X-Men and Relevancy

Hello multi-verse,
Apologies for the late post. Sometimes the internet is not on your side. This weekend has been full of holiday/Comic con goodness. So let's get on with it eh?

X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills
I had heard that this is considered one of the definitive X-Men stories from the Comic Book Queers. In fact this story was so big at the time that Marvel put it out as an individual graphic novel rather than as part of the regular book. This is common now but back in the early 80s it was unheard of. It's been a little difficult for me to track down but I'm so glad I got to read it in this beautiful hard cover edition. The art is great and there are some striking images. This story involves a group led by Rev. Stryker called the Purifiers. Using christian fundamentalism, the Purifiers are hunting down and killing Mutants in cold blood, meanwhile using the media to push their anti-mutant agenda. I was ready to be impressed but the first few pages took my breath away. Claremont does an amazing job of bringing home how Stryker twists religion to suit his own prejudices. The key themes of the X-Men book plays out in this story and I loved it. Anyone who argues that superhero comics are just for kids needs to read this.

Downsize This!
I picked this up back in 2002 when Moore-mania was just gearing up. Shockingly its been sitting on the TBR pile for about 6 years now. It's actually very interesting to read this with 10 years of hindsight. In this book Moore discusses the concerns of a pre-911 world: OJ Simpson, corporate downsizing, and immigration. Reading this book I constantly struggled to find relevancy. This book did not age well. I also think that it is clear that Moore is not a writer of any subtlety or complexity. In this current world I think he is more suited to be a blog/column writer and taken in small bites.

I don't usually do this here but I felt compelled to share this excellent writeup. It changed my perspective on the importance of the romance genre. Check it out here.

What's In My Bag
Graphic Novels
Starman Omnibus Vol. 1
Animal Man Vol. 1

The Goon

Vanity Fair

Comic Pull List:Dynamo 5 #15, Green Lantern #33, Jokers Asylum Two Face #1, Trinity #9, Wolverine #67.

Check Out Count: A lot of coveted books.

Have a great week! Book Slave


Merry Madwoman of Marvel

Hello true believers,
The unending scorching days of summer continue. There's no end in sight! I find myself hanging out in libraries, coffee shops, and books stores not just to be surrounded by books, but to soak up the A.C. Alas it's been hard to finish a great many books. I've noticed that my reading has definitely slowed. Is there a difference between summer and winter here? Is that it? Perhaps so. Well hopefully anyone reading out there can empathize here. Or maybe I need to be slapped around. We'll see.
Either way Onward!

Essential Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1
This volume collects the first 20 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. One of the first major hit series for Marvel these comics established what is known as "the marvel style." I enjoyed a lot of things about these issues: the villains, art, and action. However I still found the style very difficult to deal with. Every damn panel has a word balloon, and there are never less than 5 panels per page. That silver age style of writing is really hard to slog through and I will admit to skimming. What I found the most enjoyable was how the voice of author Stan Lee so often came through on the page. Here's an example:

"Know Something Little Friend? If you're just starting to read this story, we envy you! Because you're gonna have a ball!"

Yes it's heavy on the exclamation points but it really made me excited to find out what would happen. There's a lot of self deprecating humor. I love it when they call themselves the "Merry Madmen of Marvel." I also have to say that I really enjoy how the stories are a mix of the fantastic and the mundane. We see Peter Parker fighting Doc Octopus and worrying about where the money for Aunt May's medicine is gonna come from. Spider-Man is a super hero and an everyday teen.
Here's a clip of Stan Lee explaining this mixture:

So for classic comic reading I found it pretty fun. Although I will say that the dated style is difficult. Perhaps those looking for a re-telling of this should look to the Ultimate Spider-Man series which I enjoyed.

What's In My Bag
Downsize This!
Uncanny X-Men: God Loves Man Kills

Secret Invasion #4

Film Comment

Comic Pull List: Daredevil #109, Jokers Asylum Scarecrow #1, New Avengers #43, Superman #678, Trinity #8, Uncanny X-Men #500
Check Out Count: Diversifying.

Well have an excellent week! Book Slave.


