Archive for the Western Comic/Comix Category


Western Comic: Satellite Falling, Issues 1-3

March 17th, 2017

Satellite Falling, written by Steve Horton and illustrated by Stephen Thompson felt very much like The Fifth Element, starring a lesbian character, without the kind of satisfying ending that that film provided.

We begin by being introduced to Lilly (hah), the only human on a satellite full of aliens, whose job is bounty hunter, or whatever she needs to do. Lilly comes already burdened with a tragic love affair when we meet her. 

She is hired by the police…more specifically, by the police chief for whom she does contract work, to help uncover a organization that…blah blah blah. The details are as unimportant in this story as in any other “watch the cool bounty hunter beat up people” sci-fi story ever. I mean really, the point of this book is watching the cool bounty hunter, no one really cares about the details of the evil organization.

We are told – and shown – the species-ism that is supposed to stand-in for racism, without any context. In fact, I found it pretty tasteless that we are forced to watch a lynching of an alien, without any narrative around the scene other than “oh look, they are so xenophobic.”  Lilly, we are repeatedly told, is the only human left on the satellite. Why? What happened? We don’t know, except that humans left because of that species-ism.

Lilly uses holographic masking to appear as various species but is wholly human. Her police chief boss, not averse to coercion, uses their ability to shift forms to have sex with Lilly as a female. Again, as no ideological or sociological context is applied to the scene, I could not help but read it as a bunch of guys thinking lesbians are Man LiteTM, and therefore wrote Lilly the same way they would a male protagonist. On the one hand, it’s freeing, knowing that neither the Chief nor Lilly have any emotional baggage about this, on the other hand, it’s also calls Lilly’s obsession about her former lover into some kind of icky question. Like, weren’t you not moving on a second ago? Or is that only for internal expository monologue and actually you have sex all the time? It’s hard to understand Lilly, and the narrative is too busy having her be one-liner funny and kick ass to ever really bother trying. This mess is also why I would not call this comic a LGBTQ comic. It has a lesbian protagonist, but is not particularly about her.

The end of Volume 3 is a big ole’ cliffhanger and, really, I should totally be the audience for this comic (badass lesbian bounty hunter),  but as the big reveal is so horribly boringly obvious and then is presented as a low-key reveal, I find myself not all that interested. Also, I’m tad annoyed by Amazon Kindle/Comixlogy’s bundle of the first three issues of the series, without any sign of issues 4 and 5, which are currently TBD for 8 months.

The high point of the series is definitely Thompson’s art which was both artistic and easy to follow and Lisa Jackson’s coloring which wasn’t the super-saturated colors I find so difficult to cope with. Looking at Satellite Falling was the best part. If only the story had built the world with the same fervor it had Lilly talking to her dead lover.

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story – 6 Couldawouldashoulda
Characters – 7 The alien bartender was my favorite character. He was all the stereotypes and I liked him anyway
Service – 7 It was actually a nice sex scene, except for the fact that it was coercive
Lesbian – 10 You know what was actually lesbian? Lilly’s obsession with Eva. THAT was lesbian.

Overall – 7

If the other two issues show up in the universe, I’m not opposed to reading them, but I’m not losing sleep if I don’t.

Send to Kindle




LGBTQ: Oath, An Anthology of New (Queer) Heroes

January 29th, 2017

I’m horribly backlogged on the books I backed on Kickstarter in 2016. Today I’m going to take a look at Oath, An Anthology of New (Queer) Heroes

Created by a lineup of talented creators, this book is a fully diverse anthology that takes a look at the stories of people who are or have become, heroes and whose gender, sexuality, race and body size do not in any way negatively affect their ability to function as heroes.

My two favorite stories were Theo Nicol Lorenz’ story “Lunch Break” in which two people with secrets learn to trust and love one another – a theme that repeated throughout the book and Lee and Ty Blauersouth’s “Safe House” which broke age barriers as well and had a truly joyful ending.

“The Fourth Option” by Adriana Ferguson and K. Van Dam actually made me laugh out loud with it’s quirky “information assimilant” who makes packets with key information, including her name. 

And Jenn St-Onge’s No Sugar was a tale that would be familiar to any manga fan of magical girl stories.

