Sunday, December 21, 2008

Returning in the New Year

Gentle Reader, I know I have been a Horrible Friend, a Wicked Correspondent, and a Terrible Comics Reader. But that will all change--This Humble Author Promises!--after the New Year. Until then, the best to you and your loved ones for this holiday season, for whichever holiday you choose to celebrate. (If you choose not to celebrate a holiday, all best for a delightful day off!)

Returning soon,
Amy (Reads)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Comics in (Very!) Brief

No, not an actual post, Gentle Reader, but a few comments.

1) Why o why did Mr. Reads not make me read Ultra sooner? Egad, it is Fantastic!

2) I adore, absolutely adore Avengers: The Initiative. It feels as if it is the natural Avengers bookend to Academy X. Young Avengers, my All-Time Favorite teen Avengers highlight, feels as something Completely Different. And why yes, I am collections behind, but I plan to catch up Rather Shortly!

3) No, I have not read Wonder Woman yet. No, I have not gotten to My Local to pick up my now Very Large Backlog of Comics. I think this makes me a Very Bad Wonder Woman Fan AND a Very Bad Gail Simone Fan Indeed. It is tragic, Friends, the amount of work under which I labour. Very little fun reading At All gets accomplished in the Reads Household. Tragic, tragic, tragic.

4) I find myself oddly giddy about the new Star Trek movie, more so about the Wonder Woman animated, and even more so yet about Watchmen. Oh yes, Watchmen.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I *have* been neglectful, Gentle Reader, not only to You, but to Comics, as well. But I *am* going to rectify this, and I *am* going to pick up a month's worth of comics backlog (!!!) this weekend, and finally get back into the groove of things. Please, Friends, just a few more days of patience, and I promise to review comics once again!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Happy Halloween, Gentle Reader! We Reads were not too elaborate with our costumes. I went as 19-year-old Amy Reads, which meant wearing lots of eyeliner and black Doc Marten boots. We handed out candy to all the cute kids, and were pleasantly surprised to see the large number of Batmans, Hulks, and Supermans in the crowd. This Humble Author was a Little Distressed over the one child Joker she saw, not for the costume but for the age. Our friends' children were dressed as a monkey and as a strawberry, respectively, and a Good Time was had by All.

Enjoy your evening, Friends!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of October 26th, 2008)

The name of the game, Gentle Reader, is The Incredible Hulk. As I have mentioned many times on This Humble Blog, I occasionally feel as if Mr. Reads and I are the only two people in the world who not only appreciate but adore, yes, *adore* Ang Lee's Hulk. It is beautiful, and smart, and well-written, and, most importantly for the Hulk legend, tragic. There is something utterly tragic about the Hulk in Mr. Lee's version, not because he can be calmed by the serene beauty of Betty Ross (played by one of This Humble Author's favorite actresses, Ms. Jennifer Connelly), but because the Hulk understands. There is a core of Bruce Banner's gentleness inside of the Hulk in Mr. Lee's version, and that core is, ultimately, the tragic flaw of The Incredible Hulk.

Mr. Reads and I resisted seeing The Incredible Hulk (2008) in the theater for a variety of reasons, but namely because we adore the 2003 version so much. The Hulk has never been one of my favorite characters; As Constant Readers of This Humble Blog know, This Humble Author is a DC girl, to to the core. I dabble in Marvel, certainly (give me your Emma Frosts, your Kitty Prydes, your Iron Men), but at The End Of The Day, I would rather have a Wonder Woman or a Flash or a Batman, thank you very much. I am more for the Iconic and less for the Representation.

But I do enjoy Marvel to some degree, make no mistake. The imprint does Representation So Very Well. Their characters are symbolic to a level that is almost--dare I say it in light of the X-Men imprint?--Uncanny. While DC is archetypal, Marvel is Metaphorical. And who is more Metaphorical than The Hulk?

Part Jekyll, part Hyde, yet it seems without the arrogance of either, The Hulk is not often written with a sense of poetry that I think he deserves. Ang Lee's version offered us that. Bruce Banner and the Hulk both were metaphorical, symbolic, representative. The 2008 Hulk was just Hulk Smash, all around.

Not that I did not enjoy it. It was enjoyable in that I do not regret the two hours I spent watching the movie. But I did not walk away from the DVD thinking that it was a movie I must see again. There was no motivation in the movie. I do not mean for the characters but rather for the viewer. Why was I supposed to care? Why was I supposed to sympathize?

It all boils down ultimately, Gentle Reader, to two comments: one in support of what I liked, and one in explanation of what I didn't.

What I liked: Or, rather, what I found interesting and worth my time. This Hulk was not tragic or poetic or flawed. He was almost all monster. But neither, then, was this Bruce Banner tragic or poetic or flawed. Rather, there was a level of pathetic about Bruce Banner that led almost--Almost, Gentle Reader!--to disgust on the viewer's part. He was not a tragic hero, or an anti-hero, or stuck in a bad situation. He was unable to take care of himself, even on the most basic of levels. It seemed almost an Ultimates version of Bruce Banner more than anything else.

What I didn't: This movie had No Sense of Timing. That is to say, even in those moments that would have been funny (if they had not been all revealed in the trailers), the actors and directing plowed through them without so much as a By Your Leave. By the time the viewer got the reference, the next scene was already taking place.

I was with the movie at least half-heartedly until the big fight scene commenced, and there, the movie completely lost me. It was uninteresting and predictable and in my opinion, meant nothing to the movie but big Hulk Smash and Grab. Holding this up not only to the beautiful and poignant Ang Lee's Hulk but also to Dark Knight, Iron Man, Superman Returns, Hellboy, X-Men II, Spider-Man II, all of the really fantastic comic book movies out there and you see how comic book movies are Supposed To Be Made. Even without The Origin Story Problem, as The Incredible Hulk skipped past the Origin Story and straight to Story, this movie failed to connect with This Humble Viewer, at least.

But I am, Friends, very, very excited about the upcoming Wonder Woman animated film, and Iron Man II, Thor, Avengers, and of course, Watchmen. And I hope that one day, The Flash movie focusing on My Beloved Wally West will actually be a reality.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of October 12th, 2008)

Mea culpa, Gentle Reader. Mr. Reads mocks my inability to begin blog posts with anything but an apology for my recent abandonment of You, Most Constant Of Readers, but I am, dare I say? Too Busy to even dabble in pop culture, much less read comics. I watch my shows, and that is all, so thus, I offer you these pieces of insight.

Where have all the good shows gone?

This is not a judgment on New TV. I believe that several new shows have brought an extraordinary amount of talent to the scene. The Mentalist, Fringe, and Life on Mars (although We Reads are such a fan of the British version that we may sour of the American version quickly) are all Rather Good, and demonstrate the Potential For Greatness.

Nor is this a judgment on Old TV. Supernatural is a show that just gets better and better each episode, so much so that We Reads find ourselves comparing it to That Giant of Television, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Office gets better each episode, and we eagerly anticipate the return of 30 Rock.

Of the new-ish shows, j'adore Life, and The Middle Man (any word on its return, Friends?), and Terminator, and Pushing Daisies. But I find myself straying from Tried and True shows such as Heroes, which has recently (just!) been dropped from Our Weekly Lineup.


Because it bores, Friends, truly, utterly, and completely. It has lost sight of what is interesting and has instead gone for what it thinks the fans want. On the cusp is True Blood, because while I very much liked the early books in Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series, I find the television show to focus less on the neat oddness of this world she had created, and more on the sex oddness of the world it adapted from Harris's vision.

Mr. Reads and I take guilty pleasure in culling series from our Lineup, because as one can see with the rather long sidebar to the right, we have many, many series to choose from. But I do not enjoy losing a series, because Gentle Reader, that implies that perhaps, just perhaps, some quality has been lost.

I am out of town next weekend for a Blast from the Past, so I will attempt to offer a mid-week column instead of my (somewhat aberrant) weekly column. Until then, Friends, happy pop culturing, and happy presidential debating.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of September 28th, 2008)

Will September never end, Gentle Reader? Between weather and school and illness (oh my!), I feel as if September has drained me of All Productive Activity. Woe to you, Most Constant of Readers, as this has Greatly Affected my Blogging.

Or, should we say, Lack of Blogging?

But what September has brought is the New Fall Lineup. I have already Waxed Poetic on Fringe, but let me express my delight on the Dark Horse Contender (but not Our Beloved Publishing House Dark Horse), The Mentalist. One episode in, and I am Greatly Impressed!

But o, Friends, the one that has pleased Above All Others is the season premiere of The Office. What else is there to say but that This Humble Author is pleased? Very, very pleased indeed.

And the Amazon.Com Fairy arrived this week, bringing two Delights beyond all imagination: Chelsea Cain's Sweetheart and the Cold War Kids's[1] Loyalty to Loyalty. The former is quite the powerhouse follow-up to Cain's dark and disturbing Heartsick, although neither quite has the charm of Confessions of a Teen Sleuth. The latter is Beyond Great. I cannot even begin to tell you, Gentle Reader, how much I adore the Cold War Kids. They have impressed me So Mightily that I think they deserve a place in Amy Reads's Top Five Artists and Bands, with such heavy-hitters as David Bowie, the Beatles, Nina Simone, and Portishead.

I apologize for my brevity which, in this instance, is certainly not the soul of wit. But I am still Rather Ill, and sitting upright at the desk, without real work put into preparing classes for this week, feels too decadent for This Ill (albeit still humble) Author. And as you Most Gentle of Readers know by now, Decadence is abhorrent to Those of Us languishing in High Victoriana. It must be savored only for those brief (!) forays into the fin de siecle.

[1] Mr. Reads and I discussed the grammatical correctness of this to determine whether it should be Cold War Kids' or Cold War Kids's. We both decided that as it is a collective unit--the band is The Cold War Kids--then it should be treated as a proper noun, like Wells's. Please feel free to contribute thoughts to this grammatical conundrum, Gentle Reader!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Babies, Babies, Babies"; or, Amy Reads as a Fan

Not as an academic, Gentle Reader, or as a Reviewer. Not tonight. Not now. Tonight, I am a bit morose. Not suffering under any Romantic pretense of ennui, no, nothing so intellectual. Just a general sense of The Grumpies. So tonight, rather than reading in preparation of class, or working on various Bits and Sundries of Those Things More Important Than Comics, I instead Read Comics.

And I Read Comics as A Fan.

As Constant Readers of Arrogant Self-Reliance are aware, there is nothing of which I am a Fan more than The Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman #24 is *fun*, and *serious*, and *witty*. This is the complexity of Wonder Woman, surrounded by the complexities of Her Past. Beginning at Home, with a mother who decrees that Tom and Diana give her "Babies, Babies, Babies," we move from demands that Tom Tresser is "Not Food," to the gorilla guards' demands to "hear more about this fresh fruit portion of the negotiations." That is to say, I laughed out loud, and there is nothing I love more than laughing at good dialogue.

