Friday, June 30, 2017

The 10th Annual Canadian Book Challenge - June Roundup (Sticky Post— Scroll down for most recent post)

1. Click on the icon above
2. Add a link to your review. (Please link to your specific review, not an entire webpage.)
3. Add your name and in parentheses the title of the book, such as John Mutford (Anne of Avonlea)
4. In the comment section below, tell me your grand total so far. (ex. "This brings me up to 1/13")

And in prize news, congratulations once again to Melwyk for winning a copy of Christal Doherty and Carla Taylor's How Raven Returned the Sun for taking part in last month's mini-challenge to read a Canadian book not originally written in English. Canadian Book Challenge mini-challenges are exclusive to members via email.)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Reader's Diary #1613- Terri-Lynn Quewezance: Wapihti

Terri-Lynn Quewezance's "Wapihti" is a heartwarming story of a young Woods Cree girl who wanders into a meadow to offer a green ribbon to the sacred guardian. There's a gentleness to the story, despite the approach of a wolf and a bear and this gentleness can largely be attributed to the peaceful demeanor of the girl. Along with the offering, she also helps other animals (a baby bird that has fallen from a tree, a trapped beaver) and almost as karma, Wapihti is spared, or at least, there's a sense of balance.

I haven't read a lot of calming stories lately, nor spent enough time with nature. This is a great reminder to do more of each.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Reader's Diary #1612- Christopher Priest (writer), various artists: Deathstroke Vol. 1 The Professional

Again, not a character of whom I was overly familiar, but unlike many of the others I've been recently familiarizing myself with, I'm not overly eager to learn more.

I also wasn't thrilled to see Christopher Priest's name attached to the character. I really hadn't liked what he'd done with Black Panther and before I got far into Deathstroke Vol. 1: The Professional, I could see that I was going to have similar issues. The man does not seem able to tell a straightforward story.

Granted, the pieces did come together over the course of the collection, but not enough to make me appreciated the approach. And, as an aside, it's a good example of why I still think trades are better than serials. I'd have given up after the first book, never giving the story a chance to fall into place.

I don't suppose, however, all the blame for my lack of enthusiasm can be pinned on Priest. I just don't like the character. He's a supervillain, so I guess I'm not supposed to, but in addition to being a jerk, he's also somewhat boring. Again, there were some tiny hints of a more complex character as the book progress, but I don't think enough to convince me to pursue him further.

The art, while admirably consistent considering the number of artists, is consistently utilitarian.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Reader's Diary #1611- Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente (writers), Dale Eaglesham (artist): Alpha Flight The Complete Series

I'd known about Alpha Flight for some time but admittedly it took some time for me to truly get interested enough to read them. Even now it was out of a pursuit to read the less popular superheroes. While I also knew they were supposedly Canadian, the fact that they were created by an American (John Byrne) dampened my enthusiasm somewhat. Also, they sounded a bit hokey.

If it's all as good as the Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, and Dale Eaglesham collection, I've been missing out.

First off, it's not as hokey as I thought despite having characters named Puck and Sasquatch. It's filled with Canadian stereotypes, but done lovingly so and once you move beyond that the characters are fully developed and complex in their own rights. There may be some issues with the First Nations and half-Inuk characters as such people have been exploited and misrepresented so often, but I am not in a position to analyze Shaman and Northstar, to weigh in on whether or not their representations are fair or authentic. I will say that as a Newfoundlander, I quite enjoyed the Marrina character, the alien raised by a Newfoundland couple and with many ocean related powers.

This collection details a new governmental party that uses an invasion to capitalize on people's fears and start stripping everyone of their rights and freedoms. Yes, unfortunately applicable in 2012 when this was written and still now in 2017. Perhaps more shocking with the Canadian setting but a good lesson for us not to be so smug and self-assured that it couldn't happen here (a corrupt government that is, not a hostile invasion from Asgardians or cavemen).

Dale Eaglesham (the only real Canadian on the creative team) provides crisp visuals coloured expertly by Sonia Oback.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Reader's Diary #1610- John Stanley and Irving Tripp: Little Lulu A Handy Kid

I've been mostly enjoying exploring old classic comic book and comic strip characters. Though, to be expected, most have at least a moment or two that underscores the times they were written, and usually in the most unpleasant of ways. I've encountered a lot of racism and sexism.

New with John Stanley and Irving Tripp's Little Lulu: A Handy Kid collection are issues of corporal punishment (spanking is the norm, even to the point of hauling down the pants of another family's kid and spanking them) and fat-shaming (one of the main kids is named Tubby).

If one can get past that, I suppose the farcical adventures of the little girl named Lulu and her gang of friends is mildly amusing. The art is extremely simplistic, which may or may not be a good thing. Maybe the weak gags would suffer from the slightest visual distraction.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Reader's Diary #1609- Mao Tse-Tung: Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung

Ah, some nice summer reading courtesy of Chairman Mao.

It may seem like an odd pick but I've been curious about it ever since I read a Wikipedia article on best selling books that put Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung on par with the Bible in terms of sales. Getting my hands on a copy and noticing how short it is, I figured, what the heck.

Nothing real surprising here. It's got that vintage Marxist propaganda vibe. Down with the Imperialistic Dogs! and so forth. But it's occasionally interesting.

First off the arrangement caught my eye. The quotes are not arranged chronologically but rather by topic. So you might have a quote from the 50s, followed by one from the 20s, followed by one from the 30s. (Though that's as wide as the range goes.)

I also found it intriguing to read how devoted and studied Mao was on Marxism. I usually hear of Western culture adopting Eastern philosophies, not so much the reverse.

Finally, whenever one reads something as dogmatic as this, whether it be the superiority of socialism, communism, democracy, or capitalism, it's always more than a little frustrating to see how in denial everyone is over the possibility of corruption. My way is the good way, the perfect way, and that's that and will never change.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Reader's Diary #1608- Jim Starlin (writer), various artists: Warlock The Complete Collection

One of the big, after the credits reveals from the recent Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 film was the coming of one Adam Warlock. For fans in the know, this was exciting news indeed. As for me, I was more curious. I immediately had to educate myself on this character.

I'll say that James Gunn is definitely the right person to bring Adam Warlock to the big screen. This character is weird and as Guardians of the Galaxy shows, Gunn knows how to sell weird.

Adam is an artificially created humanoid with a gamut of superpowers (strength, ability to breathe in space, speed, flight, and more). To top it off, he also has a soul gem which can steal the "souls" of his enemies. More accurately, it seems to take their minds; their memories and so forth become readable to Adam. It seems that these ultimate powers are a lot to handle and Warlock often goes completely mad. While this is all obviously fascinating, he is nonetheless not an easy character to care for. Always in an existential crisis, his seriousness grows wearying. Hopefully Gunn will be able to infuse him with that wonderful GotG humour to take the edge off.

As for the comics, despite not connecting well with Adam Warlock himself, the sheer strangeness of the plots and wonderful 70s space-psychedelic visuals by Alan Weiss, Al Milgrim, and Steve Leialoha kept me enthralled. I can't say for sure that there's anything really intelligent about it all (hard to find parables here to connect to real life), but it's certainly unique.