Comic Book Review: The Rattler by Jeff McNamara

cover84692-mediumWow. That was dark. Dark and weird. Probably good if you’re into that kind of thing. I’m still trying to figure out the ending.

A little bit horror, a little bit Twilight Zone. It was a decent story.

Though I’d probably only recommend it to fans of the genre. If you like a few bloodstains on your comics.

Thanks to NetGalley, Diamond Distributors, and Image Comics for a copy in return for an honest review.

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Comic Book Review: Tokyo Ghost v1 by Rick Remender

cover84693-mediumWow – a completely different kind of addiction. Or is it? Fascinatingly creative and frighteningly real.

It’s a story of cycles. About repeating – and not repeating them. And, yes, motorcycles.

This story is intense. And crazy. But there’s some truth here amid the spectacle.

It is hard to shed the cocoon of familiarity and seek out a better life — even when what we leave behind is toxic. We often attach ourselves to whatever is nearest and convince ourselves it is right. Even when we know it isn’t.

Yes, it’s graphic. Yes, it’s violent.

But it has heart.

I thought it was worth reading. Not just for the picture it paints of what could be our dark future.

And the art?? Frikkin’ gorgeous!

And the ending?!? Damn cliffhangers!

Thanks to NetGalley, Diamond Distributors, and Image Comics for a copy in return for an honest review.

Book Review: Queer Wars by Dennis Altman

cover77865-mediumAn interesting discussion of the globalization of equal rights movements for LGBT folk. Worth reading if you want an overview of these movements around the world.

While this is said of South Korea, it could be about any oppressed minority in any country:

‘Oppression is real and ubiquitous, yet invisible enough to make calls for advocating homosexuals’ rights look “excessive” or “privileging”.’

An interesting tidbit about Spain:

During Franco’s regime homosexuals (mostly males) were sent to special prisons called galerías de invertidos (‘galleries of deviants’)…

Apparently, they were sending people to prison for it in the mid-20th century…

Spain legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, the third country to do so.

…but still legalized same sex marriage 10 years before us!

Of course, there’s a huge discussion devoted to homophobia and bigotry as linked to conservatism and fundamentalism.

The growth of evangelical Christianity and fundamentalist Islam and Hinduism in many parts of the world means that polarization around sexual rights is unlikely to diminish soon. What Clifford Bob terms the ‘Baptist–Burqua network’ actually includes almost all major fundamentalist religions, which can form bizarre alliances in their eagerness to oppose sexual rights. International organizing to oppose gay rights –and, more broadly, anything that suggests the blurring of gender lines or acceptance of sexual diversity –has paralleled the growth of international gay organizing. American-based organizations defending ‘family values’ have been particularly active in promoting an antihomosexual line both in international fora and within a number of overseas countries. Since 1997 the World Congress of Families, a grouping of a number of rightwing religious organizations, has heavily promoted ‘traditional family values’ through international conferences and support for anti-homosexual groups around the world. They have built strong alliances with religious groups in Russia, particularly with those legislators and clergy who have been promoting anti-homosexual laws. ‘The Russians’, according to Larry Jacobs of the Congress, ‘might be the Christian saviours of the world.’

This is so disturbing. So messed up. So ironic. Yet, somehow, so fitting.

The development of homophobic rhetoric and legislation in Uganda is often linked to the work of American pastor Scott Lively, a born-again Christian who has campaigned against abortion and homosexuality through a number of US-based organizations. In 2009 Lively was brought to Uganda by local evangelists, and used the opportunity to encourage official homophobia, resulting in the first draft of the anti-homosexuality bill. How far Lively is responsible for this and subsequent bills is unclear, but in 2012 he was sued in the US Federal Court by Sexual Minorities Uganda for encouraging persecution and ‘crimes against humanity’; at the time of writing, several courts have upheld the constitutionality of the charges and he faces trial. The use of American law to limit the activities of antigay activists overseas is likely to be contested through a number of legal channels, and suggests new steps towards using the legal system within western countries to limit global homophobic networks.

Good god. The more I read this kind of stuff, the more I’m led to believe that conservatives are in the wrong as a group. I don’t know.

I mean, this is about equality for all. Human rights. Don’t we believe all men are created equal?

Inevitably the stress on the most obvious examples of persecution means that it is easy to overlook the myriad of subtle ways in which discrimination continues, and that many homosexuals internalize this discrimination in ways that restrict them in living fulfilling lives.

This is key. It’s why people are for equality.

So, this is where we stand today:

As the successes of the gay rights movement in some places have been mirrored by increasing homophobic repression in others, the result has been growing international polarization. 

Because of this, we have to be cautious how we move forward.

Opponents of gay rights continue to make similar claims: that liberal treatment of sexuality violates religious traditions and national values, and will lead to family and social breakdown. Sexual minorities continue to be targets of violence and political scapegoating across much of the world. In many cases, efforts to promote or impose gay rights have seemed to play into the hands of oppressive governments. The reality of international polarization and the sensitivities about western imperialism in those countries that have only recently escaped colonial domination raise a real question for activists: how best to promote human rights and liberation within a divided world.

So what do we do?

Unfortunately, there are no simple answers to these questions, and any effective international engagement must be nuanced, case specific and aware of the limited capacity that outsiders have to intervene in any community. If we value pluralism and the political autonomy of communities that are still recovering from the injustices of colonialism, we should also be wary of any attempt to impose western standards.