The Difficulty of Sucking it Up

Hello Out There!
How are you? I am doing well. For the first time in awhile I really feel on top of things. Don't get me wrong things aren't perfect but this weekend there's a lot to look forward to. Batman The Dark Knight is coming out! However reading-wise I fear I've taken on a bit more than I can chew. I trudge on though. Due to this fact there'll be no reviews tonight but I do want to discuss a reading dilemma.

Special Focus: Reading Outside the Comfort Zone
As I've mentioned when I'm not fighting crime, I can be found selling/pushing books. This week my boss wanted us to pull together a set of goals for the next year. When it came to Reader's Advisory I set myself the challenge to read some books outside of my comfort zone. There are certain genres that I just can't get into. I'm not a snob, I say to each their own. There's great and terrible books in all genres. All I ask is that a writer take me along a journey that I can lose myself in. When I crack open a book I am willing to give it all the chance to win me over. However I think it's very easy for me to coast along.

To be the best librarian/book seller that I want to be I think that these are the genres I need to tackle:

1. Romance Novels- (Sigh) I've tried, really I've tried. All I ask is for plausible characters acting in adult ways. I don't think it's that much really.

2. Science Fiction-I just have never been able to pick it up. Don't have a problem with superheroes, but I have trouble with the cosmic.

3. Young Adult Coming of Age Male-Do I really have to explain why I can't relate?

4. Christian/LDS/Clean Literature-Don't have a problem with J.C. Just don't hit me over the head with it eh?

5. Books that were originally published in a foreign language-Being a dumb American, I never learned a foreign language. (For my BA degree I learned ASL, which I've somewhat forgotten) So I am always concerned that I'm missing out by being not able to read a book in it's original language. Sure it's translated, but is it really the same? I'm never really sure.

So in the upcoming year I'm going to have to suck it up and tackle some of these. I want to be the most effective person I can be at my job. We'll have to see how I do.

What's In My Bag
Downsize This!
Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1

Dark Tower: End of the World Almanac


Comic Pull List:Batgirl #1, Batman And The Outsiders #9, Jokers Asylum Poison Ivy #1, Trinity #7, War Is Hell First Flight Phantom Eagle Max #5

Check Out Count: Getting better.

Have a great week! I may post an entry later this week with some reviews. Let's see how it goes. Until then, Bookslave.


What a country!

Hello cyber-world,
I hope you all had a good weekend. I know that I did. It turned out to be more active than I thought it would be. While being active is good, it also means I wasn't able to read as much as I had hoped. Oh well. The road to hell can be paved with good intentions. Well Onward we go!

Assassination Vacation
One of my many interests is American History (yeah folks there's more to me than comic books, who knew?). Although there has been only 200 years or so of the American experiment I think that there has been several interesting undercurrents/events. Author Sarah Vowell mixes her own quirky voice with an examination of the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. Her travel tour of various sites throughout the country is morbidly fun. I found myself laughing at several of her own personal misadventures, like traveling by speedboat in Florida or visiting the Mutter Museum of Medical Curiosities.

Vowell spends about half the book on the Lincoln Assassination and who can blame her. Her attention to all angles is to be commended considering she is not a historian. She not only covers the assassinations themselves but the overall effects that these events had on all those involved. I particularly found fascinating her discussion of the life of Edwin Booth who lived for almost 30 years after his brother John. Her turns on the deaths of Garfield and McKinley are not nearly as comprehensive. However since I didn't know much about these presidents everything was interesting. Vowell shrewdly fills the latter chapters with characters like Emma Goldman and Teddy Roosevelt. Whereas Garfield and McKinley were not given the chance to do anything as presidents their deaths did have meaning. Garfield's death led into the gilded age, which consumed the 1880s and 90s; McKinley gave way to Teddy Roosevelt, one of the most energetic/adventurous presidents in American history.

I liked the fact that Vowell focuses on history rather than babble on about some search for meaning. (I looking at you Elizabeth Gilbert) By sprinkling funny/touching/ironic moments sparingly Vowell avoids self-indulgence. Her dorky interest in morbid historical sites is endearing rather than strange. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read an interesting twist on American History.

What's In My Bag
Downsize This!
Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1

Echo #2


Comic Pull List: Captain Britain And Mi 13 #3, Detective Comics #846, Goon #26, Green Arrow Black Canary #10, I Kill Giants #1, Jokers Asylum The Penguin #1, Powers #29, Secret Invasion #4, Trinity #6, Wonder Woman #22

Check Out Count: A good mix.

