Archive for the Western Comic/Comix Category


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! ^_^

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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!

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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.

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BD: La Rose Ecarlate – Missions Tome 01: Le Spectre de la Bastille 1/2 (French)

November 28th, 2016

51n9kvh14alWhen I visited Paris this past summer, I found myself staying, almost miraculously, in the middle of Geek Central, surrounded by comic and figurine and bande dessinée stores galore. It was not intentional, but it was fortuitous. ^_^ During one afternoon off, my wife and wandered the area and threw some Euro at the French economy. I chose three BD volumes, each one for a specific reason. Today we’re going to look at the first of the three, Volume 1 of La Rose Ecarlate, written by Patricia Lyfoung, illustrated by Jenny. 

I chose La Rose Ecarlate for several obvious reasons. It clearly stars a woman as a masked thief, and also includes a attractive damsel a monster and a conspiracy!  And, most appealingly, the art style and story-telling is very shoujo manga. The story is reasonably predictable – a young man and woman of noble rank, who happen to be lovers, are going out at night as the gentleman and woman theives, Le Renard and Le Rose Ecarlate, the Fox and the Scarlet Rose. 

The first volume includes a small romantic setback, as a childhood friend of Count Guilhem, Le Renard, arrives during a dance and seems much too comfortable with the young count. But, when Adele and Maud, Le Rose Ecarlate, become friends, they bond over Guilhem’s foibles and  become fast friends. 

We then look back at the origin of the Rose and Fox, and, as the volume comes to an end, move into the main narrative about a phantom who steals away young women. They end up saving Adele, and being chased by the gendarmes through a house of ill repute. They kiss, and end the book promising to solve the mystery of “Le Spectre De La Bastilles.” 

There’s no Yuri, although while I don’t put it past the series to have, at some point, an overenthusiastic thanks from a fair maiden, this volume was pretty straight.

Totally adorable in every way. Not a single word that wasn’t completely predictable, but a rollicking good yard, some very pretty full-color shoujo manga-style art and a main couple that didn’t make you roll your eyes in despair. Neither Maud nor Guilhem are damseled, although one  might well have to rescue the other, it could easily go either way. The art was very well done, and I appreciated the touches that said “this is manga style,” like shoujo bubbles in the background. ^_^

The BD format, which is a large, thin, hardbound volume, worked to the strengths of the story and art. Large saturated-color pages were still easy to read. I used the Google Translate app on my phone when I was really unsure of the dialogue, but mostly, I could just guess what was being said, if my French wasn’t up to snuff.

For my first foray in to manga-style bande dessinée, La Rose Ecarlate was a charmer.

Ratings: 

Art – 8
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Overall – 8

I probably won’t be getting later volumes, but if you’re interested in reading this and later volumes on your Kindle, you  can! If you’re a French-language reader and want to let us know how the story progresses, please feel free to write in. ^_^

 

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Steven Universe ~ The Answer (English)

September 6th, 2016

AnswerSUWell, how fortuitous! Just this morning, I was reading and sharing an article on PBS.org, Rebecca Sugar, Cartoon Network’s first female creator, on writing LGBTQ stories for kids, and lo and behold! my copy of The Answer, arrived. ^_^

The Answer is a hardcover children’s storybook, based on episode 22 of the second season of the Cartoon Network breakout hit, Steven Universe. The episode deals with the origin of Garnet, in which a powerful Sapphire and a common Ruby change fate to be together.

In the episode and the book, we are introduced to the Gems of Homeworld who are bent upon taking over Earth, opposed only by the Crystal Gems led by Rose Quartz. A Sapphire with foresight knows everything that will happen, including her own fate, but the rash behavior of one of her Ruby guards changes…everything.

The cartoon episode is absolutely grin-making, with a catchy little ditty sung by the two gems as they ponder their combined fate. I wondered how they would adapt that into a book?

They did a teriffic job. The illustations by Tiffany Ford and Elle Michalka, are swell, without trying to be the same as in the cartoon. But what really makes the book work is the border in which Ruby and Sapphire carry on a meta-textual conversation.

Artwork from "The Answer" by Rebecca Sugar, author, Tiffany Ford, illustrator, and Elle Michalka, illustrator. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Sugar

The story, written by and adapted for this book by Rebecca Sugar, is everything good and right with Steven Universe. Ruby and Sapphire confront being different, acknowledge what and who they are and learn to accept it with Rose Quartz’s help. This is an epic, colorful coming out story about two queer characters in brightly colored pictures with loving and accepting language, drawn and written especially for queer kids.

I hope I don’t have to tell you what to do now, do I? Get this book for yourself and a second copy for your local library. Tell the library this is a children’s book from a very popular TV cartoon. Tell friends with kids about it and lend your copy to them. Give it as gifts to child relatives and friends. Suggest this thing until people roll their eyes, because this book is a game-changer.

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story – 9
Characters 10
LGBTQ – 10

Overall – 10

I cannot imagine what my life might have been like if Steven Universe was in existence when I was young, but I like to think it wouldn’t be all that much different than it is now.  The important thing is for the next geeky, queer kid who comes down the pike will have a book like this to read. How awesome for them. ^_^

Also, I think I want a poster of the cover. (*_*)

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