Super is a dark comic with an antihero—an angry young man with powers that uses them to resolve the military conflicts of the day. He seems burdened with glorious purpose, to borrow a phrase, with no clear alignment with the American military, much to their alarm. Who is he? How does he do what he does? Why is he doing it? Who’s side is he on? These questions are not answered in issue one, so fans of the comic are encouraged to chip in over at Kickstarter to make issue two a reality.
Although the inking style was a bit heavy for my tastes, and occasional word balloons laden with exposition assaulted me here and there, overall the comic was a solid effort for a first endeavor, and it touched upon political problems of our day in regards to American military intervention overseas. This could have created a smartly written comic that appealed to adult audiences, but the story fell short.
My problem with the first issue of Super was that it was spent entirely on developing the setting. At one point, the young flying enigma we know only as “Mark” makes self-aware comments that he’s not some silly costumed hero who fights petty criminals. He is meant for greater things. Unfortunately, greater things don’t happen in the first issue.
We see smoke. We see ruins. We don’t see much of how or why. Too many pages were spent on the backstory of characters who weren’t immediately important, as well as flashbacks that pulled us back and forth through time. The end result was a fragmented narrative. This was a story intended to unfold over several issues. Regrettably, I only had the one issue to review.
The idea of super-powered, everyday people is not a new idea. Some of you may recall Jim Shooter’s New Universe in the 80s that explored for a short time this very concept across several titles. Star Brand in particular came to mind when I read Super (before the powers-that-be festooned him with a costume), where a young man suddenly gifted with powers takes on some of the military conflicts of his day. The television series, Heroes, also came to mind. It remains to be seen how Super will play out.
However, judging by the failed suicide of the last pages, this is a gritty tale more like Frank Miller’s Dark Knight than anything Marvel published in the 80s. If the narrative in issue two can just weigh anchor and set sail, there might be a very interesting tale to be told in Super.
Release Date: September 4, 2014 (USA)
Publisher: Jay Crow Comics
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (one drink, though it may have been a cola)
Language: 1 (one s-word, some deity)
Sexuality: 1 (implied adultery)
Violence: 3 (death, destruction, implied suicide)
It’s no secret Franks has been around the block a few times. He is the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein story, though Franks is always quick to point out that Shelley embellished events more than just a little bit. We get inside his head, learn about his history, find out what made him the man he is today, and learn why Franks is so loyal to the United States.
Franks is framed for mass murder at MCB headquarters, then hunted as a fugitive while he tries to figure out how to destroy the illegal Nemesis assets deployed by Mr. Stricken (the head of Special Task Force Unicorn, or STFU…yes, STFU). Franks previously threatened to destroy anyone who helped restart Nemesis, and he’s taking no prisoners as he goes after Stricken.
Each chapter in Monster Hunter Nemesis begins with some backstory—and sometimes current story—which is happening outside the rest of the narrative. Correia gives the reader some excellent history on Franks, showing how he became the person he is today and exactly what his mission is. I found these asides to be extremely interesting.
The action is fast-paced and full of guns and other interesting, deadly weapons, as is to be expected in one of Correia’s stories. Monsters and hunters alike are taking sides for the upcoming conflict, and events are moving faster as things converge.
One of the most interesting things in this book is Correia’s heavy use of religious elements from LDS beliefs. Unless you know what to look for, you won’t notice they are there, and Correia is definitely not including them as a way of preaching. They really added an additional realism to the story because of how they were used. There have been many other religious elements scattered throughout the series, but this volume included far more than any of the previous books.
The good folks at MHI play only a small part in this volume, but it turns out to be pretty significant to the story. A conflict hinted at in the previous volumes plays out in these pages, and it is an edge-of-the-seat clash of the titans! No spoilers for you, though.
Monster Hunter Nemesis is excellent. It is rare to find a series of books where each volume is as good as or better than the previous books in the series, but that’s what we have here. I wouldn’t have minded a little thicker book, but Correia still got the story told and didn’t leave me thinking anything had been skimped on or skipped in the story. I highly recommend this series!
Release Date: July 1, 2014 (USA)
ISBNs: 1476736553 (9781476736556)
Publisher: Baen Books
Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (Elixir of Life, some smoking and drinking)
Language: 3 (fairly regular strong expletives)
Sexuality: 1 (brief scenes with a succubus, nothing explicit)
Violence: 5 (brutal violence, graphic descriptions, intense battles, a lot of death)
Maria’s only friends are Cook (a loving family servant) and the Professor, an eccentric academic who lives in a gameskeeper’s cottage and studies ancient Latin, so Maria occupies herself by exploring Malplaquet’s house and grounds.
On one such occasion she finds an ornamental lake and rows out to an island in the middle that turns out to be the hiding place of an entire nation: the Kingdom of Lilliput in Exile, a society of tiny people whose ancestors escaped enslavement by Lemuel Gulliver over two centuries ago. Her fascination with their miniature society turns dangerous as she begins meddling with them, then becomes dire as the adults discover and seek to exploit the Lilliputians for financial gain.
White, best known for his book The Once and Future King, has here chosen a style and tone consistent with Jonathan Swift’s original satire—including the Lilliputian dialect, which is pure 18th-century English, complete with florid Vocabulary and extraneous Capital Letters.
