Review: Black Panther

Title: Black Panther #1-3

Author:   Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze

Themes: government, rulership, duty, race, technology

Setting: the fictional country of Wakanda

Format: ebook

Plot: The small country of Wakanda is the most technologically advanced in the world, which is both a blessing and a curse. All that vibranium has made it a target for the villains of the world, and the citizens are sick and tired of it. The country’s ruler Black Panther comes home to civil unrest and intense pressure to fix the damage said villains left behind.

Review: Oh, I really wanted to love this book. It’s by a famous author. It’s entirely cast with POC. The art is a-maze-ing. But the story — well, it’s a mess. There’s a group of women, the Dora Milaje, who are taking power into their own hands. I want to root for them, but I don’t see how that’s going to work with T’Challa’s leadership. Then there’s some subplot with a mystical woman and some sinister dude and maybe a ghost and – well, I just don’t know what’s going on at all!

I got this comic for free, and if the second volume is available for free also, I would read it, just because I hope maybe it would finally make some sense! But if I had to pay for it, I wouldn’t bother with the next book. So disappointed.

Book Review: Immortal Iron Fist Omnibus

Title: Immortal Iron Fist Omnibus

Author: Ed Brubraker

Artists: Russ Heath, Travel Foreman, Sal Buscema, et al.

Setting: K’un-Lun, Tibet, New York City, various times

With the release of the Dr. Strange movie, a new audience has been introduced to the mystical side of the Marvel universe. And Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist, belongs very firmly to that side of Marvel. He’s a martial arts master, and you know, a bazillionaire. He’s also friends with Luke Cage and the Heroes for Hire.

This was a huge graphic novel I got from the library that had lots of Iron Fist comics put together. It all revolves around a  hidden enemy who’s trying to take over Danny’s company and attack the city of K’un Lun itself. But what made it kind of different is the amount of time it spent telling about the previous mortals who have held the position of Iron Fist, going back to Marvel’s original guy. It also tells about Danny’s origin and the other mystical fighters who protect the universe? multiverse? just Earth? Not really sure about that one, but it’s weird, and it’s cool.

I really liked most of this book. But then I’d be suddenly confronted by some outrageously portrayed female bit characters that were just beyond belief. It didn’t happen in every “issue,” but it was more than I was comfortable with. So I’m only giving it 3.7 stars, but that still is high enough that I’m recommending it. Not for kids though.

Books at the Movies

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Poor Hollywood. So much pressure to make back their enormous budgets, but there’s no formula (whatever execs may think) to a surefire hit. With so much money on the line, it’s no wonder that the movie studios are turning to another source for their scripts. After all, if they find a book with millions of fans, that’s gotta translate into millions of ticket sales, right?

This week, I’m going to look at a few movies in the theater now or coming soon, and we’ll rate them on a  Lord of the Rings (universal love) to Twilight (strictly for fans).

Suicide Squad – Obviously, this one is the biggie on the list. I don’t know how it will play out in terms of ticket sales, but no studio releases a comic book movie strictly for box office. It’s all about the merchandise. Now, it is any good? Beats me. I am not a fan of the Joker, or of Jared Leto, or of Batman especially. I do feel strongly that the Harley Quin/Joker dynamic is seriously messed up. This one is strictly for fans, and for older teens/Millenials. Suicide Squad

Ben-Hur – This is such a safe choice for Hollywood. Both a remake and based on a movie, with chariot scenes and hot looking dudes with their shirts off. Are they going to emphasize the Christian setting of the book? Will they push the gay relationship that was more hidden in the original film? I really like that they have multi-cultural cast. I’m planning to see this one. Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace – the Kindle is only 99 cents.

Jason Bourne – Just saw this today. This popular series is based on a series written by Robert Ludlum. However, Ludlum only wrote 3 books, and I only made it partway through the first. It was boring, and one thing you can’t do as a thriller writer is bore your readers. IMO, the movies are better, and this newest one is solid. Matt Damon really is Jason Bourne, and as long as they keep writing scripts that keep him front and center, I’ll keep watching. Definitely high on broad appeal.

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax  by Liz Jensen- I’d never heard of this one until I started working on this article. The book is about a weird kid who has weird things happen to him on his birthday, until he winds up locked in a coma. The movie sounds like it follows the same story. I didn’t recognize anyone in the cast and I’m not sure it sounds like something I would like, so make up your own mind on this one.

Bridget Jones’s Baby – Helen Fielding’s best known character is back. I have to admit, I’m not a big reader of chick lit, but I did enjoy the first movie. I’m really hoping this one does well too. Women in their 40s do watch movies too, and we’ll watch more movies if there are movies we want to watch. Pretty simple. Not sure if this is based on one book or just on the character, but here’s the link: Bridget Jones’s Baby by Helen Fielding.

Snowden; The Queen of Katwe; Florence Foster Jenkins: The Inspiring True Story of the World’s Worst Singer – All of these movies are based on the stories of real people, but also on biographies of these people. Edward Snowden is the famous NSA whistleblower, and the script was based on  The Snowden Files by Luke Harden. I predict a lot of buzz, but not a lot of ticket sales. The Queen of Katwa is about a girl from the slums in Uganda who becomes a chess master and escapes poverty. It’s based on a book written by journalist Tim Crothers, and this one sounds like a winner to me. I doubt it will make a lot of money, but I predict some serious critical acclaim. The book is The Queen of Katwe. And finally, Florence Foster Jenkins, a real woman who was widely known (at the time) as being the worst singer in the world. There are several books written about her, but the movie seems to be based on a play, Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins.  Most of the books are just making fun of her, but the play and the movie both focus on the inspirational message of following  your dreams, no matter what anyone says. I would like to see this one too, but I’d be fine watching it at home. I think this one will have a slow build.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – This is the one that wants to be the next Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I mean, it’s got Tim Burton! It’s got other names too – Judi Dench! Samuel L. Jackson! Rupert Everett! Alison Janney! But movies are about more than names and directors. They need to be good. I’m pretty skeptical about this one. I thought the book was a disappointment and I don’t see how making it into a movie will improve things. However, lots of people liked the book, so I might be wrong. Kids are going to want to see it, and parents will assume that because it has kids in it, it will be appropriate family fare. I think it will make money, but I predict it will be sort of average. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

So that’s my list. What do you think? Which ones have I missed? What are you excited for? Let me know.

She-Hulk: Law and Disorder

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Reading Decathlon, book 5

She-Hulk: Law and Disorder, story by Charles Soule, Javier Pullido and Ron Wimberly, illustrators, Kevin Wada, cover.

I love Jennifer Walters! She’s a superhero, she’s smart, she’s funny, she’s capable, and she’s a lawyer! Awesome all around. My hope were high for this comic.

Too high. The story was great, and I’m anxious to see where it goes next. But the art was really not good. Issues 1-4 had this anime style, with big green eyes, long necks. Kind of bug like. But the last issue was just horrible. It was like the artist had only a vague idea of what the human figure looked like. All the faces were misshapen and angular. It was a mess. Only for diehard She-Hulk fans. Oh, and Hell-Cat makes an appearance too.