As one might expect (and for me, desire) in an anthology, the art styles are varied, but I’m going to  say that the story telling as tighter then usual for an anthology. Especially one that has such a broad overarching topic as “Heroes.” I don’t think any of the stories left me feeling as if anything wwas missing and almost all of them felt scripted exactly as they needed to be – enough to tell the story, not too much to preach, not too little to leave us wondering what as going on.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

As Kickstarter anthologies go, Oath was one of the best I have read. Oath is available digitally on the Oath shop or softcover in print.

 

Send to Kindle




Western Comic: DC Bombshells, Guest Review by Jen Yoko

January 18th, 2017

It’s Guest Review Wednesday and today we have a double fistful of joy at introducing you to a new Guest Reviewer, but long-time friend of Yuricon  and Okazu (and me!) Jen Yoko! I am ecstatic as heck that Jen has brought us her look at a book that I’ve heard a lot of good things about. Please offer her your undivided attention. The podium is yours, Jen. ^_^

Have you ever wondered what WWII would be like without our iconic male super hero protagonists? No? Why would you? I’m sure it has never crossed your mind. It has never crossed mine.

In DC Bombshells all of our favorite heroines from the DC universe have taken arms to help fight in the war against the Nazis.

When you begin reading the first issue, you are introduced to a 1940’s version of Batwoman. You see her dressed in a baseball outfit similar to what you would have seen in that time period.  The artwork made me feel that I was watching an old 1940’s film. From the way she speaks to her mannerisms, I became immediately reminded of the old films that I would watch with my family on Turner Classic Movies as a child.

Batwoman, aka Kate Kane, is still a lesbian in this universe and is living with Maggie Sawyer, her lover. They didn’t change or hide anything because of the time period. Instead the writers took a different turn. She blends in.  Which to me I found strange, frightening and refreshing.  When Amanda Waller visits Kate, she immediately recruits her into the Bombshells. This is where the story takes off.

You begin to see the journey of not just Kate Kane but almost EVERY FEMALE in the DC universe. It begins with Wonder Woman and how she helped fight alongside the USA, then shifts to Super Girl and Star Girl, to Catwoman, Harely Quinn and Poison Ivy along with so many more!  Each story fits smoothly into each other and does not falter, even in later chapters. I’m not saying every single story is gold, but you want to know what happens to each character and what sisterhood and connection they make with each other. They are now sisters in arms.

War, no matter how you slice it is still horrible, even in a fictional world. In this DC comic I was swept away by something I honestly only considered as pin-up piece in a comic shop. The stories are refreshing and empowering . It imparts a little something for everyone. It is easy to purchase and is available on Amazon or at any comic book shop.

Ratings:

Art – 7 It varies from chapter to chapter depending on the story but it makes the comic that much stronger. There are also several tasteful pin up girl images of each character.

Story – 8 It’s riddled with diversity and adventures that don’t overwhelm you. Not your typical save the day stories.

Characters – 8 Each character is from a different country and some have different accents. You fall in love with old characters with a new twist.

Yuri – 8 There are a several relationships in this book that took me by surprise. Batwoman isn’t the only leading lady of love. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are a couple along side a few other female characters that I was unfamiliar with.

Service – 8

Overall – 8 DC comics went out of their way for once to make our leading ladies truly shine. You finally see what you have wanted to see in an all female action comic that has been made in North America. With a market overflowing with male leads this makes you wonder why their aren’t more stories of women like this in US comics? I wish I could have read this as a teen growing up. It’s inspiring. 

Erica here: Well…wow! I’ve added it to my Amazon cart, along with Love is Love, the DC and IDW tribute to the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting. Thanks, Jen, you just sold  a book! ^_^

Send to Kindle




LGBTQ Comic: Honor Girl (English)

January 15th, 2017

I love that the phrase, “This one time at camp” has entered American cultural consciousness, whether because of or despite the origin of the line. Because, for most people of my generation, camp was a place where we developed our sense of self, worked through puberty and became who we actually were. I have many camp memories, and of them, most are really strange. ^_^

So for me, reading Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash was a bit like a view through a curtain of an alternate version of my own youth. Maggie’s experience at a Christian sleepaway camp is the alternative-universe version  of my own Girl Scout camp experience where none of these things happened and no one was weird (which is weird itself) and we all came and went and no one ever tried to stay in touch. I don’t think.

