📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for The Fall: Volume One, by Jared Muralt

I picked up this comic about a post-pandemic-apocalypse from the library on a whim. I have mixed feelings about this genre—especially since it’s hard to believe that it was begun before COVID-19. The story is somewhat interesting but choppy, and the characters are compelling but flat. The translation is rouuuugh, and I wonder how much better it might be in the original German. What saves this for me, though, is how clearly Swiss it is.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 15, Silver Sable, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

There’s some interesting stuff here, including Bendis’s riffs on power and responsibility and how that relates to secret identities. However, there’s too much welding to the broader Ultimate universe, including introducing characters I just don’t care about. I also still feel like Peter’s attitude toward MJ is more low-level misogyny than anything justified.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 14, Warriors, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

Definitely not my favorite of the series. Lots of crossover nonsense with characters I don’t really care about. Way too much casual misogyny (Peter toward MJ and creators toward the women they put in impractical fanservice costumes). Starting to question my commitment to this series binge.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Queen & Country Definitive Edition: Volume 02, by Greg Rucka

This volume was excellent. Much more of the Sandbaggers vibes and less saving the world spy fiction. I ordered the third volume today!

It’s finally happened: I’ve seen a comic book panel that has the same style as the Take On Me music video.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Queen & Country Definitive Edition: Volume 01, by Greg Rucka

I’ve been wanting to read this since binging all three series of The Sandbaggers, since I’ve seen it repeatedly referred to as a spiritual sequel. They weren’t kidding—the first story arc feels like a remix of the show! The third story arc was the least interesting to me (and probably the reason this didn’t get full marks). The first two deal with the cynicism of espionage and the brokenness of spies in the way I expected the series would, whereas the third arc felt more like a traditional spy story with maybe some furniture moving for future arcs.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 13, Hobgoblin, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

Peter and MJ’s relationship is one of my favorite things to follow this series, and that makes this volume a real disappointment. It seems like so much of the story is built around forcing drama and idiot balls into these two characters for the sake of adding twists and turns to the plot. Plus, it really comes through in this volume how often MJ is treated as an extension of Peter instead of a character with her own depth and agency.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 11, Carnage, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

Gwen Stacy gets done dirty in the Ultimate continuity, and I have even less interest in Carnage than I do Venom. What saves this volume for me, though, is the throughline of the classic Spider-Man theme of power and responsibility.

Used bookstores for the win! Found the first two volumes of an out-of-print comics series I’ve been wanting to try for months because it’s inspired by a TV series I really liked. Went ahead and bought both because I doubt I’ll ever have luck this good again.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 10, Hollywood, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

This is a shameless attempt to profit off of whatever Spider-Man movie was coming out at the time, but it’s still a pretty fun story. It continues to strain credulity that this kid could keep up superhero hijinks without Aunt May finding out, but it’s enough of the mythos that I can deal with it (mostly).

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 9, Ultimate Six, by Brian Michael Bendis

This story is interesting, but it suffers from too much of superhero continuity bloat. I also miss Mark Bagley’s illustration—this artist’s faces all look alike, whereas Bagley’s characters are distinct and familiar to me. It’s just meh.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 8, Cats & Kings, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

The first few issues of this are just about peak Spider-Man, and I came very close to giving this full marks. By the end, though, there was too much treating female characters as fanservice—and I have never liked temptation to infidelity as a plot device. So, some ups, some downs.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 7, Irresponsible, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

I finally got access to my spouse’s hoopla password so that I can continue my binge of this series without waiting for my loans to refresh in December. There was a lot that I don’t like about this volume: 2000s language that doesn’t age well, oversexualization of costumes and characters, and crossover nonsense. I like the characters, though, and the issue with Aunt May in therapy was good enough on its own to bump my rating up a heart.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 3, Double Trouble, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

I’ve decided I don’t need to critically analyze these books anymore. They’re fun, I like Bagley’s art, and I think I’m starting to get into issues I haven’t read before. Hooray for hoopla and easy access to this whole run.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 2 Learning Curve, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

There are a lot of reminders in this volume of how dumb superhero comics can be (how is a 15-year old going toe to toe with a crime boss?), but it’s also fun in a lot of ways, and I know I loved reading this when I was a teenager myself. It continues to be a fun series.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Spider-Man Life Story, by Chip Zdarsky

I stayed up too late reading this, but it was fun. It’s a bit dumb in parts, but I love the effort to weld together all the major Spider-Man stories into a single lifetime of an aging Peter Parker. I love this kind of comic, the kind that reimagines established canon in interesting ways. Fun read.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️🖤🖤🖤 for Warlords of Appalachia, by Phillip Kennedy Johnson

I don’t know what this book is supposed to be. It feels like too much worldbuilding and too little plot; I would like to see more of the Kentucky I know, but it also feels vaguely exploitative of Eastern Kentucky; it feels like an excuse for violent storytelling and wants to be something deeper without quite getting there. I wasn’t a fan.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 pour Josephine Baker, par Catel & Bocquet

Comme d’habitude, je suis impressionné par le nombre de bd francophones disponible en traduction chez ma bibliothéque municipale, mais j’aurais préféré lire cet album en français. En tout cas, je connaissais le nom Josephine Baker, mais je ne connaissais pas vraiment le personnage. J’aurai appris beaucoup plus en lisant une vraie biographie, mais une bd, c’est quand-même sympa !

