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The Week in Books: 2008 II

June 2, 2008

You’re going to kill me.  *I* am going to kill me.  I just went to grab my list for December of 2007.

December is a wonderful month for most people.  Cold weather (sweaters!), possibility of snow, lots of prezzies, and no more school.  Oh, but also finals, Christmas music, and crass commercialism.  Okay, so it’s a mixed bag.  But see, I had this idea.  This beautiful idea that I would read more in 2007 than I did in 2006.  To do that, I basically had to read almost every minute of the day in the last two weeks of December.

So, uh, here’s the list.  I promise not to talk about every single one:

Superman: Peace on Earth, Paul Dini and Alex Ross
Batman: War on Crime, Paul Dini and Alex Ross
Shazam: Power of Hope, Paul Dini and Alex Ross
Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth, Paul Dini and Alex Ross
JLA: Secret Origins, Paul Dini and Alex Ross
American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang
Captain America: The New Deal, John Cassaday et al
A Few Perfect Hours, Josh Neufeld
Devil’s Candy, Priscilla Hamby and Clint Bickham
The Little Match Girl, Hans Tseng
Trickster, Bridget E. Wilde
Emmalyne’s Mansion, Michael Vega
Pest, Kyle Hoty
Sitting Ducks, Benjamin Seto
Ophelia’s Assassination: veritas, Kelli Hoover
Zero, Tracy Cox
Houdini The Handcuff King, Jason Nutes & Nick Bertozzi
Past Perfect, Susan Isaacs
Gus Beezer and the Hulk, Gail Simone et al
Gus Beezer and Spider-Man 2, Gail Simone et al
Gus Beezer and the X-Men, Gail Simone et al
Garfield: That’s Life, Jim Davis
Garfield: Bigger and Better, Jim Davis
East of the Sun, West of the Moon, Andrew Lang *
Robot Dreams, Sara Varon
Garfield: Swallows His Pride, Jim Davis
The River Knows, Amanda Quick
Nobody Does It Better, Julie Kenner
Uglies, Scott Westerfeld
Miki Falls: Spring, Mark Crilley
Miki Falls: Summer, Mark Crilley
My Legendary Girlfriend, Mike Gayle
The Girlfriend Curse, Valerie Frankel
My Wife and My Dead Wife, Michael Kun
The Spy Who Loves Me, Julie Kenner
I Take This Man, Valerie Frankel
Any Place I Hang My Hat, Susan Isaacs
Alice 19th Volume 5, Yuu Watase
Alice 19th Volume 6, Yuu Watase
Alice 19th Volume 7, Yuu Watase
Cromartie High School Volume 1, Eiji Nonaka
Cromartie High School Volume 2, Eiji Nonaka
Cromartie High School Volume 3, Eiji Nonaka
Vampire Knight Volume 2, Matsuri Hino
Fearless FBI: Kill Game, Francine Pascal
Nodame Cantabile Volume 1, Tomoko Ninomiya
Nodame Cantabile Volume 2, Tomoko Ninomiya
Nodame Cantabile Volume 3, Tomoko Ninomiya
Fearless FBI: Live Bait, Francine Pascal
The Forbidden Game: The Hunter, L.J. Smith
Fearless FBI: Agent Out, Francine Pascal
Night World: Black Dawn, L.J. Smith
Night World: Witchlight, L.J. Smith
Civil War: Black Panther, Reginald Hudlin et al
Civil War: New Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis et al
Fables: Sons of Empire, Bill Willingham et al
Seven Soldiers of Victory Volume 4, Grant Morrison et al
B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine, Mike Mignola et al
Civil War: Front Line Volume 1, Paul Jenkins et al
Civil War: Front Line Volume 2, Paul Jenkins et al
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man: Mystery Date, Peter David et al
Bleach Volume 1, Tite Kubo
Nodame Cantabile Volume 4, Tomoko Ninomiya
Nodame Cantabile Volume 5, Tomoko Ninomiya
Bleach Volume 2, Tite Kubo
Power Pack & Hulk: Pack Smash!, Marc Sumerak et al
Nodame Cantabile Volume 6, Tomoko Ninomiya
Nodame Cantabile Volume 7, Tomoko Ninomiya
Nodame Cantabile Volume 8, Tomoko Ninomiya
Nodame Cantabile Volume 9, Tomoko Ninomiya
Miki Falls: Autumn, Mark Crilley
Nodame Cantabile Volume 10, Tomoko Ninomiya
Civil War: Marvel Universe, Warren Ellis et al
Age of Apocolypse Volume 3, Jeph Loeb et al
Civil War: Peter Parker, Spider Man, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa et al
Gods Behaving Badly, Marie Phillips

