Luke Rakestraw on Books 24-28 Preacher Book 5… Chris on Book 3 Batman: Year One Chris on Happy Holidays: a diatrib… Chris on The Seventh Seal –… Christopher McCurry on Sleeping Through Earthquakes
During some of my previous posts, back when I thought I was going to be restarting this blog, I talked about Grant Morrison. I thought he was a crazy person with big ideas. Crazy people with small ideas turn out to be murderers, crazy people with big ideas start writing comic books, or cults. To be fair, when I read about comics, I feel like there is a cult around Morrison.
Possible Bond villain, if not a cult leader.
To start with, I’m a Batman guy. I’m not a DC or Marvel guy (though evidence would suggest a strong DC leaning). As a Batman guy, reading these Morrison’s take on the last Superman story made me realize the importance of Superman. He’s the representation of all the good that is inherent in mankind, the ultimate realization that a man can use great power in a great way.
If Superman is idealism, then Lex Luthor represents the failure of those ideas. The story shows us that the tragedy of Luthor is that he could have been the force for good that Superman is, if it wasn’t for his own obsession with Superman. Our villains become a bit more tragic when we realize that they are the ones who give into their baser instincts and that it is usually them that we have the most in common with.
The story itself opens with Superman saving a mission to the sun that Luthor has attempted to sabotage. It might be easy to say that Superman escaped one more death trap, but this proved to be the trap that actually worked. Superman gets his power from the yellow sun of our solar system, storing the energy in his very cells. The over exposure has caused his cells to begin to destroy themselves.
Superman is dying, but Superman will go on. That’s what Superman does.
The problem most often levied against Superman as a character is that it is hard to create tension for him. He can do anything. That being the case, you can be forgiven for thinking that Morrison has tied his hands behind his back by having one side-effect of the over-exposure being the increase in Superman’s powers. Morrison does a good job of avoiding this problem by putting the focus on Superman’s supporting cast. For the first time ever, I thought that Jimmy Olsen was cool.
If not a little conceited
Superman is told that, before he dies, he will complete twelve labors of strength – like Hercules. One of those is that he has to answer the riddle of the space and time Sphinx. I already told you he flew too close to the sun. Other Greek myths and stuff.
For my money it isn’t the battling space aliens, giant robots or trips to the Bizarro world that make this the most memorable Superman story. For my money, the single best page in comic books, and possibly the best moment, is when Superman takes the time out of his villain smashing day to comfort a little girl.
As much as I hate to admit it, you couldn’t find that in a Batman book.
So many books lost. I have no idea what I’ve read in this between time since the last post and this post. Well, that’s used in error, I have some idea. Every now and then I get flashes of memory, and plots. Frequently when writing my own information and going, “Nope, that’s not mine.”
Writing, there has been some. I’ve mostly been generating and not submitting anything. I’ve moved back to Lexington, KY, which is my love, from South Carolina. Let’s see if I can get into the writing community here, I hope to infiltrate it and not feel like a fraud. I guess I need to take time out to try and polish up some stories and try to get published.
I’ve read some history, well, pop history- 1776, There were some cool stories in there, but ultimately I didn’t come away feeling like I knew any more or less about American history than I had before.
I read my first Hemingway book, which I didn’t hate, but I didn’t love. Hemingway, for my eyes, was perfectly portrayed in Midnight in Paris. I think he’s a self righteous prick, this probably informs my view of the writing. I wouldn’t say Hemingway is the literary equivalent of Tucker Max, but that’s because I haven’t read any Tucker Max, and that’s probably a dated reference at this point.
I read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, which was lovely and bleak. I really am a big fan of John Le Carre’s work. I’m trying to hunt down the movie, so far no luck.
As far as the book challenge goes, I couldn’t tell you all the books I’ve read. I might be able to reconstruct them over the next few days, but I want to continue writing in the meantime. I’m sure I will hit a hundred books read, even though I went through a rough patch post move where I wasn’t reading much of anything. I’m sure of this because I currently have about 30 graphic novels checked out from the library and I’ve been reading them at the pace of about one a day.
