Sunday, January 31, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: January 24th to 30th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by photographing my dog with every book I read, barring the comics I get in single issue form.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I edit them and appear here in digest form every Sunday, with descriptive alt tags and additional commentary.

Not pictured: I finished off the 1965 selections for My Marvelous Year, then started in on 1966. I may start reading only a selection of each week's picks since it takes me approximately nine hundred years (translation: fifteen minutes to half an hour) to read each vintage issue. I'm struggling to fit in any of the other digital stuff on my radar. We'll see how I feel as I travel further into 1966.

I'm up to UNCANNY X-MEN #26 now, too. That's out of a total of 518 issues, plus the stuff I'll have to read for crossovers once we get into the modern era, so I've still a long ways to go with this read-all-the-X-Men project. I drafted my first post on it the other day, so I'll hopefully have it revised for you by Thursday.

I desperately needed some contemporary comics after the 30+ vintage issues I read last week, so I started CYCLOPS. It's a lot of fun so far. Time-displaced Young Cyclops is so much less mopey than Vintage X-Men Young Cyclops. Plus, he has space adventures.

On the non-comics front, I read a hot Callie Croix novella about a woman who has a ménage with her fiance and his best friend. It was good, but so short I elected not to make Murchie pose with it.

And of course, I listened to the season finale of TREMONTAINE and am now eager for S2. I'll probably keep my subscription as my one USD indulgence, even as I quit buying anything else priced in American funds for the foreseeable future. I look forward it each and every week.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, sprawls partly beneath a red comforter. Beside him is a trade paperback copy of The Fade Out. Its cover features a typewriter splashed with pink ink against a white background.

The internet says Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have been comics collaborators for a good fifteen years now, but the premiere act of THE FADE OUT was my first experience with their work. It definitely won't be my last. This is a tense, atmospheric mystery, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

I hope the women will have a large role going forward to, too. The story begins with a female film star's murder so I feared it'd prove one of those series where the women do little more than die and/or screw the main male characters, but in subsequent issues Brubaker and Phillips introduce two other women who have their own stories and who interact with one another (and with the murdered star, via flashbacks). More of this, please.

Murchie curls up beside a trade paperback copy of Serpentine, his head raised as he looks at something beyond the frame. Serpentine's cover features a girl of Asian descent, her face close to the viewer and a walled building with a lion statue in front of it visible over her shoulder.

My 2016 reading list is horribly white so far, so I'm going to make an effort to read more novels by POC, especially WOC, over the next little while. SERPENTINE, Cindy Pon's latest, caught my eye on the library's New Releases shelf and promptly joined the extremely large and unwieldy stack I had to carry home, since I smartly decided to walk to the library because hey, maybe we were having a snowstorm, but the temperature was halfway decent and I'm not getting nearly enough exercise this fucking winter.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

I enjoyed the book very much, though I didn't quite make the leap from really-like to love. Pon centres her story on a deep friendship between two girls, one of whom is queer, with plenty of mythological goodness woven throughout. Y'all know I'm predisposed towards that sort of thing. I'll certainly read the next book, and I hope to go back and give Pon's earlier books another try, too.

Murchie lays behind a trade paperback copy of Morning Glories. The cover features a group of mostly white young people wearing variations on the same school uniform: white shirt, red tie, greyish tan skirt or pants.

Alas, I couldn't sink into the first volume of MORNING GLORIES by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma. It wasn't bad, but neither was it quite what I felt like. I got through the first four issues or so, then put it aside in the spirit of my Read Whatever the Fuck I Want plan for 2016. Maybe I'll try again someday.

Murchie pokes his head out of a blanket cave to sniff a hardcover copy of Batman: Earth One Volume Two. The cover features Batman in silhouette on a rooftop, with the hazy image of four other characters' eyes floating in the sky above him.

Y'all, I'm such a sucker for reimaginings. I never get tired of seeing another take on a superhero's origin story, and I found the first arc of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's BATMAN: EARTH ONE an excellent mix of familiar material and new twists. The pacing was solid, the characters rang true, and it got me excited to see where a sequel might go.