(Especially while suffering under my current general malaise.)

But here is The Thing, Gentle Reader. We get two panels of Wonder Woman, hugging a woman in need. And at a moment when This Humble Author is feeling--dare I say it?--rather fragile and In All Honesty in need of a hug, I felt myself thinking, "Wonder Woman hugs well."

She does, Friends, with whole heart and emotion, with no expectation and no sense of pulling away. The focus in on her face, with its eyes closed, its expression consoling and gentle, and you remember this is a Woman who is a Sister, used to hugging. This is the Diana responding to the birthday party from several issues ago. This is the Diana lamenting over the lack of hugs in her new life, her new workplace.

This is Diana, longing for her Sister Amazons.

Wonder Woman #24 deserves a Smart Review. A Longer Review, at least, something more In Depth, examining its place within The Mythos, the Larger Arc, and Simone's Larger Run. But rather, this evening, I would like to say simply, I liked it, very much.

Very Much Indeed.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of September 14th, 2008)

Tired, Gentle Reader, very tired, after watching Hurricane Ike with a wary eye all Friday and Saturday. Mr. Reads and I alternated sleep Friday evening and Saturday morning so we could keep an ear out for the potential tornadoes that threatened to touch down in our neck of the woods. Saturday mid-morning, we kept an eye on the trees in the backyard during those 50-75 mph wind gusts, as they threatened to drop branches on top of our electrical line. But we were Quite Lucky in our neck of the woods, and as long-time former residents of Southern Louisiana (and This Humble Author a New Orleans Native), we are saddened and empathetic for the those suffering under the devastation that has hit the Texas Gulf Coast.

Now today, safe here but saddened for My Fellow Gulf Coast Citizens, I find myself tired here, on Sunday, and thus have declared it a true Day Of Rest. That is, I am reading and watching television for the rest of the day. Any planning for school will resume tomorrow morning.

But a brief (!) run-through of the recent Pop Culture in the Reads Household should suffice, no? Unfortunately, it is a Very Brief List Indeed, as I have been Quite Busy with school and preparing to go back on the job market.

1) Fringe - definitely possibility, Friends! I am Rather Impressed with the language, which borders on Whedonesque at times.

2) Wizard World Texas - some great names have appeared on the roll call, but where is Gail Simone, Greg Rucka, or Grant Morrison? Truly, Mr. Reads and I must move closer to San Diego and thus Comic Con.

3) Tamara Siler Jones - Mr. Reads picked up the first book in her Dubric Byerly series, Ghosts in the Snow, and after some convincing, passed it on to me. I cannot help but be charmed and impressed. I have started her second book and am enjoying it immensely.

4) Comics - bah, Gentle Reader. Bah. I am So Far Behind in the Comic Book World that I fear I can never unearth myself. The latest issue of Ms. Simone's Wonder Woman (for which the buzz is Outstanding!) sits, sad and alone, at My Local, unpurchased and unread. Secret Six has finally arrived, and that sits alone, too. Not to mention the Unread Options: Buffy, Secret Invasion, Final Crisis, the list goes on and on. Partly it is due to the impact of Gustav (the Reads Family descended for a week) and Ike (our entire town shut down in preparation of the storm). But mainly, it is due to work, work, work.

5) Project Runway - as it is still Ongoing, I cannot read anything coming out of Fashion Week. This, of course, makes me Very Grumpy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Apologies, Gentle Reader. One hurricane became another, and we are expecting some Very Bad Weather here in the next day or so. Wish us on the Gulf Coast Well, and I will see you on the other side of this nastiness.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Amy Will Not Read the Week (of August 31st, 2008)

Apologies, Gentle Reader, but as there is a (as of now) Category 4 hurricane brewing in the Gulf, We Reads are expecting several family members to descend upon us in the wee hours, as they evacuate New Orleans and the surrounding areas. No time for blogging, as We must Clean, and Cook, in preparation.

Wish us luck, Friends, and send some New Orleans' way.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of August 24th, 2008)

Happy Fall Semester, Gentle Reader! If you are Academically Inclined, chances are you begin courses tomorrow. As We Reads are of such, we are Bright-Eyed and Bushy-Tailed for the new semester. Nothing but wonderful words to share with the Nation's Youth as We Reads try to impart a love of learning, reading, and writing to our students.

But, and this is more important, Friends, Our Dear Friend Mister Fanboy was Quite Generous with his SDCC (San Diego Comic Con for the non-comics-inclined) haul and This Humble Author received the Glory of Glories, a copy of Adam Hughes's Gorgeous Women of DC Poster signed by This Humble Author's Favorite Comics Writer, the fantastic and fabulous Gail Simone, signed right next to the center image of the fantastic and fabulous Wonder Woman (whose comic is currently being penned by Ms. Simone, to the delight of This Humble Author, indeed!). Along with other delights (Dark Horse preview! Flash ring! Sandman poster!), the package proved to be the highlight of This Humble Author's week. Thank you, Mister Fanboy, for thinking of those of us Too Far Away to revel properly in the Wonder that is Comic Con! Mister Reads and I are to the Hobby Lobby this week for a lovely frame for my lovely poster.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of August 17th, 2008)

I have returned to Comics, Gentle Reader, but only just barely, and only the slightest hint of a toe in the water. That Is To Say, I have read Some, but Not Much, and nothing really Of Note. A Batman here, a Catwoman there, but nothing really Blogworthy.

Part of that is, of course, due to the fact that I am resuming Full-Time Teaching after six, yes, Six Years, Friends! of Graduate Student Teaching. Not that one is More Important than the other, but the former requires more courses than the latter, and I have many books to read for my multiple classes.

Mr. Reads and I bid a Fond Farewell to The Wire, finally, after a very (!) long wait for the last season to either 1) finish re-airing on HBO, or 2) come out on DVD. We had utilized the first but had only two episodes left, and since the DVDs came out on Tuesday, we finally, and sadly, finished one of the best shows ever to grace a television screen. This means that our television watching is Rather Slim until Fall Lineup begins: Burn Notice, Project Runway, Venture Bros., Eureka, The Middle Man, and the mini-series Generation Kill.

Have I mentioned we watch a lot of television in Chez Reads, Gentle Reader?

Thank goodness for the DVR, no?

Off to make delicious enchiladas for the Supa-Family and our scheduled dinner this evening. More soon! Ciao!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of August 10th, 2008)

Not really, Gentle Reader, but I did *graduate* the week after many years of *reading*. Does that count?

This week resumes "real life" preparations: syllabi writing, frantic pre-course reading, moving offices, and hopefully, the return to comics. Until then, Friends, ciao!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Officially Doctor Amy Reads

And Gentle Reader? I have The Fancy Paper to prove it.

Graduated this morning. Huzzah to me, and Much Joy to you all.

Off to celebrate with Family Reads!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Amy (Belatedly) Reads the Week (of August 3rd, 2008)

I am on the verge of graduation, Gentle Reader, so this week has been occupied with cleaning house for the impending Family Visit. Also, too, getting back into the non-teaching groove of things, only to find that destroyed a few mere weeks from now, when I return to the teaching trenches.

But I have been reading, Friends. I have finally (!) finished Tana French's delightful, engaging, heartbreaking, stunning novel, The Likeness, a sequel to her Edgar winning first novel, In the Woods. Constant readers may remember that This Humble Author finished French's first novel while on vacation earlier in July, and eagerly anticipated the release of her follow-up. The Likeness is stunning, Friends, truly. There are few other words. I will endeavor, after graduation, to write a more complicated review, but until then, let me say that French is a gifted and wonderful writer, both of prose style and of plot. If forced to compare her to Other Writers--an activity I find draining and complicated, but occasionally fun, I would liken her novels to a cross between Raymond Chandler and Flannery O'Connor: the same sense of pacing, of will, of drive, with a superb backdrop of place, atmosphere, and idea. Add in a slight dash of Stephen King and Jane Austen claustrophobia of social scene, just for good measure, and you have Ms. French.

I strongly urge you, Gentle Reader, to pick up her books forthwith.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of July 27th, 2008)

Unfortunately, Gentle Reader, that title is A Misnomer. I have not read that much at all, as I am still deep in the throes of teaching, teaching, teaching. But I have seen the new X-Files movie, and while I found it Not Bad, I did not find it All That X-Files-Y (if that makes sense). What I did find it was Fantastically Distracting, and a Welcome Relief from my current pedagogical efforts.

And, of course, a Welcome Relief from my current Less Than Two Weeks Before Graduation And Thus Something Must Be Wrong Anxiety--a misplaced form, an unpaid bill, a forgotten application somewhere--which is, of course, Part and Parcel with the fabulousness of One Amy Reads. Please continue to post those Comic Con Reviews, Friends, so that I might live vicariously!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of July 20th, 2008)

I have four words for you, Gentle Reader:

Comic Con San Diego.

Four more words, then?

Alas, Amy cannot attend.

Max Brooks! Ed Brubaker! Jim Butcher! John Cassaday! Darwyn Cooke! Joe Hill! Geoff Johns! Jim Lee! Brad Meltzer! Mike Mignola! Grant Morrison! Greg Rucka! Gail Simone! Joss Whedon! Connie Willis!

I do not think there has ever been such a gathering of my favorite people in all the world. And to think that I have taught or will teach works by six of Those Esteemed Authors! And that is No Exaggeration, Friends. O, to ask them questions! To hear their answers! To bask in the glory that is some of the best talent of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries!

Amy Reads is Very, Very Sad.

Very Sad Indeed.

For those of my Most Constant of Readers who are, perhaps, More Fortunate than This Humble Author and have the ability to attend Comic Con San Diego, I wish you Great Joy and Love. Please report back on action figures (for Mr. Reads) and on Wonder Woman news (for Dr. Reads).

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight

Too tired for a Proper Review, Gentle Reader. Just a note to say it may very well be the best superhero movie I have ever seen. Mr. Ledger was sublime. There is no other word for such superb and superior acting.

The same can be said for Mr. Bale, of course, and Mr. Eckhart, and to Mr. Oldman, and to the entire cast of the movie. The directing, the cinematography, all of it was wonderful.

But best, Gentle Reader?

The screenplay.

One tiny moment of Geek Out for This Humble Author: never, never place me next to people who are discussing comics continuity, and do not have a true grasp on What Is Happening. I am afraid that I made a Bit of a Fool of myself over My (superior) Knowledge of Comics.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Thoroughbred of Sin!

And he has done it, Once Again, Gentle Reader, with Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. As I told Mr. Reads this morning, only Joss could say, "Gosh, I am Rather Bored during this here writers' strike. Let me write a musical" that is, in This Humble Author's opinion, smarter and better produced, directed, and acted than 85% of television out there.

