Hey everyone, I hate to disappoint, but no Podcast today. I woke up at 6ish this morning with a runny nose, cough, and almost no voice. Yay, I have the plague. I was up for awhile and then strait back to bed. I’m going to spend maybe a little more time on the write-ups than usual, then I’m going to lay down some more and read comics with a big mug of (fresh, locally made) hot cider.
This week has been a really interesting week in global news. I have been watching the economy doing it’s trapeze act, (no net!) and I have been watching the presidential debates with keen curiosity. I did fall asleep during the second presidential one, but I made up for it later. I have been following this election closely for months and while I am glad it will be over soon, I can’t help but feel that this election cycle is critical to this country’s future. In the nature of disclosure, I am a social progressive, I don’t want this site to be about that. I only even bring it up because of this weeks new release:
This is the combo package, 2 books in one, with Barack Obama on one side and John McCain on the other. From a pure retail standpoint, I think I might have preferred separate books. I have had folks on both sides of the aisle see it and get excited, only to grunt angrily and drop it back on the rack when the see that the guy they don’t like is the other half of the book. From a social science perspective this is a fascinating glimpse at how polarized we are as a country right now. From a cash standpoint, the folks aren’t buying, and it drives me nuts.
As for the book itself, it’s better than I was afraid it would be. The comics are short biographies of the candidates, and both seem to be covered in a way that is honest and not overly gushy. In the Obama side, it talks about the time in his youth in Jakarta, as well as his drug using, slacker college years. It also covers how he figured it out, worked hard and became such a young Senator. The McCain side felt a bit rushed in comparison, but he has lived a lot longer, and there is a lot more to cover. It starts with his time in the prison in Hanoi, and then flashes back to the story of his family and their tradition of service. And their tradition of finishing in the bottom of their class at the Naval Academy. All in all I felt that the McCain side was a little less flattering than the Obama side of the book, covering more of his personal problems like his divorce and his wife’s prescription drug problem. I worry that this will make the book seem biased against him, but if the book is true, there’s not a lot that can be done. According to editor Scott Dunbier, a great deal of time and effort went into the fact checking of this book, so I feel comfortable that it is as fair and honest as he was able to make it.
I didn’t feel particularly inspired by the art. It really feels like more like a teaching aid and less like an entertainment comic. But that’s ok. I hope this gets some classroom use and gets used to start discussions. For all the people wondering who the people are behind the politics, this will go a long way towards humanizing the candidates. We get a good feel for their backgrounds and their values. We see them both as people, fallible but real.
I have been slowly working my way through the She-Hulk graphic novels. I really should have mentioned her sooner, because I have been having a lot of fun with her. I haven’t read any of the old Savage She-Hulk stuff, and I know that those books are really different. These cover her life as a lawyer. A lawyer that specializes in super-human cases. She spends a lot of time in her alternate form as Jen Walters, and in the first three books we see her do some soul searching on who she is as a person. At the same time, these books are super cheesecake comedy. Shulkie is easy on the eyes, and has to deal with the sort of costume mishaps you would expect when a woman dramatically changes size. I had a little internal argument about her depictions as a female character, but I just can’t help but like her. She is the unstoppable, tough beauty that is the She-Hulk, but she is also sweet, mousy Jen. She battles insecurities about her appearance and abilities. I think she is a really good analogue to her cousin. Where in Banner, the Hulk form is an expression of rage, in Jen it’s more about power and liberation. I could write an awful lot about gender and society here, but lets just say that it feels like Slott did a good job figuring out what the 2 sides to this kind of coin would look like. Of course she’s ridiculous hot as as a hero. That’s what heroes are, and it helps sell books. It’s not all that she is though. Jen is a fun, complicated character.
In this specific book, Jen is asked to represent an old friend and paramour who had been accused of sexual assault. They manage to handle this really heavy topic in a way that is respectful to victims while still being an enjoyable and at times really funny story. I am actually glad to see they way they put this story together, as it feels like the comic book version of how this story goes in real life, sort of warts and all. It’s complicated and worth reading. I will be continuing this series for sure, sneaking a bit here and a bit there as I have time.
Dark Tower The Long Road Home
Now, I have not read everything that Stephen King has ever written, but I have read the Dark Tower Series. For weeks I was having dystopian nightmares about abandoned robot guardians and stuff. Really very cool. As far as the comics go, this book is the second story arc, and I didn’t read all of the first. I had been peeking at the singles of this as it was coming out, and I was really looking forward to it’s collected release. I hate to say it, but it doesn’t do too much for me. I love the artwork. Jae Lee’s rich, creepy darkness is a perfect match for my visions of the stories. In the first issue, Sheemi finds an old cybernetics station, and the sheer level of spine tingling ick that the art gave me should be bottled and sold. If I had not read the novels though, I think I would find this series to be a confusing mess of spooky impressions and odd language. So I guess this is like any of the series I sell that are for the fans. People who know, already know. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that, just that I have a lot of customers that would like these graphic novels to be Cliff’s Notes for the novels, and that just isn’t what these are. Strictly as a comic, I found the story to be overly slow and plodding. I feel like we spent an awful lot of time in this book without a whole lot of plot movement or exposition. In that respect though, they do resemble some parts of the novels. A lot of the story of the Dark Tower is Roland’s futility, and the endless travels through broken worlds. The art in this book captures that perfectly.
I don’t want to complain too much. I loved looking at the book. I could have skipped all the text and been happy, so my general lack of excitement for the story is generously tempered by the pretty pictures. Stephen King fans should buy this, as should fans of Jae Lee. Everybody else should read the novels first.
Ok, that’s all I have in me. The fever is making my head swim and I’m not entirely sure I’m making any sense. My very nice husband is going to make ravioli with spicy marinara and I am hoping that the spicy will burn out the sore throat ick. Wish me luck.