My desire to immerse myself in the comic book mythos, specifically the DC comic mythos, came after being left in my apartment alone for a week. I decided to watch some Batman movies, that was three Nolan movies and Batman 89. Unfortunately (or not) I don’t own any other Batman movies so I went to Redbox and decided to watch Man of Steel again.
Maybe it was the impending doom of going further into my late twenties (my birthday was a couple of days later) but I really enjoyed a movie that contained almost no joy. That would also be my main issue with the movie, it displays almost no joy, in fact, rumor has it that DC has instituted a no joke policy after how poorly Green Lantern was received. Anybody who watched Guardians of the Galaxy will know that this is a bad idea.
Granted, DC isn’t about making The Guardians of the Galaxy (the highest grossing movie of 2014). They’re about making The Dark Knight (The highest grossing comic book movie ever). They will probably never pull down that particular lightning into their bottle again. This is the Marvel Age of movies, but as far as I’m concerned this is the DC age of comics.
I’m deep into the New 52, don’t get my wrong, I’ll always be a little behind because I’ll never feel like I can devote the money and space to buying issues as they come out like I would want to, but I’m really impressed with what I’m seeing. So much so that I will have at leas t 40 some odd books to write about as I read. I’ll try to figure out a better way of doing this than just posting after each book.
I have a history degree. I feel like I inadvertently neglect this with some frequency. My changing goals have pretty much removed me totally from any realm where I would make practical use of it. Practical use, in this case, being defined as teaching history, guiding a museum tour being the dude standing around famous places going “did you know” I’ve not really sharpened myself in these things.
My history degree has given me something very interesting in my writing life. I’m a firm believer that the times help shape the story, and being able to look at the history around a book makes me feel like I have a better understanding of how the times shaped the book, and how the book represents the time.
Greek history has always fascinated me because the history always seemed so wrapped up in the mythology. The first books and stories I remember reading on my own were stories of creation from Greek mythology. I owned my own copy of Edith Hamilton long before seeing the book show up in my Latin classes. That said, I have no idea how to spell “Peloponnesian” well, some idea, but I never quite get it all right. I tried to explain via text message what I was reading and it was a pretty embarrassing affair.
Anyway, this book is lovely. So often the problem with books dealing with history is that they start to sound like history textbooks. This book maintains colloquial phrases, which don’t detract from the feeling that you’re being lectured by someone who is giving you information. The best teachers I ever had didn’t sound pedantic, they spoke as you or I speak, they just did so more intelligently. The J.E. Lendon is great at sounding intelligent, but not sounding like he is speaking down to you.
The stories he tells are interesting and he does a good job of explaining the reason why he wrote his book, and making his point as to why his claim is valid. The claim is that war between the Classic Greeks were fought as a grand scale pissing contest (I’m paraphrasing, he didn’t get –that- folksy). Wars were often fought between states for the purpose of establishing, or maintaining prestige. It was left for the other states to judge who was winning or losing. The story told in Song of Wrath is the story of Athens trying to become equal to Sparta.
Since I can’t resist a near 2500-year-old spoiler alert, they succeed.
Find book 9 information here
It’s early to try and speculate on what Marvel Phase 3 will be, especially when Phase 2 is only just getting underway, but I’m a voice screaming out into the ether that is the internet. What else am I going to do but speculate on things I have no information on?
“Thanos is inevitable”
That is certainly the impression that you get at the end of the Avengers, I mean – you see the guy – they reference his pursuit of Death, the physical personification of her in the Marvel Universe. Then they seem to be doing a sidestep by focusing on Ultron. My comic book knowledge doesn’t really go too far into the most recent storylines; I pretty much stopped reading after Ultimates #1. This isn’t a reflection on the quality of the comics but merely a reflection on the attention span of teenagers.
I don’t know how we go from Ultron to Thanos, but I believe in Joss Whedon. With that out of the way, The Infinity Gauntlet – which was shown briefly in the halls of Asgard in the first Thor movie. The Gauntlet basically gives the wearer power over everything.
As a standalone trade paperback the story is really pretty weak. We aren’t shown enough of anybody to really feel like we get a good story, we’re pretty much dumped into the middle of a game played between Thanos and Adam Warlock – who is a sometimes member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, so that may be the connection Phase 3 – and the forces of the universe are just pawns between them.