Having taught Buffy, Firefly, and Angel several times, I can say with Great Certainty that Joss Whedon is one of the greatest writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

And how.

Off to teach, Gentle Reader! Ciao!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of July 13, 2008)

Or watches the week, Gentle Reader, as Mr. Reads and I went to see Hellboy II yesterday. While I enjoyed the first half immensely, I felt the second half lacked something. Perhaps a stronger brushstroke from Mr. Mignola, perhaps? Too much Mr. Del Toro, I believe. But it was pretty. Oh yes, it was Very Very Pretty.

Posting will be sporadic for the next three weeks, Friends, as my summer II teaching takes priority. But I will Read the Week with you when I can!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Amy Reads on Vacation

It is true, Gentle Reader. I read. A lot.

Mr. Reads, Pup Reads, and I left on Sunday and came back on Tuesday. In that space of time, I read three, yes, Three Books, and Mr. Reads read One and a Half (granted, one was Duma Key, which is Ginormous, so there we are).

The first two were numbers three and four in Will Thomas's Barker and Llewelyn series, which is marvelous. And this praise, from a Victorianist! Upon first discovering these novels, I was afraid they would be too close to Holmes and Watson for my liking, as these are two detectives in late-nineteenth-century London (I do dislike the notion that imitation is the best form of flattery). But Lo, Friends, indeed that was not the case. This series is smart, savvy, and loads of fun. Bonus Treat, it gets darker and darker as it progresses. The fifth book The Black Hand has just (!) been released, and I look forward to reading it very soon.

The third book was Tana French's In the Woods, a book, in its Great Wisdom, has recommended to me For Some Time, and I finally (!) read it. I began it Monday after lunch, and other than a break for dinner, did not put it down until 1:30 a.m. Her sequel, The Likeness, is due out very shortly, and I eagerly await it, as well.

All in all, a lovely vacation, a delightful getaway that was so utterly Pup Friendly that we have already made reservations to return this winter. Expect a review of the new Wonder Woman this weekend. Alas, our comics were not ready at My Local today (thanks to the Holiday!) and we return tomorrow to get This Week's Offerings.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Amy Reads at the Movies (and the television)

What a week for movies it has been, Gentle Reader! Sister-in-law Reads is in town visiting, and We Reads have done lots to keep her entertained. Yesterday we went to see Wall-E, which is, in Mr. Reads's words, a movie that will be a favorite for the rest of our lives. Today we went to see Hancock, which despite its glaring and Rather Large Flaws, was Super-Fun, and actually, in the end, Rather Smart. The problem is, of course, that the Rather Smartness of it wars with its Super-Funness, so that neither gets the appropriate amount of screen-time, and both in the end feel a bit jumbled.

That is not to say that it was not good. It was, Friends. Very good. I enjoyed it Quite A Bit, actually. The mythos, the world-building was Rather Remarkable. But seeing it a mere day after seeing Wall-E, it could only expect to Fall Short in Eyes Reads.

Other viewings have included DVDs Vantage Point and more Wire in the Blood, and we will most likely continue Wire in the Blood and finish it before summer scheduling begins. That means, of course, Project Runway, Burn Notice, Eureka, and Generation Kill.

In other news, We Reads are taking a mini-vacation, and as such, I will not Read the Week this week. Please join me next week when I review my last week as a Free Woman before second summer session begins! Until then, have a lovely American Independence Day, a happy Belated Canada Day, and enjoy the three-day weekend!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of June 29th, 2008)

What a lovely week it has been, Gentle Reader, with an even more promising week to come. Tomorrow, Sister-In-Law Reads comes to visit as Mr. Reads and I have a week or two off before I begin teaching second summer session, and Mr. Reads takes a much-needed break from teaching to get Writing Done. Then, all members of Chez Reads--Mr. Reads, Amy Reads, and Pup Reads--will head to Rural Area outside of Relatively Nearby Metropolis to enjoy a (very!) brief vacation at a, yes, Friends, dog-friendly bed and breakfast. We are all of us thrilled, but none more so than Pup Reads herself.

Pop culturally, We Reads have discovered a fantastic television show entitled Burn Notice. Normally, We Reads shy away from anything on the USA Network (has anything on said network reached the pinnacle of USA Up All Night? I think not!), but on seeing many stellar recommendations, we decided to get the first disc. And then we promptly got the last three and finished the entire first season in a week. It is smart, fresh, funny, sad, well-written, well-acted, and most importantly, engaging. As season 2 begins in a few weeks, I Highly Recommend that you watch season 1 in preparation!

In comics related news, I have finally (!) gotten caught up with Wonder Woman, much to my pleasure, and greatly enjoyed participating in Renee Montoya Week on the site Who Is The Question? Thanks to Eric for allowing This Humble Author to speak out on one of her favorite characters! And as news trickling out of Wizard-Chicago reveals, once again Amy Reads is heartbroken over not attending a convention. Gail Simone and Greg Rucka both speaking on a panel about Wonder Woman? It is This Humble Author's convention dream transposed to reality! One day, Gentle Reader, one day.

There is still Amy Reads's Great Read of Green Lantern and X-Men coming soon, but more importantly, there is a desire to get some Real Writing Done, Myself. Now that the dissertation has been Put Away (in a metaphorical sock drawer, for six months, as the old sage advice goes), I feel an almost-desperate need to Produce and Accomplish.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Losing Her Religion: A Brief Review of Wonder Woman #21

There are three people in this world, Gentle Reader, who were instrumental in returning This Humble Author to the superheroic comic genre. Each of these three people is immensely talented at what he or she does, and therefore each has a particular talent that was presented to me, some five or six years back, when I found myself Rediscovering My Youth. Or, that is to say, when I found myself longing once more to watch a fight for my rights in satin tights (and that good ole red, white, and blue). While the Amazon Princess always has been Dear to My Heart, at the time I had not read her, in some while.

The first (and foremost) of these individuals is, of course, Mr. Reads, back when he was merely Boyfriend Reads. What Mr. Reads does, and does Rather Well, is Read. As a poet, as a writer, himself, Mr. Reads has an uncanny knack for Knowing What Is Good. Beneficially for This Humble Author, he also has an uncanny knack for knowing exactly what it is that This Humble Author will enjoy. This of course leads me directly to persons numbered 2 and 3.

Greg Rucka is individual numbered 2, and my rediscovery of superhero comics directly coincided with my introduction to Greg Rucka’s run on Wonder Woman. What Mr. Rucka does, and does Rather Well, is present the Other. He gives us a character who *should* be Just Like Us and instead shows us a character who is so utterly different from the world that we cannot help but sympathize with her, enjoy her strength and development, become angry with her when she fails, but only because she is So Very Angry with herself. Princess Diana, Tara Chace, Renee Montoya, all of these women were written with an eye towards what makes them different. It is no surprise, then, that these women are Warriors, All. Because what is more alien to our society than the Warrior, and the Woman Warrior, at that?

And, no surprise to you, Gentle Reader, Ms. Gail Simone is individual numbered 3. I remember when Mr. Reads first handed me Rose and Thorn, and Birds of Prey, and, most importantly, introduced me to the concept of Women in Refrigerators. As a feminist, an academic, and just generally, a Person Interested In Popular Culture, I found the very idea of Ms. Simone to be Utterly Fascinating. A fan becoming a writer, a critic becoming a voice. But while that is all Well And Good, it was Ms. Simone’s writing that truly won me over. And when I discovered that two of my enjoyments of comics were to coincide—Gail Simone was to write Wonder Woman—I knew that things would be rather interesting indeed.

Friends, I adored Greg Rucka’s run on Wonder Woman. I think he presented us with the difference of Diana. As a Princess from an isolated island, as a Warrior Ambassador for Peace, Diana is a dichotomy, and Mr. Rucka gave us those odd, isolated moments. The graphic novel The Hiketeia, for example, shows better than any other tale before or since the utter alienation of this character.

Mr. Rucka showed us the alienation; Ms. Simone shows us the internalization.

Diana is changing, to meet the world, to become someone new, but that change is not what Ms. Simone focuses on. Rather, it is Diana’s reactions to those changes we see stressed, so completely, in the recent issues of Wonder Woman. When battling on the edge of insanity, Wonder Woman finds herself losing: her strength, and understanding, and, most important to this Warrior for Peace, she tells us she is losing “My compassion. My mercy. My love.” These are the defining characteristics of Princess Diana, and to lose these things, she notes, would be “the wound that finally slays what I truly am.”

That wound, Gentle Reader, seems to threaten her very Soul.

It was Batman, was it not, who had a plan to defeat all super-powered heroes in case of emergency? And was it not his plan to let Wonder Woman defeat herself? Locked in a room, no weapons, no doors, just her willpower and her determination, Wonder Woman would fight until her heart gave out. There is often talk of the willpower of the Green Lanterns, but I point instead to the Amazon Princess. She will never back down, she will never surrender, and Ms. Simone demonstrates the toll that will have on Diana. Her gods will not answer her, so she sought another.

There are consequences, of course. Deep, earth-shattering consequences. The Lasso begins to reject her. She begins to doubt herself. There is constant questioning and repositioning here, on the edge of sanity, but most importantly there is development, growth, change, and Becoming. For good or for bad, the Amazon Princess changes, and We, the Constant Readers, are fortunate enough to watch it unfold, to cheer for her triumphs and to mourn her failures. In short, we are there, are we not? Because she is brought forward, as human as is possible for a Woman of Wonder, Made of Clay, Born of the Gods.

Mainly, for This Humble Author, that change also comes in the form of Costume: the Amazon Princess’s armor changes throughout the issue, and it is beautiful, Friends, just beautiful. But also, too, that change comes in writing. Mr. Rucka wrote the distant future-queen, the Ambassador come to fight for Peace. Ms. Simone, instead, writes the Wonder Woman of our past and of our future. This is the Wonder Woman for My Generation, Friends, not only the character but also the imprint. When I read Tresser singing to himself “Lolly lolly lolly get your strange bedfellows here,” I laughed out loud. I could not help it. Where Mr. Rucka rooted the imprint firmly in the realm of the Other, Ms. Simone bridges it between past and present. I, as a Reader and a Constant Fan, could never imagine Wonder Woman without her gods. That is, of course, until Ms. Simone gave her new ones.

For the first time since The Crisis, I feel as if Wonder Woman is standing on solid ground. I have greatly enjoyed Ms. Simone’s run thus far, but the past few issues, in particular, have given us a quietness, a solidity that along with the Team-Up is the true marker of Gail Simone’s writing. There is a quiet dignity to this story, to the presentation of Wonder Woman, and her alignment with Other Heroes, the constant questioning and requestioning of herself, all presents a picture of an Amazon Princess on the edge of sanity, on the edge of the future, on the edge, Gentle Reader, of change. She is losing her understanding of herself, she is losing her gods and her religion, but she is, perhaps, finding her humanity, too.