In Honor Girl, Maggie begins the story with an awkward meeting with a girl whom she had met and fallen in like with as a camper, when Erin had been a counselor. The bulk of the book focuses on Maggie’s life, her experiences at the camp, her falling in like with Erin, beginning to get a clearer picture of her own desires and leaving without ever having gotten a chance to address what she and Erin felt.

In between that, we watch Maggie wade the deep, dark, and treacherous waters of young adulthood and friendships and rivalries with other girls. Individual moments stirred long-dormant memories in me, none of which had much emotional baggage. I remember camp…I don’t remember a single person at camp, only the horses. ^_^;

Honor Girl is plainly told, with a very adult-looking-back-at-her-youth tone, as if Maggie is struggling to find meaning in it, when both we and she know that there isn’t any, not really.

The art is clean and easy to follow, no sketchy line work clogging up the panels. Backgrounds are simple with just enough detail to establish the mise-en-scène fully.

The relationships between Maggie and the other girls are exactly as fraught as I remember relationships being at that age. One wants so much to have someone to confide in, but there’s always the understanding that betrayal could come for the most absurd of reasons. Maggie’s relationship with Erin exists only in outline, but Maggie knows the moment that the moment has passed and it’s over before it’s begun. I appreciated her self-awareness.

Ratings

Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Service – 1 Nostalgia can be a form of “service”
Yuri – 3

Overall – 8

If you enjoy autobiographical comics like Liz Prince’s Tomboy or Mari Naomi’s I Thought You Hated Me, then you will also enjoy Honor Girl. I certainly did. ^_^

For today’s review, I must thank Okazu Superhero Clearesta T – thank you very much for picking something off the Yuri Wishlist! It’s greatly appreciated. Please contact me,so I can send you your Superhero badge!

Send to Kindle




Western Comic: Hilda and the Stone Forest

December 18th, 2016

I spend a lot of time here on Okazu discussing role models. Not always in those terms, but realistically, I am speaking of women and girls who I consider to be (or not to be) suitable to rely on for lessons on how to handle life situations. From my fantasy faves of psychotic murderers who violently remove obstacles in their way to characters who triumph over conflict through wits and with the help of friends, Okazu is filled to the brim with praise for role models for women and girls. (In fact, most of the books I’ve liked least provide very poor lessons on women in relationships and show characters making bad decisions for bad reasons.)

But. For many reasons there is one especially important role model that is mostly-absent from my pages. In many cases, the first role model and the most important person in our early lives is our mothers. LGBTQ people often have difficult relationships with parents, but some of us are lucky enough to find acceptance. It’s even a cliche’ of LGBTQ literature and comics that mothers are more accepting than fathers.

So, while today’s book is not LGBTQ, I thought it was a good time of year to read a story of a mother who accepts that her daughter is unlike other children. And, lo and behold! the kind folks at Nobrow Press sent me a copy of Hilda and The Stone Forest. I’ve written about Hilda before. In Hilda and the Midnight Giant,  Hilda uses negotiation to manage her way through bureaucracy and prejudice and allow two races to co-exist peacefully. But Hilda doesn’t live alone. She has a mother and who taught Hilda to be the person she is, anyway? Mom, of course.

Hilda’s Mom is mostly cool, although she doesn’t like Hilda sneaking off. I mean, who would? But, in Hilda and The Stone Forest when Hilda and her mother are embroiled in an impossible adventure, this time it’s Mom who figures out how to get  home. Mom comes through where Hilda just could not. Mom’s the hero! And in doing so, Mom shows Hilda how, even in desperate times, there’s always something that you can do…even if it’s not going to magically fix things.

The book ends with a surprise twist that will lead into the next book.

Once again, I heartily recommend the Hildafolk stories for young readers – especially those who love fairytales and myths – and for whom you would like to provide strong role models who don’t just slay the dragon and leave.

Ratings:

Art – 6
Story – 9
Character – 9

This would make a great gift choice for a child in your life!

Many thanks to Tucker at Nobrow Press for the review copy. You always know what will pick my spirits right up. ^_^ And you guys do the best kid’s books.

Send to Kindle