Rocket

Rocket Comic

Cover of Rocket, Issue 1 (2017)

After going to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 this week, I was inspired to check out the new solo series of Rocket Raccoon! This series, Rocket, is written by Al Ewing and drawn by Adam Gorham. Rocket appears on his own after he messes up something big on Earth, or at least that is the brief explanation we receive. While he’s at a bar his old girlfriend appears. She begs him for help and he warily accepts. Rocket gathers a team together to pull off an enormous, impossible heist. We have to wait till issue two to get the conclusion of it. I’m not complaining, as it was a well timed cliffhanger. I enjoy how the story jumps right into the action, setting up just enough to get an understanding of the planet he’s on and who Rocket is as a character.

I picked up this new series mostly because I was impressed with Rocket’s character in the Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 movie. Rocket had much more screen time and they developed his character on a much deeper level than the first movie. After the first Guardians movie, I had already fallen in love with Groot (I absolutely adore him as Baby Groot in the second film), but Rocket seemed plain and uninteresting. After getting more history behind his character, I thought, “A rocket comic might actually be fun.” I was not disappointed with this first issue and plan to continue collecting this series. Apparently the first story arc will be 5 issues long. I think it will pair nicely with the Baby Groot series that I will be collecting in late May. I will not be getting Guardians of the Galaxy comics of them as a team with Star Lord, Gamora, and Drax though. I have found after the many times I have tried to collect team comics, I just can’t get into them on a month to month basis. I find the comics that focus on a single character much more interesting and fun to read. That doesn’t mean I don’t like team-ups, I just don’t seem to like comics that focus on an entire team. For example, I picked up X-Men Gold and Champions recently.  While I like the ideas behind the stories, I seem to want more of specific characters rather than the whole team. Those might be series I’d pick up from a public library to read in the future.

Rocket is a heist comic that is hilarious and fun. It is not meant to be taken seriously, but rather as a comedy with some oddball protagonists. Oddballs tend to be my favorite.

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A Land Called Tarot

I began this blog one year ago! While I may not have been as consistent as I had hoped, I am still proud that I have at least maintained it! I hope you enjoy my coming reviews and writings!

Cover of a land called tarot

Cover (first published February 2017)

 

A Land Called Tarot by Gael Bertrand

Can you really read a book with no words? I think you can, if the illustrations are done well enough demonstrate the overall theme and plot and characters of the story. To illustrate my point, A Land Called Tarot is a fantasy story told in a comic book format with no dialogue. There are a few fantasy language words between segments and there are roman numerals that correspond with tarot cards. If I had been more familiar with the names of the cards and their association with the roman numerals, I would have had a better understanding about where the story was headed as the numbers were presented. For example, the first roman numeral given is XVI. This is 16, which is named The Tower. The hero travels to [spoiler] a tower! While I am glad I did not bother trying to interrupt the flow of my reading to connect the roman numerals to a name that would show me where our hero was headed, it will be fun to re-read with this knowledge in stow and piece the story together a bit more clearly.

I really enjoyed the flow of the plot. I will admit there were times I was a bit confused as to what was happening, but I came up with my own explanation and moved on. A story with no words requires the reader to develop their own understanding of the plot along with the artist. One of the reasons I purchased this book was because I thought I may be able to read it in a different way each time. I was correct. While I may understand more about the author’s intent as I study the roman numerals, nothing is stopping me from creating a narrative with the pictures in my own way—like reading a picture book to a child and ignoring the text the author provides.

After completing part one, my first thought was that I was reading video game cut scenes. I enjoy watching my fiancé and my former college roommate play video games. A Land Called Tarot seemed to have a similar pacing. Each quest seemed contained, yet connected. This is a positive thing, as I feel it allows for the wordless story to be a little better understood.

I would recommend taking a look at this graphic novel and really delving into the pictures. It is definitely worth seeing how good illustrations do not require text to tell a beautiful story. I am excited to know that an author/illustrator has successfully developed a story without the use of dialogue or words in general. It really demonstrates the power of visual art.

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XVI (photo credit: Bertrand, A Land called Tarot)

Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1

By Kelly Sue DeConnick ; Art by Emma Rios

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Death. Death is something that happens to everyone in time. Some survive for years, others do not. In this story, even death has its cycle. Death (personified) can be replaced with a new Death. Through this fairytale-like story, set in the Wild West, we see the impact death has on the world and in people’s lives.