And it is her humanity, is it not, that we are most interested in? As I have argued before, She is both Same and Other, both Human and Amazon, and Ms. Simone brings that to the forefront.

I have had the great pleasure and privilege to reread all 12 issues of Welcome to Tranquility in the last week, and coupled with my recent reading of Secret Six and Villains United, I can say without a doubt that bringing forward the humanity of otherwise inhuman characters is Ms. Simone’s forte. And who is more inhuman than the Woman born not of woman but of the very Earth itself? Not even the alien from Krypton can claim such a difference, particularly as it is Clark Kent who is the real person rather than the mask. In these recent issues, Ms. Simone offers a new glimpse into the humanity of the Amazon and this does not rely on her employment (as evidenced when Etta Candy begs her not to return to the Taco Whiz in issue #20) or her romantic life. Rather, it is solely rooted in Diana’s internal questioning, in her quest to understand herself and how she is changing in the face of her actions, of the world, and of the loss of her traditions, her gods, her beliefs, and her mother.

Or, as Diana asks with a question laden with a myriad of implications and possibilities, “What is it that I am becoming?”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Renee Montoya Week

It is true, Gentle Reader, that it is Renee Montoya Week over at the fantastic site Who Is The Question? As Constant Readers are now well aware, Renee is a character with whom I am Greatly Enamored. Please enjoy the wonder of this strong hero all week long, and thanks to Eric for making it happen!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of June 22nd, 2008)

Still playing catch-up, Gentle Reader, and this time, I have gone Way Way Back. Over the past few days, I have worked through over 50 issues of New X-Men, Academy X, and the New Mutants.

I think what these titles really drive home is the awful face of Hatred in the X-Men universe. That is to say, it is one thing when someone expresses Hate against Emma Frost, or Wolverine, or another Grown-Up who can Fight and Protect Him-or-Her-Self, but to see that same racism, that same hatred against children, against teenagers, to see that hatred bring forth death and destruction of children, well, that is to see the True Face Of Hatred, Indeed.

Some parts of the run handle this better than others, of course, but I think what they all reveal is the immediate danger for those Mutants, particularly the young ones post House of M. For the Younger Members of the 198, the world has become a Very Dangerous Place Indeed. What Marvel does as an Imprint, and what it has always Done Well, is to use the comic book universe as a marker for "real-world" problems. The Hatred directed against the Mutants, purely because They Are Different, and that Hatred directed against Young Children, solely out of Fear, is analogous for racism, homophobia, sexism, classism, anything in which there is blind hatred and fear against someone different.

DC does archetypes well; Marvel handles analogies with perfect aplomb.

I have never been a very big fan of the X-Men until reading Morrison and Whedon. I grew up a DC Girl, and in my heart, a DC Girl I will stay. But when written well, the X-Men are written Very, Very Well, and I am about to embark on Mr. Brubaker's and Mr. Carey's run on the Mutants, as they are two writers whom I Absolutely Adore. Then, Friends Who Adore Those Of A Greenish Hue, I embark on a Quest of Brightest Day and Blackest Night.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Comics Backlog #4: Supergirl, Daredevil, and JLA

Well, it is official, Gentle Reader. JLA and Supergirl have bored me to tears. So much so that I am dropping both from my pull list as of now.

Daredevil, however, is Quite Extraordinary, and promises to become Even More Extraordinary(er?). That is right, Friends. Apparently my beloved comics writer Greg Rucka is joining the Daredevil cast, along with another beloved comics writer, Ed Brubaker.

Trying to plod through more of the backlog, and while I would like to give you more than these Reviews In Brief, I am afraid that I do not have anything at all particular to say about Supergirl (eh) and JLA (meh). As for Daredevil? All I can say is Fantastic.

I will probably start reading more Green Lantern tomorrow, Gentle Reader, so I promise to Keep You Updated!

As for now, I return to the backlog. On the docket: Teen Titans, Young Avengers, and the Umbrella Academy. An all-teen all-star lineup, it seems!

Comics Backlog #3: Green Lantern: Rebirth

For those Gentle Readers who are, specifically, Shelly, Ragnell, Kalinara, and Sally, I have Delved Deep into The Color Green: This Humble Author has read a Green Lantern Collection.

It is true, Friends. I have.

While I have No Special Love for the Green Lanterns, I have No Special Dislike of them, either. Rather, the GLs are a part of my Comics History into which I have never delved very deeply. What I do know of the GLs comes in referential form: in Supergirl, in JLA or JSA, in the cartoon JLU. As such, I am not really a fan of Hal Jordan or Guy Gardner. That is, of the Earth Green Lanterns, I am most interested in Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, and Alan Scott.

But, and here is the "but," Gentle Reader, I like the idea of a Green Lantern Corps. I want to know the Lanterns from other sectors, examine the alternative GLs. I adore Mogo, for example, and find the idea of a planet Green Lantern to be just about one of the Most Fascinating Plot Elements Ever. Because of this, Mr. Reads is about to put in my hands the Sinestro War, so that I may examine the history of the Rings Of Different Hues.

Here is what I did like about Green Lantern: Rebirth: the explanation of the yellow weakness, Kyle, Green Arrow's constant understanding and strength, Sinestro's arrogance, Kyle, the struggle between Fear and Willpower, Kyle, how the DC Universe joined together to save Hal, and Kyle.

Here is what I did not like about Green Lantern: Rebirth: I get Very, Very Grumpy when someone makes my Batman become a Bad Guy. And while Batman is not a Bad Guy per se, the art depicts him as villainous, creepy, and wrong.

While I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the stories around the major GLs. I am not, nor will I ever be, I think, a fan of Hal Jordan. But I could certainly enjoy stories that center on Kyle. I adored the fact that Kyle was the only GL safe from Parallax because Kyle is the only Lantern to Know Fear. Further, Kyle's artistic nature and how it becomes prominent in his use of the ring is Very Interesting Indeed.

Not a fan yet, Friends, but definitely more interested than before.

Slowly but Surely, Gentle Reader, I am plodding through the Immense Comics Backlog. I am almost caught up on Daredevil (almost a year behind!) and Teen Titans (only a few months behind), but I am still several issues behind on everything else. But next week my class begins the Comic Book I will be teaching, and that is enough to look forward to, no?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Reviews in Brief: The Middle Man and Secret Six

Villains United/Secret Six
The backlog continues, Gentle Reader, and I know that many of you will be Shocked, absolutely Shocked when you discover that This Humble Author has never read Villains United or The Secret Six. For those Readers of This Humble Blog who are, perhaps, less Constant than others, the shock would be based on This Simple Fact: I adore Ms. Simone's writing. I have read most of her work, I blog about it, I even am teaching her comics (it is true, Friends!), but while I was Familiar with the Secret Six, thanks to Birds of Prey, I had never delved that deep into my backlog of comics, until now.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: Gail Simone is a master of the team up. No one, no one takes disparate characters and makes them work quite like Ms. Simone. Welcome to Tranquility, Birds of Prey, Gen-13, Secret Six, Ms. Simone is able to bring a rather diverse and, in the Secret Six's case, rather dysfunctional group of individuals together and make them a *team*. Catman, Ragdoll, Scandal, Knockout (This Humble Author's Humble Favorite), Mad Hatter, and Deadshot should not work together, but they do. In fact, even when they do not work together, they work together just perfectly.

The relationship between Knockout and Scandal was a familiar one to me, thanks to Birds of Prey. As an Adorer of All Things Amazon, I am fascinated by all things Resembling Amazons; thus, the Furies are particularly fascinating to me. Barda, of course, is a longtime favorite of mine, and Knockout is rapidly becoming another favorite Fury, and another favorite female hero/anti-hero. But the relationship between Knockout and the daughter of Vandal Savage works well on numerous levels, the most basic one on the level of friendship and trust. Written as a fascinating antithesis to the anti-relationship of Cheshire and Catman, the relationship between Knockout and Scandal works because they work well together. The same as the relationship between Catman and Deadshot: two people who should never be friends become friends, and the world seems right.

Dr. Psycho is still the scariest of All Scary Villains for This Humble Author, along with the Joker, but the Mad Hatter is discomforting, as well. It is a testament to Gail Simone's writing that we sympathize with the Mad Hatter, a character who is By All Rights unnerving. But so, too, do we sympathize with Ragdoll, with Deadshot, with all of these anti-heroes/anti-villains who exist in the liminal state between good and evil, between right and wrong. In that gray area, always, is the strength of the team.

Like Grant Morrison's run on X-Men, this mini-series by Gail Simone makes me regret any time I have spent *not* reading it. But now that the Dissertation is A Thing Of The Past, I can return to things like a Very Large Stack of Comics Backlog. Next on the list: getting caught up on Daredevil.

The Middle Man
Gentle Reader, I wanted to hate this pilot, so completely. I do not trust ABC Family for Good Programming. That is to say, I trust them for "good programming," but not for, say, Programming of a Good Quality. But this show is self-aware, smart, funny, absurd, and just pure joy. If you have not seen it yet, do catch one of the encore viewings. I promise you, you Will Not Be Disappointed.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of June 15th, 2008)

What a week-end, Gentle Reader! You may not know this about This Humble Author, but I am--dare I say it So Publicly?--Rather Anxious. That is to say, in the revelry of this week-end, I found myself at some points staring off into space, wondering if I had fixed This Reference or That Mistake in My Dissertation.

Luckily for This Humble Author, Friends were on hand to distract.

Friday night's venture into Nearby Metropolis was a smash, and delicious fondue and lovely conversation were had. Saturday evening, Myself and Four Girl-Friends descended upon the local Tasty Eats and Beverage Hole (margaritas and quesadillas to be had by all) and then the local Dance Club to enjoy the celebration of not one but two newly-minted Ph.Ds, myself and another colleague. Wearing a button that declared my status, courtesy of the fantastic Supadiscomama, I enjoyed the evening Very Much and forgot, just for one moment, the possibility of Typos.

But upon arriving home to find a sleepy Husband and Pup, I was too awake to sleep myself, so I finished The Avengers: The Initiative vol. 1. As I have mentioned before, Friends, I am Rather Behind in Marvel, and I am using this strange and nebulous time to get caught up in lots of things: cleaning, organization, comics, and pleasure reading.

I quite enjoyed The Initiative, mostly for the overwhelming push towards out-of-controlness among the registered superheroes in the Marvel Universe. There is a constant sense that everything is spiraling away from everyone in control, and this issue, dealing with both the impact of the New Warriors and the Post-Registration/Post-Civil-War world in which those like Iron Man and Spider-Man now exist was Rather Extraordinary.