Turns out, the sequel also kept me hooked for all the same reasons, with the caveat that I realized partway through that it was only the sixth Batman comic I've ever read. I think of Batman as an old friend among the superheroes of my acquaintance, but I know him and his associates mostly from TV and movies. My elementary school best friend and I watched as much of the Adam West TV series as our early 90s TV provider would allow, and my adulthood best friend and I have seen every movie at least once. I never got into the animated series (which I gather is a terrible oversight on my part) or played any video games, but I think I've consumed every other audiovisual Batman thing.

So while I feel like I know Batman, I'm not always super familiar with every little thing and might not pick up on all the cool ways this reimagining twists the core story the comics have established.

I'm loving it, though, and I'm excited they seem to have genderflipped one of (what I think of as) the big Batman villains. I'm a big proponent of more female villains in fiction as a way to make it easier for texts to pass the Bechdel-Wallace test--which really only works as a strategy if these same texts either allow multiple female villains to work together on non-male-focused crimes or introduce more female protagonists who'll team up to stop the female villains.

I don't suppose a Batman comic that's established itself as quite firmly male will do much in that area, but one lives in hope. There are female Bat-people, yes? Who have large followings? Batgirl's already shown up in this series, so perhaps my hopes aren't as unfounded as all that.

Murchie lays on a fuzzy pillow, his head raised and his ears perked. Behind him is a trade paperback copy of Alias. Murchie blocks most of it, but the primary colours are dark green and

Oh look, another comic! My audiobook (Mira Grant's BLACKOUT) was looooong and I couldn't settle on another prose novel once I finished SERPENTINE, so comics leaped in to pick up the slack.

I wanted to read ALIAS, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Michael Gaydos, before I watched JESSICA JONES, but my library could not oblige me. I'm mighty glad I've got my hands on it now, though, because it's great. This first volume introduces us to Jessica, shows us what her life is like post-superhero-gig, and gives her some mysteries to solve.

It also lets her say fuck a lot, which y'all know I appreciate.

As a weird piece of synchronicity (or whatever the right word is), I'd never heard of Rick Jones until he showed up in my vintage comics a couple weeks ago, and now here he is at the heart of one of Jessica's cases.

A black mini schnauzer, Duffy, stands between two hardcover volumes of Wonder Woman. Both feature WW in heroic poses. Duffy sniffs the one to the viewer's left.

Duffy came for another stress-relief visit, and of course I roped him into posing with today's final two comics.

I enjoyed the first volume of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's Wonder Woman, so I requested volume two and was lucky enough to find volume three on the shelf when I went to pick it up. Alas, I found v2 weirdly disjointed, so v3 may be my last brush with the series. We'll see how it goes.

Next week: novellas, probably, since I've finally figured out that's what I most feel like. Some stuff I read yesterday evening and elected not to show you right away.


  1. I too feel oddly familiar with Batman despite not having read the comics or, really, consumed him much in any other medium. A new project!

    1. I'm gonna become a Batman Expert this year.

      Unless I don't feel like it or I forget.

  2. I really enjoyed the Jessica Jones comics!

    1. I'm hoping my library buys the other volumes, too.

  3. I'm trying to imagine a non-mopey Cyclops and frankly having sort of a hard time. Mopey seems to be that guy's brand.

    ALIAS. I am reading it now. So far, not very much Kilgrave! Which I am fine with, as I've heard it gets reeeeeal rapey once Kilgrave shows up. I may actually wait to finish the comic series until I've finished rewatching & recapping the show, just to avoid ODing on Jessica Jones media items. :p

    1. The thing about Time-Displaced Teenage Cyclops is, he meets his older self and he's like, "#&@%. I hate this guy." (Time-Displaced Teenage Cyclops doesn't live inside a Marvel Max comic and so is not allowed to say fuck.) So that's a major influence on his character.

      I've heard Kilgrave comes into it in Volume Three, maybe? Right near the end? My library ordered the newer edition of Volume One, so I'm hoping hoping hoping they'll go ahead and get the others, too.