A butterfly and a skeleton rabbit (Bones Bunny) narrate Pretty Deadly. Traditionally, a butterfly symbolizes new life, and in this situation, Bones Bunny represents death. Therefore, personified symbols of new life and death narrate the story of Death replacing Death. Confusing? Yes, I was confused too. However, DeConnick uses these narrators to weave a tale together in pieces, revealing only a little of each character at a time. This method allows me to truly appreciate individual characters as they are gradually revealed and as their past is steadily uncovered.

To introduce the characters generally, Sissy and Fox put on a show for the local villagers for money. They tell the story of Mason and Beauty. Mason takes his love and locks her in a tower to keep her away from other men. She pleads with him, saying she will die if she is locked up. He does not listen. She pleads with Death to take her. Death instead falls in love with her, but eventually grants her request. However, she and Death have a child that Death names Ginny. Ginny becomes a Reaper of Vengeance, “a hunter of men who have sinned.” She is then called Deathface Ginny.

The art is as beautiful as it is gruesome. I love how Rios incorporates the symbolism of the story into her art. Butterflies burst forth from death, water engulfs the living and brings new life, and the desert reveals the lack of life in the world. Life and death go hand in hand. Even when a character dies, he or she is still alive, they are just not “among the living.” Souls seem to live on despite physical death, yet they can eventually be “set free,” as Alice desires throughout the story. Although this tale seems to overtly focus on death, to me it comments more on the beauty and frailty of life.

I checked this book out from my local library and hope to check out volume 2 that comes out in late August 2016! I first discovered DeConnick by reading Captain Marvel and fell in love with her story telling ability. I am looking forward to reading more books by her and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Wonder Woman Rebirth

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artists: Matthew Clark, Sean Parsons, and Liam Sharp

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This past year I started reading The Legend of Wonder Woman by Renae de Liz and fell in love. It is a 9 issue miniseries that I will review/discuss after it is complete in a couple months or so. Then, I picked up Wonder Woman Earth One by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette. It was also well written, but I thought it fell short of Renae de Liz’s narrative and artistic representation. I wondered if it had to do with Grant Morrison being a male. This assessment felt a bit unfair, but I am not well read in past Wonder Woman interpretations, so I only had these two to go by. However, after reading Rucka’s Wonder Woman Rebirth, I know was unfair to men in my initial assessment. Rucka did a fantastic job with Wonder Woman in the DC Rebirth issue.

Wonder Woman holds the Lasso of Truth, which means she exposes lies. I am hoping this implies that she will be a key player in discovering the mystery of the new DC Universe. This particular issue opens with “Something’s happening…in my memory…the story keeps changing,” and it certainly does. It begins with her mother begging the gods for a child and being granted one formed by the clay, but it continues with OR she was conceived by the union of the Queen of the Amazons and the Ruler of Olympus (Zeus) and the Queen gave birth to a child (or children?). A pattern of this legend or that legend of her origin plays out back and forth through the narrative. Wonder Woman is confused and irritated at the constant changing of reality. Overall, she wants peace. I assume because of her frustrations she uses the Lasso of Truth on herself. A mirror shatters and she seems to see things more clearly. The reader is not privy to her newfound knowledge, which is great. It adds to the suspense and the intrigue as to what may have happened to our hero in the past and what will happen to our hero in the future.

Continuing the back and forth narrative presented in Wonder Woman Rebirth, this bi-weekly series will alternate storylines “as she untangles the mysteries of her present…and her past.” I am looking forward to seeing how her storylines meld into a complete narrative in the coming weeks.

Paper Girls (issue #6)

Written by Brian K. Vaughan ; Art by Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson

Paper Girls trade paperback containing issues #1-5 is already out (was published on March 30, 2016), so go read it now! I will wait…

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I read Paper Girls as each issue was published from October 2015 to February 2016. Those first five issues contain the introductory arc of the series. It features girls who deliver paper for their town in the late 1980s. While on route at night, they encounter alien-like characters and a sentient machine. I will not go into detail, but by the very end of issue 5 we are left wondering, did these girls just travel through time?

Issue #6 picks up from the perspective of Erin Tieng on June 1, 2016. She is driving along and encounters three random girls on the road, one of which shares her name and scars. Older Erin takes it all fairly well and drives the girls to her house for their safety. I have absolutely no idea if I would take it in stride like Erin did. No, actually, I am certain I would freak out if I encountered a younger version of myself. Erin does show some concern, but she also expresses some reasons for not thinking it is the craziest thing she has ever seen in her life.