The focus on the children, the up-and-coming superheroes, was a particularly interesting move. There often exists two types of child hero in comic books: the one who wants to Prove Everything, and the one who Wants Nothing. There are exceptions to this, of course: I point to Vaughan's Runaways and Simone's Gen-13, in particular. But there is in most literature focusing on a child of extraordinary abilities the struggle between Being Different and Being Similar. That is to say, the child hero either loves her powers or loathes them, but there is rarely a struggle between.

Again, there are exceptions, Gentle Reader. Far be it for me to assume a Generality on All Literatures! But often, this story *is* the story of childhood: worry over difference (writ large for puberty, for change, for struggle), worry over place (writ large for parental control, for individualism, for confidence), worry over acceptance (writ large for peer pressure, for friendship, for cliques). I have Said Before that Gail Simone's Gen-13 offers an interesting view of the same-yet-differentness of the Extraordinary Child, and I point, too, to Runaways, to Whedon's early Buffy, to Heinberg's Young Avengers.

In The Initiative, we see teens struggling not with their difference, but rather the difference of Those Who Came Before: The New Warriors. Worried not over trying to fill shoes but rather trying to avoid doing such, these teens are insulated and do not, cannot, work as a team. This separation occurs early on, with the death of MVP, and the rest of the collection has the group struggling to find their place in themselves, not their place in a new team. There are few moments when the teen heroes work with each other, and almost every time, those moments fail. Rather, this book stresses the individualism of each member, and how that individualism, like Trauma's control of his fear-power and his manipulation of his power into a force of healing rather than Fear, Itself, is the backbone of a heroic story.

An interesting focus, considering What Has Come Before: Captain America's separation from Iron Man, the struggle for and against Registration, and, ultimately, the success of Iron Man and his Registration Act. When he is good, Gentle Reader, he is Very Very Good, but when he is bad, he is Downright Scary. I have always believed this about Tony Stark who, while Iron Man is so often compared to Batman, is not broken like Bruce Wayne. There sometimes is no core of humanity left in Stark. In those moments, he frightens me Very Much.

We see the darker side of these superheroes with this collection, and I think The Initiative does an excellent job in reminding us that they are, ultimately, fighting a war. But I think, too, it does an excellent job in reminding us that there are reverberating consequences to Civil War, and the Fallout will, I think, exist for some time yet.

In other news, Happy Father's Day to Those Gentle Readers So-Inclined to children, of the human or non-human kind! Mr. Reads, Pup Reads, and I will celebrate Mr. Reads's canine-fatherhood with a trip to the park and, tomorrow, a Rather Delayed trip to Our Local to pick up our comics for this week.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Done! (done done done)

It is Finally True, Gentle Reader. I have submitted my Dissertation and I am Done With It.

That is, of course, until the Thesis Office returns it with corrections.

Now I shall lead a weekend of female revelry, near-scandalous for This Humble Author. Tonight is a trip into Nearby Metropolis to meet with some Girl Friends From Dr. Reads's Undergraduate Collegiate Career for fondue. Tomorrow night is a celebratory dinner-and-dancing extravaganza with Dr. Reads's Girl Friends here (not to be confused with Doctor Girlfriend) in College Town. Given that Weekend Revelry in the Reads Household most often consists of pajamas, Netflix, and a delicious home-cooked meal, this will be Rather Scandalous for This Humble Author Indeed.

Mr. and Pup Reads will remain on The Home Front and guard the final .pdf of my Dissertation so that I am not tempted to look over it again and bemoan any typo I may find.

See you on Sunday, Gentle Reader, for a Week's Review of Pop Culture (and perhaps a brief summary of the weekend's festivities).

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of June 8th, 2008)

Can't blog, Gentle Reader. New Avengers to read.

That is to say, Mr. Reads and I just discovered that the last issue of New Avengers I have read is issue 36. 36, Gentle Reader! I do not think we have had any Skrull revelations yet!

Or, perhaps, just one.

On the television front, This Humble Author is behaving Much Better. We are almost finished with all available DVDs for Foyle's War, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

Must go help Mr. Reads with the New Avengers and Mighty Avengers (and Initiative, and Young Avengers) Sorting, so that I may understand Secret Invasion a Bit More.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Graduation Present for Dr. Reads

Gentle Reader, it seems as if This Humble Author will be treated to tickets and, Quite Possibly!, backstage passes to see A Certain Band from her Childhood, courtesy of Mother Reads.

That is right, Friends. Mother Reads is treating the newly-minted Dr. Reads to a New Kids on the Block concert as a graduation present.

(tee hee)

In related news, Mr. Reads remains unamused by my continuous questioning as to whether expressing nearly 20 years of love to Donnie W. constitutes as disavowing marital vows.

Along with an Alaskan cruise which is the Parents Reads graduation present to Dr. and Mr. Reads, this will prove to be the Greatest Graduation Ever.

If only I can discover an inexpensive way for We Reads to return to Scotland, I will count my graduation a success!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Comics Backlog #2: Final Crisis

Gentle Reader, in the immortal words of Kitty Pryde,

Also, I adore, absolutely adore Manhunters, both of the Human and Martian varieties, and I dislike the idea of losing either of them.

And a few highlights:

- Alpha Lanterns - I will be swayed by Green Lanterns' Light yet, it seems!
- Batman and his eternal dossiers
- Yes, Vandal Savage, we've all waited 50,000 years. Please, hurry on with it.
- Um, Libra?
- Um, early Man?

And do not forget the 52, Gentle Reader!

I believe that is enough Comics Backlog for one evening, although Mr. Reads has just placed Secret Invasion #1 and #2 on my desk and slyly walked away. We Shall See, then, no?

Comics Backlog #1: Batman and Manhunter

Gentle Reader, Kate Spencer is back! Or, as Bones says, our favorite red-leather wearing single mom is back, and with a vengeance. I like this return issue, particularly in its femicide plotline. Manhunter is a comic that pays particular and, I Dare To Say, almost unique attention to the problems of women. That is, Manhunter becomes a superhero for women in the same way that, Back In The Day, Selina Kyle/Catwoman did the same. In this issue, we see Kate returning to superhero-ing with a vengeance, and that vengeance is all about the protection of the innocent.

As for Grant Morrison's Batman, much has been made of the lead-in to the Death of Batman, that is, Batman RIP, and I must say that it is making much ado about everything. Joker, Talia, Damien, Alfred, Jezebel Jet!

Er, that is, Jezebel Jet?!

Methinks she is Evil, Friends. What say you?

I do like the odd surrealism that occurs in the past few issues, and making the reader as confused as Batman Himself is is just a matter of Good Writing. But then, what else have we come to expect of Mr. Morrison?

Brief reviews only, Gentle Reader, as I make my slow and (rather) plodding way through my Very Large Backlog of Comics. I will save longer reviews for particular runs, like Wonder Woman and Astonishing X-Men. Until then, Friends, I return to the comics trenches.

A Blog Scolding; or, Dr. Reads Discovers the Sheer Amount of Comics Backlog

Gentle Reader, I must scold you! Why o why have you not told me how Very Far Behind I am in Comics? Certainly, I was aware that The Dissertation was distracting me from my Pop Culture, but really? Four issues behind in Batman? Nary a glance cast on Final Crisis? Not to mention the latest issues of Wonder Woman, Buffy, etc. etc. ad nauseam?

I did, however, read the Final Issue of Astonishing X-Men yesterday morning, and promptly cried and cried. Review coming, forthwith.

For now, along with Dissertation Edits, and Thesis Office Requirements, and Summer School Teaching, I will attempt to unearth myself from the vast amount of comic book paper piling on top of me. I begin with Batman (je t'adore, Mr. Morrison), then move to Wonder Woman and Final Crisis. Where else have I fallen behind?

Captain America is still dead, yes? Spider-Man is still ridiculously unmarried, yes?

(mental note: also must read Secret Invasion)

Postscript: notice the use of "Dr." in my name. Will I ever tire of seeing it, Friends? I dare say that I shall not!

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Postal Surprise for Dr. Amy Reads

Gentle Reader, imagine my joy and surprise when, upon checking our Postal Mail today, I received a package from the brilliant Rachel Edidin to celebrate my recent dissertation defense. Inside it, Friends?

A signed copy of Gail Simone's Wonder Woman #18, addressed to "Amy Reads."

What delight! What joy! Or, as Mr. Reads commented, "I find it hilarious that you cry over a signed comic book, and not, you know, over successfully completing the actual defense."

We Reads have our priorities, no?

This is a very public thank you to the generosity of My Dear Friend, Rachel. Thank you, Friend, for such a delightful and office-rific gift! By office-rific, I mean, of course, that This Comic Book will be framed and hung, with great love and pride, in the office of Said Dr. Reads.

Thank you, Friend! And thanks to all of you, Most Gentle of Readers, for your congratulations and well wishes. I am basking in the glory, no? I do not think I will ever tire of hearing "Dr. Reads," either.

Amy (Belatedly) Reads the Week (of June 1st, 2008)

Mea culpa, Gentle Reader, for not writing sooner. I wish I could claim the busyness or the stress of the past few months, but, in fact, I cannot. Rather, Mr. Reads and I spent the weekend in blissful television and movie enjoyment. We went to see Speed Racer (Very Fun Indeed!), we watched through season 3 of Foyle's War (Quite Brilliant), tried to see Indiana Jones, but could not summon the energy (I would rather, in all honesty, see The Strangers), and, most importantly, saw the most recent season premiere of The Venture Bros., a show I would hesitate in confessing to like if it were not as smart as it is (and that is Rather Smart Indeed).

There was, of course, also the Rather Expensive Dining-Out Celebration of my Successful Defense, and it was, it must be said, Rather Delicious for all of that.

As for presents for a Successful Venture, I believe I have mentioned that Mr. Reads purchased for myself (and therefore also himself) a Nintendo DS, and I have purchased for myself (and only for myself) a shiny pretty pink ipod nano, 8mg, as my original 2nd generation ipod has died a slow, painful, and Rather Agonizing Death. The nano is Awfully Tiny, and I worry, constantly, that it will get lost in the *ahem* shuffle.

I urge you, Gentle Reader, to pursue Foyle's War, a BBC show set in Hastings during the beginning of WWII. It is a detective show complete with ghastly Murder Mysteries, of the most (and least) well-mannered and cozy kind. That is to say, it is in the tradition of the armchair detective (a la Christie) but with a True Detective (a la Chandler). Very enjoyable, particularly for its portrayal of gender, class, and sexuality issues.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Feeling Rather Amazonian

Greetings, Gentle Reader, from the newly minted Dr. Reads.

Graduation forthcoming, of course, but the hard work, the Dissertation, has been Successfully Defended.