Well, I hope you all have an excellent week. I'll try not to die in a pool of my own sweat. Yours, Book Slave.


Hot, Sweaty, and Tired

Hello folks,
Welcome to living on the sun. Seriously it's hot folks. You could fry an egg on my forehead. To me at the moment the best time of day is the golden hour. I've loved taking a walk around my somewhat eclectic neighborhood to cool down before sunset. Love it! Well admittedly this week's reading has been pretty thin. I've had other writing to work on this weekend (Yes, I do writing other than this, my constant readers), so I've decided to include a little autobiography as well.
So Onward to Breach!

Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1
I've decided to dive into more Bendis work after enjoying his work on Secret Invasion/New Avengers. Here we essentially have the Spiderman Origin story, which is very well known by now. I enjoyed the fact that they did write/draw Peter as a 15 year old kid. Watching him go through classic teen angst this book reminded me of a John Hughes movie. I think this is written for teenage boys and fanboys/girls. As someone who hasn't followed the comics for 20 years this was a good introduction.

Middleman Vol. 1
This book is humorous comic fun. The story follows Wendy, an struggling artist, who stumbles into joining a "Men In Black"-style organization and teaming up with a guy who is the classic version of a "dirk square jaw". He just calls himself "The Middleman" and wears a leather jacket while carrying an insanely large gun. All this plot is not the best thing about this book. Javier Grillo-Marxuach's is clearly hilarious because I loved all the jokes and satire throughout this trade. Little touches like Wendy's interactions with her stoner neighbor were just so random and cracked me up. Enjoyed it immensely. Plus there's gangster killer apes!

Life Changing Reads
Kick back as we walk down memory lane.
1. To Kill A Mockingbird
I had seen an old paperback copy of this on the top of our book case for a long time. It was the summer before 7th grade and I had a lot of time on my hands. Even at that age I had heard of the book and the movie, but hadn't picked up either. The cover was simple and the pages were yellowed. I decided that now was the time to pick it up. I read it in about 5 days and loved it immediately. Of course I was struck by the friendship between Jem, Scout and Dell and there adventures. Ultimately though it was the character of Atticus Finch that had the most effect on me. He was the father that everyone wished they had. I still get choked up as I think about the balcony scene.

2. Catcher and the Rye
Picked this up relatively later then a lot of people. I was 18 and I had gotten a gift card for christmas for a multi-media store that no longer exists. It's name escapes me at the moment. Anyway I had picked up some CDs and Videos, but I had about 10 bucks left on the gift card. With the prospect of losing out on $10, which was too little for any good CD or Video, I turned to the puny token book section. What to get? My eyes settled on a $6 buck paperback copy. It had the classic white cover with the rainbow stripe. I finished reading it in 2 days. As I read the final scene between Holden and his little sister on the merry-go-round I found myself tearing up. To me this book is not all about teen rebellion. There is a deeper subtext that strikes me every time I pick it up. Holden Caulfield is looking for unconditional love. Aren't we all?

3. Less Than Zero
First of all let me explain. Before I even had any sense what Brett Easton Ellis was all about he already had a bad reputation in our household. My mom, a librarian, was forced to read American Psycho because of a patron complaint. She hated it in every core of her body. In high school one of my friends Linda read and loved Less Than Zero I avoided it like the plague. Fast forward a few years: I was in a wonderful exchange book store in Sugarhouse and there it was-a paperback copy of Zero. Not any copy though. This one had Robert Downey Jr, Andrew McCarthey, and Jami Gertz staring back at me. It was the movie cover. I had to have it. However I held onto it for awhile without reading it. When I finally picked it up I couldn't believe what I read. I was captured by this story in that "read it till 3 am even though I need to sleep" way.

What's In My Bag
Assassination Vacation
Essential Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1

Dynamo 5 #13

Entertainment Weekly

Check Out Count: Diversifying.

Well kids it's a holiday weekend. 2 days off! It's gonna be awesome and far too quick. Have some fun! Celebrate our country. Throw some prayers to those fighting/dying overseas. Their sacrifice is beyond politics. I think I'll find some way this holiday to take a look over that old "Declaration" of ours. Have a great weekend! Book Slave.