Not only is the book a delightful read, but it brings up some interesting philosophical questions: is the quality of being human determined by one’s size or utility? Is it acceptable to boss others around just because one can? What is the right way to “help” people, particularly when those you want to help are determined to get along on their own? Not only are these questions posed with regard to Maria’s relationship to the Lilliputians, but also her relationship to her hateful, bullying guardians.
As Mistress Masham’s Repose was published just after World War II, it has a specific period feel that may not appeal to all readers. The satirical humor also becomes overly broad and long-winded near the book’s end (particularly in one unending scene involving a Lord Lieutenant). Otherwise, it is a strong must-read fantasy for precocious middle-school readers, teens, and adults.
Release Date: 1946 (UK)
ISBNs: 1590171039 (9781590171035)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (some alcohol and tobacco consumption, underage drinking)
Language: 2 (mild profanity, reference to deity)
Violence: 2 (Lilliputian hunters, cruelty to a child, implied physical abuse)
The three Ferrari sisters—Hozuki, Kazuki, and Hazuki—are the centerpiece of the story, though the main heroine is 13-year-old Hozuki, resident genius and true heir to the mind of Galileo. 20-year-old Hazuki is studying to be a lawyer; 17-year-old Kazuki lives in the shadow of her sisters. The sisters’ parents are separated, with the father taking a more loving role than the mother.
Around the same time that Hozuki discovered ancient blueprints in the attic, the mega corporation Adnimoon had begun a search for Galileo’s Tesoro, a fabled source of infinite energy that is reported to be in the hands of Galileo’s descendants. The pirates get wind of it, too, and preemptively attempt to steal it from the Ferraris. Then Adnimoon tries to frame the Ferraris for terrorism in order to get their hands on the treasure.
Soon, the girls make their escape and seek out Galileo’s fortune to beat Adnimoon to it in order to clear their name. Or something. It’s all very confusing and exciting with lots of mecha and explosions as the girls find the maps of Galileo which lead them around the world.
Galilei Donna is like The Da Vinci Code with steampunk mecha and cute girls. As such, you shouldn’t expect too much from the series. It’s animated extremely well for TV anime, with attractive character designs, creative mecha, and opening and closing theme songs that were quite catchy. As an original anime series, it doesn’t have a book or manga that it is based on. This might explain why the series suffered from pacing issues, but overall it was an aggressive storyline for weekly TV and never dull.
The series is short at only 11 episodes, which leaves me baffled why a key battle was halted for Hozuki to go back into pastoral Italy to romance her ancient grandfather while they built flying machines together. Plot-wise, the dalliance on the Italian countryside factored into the future, but considering that the resolution and series conclusion ended within one episode after Hozuki’s return from Renaissance Italy, I questioned why so much time was dedicated to that segment of the story.
Regardless, I enjoyed the series. It was a quality production that only suffered from not having enough time to build the story and characters. Perhaps that means that I found myself wanting more in a good way. Galilei Donna was a fun show. I recommend it.
Original Air Dates: October 10 – December 19, 2013 (Japan)
TV Parental Guidelines Rating: Not Rated
Network: Fuji TV
Original Title: ガリレイドンナ (Garirei Donna)
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (mild)
Language: 1 (minor)
Violence: 3 (aerial combat, bombings, death, gunplay, fisticuffs)
Joan Rivers was known for giving very frank (and usually unasked-for) fashion advice, and for being extremely loud and obnoxious wherever she went (but always with a twinkle in her eye). During her time in the spotlight, she hosted interviews on the red carpet with many different celebrities.
Rivers wrote several books about her life and for just general amusement of the reader. She was named a permanent co-host for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson until she launched her own talk show on the competing (and brand new) Fox Network. Rivers said Carson never spoke to her again after that.
While Rivers appeared in a wide variety of television shows and films, she didn’t appear in very many science fiction, fantasy, or horror shows. Here are 6 scifi shows featuring Joan Rivers, listed in alphabetical order by show title:
- Iron Man 3: Rivers has a cameo appearance, appearing on her fashion commentary show, Fashion Police, where she criticizes the paint scheme of the Iron Patriot suit. This is her most recent (and final) appearance in a science fiction film prior to her death.
- The Muppets Take Manhattan: This is another cameo appearance in which she appears as Eileen, Miss Piggy’s cosmetic counter sales coworker in the department store. In contrast to her normal public personality, Rivers plays a friendly and awkward character in this role.
- Shrek 2: Here she appears as herself, hosting the red carpet show as various celebrities arrive for Shrek and Fiona’s marriage. She is, I believe, the only real life person to be directly transplanted into the Shrek world.
- The Smurfs: Rivers again plays herself in a cameo appearance. I admit, I have never watched this adaptation of the 1980s cartoon series, so I can’t go into more detail on this one. The trailers gave me hives, so I have avoided watching it.
- Spaceballs: In this Star Wars parody from Mel Brooks, Rivers voices Princess Vespa’s droid-of-honor, Dot Matrix. This is her most famous science fiction role. Her main job was to act as a nursemaid or droid-in-waiting for Princess Vespa, as well as to protect her virginity from being stolen by various nefarious and swashbuckling characters in the film.
- Spaceballs: The Animated Series: Rivers reprises her voice-over role as Dot Matrix, only in animated form. This series didn’t last, being only 13 episodes long. Oddly, it debuted in Canada prior to debuting in the United States.
While not making a huge impact through the 6 scifi shows featuring Joan Rivers did make a huge impact on those who have brought us all the science fiction, fantasy, and horror we love. The world has been diminished by her passing. We will miss you, Joan.