I have already begun my slow and much-anticipated return to comics (including a discussion of Iron Man with my committee today!) and will resume comics blogging very soon.

Until, then, may I yell a Very Happy and Very Proud Huzzah?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of May 25th, 2008)

The count is on, Gentle Reader, as I defend My Dissertation on Thursday, yes, this Thursday. Several years of my academic life come down to this week, a mere four days into the future, and I must confess, I am Rather Nervous.

That is to say, not Nervous about the Dissertation, because who knows the material better than its author, the Humble One before you? Instead, I am Nervous about Being Nervous: Amy Reads does not crack under pressure, but she does ripple and bend on occasion.

So to distract myself from such nervousness, and as a complement to the days spent rereading my dissertation and preparing for my defense, Mr. Reads and I have watched the entire first and second seasons of David Mamet's The Unit. I adore Mamet as a playright--Oleanna is quite the heavy hitter--and as a screenwriter he is Rather Extraordinary. The Unit, particularly in those episodes written by Mamet Himself (marked, of course, by repeating dialogue: "This is what we're going to do--*this* is what we're going to do," for example), is nothing short of genius. And there is, of course, the genius of Dennis Haysbert to consider.

But unfortunately, The Unit is now just another show in a long list of stressful and nerve-wracking television shows on the Reads Family Watch List. Lost, The Office, Battlestar Galactica, Mr. Reads and I cannot seem to find a fun and happy television show. Or perhaps, the more likely scenario, we cannot find one we like. One could argue for 30 Rock or even The Office as fun and happy, but I would argue with Said Arguing. There is nothing, nothing, Gentle Reader, relaxing and fun about The Office or 30 Rock. Funny, yes, hilarious, certainly, but never relaxing or fun.

So to relieve the tension of the tension-relief The Unit was, originally, planned to be, Mr. Reads and I took a break to watch Air Guitar Nation. That, Friends, definitely accomplished the job.

By this time next week, Gentle Reader, I will, hopefully, be able to ask you In All Seriousness to address me as Dr. Reads rather than Ms. Reads. While I would never be so presumptuous with you, Friends (never!), I would be presumptuous enough to ask that if you be so inclined, please wish This Humble Author Luck, particularly of the beneficial kind.

Until then, adieu.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of May 18th, 2008)

Surprisingly, Gentle Reader, I have not actually *read* All That Much in this week following the completion of my Dissertation. That is to say, I have purchased a few weeks' backlog of comics, but have not read them. I have received several books from the library in anticipation of my forthcoming Very Interesting Classes this summer and fall, but have not looked at them. And I have received a joyous gift from Mr. Reads to celebrate Said Completion of Said Dissertation--a shiny purple Nintendo DS complete with Justice League Heroes--and I have not had much time to play. I have been, Quite Frankly, decompressing.

Because the Dissertation is not *over* per se. There is that pesky conclusion to write, the Quite Daunting Defense looming in the future, never mind the rewrites and preparations. But this week has been rather relaxing, in that I have just let myself be, without any real obligations. Mr. Reads and I even took a mini-vacation to see A Dear Friend get married! And, let us all Be Honest, it has been Season Finale Week. Where reading has suffered, let no one say television suffers the same.

But, and there is a "but," Gentle Reader, I will resume it all again soon. Wonder Woman to read, Justice League to play, and my Dissertation to frame for it. I'm swamped!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Resuming Blogging Shortly

Let the lamp affix its beam, Gentle Reader. I've just finished the final draft of my dissertation, which goes out to my committee tomorrow.

I will resume regularly scheduled blogging shortly. But for now, I am going to go rest My Weary Head (o, the mushy brains!) and watch the DVRed Battlestar Galactica.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (Early! on May 3rd, 2008)

And that, Gentle Reader, is how you make a Superhero Movie.

That is, I turned in the draft of my introduction yesterday, and took a (very!) brief break from revision to celebrate the completion of the entirety of my dissertation--in bad draft or no--by going with Mr. Reads to pick up our free comics, and to go see Iron Man.

Friends, what can I say about the movie experience? I adored it. Absolutely, utterly, and completely. But I can only say so much before I just need to tell you all to Go See It For Yourselves. Instead, I offer you this anecdote:

About halfway through the movie, right when The Suit shows up for the first time, I glanced around the theater. Over half the people were smiling. Just smiling, at the screen, for no particular reason. Nothing overtly funny had happened, no quips, no jokes, no crashes. Just big grins for a fun and lovely movie.

When I glanced at Mr. Reads, I saw that he was smiling, too.

Then I realized that *I* was smiling, as well, and there we were, the all of us in a theater, near-packed, smiling with utter joy over the Iron Man movie.

Last week, Gentle Reader, of visions and revisions before the taking of toast and tea (gratitude, Mr. Eliot). Then, the Dissertation, in its Final Completed Draft, will go to The Committee before my Defense at the end of the month. I promise reviews of Gail Simone's Wonder Woman #19 and Jon Favreau's Iron Man once it is all complete.

Until then, Friends, adieu!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Free Comic Book Day Saturday!

Gentle Reader, Mr. Reads just reminded This Humble Author that Saturday, yes, This Saturday, is Free Comic Book Day! There are some great titles up for grabs, including All-Star Superman #1 and Tiny Titans, which This Humble Author just recommended to a Friend for her small Girl-Child (who, apparently, wants Wonder Woman Underoos).

Huzzah! A bright gold *and* silver lining for a week rather fraught with peril!

Back to Dissertating, Friends. More soon.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of April 27th, 2008)

Can't blog, Gentle Reader. Dissertation will eat me.

That is to say, frantically finishing a chapter for tomorrow, yes, Tomorrow, and as it is on not one, not two, not three, but four Very Large Victorian Novels, I must bid you a brief hallo and then adieu for today. Please be forgiving of these brief interludes and longer, grumpier silences, as the revised draft of the Entire Dissertation is due to my committee in Less Than Two Weeks.

Send the good writing vibes this way, Friends!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of April 20th, 2008)

Still dissertating, Gentle Reader, so neither reading nor writing anything for pleasure. Mr. Reads, however, is thrilled over the Toy News leaking out of New York's Comic-Con, and I will insist on buying the Wonder Woman and the Artemis figures when they come out. Mr. Reads will, I believe, Buy Them All, so send Kind Thoughts to the Reads Checking Account!

Also, lovely to hear about the General Fantasticness of some of my favorite writers, like Mr. Geoff Johns and Ms. Gail Simone, courtesy of this delightful blogger, found courtesy of the delightful women at When Fangirls Attack!

Gentle Reader, I long to go to a Comic Convention and meet all of my Favorite Writers and watch My Darling Husband swoon over the Latest Toys. Why, o why must they all be So Far Away?

While it has been demanded that I write a full review of Wonder Woman #19, I must beg off just a little longer, Friends (Apologies, Robert!). This Humble, Last (!) Chapter is due by the Not-So-Humble Date of As-Soon-As-Possible (but no later than May 1st), so I promise a double review of Wonder Woman #19 and #20 next month, once the dissertating is done.

Until then, might I direct your attention to the happiest blogging news I've had in a year? That is right, Gentle Reader: Loren at One Diverse Comic Book Nation has returned to the blogging world. Please join me in offering up a Huzzah! and welcome Loren back to a blogging community that Missed Him Terribly.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Amy (really doesn't have the time to) Reads the Week (of April 13th, 2008)

Gentle Reader, I've a chapter to revise by Thursday, yes, Thursday, and a few meetings this upcoming week to make it just that much more Difficult. So I must be Rather Silent this week despite the fact that 1) I've read Gail Simone's Wonder Woman #19 and thought it Absolutely Brilliant (who else but Ms. Simone can make me eat crow regarding Tom Tresser in just one month, and make me laugh *and* cry in just one final panel?), 2) I finished Jim Butcher's Small Favor and thought it Absolutely Brilliant (truly, his best Harry Dresden novel yet), and 3) both The Office and 30 Rock have returned to us (Jim! Pam! Jack! Liz Lemon! That's what she said!). Never mind the fact that Mr. Reads and I have a Large Stack of comics to be read this week, nor the fact that my Trinity Wonder Woman is just lovely and is begging for a Post of Her Own.

Never mind the pop culture. Here comes the Dissertation.

Wish me luck, Friends! It seems I'm Suffering under the Suffragettes at the moment, for the second (!) time this year.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Reviews in Brief, or, Amy Reads Begins Her "Comics Catch Up"

Another Very Productive Day, Gentle Reader! Much accomplished on both the Dissertation and the Teaching front, so I took some time to get caught up in comics. I confess that I went the DC Route First; the Most Constant of Readers might recall that in some parts of my Marvel Universe reading, Captain America is still alive. Thank goodness I am not nearly as behind in my DC reading: only a few issues in Catwoman and Birds of Prey, only one in All-Star Superman, but several in Teen Titans. After I leave you here, I think I shall revisit my New Avengers and begin working through the Marvel Universe there.

But This Humble Author assures you, behind does not mean uncaring. Rather, life has gotten the better of This Humble Author over the year, and as I plan to defend my dissertation sometime in the next month or two, I should attempt to finish it, no? Therefore I've had to shuffle my comics reading, just a bit.

But now, a few reviews, in extreme (!) brief.

All Star Superman #10
This is the best comic being written at the moment, and Friends, I do not even *like* the Superman. This issue is just extraordinary. I believe I have no words.

Birds of Prey #115 and #116
I confess, Gentle Reader, that I'm not quite enjoying Birds of Prey as of late. And I adore Sean McKeever, so perhaps it isn't just the loss of Gail Simone I am bemoaning. Rather, I think I miss Black Canary, and the solidity of the Birds themselves. I am enjoying the exploration of Misfit, however, and the addition of Black Alice was a Very Nice Touch. And it is Ever Enjoyable to see the fabulous Manhunter, who returns to us very shortly!

But my biggest--and loudest--complaint is in the spirit of Women in Refrigerators: why, o why do we constantly see our Female Superheroes mindwiped into sexual submission? I know that this is a Theme that affects Male Superheroes, as well, but mindwiping someone into sex or even sexual submission or affection is rape, no matter how it is devised. I would have liked to see some handling of the severity of this part of Zinda's life, both past and present, in this issue, but perhaps it is coming? The insightful and poetic Ms. Rachel Edidin informs us that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and includes links in her Inside Out column to her 2007 Sexual Assault Awareness columns. Let us thank her for directing us to this information, and to the safe space of the Girl Wonder forums. Gratitude, Ms. Edidin.

Catwoman #76 and #77
This is the most fun I've had with Catwoman since before the Crisis, and I applaud Will Pfeifer for it. Constant Readers know how much I abhor the removal of Helena from the Selina Kyle storyline--the same as I abhor the removal of Sin from the Dinah Lance storyline. Why can our superheroes be simultaneously fathers and heroes, but not mothers and heroes? Here, however, Mr. Pfeifer shows us the agony of losing Helena, and the damage it has wrought on Selina's psyche. Bonus: fun Cat-on-Cat fighting action.