…Yeah.  Sorry about that.  Let me hit some highlights.  I mean, I’ve already talked about Mark Crilley’s Miki Falls series when I talked about the last book.  I already mentioned Gail Simone’s adorable Gus Beezer, who continues to stay adorable in the other books.  I’m sure most everyone is familiar with Garfield–my daughter’s latest addiction–so I don’t need to say anything there, either.  Oh, and Civil War.  I’ve said enough on that.

If I talk about Nodame Cantabile, that reduces my list significantly.  Makes me feel better about doing the rest, I suppose.  Nodame Cantabile is a manga series, another one of those non-magical-girl series that I love so much.  In this case, the characters are going to school for music–as I played the violin and the cello for a big part of my life, this made the book even more enjoyable for me.  However, the books do not assume a knowledgable audience.  There are side-notes and explanations to be found where necessary.  This is a great series for music-lovers and those who are looking to read manga but want to start with something more realistic.  It has the usual unrequited love felt by an immature lead, and same-gender crushes, and creepy adults, but it also has music and heart to set it apart.  I love it.

I also read (re-read?) the Alex Ross/Paul Dini books.  They’re HUGE, literally large books, but this works best for Ross’s paintings.  If you’ve never seen Ross’s work, you’re missing out.  Ross’s work has a static feeling to it, so he needs just the right story and writer.  Fortunately, Dini–who worked on the ’90s animated  Batman series–is amazingly talented and the two mesh well.  (There will be more Dini-love later.)  The thing I love about Ross’s work is that he uses models and the characters look like people.  People in tights.  This is how it would really look, I guess I’m saying.  And sometimes it looks cheesy, but it was SUPPOSED to be cheesy, originally.  And it all works, so well.

So much of the list has sort of blended together in my mind.  I have an idea of what’s what, but I guess I’ll only focus on the ones that stick out.

I loved Valerie Frankel.  Good chick lit.  Highly recommended for the chick lit set.

Alice 19th was okay.  I wasn’t crazy about it.  I tend to see that way about Yuu Watase though.

Cromartie High School took me a minute, but once I got into it, I was cracking up.  SO funny.

Fearless: FBI is as uneven as the ghostwritten part of the main series.  May recap it later.

Bleach was okay, but I didn’t like it enough to want to keep up.  I realize this makes me a heretic or something to my neighbor’s eighteen-year-old daughter, but I can live with that.

Uglies is one of those YA books that lives up to the hype.  In the future, we all become beautiful so that we may be equal.  But what are the consequences of this society?  Scott Westerfeld does a great job of examining this while also creating a fully-realized alternate world.  This is a great read for teens or adults who enjoy good YA.

Houdini the Handcuff King is a good read for kids, as is anything Power Pack-related.  Ooh, and Robot Dreams.

Night World and The Forbidden Game are supernatural YA series from the 1990s.  TFG is a big freakin’ Labyrinth rip-off but Night World is cool, if you want to imagine a world where only straight people get to find true love.  I have complained about TFG before, here.

Every Amanda Quick book is the same, so I really don’t have to say anything there, I guess.  Readers of Krentz know what I’m talking about.  Good-same or bad-same, that’s up to the reader to decide.

I love Fables.  You should read Fables.  I wrote a twenty-eight-page paper on Fables.  I may put it up here.

I also like Hellboy.

If I never read Grant Morrison again, I would be fine.

Julie Kenner writes fun reads.  Susan Isaacs writes good reads (Past Perfect is a story about a woman who wants to know why she was kicked out of the CIA abruptly; Any Place I Hang My Hat is about a young woman who needs to figure her past out before she can figure out herself, and then the rest of her life).

