Friday, February 29, 2008

A Very (Very Very!) Brief Review of Wonder Woman #17

Time is short, Gentle Reader, and I've Much To Do today. There is grading, and reading, and writing, yes, always writing on The Dissertation. But I finally (!!!) read Wonder Woman #17 while I finished my coffee this morning, and just wanted to express my joy over Gail Simone's fantastic first story arc. Perhaps it is best summarized as an early Hollywood action flick trailer, no?

Holiday Girls! Children made of clay! Amazonian vendettas! Weapons from the gods! Birthday cake! All color! All talking! No singing! Some dancing, but more of the fighting kind! Diana proves herself again and again! A story for the ages, as it encompasses all ages of the Amazon Princess!

I promise a longer and more respectable review later, Friends, but for now, just gushing admiration, lots of exclamation marks (!!!), and as always, This Humble Author's Humble Plea to DC Comics to allow Ms. Simone to write Wonder Woman as long as she wants.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

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

It's Oscar Night, Gentle Reader, and that means that This Fashion Fanatic will have Much to See on the Television tonight! While This Humble Author enjoys very few of the fashions that have come about post-Dior's "New Look," circa 1947, I do greatly enjoy the glitz and glamour of Oscar Night.

Having just seen There Will Be Blood yesterday, I'd like to share my Oscar Predictions with you. I must confess, Friends, that I am Notoriously Terrible at Oscar Predictions, but will endeavour to do right, all the same. I only have included those categories I feel able to judge; while I am deeply impressed by the work that goes into important parts of movie-making like editing, I am far from qualified to even begin to guess which deserves the win.

And you, Gentle Readers? Any Oscar Plans or Predictions to share?

The Reads 2008 Oscar Predictions
italicized are my predictions
underlined are my secret favourites
Of course, list is courtesy Oscar.Com

Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in "Michael Clayton"
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood"
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah"
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises"

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men"
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War"
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild"
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton"

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie in "Away from Her"
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose"
Laura Linney in "The Savages"
Ellen Page in "Juno"

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee in "American Gangster"
Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement"
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton"

Best animated feature film of the year
"Surf's Up"

Achievement in art direction
"American Gangster"
"The Golden Compass"
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
"There Will Be Blood"

Achievement in cinematography
"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Achievement in costume design
"Across the Universe"
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
"La Vie en Rose"
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

Achievement in directing
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
"Michael Clayton"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Best motion picture of the year
"Michael Clayton"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Adapted screenplay
"Away from Her"
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Original screenplay
"Lars and the Real Girl"
"Michael Clayton"
"The Savages"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

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

I've had a Rather Enjoyable Couple of Weeks Pop-Culture-Wise, Gentle Reader, as I've read a few great books, begun a great comic series, and watched a few great movies. The new Knight Rider was not part of the "great" equation, as Mr. Reads and I just sat through approximately eight terrible minutes of it. But the movie Rocket Science was fantastic, as were the Holmes on the Range books by Steven Hockensmith. Bonus: has proven to be Quite Fruitful by informing This Humble Author that the third book in the series is due out This Very Week!

The Comeback, the HBO series with Lisa Kudrow, is the Reads Household's fantastic Netflix find, and Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone was nothing short of amazing. But the cream of this week proves to be Mike Carey's X-Men collection, Supernova. Kitty Pryde is to Astonishing X-Men as Rogue is to X-Men, even though, as This Humble Author has confessed again and again, she is not a Marvel girl. But I do love my Strong Characters, and the writing Mr. Carey puts forth on Rogue's character diminishes even Emma Frost, a possibility heretofore thought inconceivable.

I do think that word means what I think it means, Gentle Reader, but please, correct me if I'm wrong.

In the meantime, please send Happy Thoughts to Pup Reads, who had one vet visit for a bit of a tummy upset last Wednesday, and is following it up with another visit to the vet this Wednesday for the Much Dreaded Teeth Cleaning. As she will have to be sedated, Wednesday proves to be a Rather Stressful Day for the Non-Canine Reads-Inclined. But it is Dental Hygiene Month, according to our vet, so we will Do Right by our Pup.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Alas, and Anon: Y the Last Man, the Last Jester, the Last Issue

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

I knew it well, Gentle Reader, could point to Just The Precise Moment in which I First Discovered one of the greatest comic books of all time: Brian K. Vaughan’s and Pia Guerra’s Y the Last Man. But I could go Further Back, if I so desired, looking far into My Past to see the bits and pieces that led up to my great enjoyment of this title.

Mary Shelley is one of This Humble Author’s favorite writers, and while Frankenstein is an amazing book, so, too, is her 1826 novel The Last Man. The novel is part-apocalypse, part roman a clef, part elegy for those Romantics who went before her: Byron, Shelley, her children, the ideals behind which Wordsworth stood, and then Wordsworth recanted. The Last Man is more elegiac than it should be, perhaps, because the inklings of the Vast Social Changes to be wrought by the Victorians already, in 1826, in sight.

Even farther and even faster, zombie movies watched too-young and too-impressionable, nuclear attack drills that urged Young Amy Reads to Duck And Cover, and even post-breakup, post-heartache Amy Reads wishing every member of the Male Persuasion off the face of the earth.