One of the best moments for me in this issue was when the girls were watching the big screen TV. They were not used to screens of that magnitude back in the 80s. The reader can see four turtles dressed like ninjas on the TV screen and the announcer says, “…four brothers who hate bullies and love this city….In theaters this Friday.” The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows comes out tomorrow! I absolutely loved this detail and accuracy of the real world within a fictional world that is collapsing and wreaking havoc upon humans.

I am excited about how strong this second arc has begun and I can’t wait to see what Brian K. Vaughan has in store for these young ladies in the future…and the past.

Joyride (issue #2)

 

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From issue #1

By Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly. Art by Marcus To.

After a strong start with issue #1, Joyride issue #2 feels a bit rushed in an attempt to round out all the plot lines that will be addressed and completed in the last two issues. On the other hand, I really enjoyed how the creators put these humans in a familiar environment (a mall) in an alien environment (outer space).

Now that our protagonists have escaped Earth, there are people who want them to return, most likely to be punished. This major plot point, introduced at the very beginning of the issue, will likely play a bigger role in issue #3. Special Interceptors are sent to retrieve any who escape Earth. And let’s just say one of Dewydd’s family members is going to be on the team to get them back…

In outer space, fearless Uma is causing havoc and the other two, Dewydd and Catrin are just trying to figure out their place in their new lives. The issue opens up with Uma stealing a treasure and running from cops in a huge alien mall. Honestly, the mall reminded me of Blue Heaven from Outlaw Star. It felt like a relaxing place for aliens from all across the universe to shop, eat, and drink. However, the large space mall in Joyride was a bit tidier, open, and full of cops (rather than outlaws). Right now, I am intrigued with Dewydd’s story. Catrin, the unfortunate Earthling who got wrapped up on this adventure, kept calling him 438. What does that mean? Why is he a number? I feel like this issue was partly for Dewydd and Catrin to determine, without a doubt, that this journey with Uma is worth taking.

There are many questions left to be answered and more adventures to unfold. I hope my posts have encouraged you to check it out now, or to at least pick it up when it comes out in graphic novel form. Overall, I enjoyed issue #2 and am eager to see what our protagonists encounter in issue #3!

 

DC Universe Rebirth (2016)

By Geoff Johns and multiple artists including Gary Frank

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In light of this week’s reveal in the current Captain America series by Marvel, it seems DC Universe Rebirth has been a bit overshadowed in the news I have seen. This fact disappointed me because, even though I am not the most avid reader of DC comics, I am interested in how they planned to handle the next transformation of the DC Universe. Plus, this issue also provided controversial information regarding the combination of universes published by DC that were probably never supposed to meet.

The Rebirth issue begins by deconstructing a watch. The quote inscribed on the watch is “every second is a gift.” Through art and broken narration, regardless of my knowledge of the DCU, I understand that the issue is going to be about lost time. The question is: what happened to cause time to be erased?

The entire comic follows Wally West as he races through time trying to find a friend who recognizes him so that he can stop running through time’s extra dimension. At first appearance this story seems to relate with Flashpoint, a rewriting of reality that led into the New 52 DC relaunch in 2011. Though I am not exactly sure how much, as I was not reading comic books regularly at the time. Nevertheless, what Wally discovers is that reality was not so much affected by the Flashpoint itself, but something else more powerful than Darkseid is driving the changes. This is a moment when I wish I was more familiar with DC characters and lore. It might be helpful for solving some of these mysteries. Then again, this is probably the creator’s way of getting me interested in reading more of the Rebirth series as a whole…

Due to my unfamiliarity with the source materials for creating this comic, I did a bit of research (not in-depth or anything), but I did discover just how much the Watchmen really had an impact on the new DC Universe. One of the things I truly appreciated about the comic was the focus on love and hope. Wally finds that love is what connects them and hope is what drives them to keep saving the world. This story is divided into five parts called Lost, Legacy, Love, Life, and Epilogue. There is an optimism that is integral to the world of superheroes and the creators wanted to break away from the Watchmen’s dark influence on the DCU and superheroes in general. However, the creators were not wanting to eliminate the influence of the Watchmen, but instead integrate them into the main universe. If there truly is going to be a more optimistic tone to the DC Universe through Rebirth, then I am excited about the future of the comics and I will look forward to reading more of their titles.