Gods Behaving Badly was really really fun and good, especially for anyone who loves mythology, as I do.  You should check it out.

My Legendary Girlfriend was not as good as Gayle’s debut, and I barely remember My Wife and my Dead Wife.  They sort of blend together.  I wonder if dick-lit lovers feel this way about chick lit…

A Few Perfect Hours made me want to travel the world.  Highly recommended.

Everything else has been lost to time.  I mean, I remember a bit about American Born Chinese and that a lot of what’s left was in a Rising Stars of Manga book (or something like it), and Peter David is always awesomely Peter David, and there you go.

WHEW.

THIS WEEK!

No matter how you translate Canon, it shows its age.  Go ahead, use the word emo; it won’t fool me.  Those clothes are pure 1990s.  In this vampire manga, Canon is the last girl left in a massacre.  With only a fuzzy partial memory of the occurence, she’s vowed to find the vampire responsible and kill him.  I liked this four-book series.  It’s got twists and turns and strong characters.  And a funny bird.  Who doesn’t like funny birds?

I also read four volumes of Bizenghast.  This is American-written and highly influenced by the Gothic Lolita style, which I learned a bit about from my friend Jessi, who rocks.  ❤  Bizenghast is very uneven to begin with–it seems that it wants to be moody to begin with but then it becomes a horror-comedy as it goes on.  It works best when it balances out comedy with melancholic backstories for the ghosts whose souls the main characters are freeing.  With each volume, the series finds a stronger and stronger footing.  I’m excited to read the next.

Here’s the rest of my Dini-love: Detective and Death and the City.  (AND, Amazon, AND, not IN.)  Paul Dini created Harley Quinn, the poorly-named (Harleen Quinzel?  Really?  You couldn’t come up with anything better than that?) but completely awesome psychiatrist-turned-psycho from Batman: The Animated Series.  Paul Dini can save children from burning buildings and lift toasters with his mind and whatever else he wants to do because he’s THAT COOL.  He’s King of the Geeks.  Or maybe King of my Heart.  (Don’t tell his wife.  She’s a magician.  She might make me disappear.)  He also knows his Batman.  His Batman is MY Batman, the Batman of my childhood, the Batman that I choose over West, Keaton, or Bale.  It made me very very happy to read these comics, especially when magicks up his own twist that left me laughing with joy, I was so impressed.  (You know you love something when you refer to the author as “You wonderful bastard!”)

Greg Rucka is another comic book writer who never fails to impress, and he takes on another side of Gotham City in Gotham Central: the cops who have to live in the shadow of “The Bat”–including another Dini creation, Renee Montoya.  Think of it as the first half of Law & Order: Gotham edition.  It’s gritty and it’s fantastic.

I also read the first two Ion trades, The Torchbearer and The Dying Flame.  Liked them, didn’t love them.  A lot of that was the art, which is needlessly sexual–when Ion hugs his ex-girlfriend as the two share a moment of grief, it looks like he’s humping her leg.  I had SOME issues with the art in the Dini books, but Ion took it to whole new level.  Oh, did I mention the part where Ion creates the image of a woman for two young boys to recognize, and one reaches out to grope her boobs?  Oh, go to hell.  And I WANT to like Ion, because I like Kyle Rayner as a character.  But man, this just annoyed me SO MUCH.

Okay, whew, coming to the end of it all.  I also read two of the Black Panther trades, even though I wasn’t going to because my library’s copy of the first one got destroyed or lost, and I hate reading things out of order.  But Reginald Hudlin has impressed me so far, so I read them anyway.  One had Luke Cage, who I also love very much thanks to Brian Michael Bendis.  I liked the Luke Cage one better than the X-Men crossover, but that doesn’t surprise me.  X-Men’s been really hit or miss for me for a long time now.

FINALLY (because I already spotlighted The Little Lady Agency), I read Nick Hornby’s Slam.  Loved it, although it totally threw me for a loop.  I’m not going to tell you how or why so you can go through it too.  This is a YA version of Hornby’s usual dick lit.  I liked it a LOT.

Yay, that was my week.  Time to soak my wrists–yow!  So much typing.

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