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Archie 1941, by Brian Augustyn and Mark Waid

I am only passingly familiar with Archie, but the concept behind the miniseries was compelling, and I love a reimagining of familiar characters to make a point. Even more compelling was the treatment of World War II in a way that emphasized how awful war is instead of cheerleading the U.S. entry into the conflict. Really enjoyed this.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book Two), by Bill Willingham

Reading a second volume hasn’t changed my impression of this series: It’s an interesting premise, but there’s not really enough substance to it to be worth my attention. There’s more out there, but I don’t feel any completionist tendencies about it.

more unfinished thoughts on games and living one's values

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about buying a copy of Lotus Dimension, an indie TTRPG that encourages players to find non-violent solutions to problems. I haven’t made my way through the whole rulebook yet—I’ve been busy, and frankly, it’s a bit dense. It’s a bit crunchier than I would have expected from an indie TTRPG focused on an interesting premise, and I’m frankly not sure if it will live up to my initial excitement.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book One), by Bill Willingham

As promised, I’m reading this in honor of Bill Willingham’s badass public domain antics earlier this week. I think the concept of his series is fun, but I’m not sure if I think it’s as great as its reputation. The idea of fairy tale characters living in the real world is full of potential, but the story seems pretty superficial. Will probably keep reading, though.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Willingham Sends Fables Into the Public Domain'

Such a cool thing to do. I haven’t read Fables in ages, but may revisit it out of respect for Willingham. link to ‘Willingham Sends Fables Into the Public Domain’

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Dendo: One Year and One Half in Tokyo, by Brittany Long Olsen

It’s weird to rate this so highly given how much anxiety it gives me to read it. Reading it four years ago is what forced me to confront how much baggage I had from my own Mormon missionary experience, but I know the author has her own complicated feelings about the book, and that helps some. At any rate, the book is so well done that I can’t help but rate it highly.

40 books that have shaped my faith

A friend of mine recently asked whether I had a list of books “that have been particularly impactful or interesting,” especially in the realm of spirituality and religion—and suggested that if I didn’t already have such a list, I could put one together for one of my next blog posts. It took me a while to actually put the list together, but it’s ended up being a really interesting exercise. Of the forty books that I’ve picked, some have been more influential than others.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Chroniques de jeunesse, by Guy Delisle

J’ai déjà lu cet album cette année, mais comme j’étais en mode « Guy Delisle », j’ai décidé de le relire. C’est bien différent que ses albums de l’étranger, mais c’est tout aussi émouvant. J’aime beaucoup.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Pyongyang, by Guy Delisle

I’ve read this a number of times already, but after reading Delisle’s “Jerusalem,” I had to revisit it. It’s the wild, literally incredible story of the two months he spent in Pyongang supervising a team of North Korean animators who were doing work for the French animation studio Delisle worked for. The art is excellent, the writing is good, the story is bonkers. One of my favorite comics.

Lire Guy Delisle en traduction, c’est déjà bon, et je suis content que ses albums sont disponible dans les bibliothèques près de chez moi. Pourtant, je viens de reprende Pyongyang en version francophone, et c’est parfait.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, by Guy Delisle

I have been a fan of Delisle’s for quite some time, but I’m still blown away by how good this is. The book isn’t political or polemical, but a slice-of-life comic done by a cartoonist living in East Jerusalem for a year brings walls, checkpoints, rockets, and attacks on Gaza to life in a subtle, compelling way. I used to follow this news a lot more, and Delisle made me feel like there was a lot I missed even then.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for I Was Their American Dream, by Malaka Gharib

I wish I had read this before Gharib’s second comic memoir, because there’s a progression there (in terms of both the quality of art and adding detail to story) that makes it unfair to judge this one after reading it second. I think “It Won’t Always Be Like This” is better, but this comic is so good, too. Great story, distinctive art, great overall product.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Dragon Hoops, by Gene Luen Yang

Everything about this is good: The writing, the art, the mix of the external story and the personal elements that Yang puts in. I wasn’t sure about a basketball comic, but I knew I could trust Yang to pull it off, and I was right.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for It Won't Always Be Like This: A Graphic Memoir, by Malaka Gharib

I find memoir (and other non-fiction) comics to be hit or miss; I’ve even passed up Gharib’s earlier memoir a number of times because I just wasn’t sure. I don’t know what stood out to me about this one, but I went for it and I loved it. I love getting a taste of meaningful events in someone else’s life, and Gharib does such a great job telling her story. It even made me wish I’d taken more Arabic classes in college so I could follow some parts better.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Blacksad: A Silent Hell, by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido

I guess this is interesting enough to keep reading, but my verdict is still the same. Great art, interesting premise, but I don’t know if it goes further than that.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Blacksad, by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido

I stumbled upon this series on TVTropes and was happy to see it’s available through Hoopla. I get why it gets the praise that it does, but it just didn’t land with me. The art is gorgeous and the premise (a noir detective in a 1950s America populated by anthropomorphic animals) is bold and compelling. I don’t know that noir is my genre, though—it feels more like tropes strung together than an actual plot, and it sometimes goes out of its way to be lurid.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Meanwhile, by Jason Shiga

I read through this with kiddo this morning, inspired by our recent discovery of Shiga’s new Adventuregame Comics. I was surprised by how little I loved it. Don’t get me wrong: it’s an amazing concept, an interesting story, and it deserves the praise it gets from folks like Gene Luen Yang,Scott McCloud, and others. However, revisiting it after his newer work in this subgenre, I think he does better with Adventuretime Comics!

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Adventuregame Comics 1: Leviathan, by Jason Shiga

I don’t remember how I first discovered Jason Shiga, but I do remember working my way through his interactive puzzle comic Meanwhile one summer, some of it while purportedly completing an internship. Meanwhile is one of the first comics I added to my collection and one of the few of my early acquisitions that I still have. Anyway, all of that is to say that when I saw this comic in the new children’s books area at a local library, I immediately grabbed it.