Dramatic? Most certainly. Warranted? Definitely not. Fulfilled in fiction? Interestingly, thanks to Mr. Vaughan and Ms. Guerra.

But responsible, too, is just the simple preview I viewed of Y the Last Man, and the urging of some Rather Intelligent Young Women of my acquaintance who read more comics than This Humble Author could ever pretend to read. These Intelligent Young Women pressured, coerced, nagged, and ultimately gave me the completed first issue of Y that I had seen in preview months before.

Reader, I married him.

That is to say, I fell in love with this complex little book that while one may question the preciousness of the siblings’ names, Hero and Yorick, there is in fact no preciousness, no pretension, and while there is, yes, Symbolism, it is not Heavy-Handed for all of that.

Mr. Reads and I just had the Unfortunate Occurrence to watch part of the new movie Across the Universe. My apologies to those Gentlest of Readers who enjoyed this film, but I must admit that Mr. Reads and I found the movie’s entire misunderstanding of Symbol and Metaphor to be an absolute travesty of writing. I will not ruin it for you in case you are desirous of viewing; suffice to say that when one’s head aches from the Rather Large Metaphorical Bat Of Metaphor being thumped repeatedly over one’s delicate head, one begins to be just a Tad Frustrated.

But Y—subtle, cunning, sly, smart, sad, pathetic, vicious, cruel, intelligent, metaphorical, symbolic, and resonating little Y—is a title that understands vision, plotting, character, and wish-fulfillment. Y the Last Issue only fulfills the promise set forth by the 59 issues prior.

Several times this title has brought me to tears, but it is not until the last issue that This Humble Author—yes, even I, Gentle Reader!—found herself mouthing obscenities in Mr. Vaughan’s direction. I did not cry, Friends; I wept. The loss, the rebirth, the discovery, the anguish, the guilt and questioning and triumph and despair of this issue just brought to mind How Books Should Be. This is what A Smart Comic looks like. This is a hero that one can love, and hate, as one always should love and hate one’s heroes.

Or, as Father Reads might say, if Father Reads were comic-book-inclined, this is a comic book for generations.

Alas, indeed, Gentle Reader. Where be his jibes now, you ask? His gambols? His songs and flashes of merriment?

They have gone, escaped into the air, because escape is what Yorick always did best.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of February 3rd, 2008)

Yesterday, Mr. Reads and I went out to A Nice Dinner With Friends, and as it often happens while driving, Gentle Reader, talk turned to comics. There has been Great Hubbub in the World about the “new” Captain America, and this led, naturally—in the Reads Household, that is!—to talk of legacies. Mr. Reads told me that apparently Rumor Has It that Batman may follow in Captain America’s footsteps, so to speak.

“Who would you pick as Batman’s replacement, then?” This Humble Author asked Her Darling Husband.

“I’m not sure,” Mr. Reads said. “Probably Dick.”

I would prefer Tim, and said so, although We Reads agree that Tim’s desire to be a grown-up Robin is smarter and Much More Interesting than a desire to be Batman.

“What if Wonder Woman died?” Mr. Reads asked in the hypothetical questioning that We Reads often enjoy during car rides. “Who would you pick for her replacement?”

I thought about this, Gentle Reader, long and hard. Who would be a suitable replacement for the Amazon Princess? Wonder Girl is, naturally, the Next In Line, but I think Cassie is too young to take on the mantle. Donna? Never. Here is my Secret Confession, Friends: I loathe Donna Troy as a character. I am just Uninterested in her storylines, and find her a Poor Replacement for The Wonder Woman.

“Grace,” I said, after much deliberation. “If Diana were to die, Grace Choi should become Wonder Woman.”

Grace, like Barda, like Diana, is one of the characters that This Humble Author is most fascinated by. There is something about the Amazon, the statuesque, incredibly strong woman that intrigues me. Perhaps—just perhaps, Gentle Reader!—it is because This Humble Author never attained the height she felt herself destined to be. I am, dare I say, completely and utterly average. Too short to be tall, and too tall to be short. In the middle of it all, I never felt comfortable here. I aspired to just shy of six feet. I stopped growing several inches shy.

When I dabble in the more creative arts, I find my heroines, again and again, to be tall. Some are preposterously tall for their time, while others, well, most, hover just around 5’10. My heroes, too, are Rather Tall, and My Most Beloved Hero is an astonishing 6’5. But for Grace, for Barda, and for Diana, we are presented not with the statuesque woman, who is tall and slender as a weed, but rather, with the Amazon. The woman who is tall, and muscled, and very, very strong. Most importantly, when drawn well, these characters are Very Strong Indeed, as their image projects. Wonder Woman is never as fascinating as when she is meaty. Barda is nothing if not muscled. And Grace? As a Bana Amazon, she, too, follows along those lines.

I confess, Gentle Reader, that I have not yet read the latest issue of Gail Simone’s fantastic run on The Amazon Princess, and so thus I confess that I have no review for you today. But I do have it, and am excited to finally (!) have the time to read. So I should run away and do that very thing, no?