Familiarity with the universe is required; you can’t just jump into The Infinity Gauntlet. I don’t mean that you need background knowledge to know that Dr. Doom is an asshole, or whatever the hell is going on with Thor, and that not knowing these things will keep you from enjoying the book, but not knowing anything about Adam Warlock, or his relationship to Thanos, that could prevent you from enjoying it. There is so much going on that it can’t help but get overwhelming. For example in the climatic fight with the heroes and villain of earth, Thanos threatens Doom with death, it is implied that is what happened because we don’t see Doom again. That is, we don’t see Doom again until the end when he appears by magic (thanks Doctor Strange). In a book so large, there had to be unanswered questions.
George Perez’s artwork is fantastic, if I was going to have to see my heroes die, then he was the man to do the work.
There are few authors that I love more than John Steinbeck. The moment I started reading East of Eden I knew that I had something big in my hand, this book was about everything, and so it is. I’ve read it through three times now, I’m going to do so again this year, maybe over the summer. I finished it last winter, after I’d already given up on updating this blog, but it took longer to read through Journal. On average it takes me three months to read East of Eden. It took four to read Journal of a Novel, mostly because I piddle farted around.
For those that don’t know the story of the book – in order to get himself into a writing frame of mind Steinbeck would write a letter to his editor. Every working day, a few words or a few paragraphs, he would write down a letter on the opposite pages of his manuscript and send them on to Pat. As a young writer, who likes to think he is working on his first novel, it has quite a few lessons to it.
First, and I can’t stress this enough, I was so excited about the asinine attention to detail that Steinbeck paid to his pencils. He paid attention to the type, the feel, right down to when they got to the nubs and stopped using them. In this world where I have been so particular that I refused to stop writing because I couldn’t find the right pen (and because I have no discipline) it was a boon to me. Hearing all the bitching about how he didn’t feel like writing on a particular day, but that he still did, these are things worth reading.
I’ve believed that meeting your heroes is about the worst thing you can do with them, because they will only disappoint you. This is still probably true, but getting to take a look behind the curtain of one of my favorite novels was great and it gives me the courage to keep going. If you aren’t a big Steinbeck fan, or interested in seeing the author suffer, then steer clear, because the romanticism of the writer life gets washed away. If you get bored listening to your friends constantly describe their work life because they’ve even told you the interesting bits a half dozen times already – and the uninteresting bits a dozen times more – this will be an experience much like that
Book 7 information
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
“’I don’t want to go to heaven with a headache, I’d be all cross and wouldn’t enjoy it!’”
I usually keep three books going at any one time, this is pretty standard, any more than that and I basically get unproductive. One of the problems towards me meeting the goal last year was that I juggled too many books for too long and didn’t have enough time anyway. Usually I go for two books of regular size that I want to read and one shorter book so that I can try and make fairly regulars updates to this thing. Welcome to the land behind the curtain.
The two books I’m reading now are both non fiction, histories of some wars, so you’ve got those to look forward to, but even though the books flow smoothly, they’re not exactly lite reading. So, I decided to reread Hitchhiker’s, which is probably the funniest book I’ve read.
I can see and understand criticisms of the book. The story itself seems like a giant joke, but it’s a funny joke. I can see where you might be annoyed by lines like “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.” if you don’t think that line from the opening chapters is funny, then you should stay away from the book.
There’s not much to analyze here, just to post a few Goodreads quotes and some lines I highlighted while reading on my Kindle. For what it is worth, the sequence of the whale falling through the air after having just materialized is my favorite in the whole series.
“This must be Thursday,’ said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer. ‘I never could get the hang of Thursdays.” (one of my many favorites.)
“For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.” (Sometimes I find myself writing lines like this. Realize I can’t pull them off. Then write something worse.)
“Rickmansworth suddenly realized that it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.”
“What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?”
“You ask a glass of water.”
“If there’s anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.”
“The wall defied imagination – seduced it and defeated it.”
“Ford!” he said, “there’s an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they’ve worked out.”
“All through my life I’ve had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was.”
“No,” said the old man, “that’s just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that.”
You can pretty much read the entire book on Goodreads if you look through the quotes page. It will just be out of order.
Book 6 is down.