Friday, March 3, 2017

Books I read in February

Comics and Graphic Novels
SuperMutant Magic Academy  Jillian Tamaki
Get a Life  Philippe Dupuy, Charles Berberian, translated by Helge Dascher
The Sword of Laban and the Tree of Life    Mike Allred, Laura Allred
Captain America: Winter Soldier, Volume 1   Ed Brubaker,  Michael Lark, Steve Epting, John Paul Leon
The Longest Day Of The Future   Lucas Varela
Luthor   Brian Azzarello, Lee Bermejo
The Private Eye  Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, Muntsa Vicente
Gotham Academy, Vol. 2: Calamity  Becky Cloonan,  Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl
Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening  Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
Batgirl, Volume 2: Family Business  Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr
Paper Girls, Vol. 2   Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson
Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria and Iraq  Sarah Glidden
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1  Ta-Nehisi Coates,  Brian Stelfreeze
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed  G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Elmo Bondoc
Batman: Earth One, Volume 2  Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Jon Sibal, Brad Anderson
Star Wars, Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes  Jason Aaron, John Cassaday, Laura Martin
Descender, Vol. 2: Machine Moon  Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen
Descender, Vol. 3: Singularities  Jeff Lemire,  Dustin Nguyen
The Woods, Vol. 1: The Arrow  James Tynion IV,  Michael Dialynas
The Nameless City  Faith Erin Hicks    
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Alamo All-Stars  Nathan Hale
Hilda and the Stone Forest  Luke Pearson
Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope   Emmanuel Guibert


Novels
The Thief Megan Whalen Turner    
The Queen of Attolia Megan Whalen Turner   
The King of Attolia      Megan Whalen Turner   
A Conspiracy of Kings     Megan Whalen Turner
Doomsday Book Connie Willis  


Poetry
19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East  Naomi Shihab Nye

Visual Work
The Singing Bones Shaun Tan  

Quick Takes
SuperMutant Magic Academy is so weird and and makes me so happy. It's a riff on the Xavier School, Hogwarts, and all of the classic tales of super-powered or magical adolescents, but with significantly more ennui, absurdism and-- dare I say it-- mordant wit. Marsha, Wendy, Gemma, Frances, Trixie, and Cheddar's stories interweave along with a large cast of other characters, enough that it really begins to feel like high school. Check it out online in serialized form or get the book.

The Private Eye is a nicely done near-future noir-fable about information privacy. Following a catastrophic event described metaphorically as a data-flood, every bit of personal information hidden in the cloud is revealed publically, with destructive consequences, emotionally and politically. After society regroups, sans internet, intense personal privacy laws are enforced. But there are still things people want to know, and thus there is still space for the private eye, who is a detective/paparazzi hybrid in a world in which the Fourth Estate are the new police, the only people authorized to publish the deeds of private citizens.

Coates' Black Panther lives up to the hype as a fascinating take on the character. I'm excited to see where this goes. The first volume felt too short to capture where Coates is headed with this.

The Nameless City is an interesting piece of fantasy that looks at the impact of constantly changing military rule on a city that sits at the center of a vast trade network. Like the first Black Panther volume, It's clearly just the beginning of a bigger saga. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

The Hazardous Tales books are always good, but sometimes (especially with WWI) it feels like they bite off more than they can chew. That's definitely not the case with Alamo All-Stars, which does a great job of situating the famous siege within the context of Mexico's war of independence and ensuing conflict. The Texan settlers are depicted as neither heroes or villains, but as a complicated group of men fighting a complicated war for complicated reasons. And this is all done in a short, funny history for kids.

Megan Whalen Turner's Eugenides books are excellent, unique fantasy books with rich religious and historical detail. Plus, they have one of the most engaging protagonists ever. After years of hearing how good they are from me and several of her friends, my wife finally decided she wanted to read them, so we read them out loud throughout the month. It was a great experience, and they are definitely good books to read out loud.

For a long time, To Say Nothing of the Dog has been one of my favorite books. It's a cleverly plotted time-travel comedy. But it's not Willis' first time travel story, and this month I finally read Doomsday Book, a much more tragic look at time travel, though it also showcases Willis' farcical understanding of the chaos caused by human nature and especially human pride. I love that in these books time travel (and the study of history in general) in essentially an act of compassion for those already gone.

If you've read my 2016 reading round ups, you know how much I love Shaun Tan. The Singing Bones consists of images of sculptural work he's done to illustrate numerous tales from the Brothers Grimm, alongside brief excerpts from the stories. It is astounding and hauntingly beautiful.



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