Comics and stuff.

School has been out officially for two weeks!

I have finished 3 books, 1 short story, and started about 2 more books. Nothing gives me more pleasure than reading things I want to read. It’s fantastic.

But there are two that I want to talk about.

The first one is: Ms. Marvel Volume 1 No Normal


I loved this comic, and I had the pleasure of buying the second volume at Denver Comic Con this last weekend. My first thoughts went automatically to “I totally know how she feels.” I related to her instantly. I can’t say that about other comics I have read in the past. There are times I wanted to relate to characters like Peter Parker, but it wasn’t really happening. Kamala Kahn comes from a traditional Muslim family, where daughters are highly protected. At one point her parents tell her that “It’s not that we don’t trust you, we just want to protect you,” or something along those lines and I remember hearing that from dad. Actually, I still hear that from him and I’m 27. I’m sure that it’s not just the Muslims or Mexicans telling their daughters that, but I can’t recall hearing any of my other female friends mention something similar. So yeah, I got super attached to this character.

What made me stop and say “Wait, what?” was that when she gets the powers, she physically changes into Captain Marvel; a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman. I was pretty fired up about this. Comics have so much power! They can do what other forms of literature cannot do, which is to literally show you the world and the characters. And to make one of the first non-white female characters (Storm I think was the first) to literally turn white when she has superpowers was messed up. But it got better as I went on.

Kamala is obviously having an identity crisis. She wants to be a modern American girl, but her family and culture are keeping her from doing that. Not that that is necessarily bad, but it makes Kamala’s teenage years that much harder. Especially, when people are not so accepting of the Islamic faith. They treat her differently and that’s what sucks.

The reason I loved this book so much was because she finds her own identity within her powers. She is still learning the ropes, but she becomes confident in herself being Ms. Marvel, not Captain Marvel. She stops changing into Captain Marvel even though she knows that she is capable of turning into anyone. She chooses to stay as Kamala.

The other book I finished was Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Also about a Muslim girl, but during the Islamic revolution in the 1980s.

CompletePersepolis 202x300 - Comics and stuff.

I started reading this book without any idea of what it was about. All I heard about it was that it was beautiful and about a Muslim girl getting into punk rock in Iran.

Again this was relatable in the sense that she read a lot as child and the part where she has trouble with her identity at the high school in Vienna. There was a scene where she told a stranger that she was from France instead of Iran. Another part where she shut out any news of Iran while she was in Austria so as not to be reminded of it, but for more reasonable reasons. Her family was still in Iran and to hear about all of the bad things happening there would affect her greatly. I often had times where I would actively shut out part of my culture or news from Mexico to avoid that part of me. I almost always felt bad afterwards. It hurts not be able to show the world where you come from.

This book left me with different emotions than Ms. Marvel did. Though Marjane was having a hard time as a teenager in Austria, her struggle in Iran is the most important piece. To me, anyways. Her story made me really glad that I was in America where I am allowed to vote, dress however I want to, and be able to be in public with man that is not my husband.

There were a few times where I had to stop and just process what I had read. For example, early in the book, a theater with 400 people inside was burned down. That really happened. It wasn’t fiction. Those people really died and they really weren’t allowed to be saved. I couldn’t imagine living in a place like that at any age.

Marjane grows up and manages to stay an independent intelligent woman despite all of the laws and obstacles against her. I’m very glad that I read this book. It has expanded my knowledge of Islamic traditions, and it has made me appreciate what I have here in America even though it is not the most ideal situation for women and people of color.

Both of these books are great! I highly recommend them to everyone. Ms. Marvel for young girls especially. The young women in these stories deal with complex identity issues and still come out on top. I love them.

Keep rocking

zWZRasohnlfS8 - Comics and stuff.

and kicking butt ladies!

MsMarvelNow - Comics and stuff.


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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.