Monthly Archives: June 2014

Danger Club: A Review

There is a cosmic evil approaching Earth. To fight this threat, the world’s superheroes have left to fight it. They failed. The evil is still coming. And only the remaining sidekicks and younger superheroes remain to defend the world. If they can get their shit together.

That isDanger Clubin a nutshell. I’m not sure what drew me to the title written by Landry Q. Walker with art by Eric Jones and colors by Robert Drake. Maybe the art? Maybe a fetish for indie comics? Regardless, it has taken me years to get around to checking the collected trade out thanks to interlibrary loan. Fortunately, I spent only a dollar compared to the ten dollars it would have cost me to buy the title. Why?

Because I strongly dislike this series.

I have come to realize thatDanger Club Volume One: Deathis little more than splatter gornography. Repetitive depictions of teenagers beating each other to bloody pulps is not something I’m interested in reading. Especially when the writing is subpar.

The narrative, so far, is a string of disjointed and cluttered scenes that rely on the reader’s (expected) prior knowledge of superhero comics to produce the narrative. Too much is going on at once without adequate world building.

In his introduction, Matt Fraction argues that Walker has moved past the need to expound what is going on in each scene. But, honestly, he has gone too far in the opposite direction without answering its promise.

Whatever promise the series has is also hampered by an extremely unsympathetic designated protagonist in Kid Vigilante. If you find the New 52 version of Tim Drake detestable, you will utterly despise this little douche. He takes the bad qualities of Red Robin and magnifies them several fold. The only movement towards making any of these characters (more little monsters) sympathetic comes in the final issue of the graphic novel as the Magician leaves a last message for his mother before his apparent death and Fearless Jack appears to show remorse for putting a bullet in the insufferable Kid Vigilante’s head. But these heart rending (and well done) moments come far too late to save the series.

Had the writing taken its time and introduced the characters better rather than relying on knowing the various characters’ inspirations to force sympathy and attachment, the series might have been something great.

While I dislike the narrative, I’m quite fond of the art. It is clean and well done. And the colors are wonderful. .

Danger Clubhas been on indefinite hiatus since April 2013. When it will return is unknown. What is clear, however, is that I won’t be returning to learn what happens next.

 

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The (Expanded) List for My Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

With much thought, and after extensively searching my local library’s catalog, I’ve decided on twenty books for my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. I had originally wanted to limit myself to ten books that I could easily find at my local library. But, unfortunately, I only received three recommendations, so I’m going to go with quantity and hope for enough quality to change my apathetic opinion of historical fiction.

Here is the list:

The Tale of Genji 

Romance of the Three Kingdoms

A Spoke in the Wheel by Amita Kanekar

The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson

Hild by Nicola Griffith

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon

(the later three books are recommendations from Michal of One Last Sketch. And the first five books will have to be ILLed.)

The Persian Boy by Mary Renault

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

The Luminaries by Elizabeth Catton

Texas by James Michener

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory

The Road to Wellville (or) Water Music by T.C. Boyle

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Rags to Glory by Stuart Cloete

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

Palace Walk by Najib Mahfouz

And

Silence by Endo Shusaku

What a list! When I decided to embark on this project, I decided that I wanted an equal balance of male and female authors. I also wanted as diverse a breadth of history and regions as I could get. I’m pleased that I struck a balance in regards to the author ratio. But I’m not as happy with the breadth and diversity of my selections. Of the twenty, only seven are people of color. I need to do better than that.

Given that there are twice as many books, I’m going to be harsher when it comes to reading. If I don’t like a novel, even if it is within the first chapter or two, I’m going to drop it. I will attempt to explain why I didn’t like said book, even if I barely passed a chapter. 

I’m actually looking forward to this challenge, despite my apathy. What books will I enjoy and which will I regret sparing even a few minutes of my time? And what does this reveal about me and my tastes?

And, finally, what do you think about my list?

Calling for Recommendations: Historical Fiction

I have no burning desire to read historical fiction. It is just a genre I have no interest in. This apathy revealed itself when I wrote my blog post entitled “A Rant of Hot and Cold” and its recent followup. But maybe, just maybe, I should take the time to actually read some historical fiction. 

This is where you come in. I need recommendations. I could go to the historical fiction page on Wikipedia and randomly select authors and titles, but there is the horrifying possibility I could select a slew of books I cannot stand. 

So any recommendations I receive will be greatly appreciated. (And hopefully, my local library have them on the shelves).

There are a few books I already have my eyes on. The Tale of Genji and The Romance of the Three Kingdoms are newly ILLed (so it will take them awhile). I’m also eyeing Mary Renault’s The Persian Boy and Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers and (maybe) Queen Margot

Here’s what I’m looking for: global coverage. I’ve got East Asia, France, and Hellenistic Greece/ Asia Minor/ Central Asia covered. The rest of the world needs some attention. I also want a balance of men and women authors. I’m thinking ten authors. I’ve got four down, so I need six more. 

I was intending on reading The Persian Boy and The Three Musketeers in the past (and coming) few weeks. But I’m in the middle of a comic book/ manga binge right now. (I did read a bit from The Three Musketeers and didn’t like it. But I’m hoping I may revise my opinion on a second take.)

Despite my lack of interest, I am looking forward to this. Will my opinion of historical fiction change, or will I continue to lack interest in the genre? Time and reading will tell.