Tiny Titans #1 and #2
That is to say, This Humble Author finds this comic Quite Delightful, and urges many of her Gentlest of Readers to explore the Utter Fun of this adorable read.

Now off to find out where Mr. Reads has stashed Green Arrow and Black Canary...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of April 6th, 2008)

Yesterday was a Rather Productive Day, Gentle Reader, and as happens on most Rather Productive Days, come night, Mr. Reads and I were Rather Bored. We had accomplished everything we set out to accomplish--I wrote 2 pages of my last (!) dissertation chapter and read 20 (!!!) articles, while Mr. Reads enjoyed the rare moment of an instructor's life: nothing to grade. So around 9:00 p.m., we decided to leave the house in search of action figures.

We drove to two of the Large Mega-Marts in town to look for the latest DC Universe action figures, of which Mr. Reads wants all, and I, of course, want Pup Reads's namesake, Ms. Harley Quinn. Alas, none have reached our Small Town yet, but we are hopeful to find them.

This, of course, made me think of my two latest purchasing dilemmas: To Super Lois, or Not to Super Lois?, and, does This Humble Author deserve a graduation present?

The answers are, I believe, Yes, and No.

That is to say, I cannot justify spending $300 on a Wonder Woman statue, when there is the rent to be paid, and the car to be fixed, and the sofa to purchase, or, at least, consider. Not to mention a new computer and printer for This Humble Author, and, considering the dramatic rise in gas prices, the future inevitability of Better Walking Shoes.

But, Gentle Reader, she is so *gorgeous*. She is So Incredibly Beautiful, I almost cannot stand it. Look at her in full 360 degree turnaround. Have you ever, in all of your life, seen a statue this beautiful? This powerful? The axe, I think, is the nicest touch, a testament to the warrior Wonder Woman is.

Of course, I almost must consider a Possible Trip to the Big Apple to see the upcoming exhibit on Fashion and Superheroes, two things that This Humble Author can say, with great certainty, affect her academic life. O! If only money were happier!

I have decided to take a few hours to myself today, and Friends, I am going to sneak the new Jim Butcher novel, Small Favor, away from Mr. Reads. Although he has priority reading because His Birthday is this coming Friday, and lacking an autographed issue of Grant Morrison's We3, I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the anniversary of his birth.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of March 30th, 2008)

It has been a week of horror, Gentle Reader, both in the literal and metaphorical sense. Academically, I'm drowning, drowning, drowning, and pop culturally, I'm seeing The End Of The World. That is to say, I finished through volume 7 of The Walking Dead, and Mr. Reads and I watched Stephen King's The Mist.

As I have confessed to you before, Most Constant of Readers, I have a weakness for the Zombie-geddon, the Apocalypse (we've all been there, no?), the low-budget and high-budget horror movie and book. A decade ago, when This Humble Author wore a lot of flowy dark garments and wrote a plethora of bad poetry, I was inclined toward the Vampire Story. Now, some ten-odd years later, I find myself fascinated by the Zombie.

Not, of course, the Zombie itself, because as far as monsters go, it is a rather shambling shuffling travesty at that. No, it is the Zombie Tale, because it always, always has to do with the Death of the Living rather than the Living Dead. So, too, do Apocalypse Tales, like the cinematic version of Mr. King's novella, have to do more with the scariness, the awfulness, of Us. We are always the scarier monster, are we not? And when things get bad, we get So Much Worse.

Ultimately, I found The Mist to be an Utter Failure. The last five minutes betrayed the ninety before, and there were Serious Problems throughout. I have not read Mr. King's novella, but Mr. Reads has, and he assures me that, as in most things, the book vastly outweighs the movie.

But so many items in my pop culture lately deal with The End Of The World, and perhaps I am drawn to these things because I am reaching The End Of My Student Life. Yes, that is right, Friends. This Humble Author plans to defend her dissertation in the next few months and graduate, Ph.D. in hand, come August. Is it no wonder, then, that over the past few months, I have found myself drawn (or re-drawn) to things like Stephen King's The Mist, Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead, Steve Niles's 30 Days of Night, Max Brooks's World War Z, Brian K. Vaughan's Y the Last Man, and even more symbolic EndDays Tales, like Joss Whedon's Angel and Buffy continuations, Gail Simone's Welcome to Tranquility, Grant Morrison's All Star Superman? Astonishing X-Men, too, recalls The End Of The World, as does the recently ended television show Jericho.

Any suggestions, Friends, on Tales of the EndDays?

To counter all of this death, to make the world more rainbow, rainbow, rainbow! (gratitude, Ms. Bishop), I have just replanted all of our plants, including the peppers, rosemary, mint, and tomatoes we bought last weekend. Let us hope I can bring our Cuban Oregano back to life, Gentle Reader, because I truly feel guilty over its demise!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A (Very!) Brief Thought on the "Worthiness" of Men

Regarding the Amazon Princess, of course, Gentle Reader. There has been Much Said this week and last regarding the latest issue of Gail Simone's run on Wonder Woman. This Humble Author herself has experienced many thoughts about it, including:
1) General Joy over Ms. Simone's writing
2) Definite Joy over the development of Amazonian rituals
3) Interest in the idea of the Amazon Princess courting a lover
4) Dissatisfaction with Nemesis as a love interest of the Amazon Princess

I have expressed my utter lack of understanding *why* I dislike Nemesis. I really do not know, Friends, and wish I had A Better Answer for you. But I recently commented to Kalinara of Pretty Fizzy Paradise fame on her recent Variations on a Theme column that I am very much a Bat/Amazon 'shipper.

Well, ultimately in my Heart of Hearts, I am a Bat/Cat 'shipper. I adore the pairing of Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Bruce Wayne/Batman because they work well together in both personas. Catwoman is good for Batman, and vice versa, and Selina is good for Bruce, and certainly vice versa.

But the majority of my Bat/Amazon 'shipper-ness results from the fantastic writing on the Justice League (Unlimited) cartoon. I'll admit, Gentle Reader, that the Batman and Wonder Woman sparking on that television show was, in a word This Humble Author blushes to say, sexy (!!!). They sparked, truly, and the writing was, so say we all, fantastic. I think it would be an interesting pairing in the comics, too.

That is, Batman and Wonder Woman/Princess Diana. Not Bruce Wayne and Wonder Woman/Princess Diana.

From all that I have read over the Past Several Years, the most clever writing on Batman has been the establishment that Bruce Wayne is the mask, and The Batman is the reality. Friends, I *adore* this distinction. I *adore* this differentiation between the person (Batman) and the mask (Bruce Wayne). And while Batman has many, many problems, for better or for worse, I adore him. Or, as I said, accompanied by the literary stylings of my Poet-Husband, I adore his batarang, his gobbledygoo.

I think, with all of his problems, Batman and *not* Bruce Wayne would be an interesting romantic companion for the Amazon Princess. Although one cannot come without the other, certainly, it would be an interesting journey, no?

Now of course, Gentle Reader, Gail Simone can make me like Just About Anything; I suspect that even my Most Despised, Most Reviled Reed Richards, in her Very Capable Hands, would become an interesting and enjoyable character for me. (Greg Rucka, too, has my complete trust, as do Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, and Brian K. Vaughan. For those Gentle Readers perhaps not the Most Constant of Arrogant Self-Reliance, a brief commentary: these names round out my top five Most Favorite *and* Most Trusted Comic Writers.) So while I do not doubt for a moment that I will come to if not enjoy then at least appreciate the character Nemesis, and while I know For A Fact that I will enjoy the *journey* undertaken by these two lovers, I think, too, that despite Previous JLA Failures at relationships, Wonder Woman and Batman *might* be an interesting idea with the right writers.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Amy Reads the Week Early! (of March 23rd, 2008)

Happy Easter, Gentle Reader, from the Reads Household! Or just Happy Sunday, Happy Near Spring Solstice, or however else you choose to (or choose not to) celebrate. The Parents Reads are in town for the festivities, which, for New Orleans Catholics such as The Reads, this Easter weekend involves eating, eating, and yes, more eating. That is to say, Dad Reads and Mom Reads have been enjoying the fine cooking of This Humble Author. Tomorrow, however, We Reads enjoy the fine cooking of a Very Fine Establishment here in Readsville, as we celebrate spending time as a family, despite living states apart.

Mr. Reads and Dad Reads, however, have the Not-A-'Flu that Struck Down This Humble Author a few weeks back, so I confess that I have tried to take care of them so that they can enjoy a bit of together-time with us all. I am not the most Patient of Nurses, so please, Gentle Reader, wish me luck!

Unfortunately because of recent health issues, this is the First Easter during which I am unable to consume sweets with former abandon, and I am dying, Friends, for Elmer's strawberry heavenly hash eggs and my beloved Cadbury mini-eggs (not to mention the ever-fabulous Cadbury double decker bar!!!). So please, Gentle Readers, consume, for Queen, for Country, and for your Friendly Neighborhood Feminist Comic Blogger.

In celebration of the official arrival of spring, We Reads did purchase some new plants, and this year, we will attempt to grow chocolate beauty and poblano peppers, grape tomatoes, hanging rosemary, and mint. Our garden salsa pepper plant from last year just Will Not Die, but our Cuban oregano, unfortunately, seems to have gone to the Large Backyard Garden in the Sky. Any gardening tips, Friends?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of March 16th, 2008)

Are you perhaps familiar, Gentle Reader, with the literary life and writings of Mr. William Wordsworth? While This Humble Author is herself by trade and by degree a Victorianist—I find the Romantics to be Too Free, Too Open, and Too Emotional for My Repressed Standards!—I was once, yes, even myself, fascinated with the Romantic Poets. While Wordsworth was never my cup of tea—I prefer Darjeeling, or Scottish Breakfast, or a bit of Byron, Keats, and Coleridge—I find his eventual recantation of all of his youthful beliefs and writings fascinating.

Why? Because often we In Youth do and say things that we In Age regret. Having grown up with the Internet, I am sure many of us, even you, Most Constant of Readers!, have said things or posted things while not instantly regrettable, regrettable over time. How awful to be confronted again and again with the scribblings of the nineteen-year-old self, that grandiose, self-important, self-loved self that is sure, absolutely sure that she is Above All Things Correct. Not that I speak from Personal Experience, Friends! Heavens no. Everyone here understands perfectly that This Humble Author makes no mistakes, even before she was This Humble and This Wise.