But what can do?

Since international campaigners are likely to misunderstand the kinds of changes that will gain local acceptance, the international effort should focus on universal protection against criminalization and violations of personal safety. If international consensus can be built around these minimal protections, this will support more transformative local changes without dictating them.

This is a difficult issue. It’s hard to know what to do. But we have to keep standing up for what we know is right – and at the same time be sensitive to how we approach other cultures.

Thanks to NetGalley and Polity for a copy in return for an honest review.

Comic Book Review: Through the Habitrails by Jeff Nicholson

habitrailsI often compare the act of storytelling to that process of playing cards, specifically certain poker strategies. When do you show which card? Why? What card do you keep close to your best?”

I love this analogy!

I think I would describe this as more horrific than horror as the introduction suggests.

But, damn! You get that feeling of creepiness, emptiness, and loss from page 1!

You can relate to a lot of this. Living for someone else who (literally!) taps the creative juices from you for nefarious purposes.

The misogyny kind of smacks you in the face – but then you realize it’s supposed to – that it’s part of the life he leads but shouldn’t. “She would be so lovely, if…” speaks to his own insecurities, not the shortcomings of the women around him.

I think it’s the same thing with his relationship with cats.

I’m not sure what the moral of this book is. But maybe it’s this:

When the Gerbil King tells you, “I can get you to the end safely,” don’t listen to him. He can’t. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Dover Publications for a copy in return for an honest review.

Comic Book Review: Golem by Lorenzo Ceccotti

cover84689-medium
“Sir, is everything ok?”
“You can’t die here sir.”

The longer I live and the more I see, the more afraid I get of these dystopian futures. Especially the ones that look all shiny and pretty on the outside.

Golem paints a picture of a perfect future – but of course, there’s something ugly hidden under the surface.

I thought the comic did a fantastic job of showing us this future world, and when they amp up the suspense, you get caught up in the characters and the world.

The art was really cool in some places, but in others hard to decipher. I start to wonder. Is that me? Is it the format? Or is the picture truly difficult to read?

Overall an interesting book. I liked it.

Recommended.

Thanks to NetGalley, Diamond Distributors, and Magnetic Press for a copy in return for an honest review.

Comic Book Review: Batman & Robin Eternal v1 by Scott Snyder

cover82103-mediumThe good thing about a great Batman story – or maybe the great thing about a good Batman story – is you can jump in, in media res, in the middle of the action, and you can get hooked into the story.

But to me, Scott Snyder is kind of hit-and-miss. I like some of his stuff, but not all of it. And it took me a while to get used to us jumping back-and-forth in time.

And there was so much tied to other comics. It really helped that I already knew about Grayson and the BatBot. I’d be a little lost if I hadn’t.

And then I really got into the story. The writing got good. And interesting. And even funny.

But I don’t understand why Jason is part of this gang. He’s just as obnoxious as he was when he died. Do I need to go back and read Hush again?

And they don’t know who Cassandra Cain is? And Dick doesn’t know who Steph is? Tim’s parents are alive?? I forgot – we rebooted for The New 52, didn’t we? I don’t know the origins now, do I? I hate being confused. And then Poppy brings that weird weapon from the God Garden and that doesn’t help. And why does Tim have a gun?!?

I don’t know who Bluebird is, but I like her.

Ooh! And the plot thickens as things are explained. That’s good. I like where this story is going. And how it ties these criminals both Bruce’s past and Dick’s past. Though the whole concept is a bit sick.

Funniest quote:

The last I checked, communion didn’t turn you into The Flash.

But then, it gets kind of slow again. And the whole storyline? It’s a little disturbing. Like they can’t create a good story without the abuse of children being a plot point. In this case, a way to allow Batman to reflect on his relationship with his charges.

I don’t know. I probably enjoyed this well enough to see how it ends and check out the next volume. Sorry this review was all over the place. But the book kinda was, too.

Thanks to NetGalley and DC Comics for a copy in return for an honest review.

Comic Book Review: The Beauty vol 1 by Jeremy Haun

cover84690-mediumFascinating as a critique of our culture’s obsession with both beauty and shortcuts. We want change, but we don’t want to work for it, and we don’t want to wait for it. We’re obsessed with it. We love/hate the beautiful people. We want to be the beautiful people. But we want that shallow, fleeting outward beauty that makes our heart beat faster at first glance. We want that processed, prepackaged fake unattainable bullshit that capitalism tries to sell as true and attainable. We want it, and we want it now, and we want it with the least work possible.

But in doing this we miss the real beauty that people have. The real beauty on the outside that doesn’t fit within what corporations are selling us. And the real beauty that you can’t see until you get close to someone and experience their lives and their passions.

Everyone talks like it’s a horror story. But it seems to me like an action-government-conspiracy suspense thriller. I know that’s not a genre, but I think that expresses what I mean. It’s more X-Files than Walking Dead.

That being said, it was a good story. A better X-Files story than the actual X-Files story I just read, actually.

But then, halfway through, enter Calaveras, and it was more like a Tarantino film.

But I liked it. I liked the story itself. And I liked the way it made me think. I hope there’s more. Because I was left wanting more resolution. It seemed to move to quickly and was missing some more exploration of the issue. And exploration of the characters.

Recommended to remind us of the limitations of our culture’s fascination with a beauty that is neither real nor true.

Thanks to NetGalley, Diamond Distributors, and Image Comics for a copy in return for an honest review.