool’s Quest. I must admit I’ve been putting off the moment of reading this book for a while now – and it was a planned and conscious decision. I didn’t want to wait too long for the grand finale, because I expected Fool’s Quest to be the perfect second installment, the Empire Strikes Back of Realm of Elderlings: harrowing, dark, full of sadness and anger and desperation… In short – the perfect foundation for the grand, all-encompassing conclusion to the long and extremely rich series of Realm of Elderlings – not only the three trilogies of Fitz and Fool, but also the Liveship trilogy and the Rainwild Chronicles.

And I was not disappointed.

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Not The Avengers: The Latest DC Failure (2016)

Nobody cares about Clark Kent taking on the Batman.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice… well, it’s not a good movie. As a whole, it sucks. There are some decent moments, and some parts are played in a way that would deserve a better story to let them shine. Altogether though, gems are sparsely scattered along the movie’s 151 minutes.

For me, it is at once too long and too short. Too short for Zack Snyder to really tell us everything he was supposed to, too long for the amount of actual substance in it. I was frequently bored. And yet I did not know enough.

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Marvel would prepare us for the story with a few prequels. The non-existent movie I miss the most is a Batman piece about Robin (that IMO should naturally follow Nolan’s trilogy). Affleck’s Batman could convince me, if I knew how he got here. Something from (comic-Batman spoiler alert!) here, judging from the clues. All things considered, his was actually a rather good performance. He made some stupid choices and was railroaded into his conflict with the other hero, but he could work given better plot.

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Scott Lynch, The Republic of Thieves (2013)

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The third installment in Lynch’s popular Gentleman Bastard sequence, and the one that took the longest to write (some good five years). This time Jean and Locke find themselves caught in the crunch of Khartani making. Yes, the famous Khartani mages are back, with vengeance!

The novel starts almost exactly where Red Seas Under Red Skies ended, with Locke slowly dying of poison and Jean slowly dying of guilt. And who their final savior could be, if not a Bondsmage, and not just any Bondsmage, but one of the most powerful, brilliant and ruthless of them, who, accidentally, is also Falconer’s mother?

[Should I have put a spoiler alert? Well, I’m sure I have your attention by now :). And I promise no more spoilers (although this one is revealed very early on, so I don’t count it as a real spoiler).]

Because of course, Patience turns out to be not only savior, but also a client of our thieving duo. She has a nice little job for them, a piece of cake compared to what they’ve already been through – they are commissioned to rig an election at Khartain in favor of the magi-backed contenders. There’s only one tiny problem: the magi playing for the other side have their champion already in Khartain – and that champion is Sabetha.

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Yotsuba. Cuteness and innocence in our sick, sad world

For a long time I hoped to write a sort of introduction to manga and follow it with some reviews and recommendations. I don’t feel up to the task. It’s a topic books were written on, and a great number of excellent blog posts. Having given up on this, I’m free to mention some specific mangas every now and then and treat them like just another comics.

Which is risky. Manga is an emanation of a specific culture and it takes time for a European reader to familiarise himself with different tropes and structures. Not to mention the fact that manga is drawn from right to left, like Japanese scripture, and this is usually preserved in English editions. And sensivities of Japanese readers are often… hard to understand. The amount of fanservice and sillines in otherwise serious and thoroughly researched and realistic mangas… the prevailing sexism of some of even the latest series… sometimes I read an excellent story for 10 volumes only for the immersion and enjoyment to be destroyed in a moment by something dumb or distasteful. Maybe I’ll elaborate on that some time in the future, but let me start today with something safe and unapologetically nice 🙂

So, I’ll just point to tvtropes for some basic information and introduce our heroine of the day: Yotsuba Kowai.

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A Japanese comic about little girl? Wait, don’t call the police, it’s ok, it’s a series my 3(almost) yo niece safely enjoys. And so do I, partially because both the fictional and the real-life brats are similarly adorable. Continue reading

Batman vs. Robin (2015)

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When I learned of Piotrek’s bold plans to see and review of Batman v Superman next week, I decided to save the face of the Dark Knight and give you a review of Batman vs. Robin first :). Wait, wait; Batman vs. Robin? You sure you got the title right? The answer is yes. Batman vs. Robin is a pretty recent addition to a long series of animated movies set in DC universe. And contrary to the popular opinion of translating DC universe to the screen (with the exception of Nolan trilogy, of course), there are some veritable golden nuggets in this pile –like the famous Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which I very much want to see. The animated movies are more or less faithful to comic books – though more often than not that faithfulness is rather questionable – and they are decidedly not children-friendly. The creepiness factor is high, the style of the animation is quite close to the comic books, i.e. dark and gritty, and the main themes are pretty serious, from child abuse to betrayal and murder.

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