But Mr. Wordsworth, lit with the fire of youth and integrity, certain he would Change the World and bring it forward into a new egalitarian age, was, upon recollection some thirty years later, a bit chagrined at the passion and fervor with which he wrote. Or perhaps he truly no longer believed the words he had written, once. Or perhaps, just perhaps, he was on the brink of Victorianism, a Romantic who, like Mary Shelley, lived too long, saw too many loved ones die young, and felt that he no longer appreciated the naiveté of youth.

I call attention to Mr. Wordsworth today because as a literary critic, I do not feel that authors should justify, defend, or qualify their works, the same as I believe that critics never can assume authorial intention. The anecdote about Mr. Wordsworth above has no bearing on Mr. Wordsworth’s writing. A biographical or historical reading of his works would bring this into play, certainly, but a straight examination of, say, The Preludes? We should look at the quality of work itself. We cannot assume, ever, that Mr. Wordsworth meant This or That with his writing, or that This or That has direct correlation with His Personal Life. Recent scandals in the literary memoir and autobiography world have brought these very ideas into play. There is no “real life,” is there not? There is author; there is work; there is reader; there is critic. And God willing, never the all of them shall meet.

That is to say, I-as-writer separate the I-as-critic and the I-as-blogger and the I-as-wife, -student, -daughter, -puppy-mother from each other because they are the all of them not the same. The Witty and Intelligent Amy Reads that blogs before you today is not, dare I say it?, the Amy Reads that heads home to New Orleans to visit family, or the Amy Reads that sings in the car, just to annoy Mr. Reads, or the Amy Reads who is, despite the Wit and Intelligence referenced just Moments Ago, irrationally afraid of Clowns (those evil, evil things). In fact, “Amy Reads” is not anything at all but a voice in This Body that comes through fingers and onto blog.

A very long and rambling preamble, Friends, to say that over Spring Break, which sadly ends today, This Humble Author spent many hours engaged in a vigorous Spring Cleaning. And during this Spring Cleaning, I came across several, several journals written by a Young and Naïve Amy Reads.

Oh, Gentle Reader, how to express the agony of those revelations about Love, Life, Work, The Environment, Politics, even Self-Presentation circa 1996? How best to explain the naiveté, the painful, painful exercise of sorting through pretentious attempts at interesting and expressive handwriting, the bad, utterly awful poetry with grandiose comparisons to “painted eyes,” “silvered tears,” “silent statues,” and, Most Awful Of All, the Revelation of the Poet, Herself, in Verse? How many broken hearts can one twenty-year-old possess? Seven, if I counted correctly. How many angry diatribes against the world can one twenty-year-old offer? Sixteen, yes, sixteen “manifestos” claiming to Change The World/Women’s Body Images/The State of Alternative Music/etc. etc. ad nauseam.

My first thought? Of the destructive and thus effective qualities of fire.

My second thought? Of Wordsworth.

Perhaps, for the first time in my life, I understood Elder Wordsworth more than Youthful Wordsworth. I understood the burning desire to destroy and remove All Traces of the Self’s Youth from the world.

My third thought? Of today’s impersonal encounter with the Internet.

With the Wide Array of blogs, message boards, forums, MySpace and Facebook and other such phenomena in the world, and the strange permanence of the Internet, there is little opportunity to destroy youthful pretensions. What is said on the Internet, Gentle Reader, stays on the Internet, for good or bad. That disconnect between the persons on either end of the blog, or message board, or forum, is a true disconnect: there is little understanding of the body on the other end. That body could be a neighbor, a best friend, a complete stranger, or, Woe To Them, a boss, a principal, a parent, a spouse. But sitting here in the Room of My Own, looked down upon by Wonder Woman Action Figures and Angel Puppets and Buffy Posters, I do not know you. Yes, you, Most Constant of Readers. I know little for certain of who receives my work or how it is received.

But is that not the point? Do we not put work out there, for good or for bad, and stand back to let the waves of reception swallow the work whole? An author cannot go Door to Door and say, “no, on page 252, what I *really* meant was…” the same as Wordsworth, despite Recantation, cannot take back what he said as a younger man. It was said. It was read. And that is all. He can rewrite, certainly, but he can never take back. The work is written; it is done. Nothing, not even rejection, can change that.

This is something I Firmly Believe In: an author cannot in truth recant, and should not justify or qualify or defend. And while I wish I could Go Back to 1996 and retrieve those Poems poorly distributed to Broken Heart #3, or those words submitted for publication (most likely in response to Broken Heart #5), I cannot. And as the Great Philosopher Buffy Summers tell us, Here endeth the lesson.

In the end, while the desire was Very, Very Strong, I did not burn the notebooks. I did, however, pack them away under many, many boxes filled with old drafts of novels and letters from former loves and current husband(s) who were not yet husband(s) at the time of writing. In other words, in the dark recesses of my closet, to be discovered only in the event of emergency, of nostalgia, or the next attempt at Spring Cleaning, which I predict will be a Long Time Coming. But while I cringe at the naiveté and silliness and general idiocy of Young Amy Reads, so earnest, so driven, so in need of rigorous line-editing, I adore her, too, because she *was* earnest. She *did* love passionately and expressed such in poor rhyme. She was, Above All Things, Young. Quite, quite, quite young.

As were you, Mr. Wordsworth, living your Poet’s Retreat in Somerset, the world spread before you, possibility shining as brightly as the sunlit Lakes in the soon-to-be-seen District.

Mr. Reads, Pup Reads, and I all bid adieu to Spring Break and return to Work tomorrow, (and tomorrow, and tomorrow). There is Much to be Done today in Preparation, so I must bid you adieu for now, as well.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Love and Hate (From Outer SPACE!!!!): Reviews in Brief, or, Amy Reads Takes a Spring Break

It’s true, Gentle Reader: this past week has been, how shall I say?, wonderfully relaxing. Understand that I say this with Full Knowledge that I have gotten Little Writing done on The Dissertation. I have researched, and read, but mostly, I’ve recovered from a ten-day illness and a year-long anxiety. Now that plans are Somewhat Settled for next year, I feel the desire to take some time to myself. Winter Break afforded none of that, and I have worked, steadily, consistently, and ruthlessly, since August. Even farther and even faster, six years now, since deciding to take the Ph.D. Taking a few days off has been lovely, truly, and with that loveliness comes the chance to, yes, even for This Humble Author, get Caught Up On Comics.

Constant Readers of This Humble Blog know, and know well, that I often find myself getting “Caught Up On Comics.” That is to say, between work and work and work (oh my!), over this past year in particular, I find myself with little time for non-television enjoyment. As it is My Job to Read Books for a living, sometimes, just sometimes, Gentle Reader!, I find myself unable to do so “for fun.”

But Spring Break offered a magical mystical time to get caught up on Very Old Series, like Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, to stay current on Old Series With Shiny New Writers, like Gail Simone’s run on Wonder Woman, and to read several months’ backlog of Grant Morrison’s tremendous run on Batman.

For this, I offer Reviews In Brief, with the understanding that there are still several titles that as of yet remain unread. Yes, give me your New Avengers, your Daredevils, your Teen Titans yearning to Breathe Free (gratitude, Ms. Lazarus). Or, at least, to escape the Tyranny of Bag-and-Board, courtesy of Mr. Reads's longboxes.

Wonder Woman #17 and #18 by Gail Simone
I’ve already reviewed Ms. Simone’s most recent issues of Wonder Woman elsewhere on this blog, and we are all Well Aware that I adore her run on the Princess Diana, madly and completely. But what stands out most is the whimsy brought forward for this heretofore decidedly not-so-whimsical character. Diana’s questioning of her appearance after seeing a Khund statue that had to be prettied up, Tom Tresser’s dawning revelation that the Amazons of Themyscira are not asexual beings, and This Humble Author’s Humble Favorite, Lt. Etta Candy’s “Woo #@#! Woo,” all offer a Fantastic Glimpse into the considerable talents Ms. Simone takes to the Amazonian Princess.

Serenity #1 by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews
This is a mini I was Very Much looking forward to, but must admit that I wasn’t overwhelmed. Certainly, I enjoyed it, as I always enjoy stories of the Firefly Crew, but it was not the best comic I read the past few weeks. Most telling is Inara’s fantasy, and I am most looking forward to the continuation of this tale, but I do not finding the writing as strong as it is on other Whedon scripts, like Buffy or Astonishing X-Men or Runaways.

Angel #4 by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch
This issue of Angel is proving to be a continuation of some Very Strong Issues, and an overall Very Strong Storyline. I am adoring this comic, with its dark, muddy art, its references, and its constant twists, turns, confusions, and dragons. Bonus: Spike.

Wonder Girl #6 by J. Torres
I added this title to the Reads Pull List mainly out of solidarity for All Things Wonder, All The Time. Granted, if it had been my most-deplored Donna Troy, I would not have bothered. While Wonder Girl was charming and fun, I did not find it, ultimately, astonishing or earth-shattering or, dare I say? Wonderful.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #12 by Drew Goddard
Next to Simone’s Wonder Woman, this is my favorite title in constant print at the moment. I've already reviewed it In (Extreme!) Brief, Not only because I am an Extraordinary Buffy Fan, but also because it is very well written. The “shock” of this issue, while generating a Great Deal of buzz, was not so “shocking” for Constant Readers of the Whedonverse. Sexuality is a fluid thing, and Buffy is ever an open-minded venue. Bonus: Xander’s Master returns.

All Star Superman #9 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
As I admitted earlier, in Hushed Tones, I am Woefully Behind in my comics reading. I finally (!) read this issue of All-Star Superman, and truly, it is a fantastically written book. I am ever-amazed at the abilities of Mr. Morrison, particularly as I also am enjoying his New X-Men run and his current Batman run. It takes a very engaged and talented writer to make the Aliens (from Outer SPACE!!!) feel more human than the humans, and Mr. Morrison accomplishes that with aplomb, grace, and beauty. Apologies for the Enthusiasm, Friends, but Mr. Reads has watched many, many episodes of MST3K this week while cleaning, and some things stick more than others!

And finally,
Booster Gold #7 by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz
I must confess, Gentle Reader, that Mr. Reads loves Booster more than I do. That is not to say that This Humble Author doesn’t adore this title; rather, I do not have the Deep Adoration that Mr. Reads has. However, this is pretty much one of the best titles being written at the moment, and even for a Reader like Myself who has, how shall I say?, a spotty fluency in All Comics Continuity, I don’t think there is a more enjoyable combination than Booster Gold and Blue Beetle.

The Best Comics I Am Not Reading
According to Mr. Reads, I am sorely lacking in Green Lantern. I know many of my Sister and Brother Bloggers would agree with this sentiment, but where should I begin? And how should I presume? (gratitude, Mr. Eliot, Mr. Prufrock). Any others, Gentle Reader?

The Best Comics I Can't Wait to Read
Manhunter returns in June, Gentle Reader. To quote Lt. Candy, "Woo Woo!!!"