Saturday, 30 July 2016

I need a (Super) hero!

So I was at the gym earlier this week, and the song Holding out for a hero by Bonnie Tyler came on my workout playlist. As I puffed along, I suddenly thought YES! my next blog post has found me! My previous graphic novel posts (Graphic novels for Grown Ups: Terry Moore and Graphic novels for Grown ups: Part 2) have been for the most part not very superhero focused. Sure, Powers by Brian Michael Bendis is about cops solving crimes that involve capes, but the focus of the series is more of a crime noir one than that of your traditional superhero book.

But I'm pretty broad in my comic book reading tastes, and love me some superheroes as much as the next fangirl or fanboy. In fact, in the early 90s, it was those cool Fleer Ultra Marvel collectable cards that got me back into comic reading in the first place. My younger brother brought some home from school, and before I knew it, the collector in me took over, and the Card Crazy stores were my favourite place to hang (anyone else remember them?). Those Marvel cards were intriguing, I loved the art, and was fascinated by the characters, and so I got hooked. I'd also always had a soft spot for Batman, so DC was my friend too. There's no DC vs Marvel favouritism here, I love 'em equally, along with Image, Dark Horse and way too many other publishers to name.

This is an exciting time to be a fangirl or boy, with the plethora of movies and TV shows based on all our favourites (and can I tell you HOW MUCH I geeked out about Tyler Hoechlin from Teen Wolf being cast as Superman in Supergirl...YES YES YES...ahem, sorry, sidetracked there). So here are a few of my favourite heroes.

First up is a bit of a newcomer, but I gotta tell you, I adore her! In Ms Marvel, G. Willow Wilson introduces us to Kamala Khan, who takes on the Marvel mantle (as in Captain Marvel) in a spectacular fashion. Kamala is the first Muslim character to headline her own book, which in itself is a wonderful thing. But she is also such a fangirl (she even writes fanfic I would totally read), which makes her in book cameos from characters such as Wolverine, Loki, Carol Danvers and so many others such a joy. This is such a well written book, watching Kamala juggling her new role as a superhero with her role within her family and community and finding her place in both makes for a superb read. I couldn't read this series fast enough, and I can't wait for what's up next for Kamala. (And can I please have my Kamala Pop! figure now Funko, thank you very much).

Talking about Wolverine, he's up next on my list. He has always been the highlight of the X-men books for me. In fact, don't tell anyone, but our youngest son MAY have the middle name Logan for this very reason. He's gruff, slightly antisocial, but is often the best mentor around (just ask Jubilee, Kitty Pryde or even Ms Marvel). For many years, the origin of Wolverine was unknown, even to himself. A mutant with a healing factor, he was a subject of the Weapon X Programme, where Adamantium was fused to his bones turning him into a super soldier.  Wolverine: Weapon X by Barry Windsor-Smith tells this tale, and is considered to be one the best of them all.

And how could I miss Wonder Woman! Oh how I wanted to be Lynda Carter when I was younger, with those cool bracelets and that lasso. I love that Diana more than holds her own in the Justice League (where would those boys be without her!), and yes, I am hanging out for her stand alone movie which can't come soon enough. We have loads of great Wonder Woman titles in our collection, but I'm going to share Wonder Woman: Warkiller mostly because it is written by the brilliant Gail Simone, but also because it features a team up with another favourite of mine, Black Canary.

Next up is Daredevil. I'm proud to say I had read several Daredevil titles before the Netflix series came out, mostly because one of my favourite artists David Mack did some of the art for them (he also did the covers for the Alias books, featuring Jessica Jones). If you are a fan of the Daredevil of Hell's Kitchen, you really want to check out Daredevil: End of days by the sublime Brian M Bendis. This series features the death of Matt Murdock, and has Ben Urich hunting down the meaning of his mysterious last words. A number of Matt's former foes and lovers feature in this compelling story.

And I have to finish with Batman, because I do have a bit of a soft spot for Mr Wayne. It wasn't really the movies (ALL the movies), because none of them really quite get it right for me. I think it may be because he is a self made hero, he isn't from another world, he didn't get bitten by anything radioactive, he just worked at making himself a hero. Sure, a dark broody vigilante orphaned one, but a hero nonetheless. I also think he has such a great gallery of villains to play off against. There are so many fab Batman comic series, but I'm going with Batman: The long Halloween as one of my all time favs. I love the stunning art by Tim Sale, and Jeph Loeb has crafted a must read series about a new serial killer in Gotham called Holiday, who is killing to a monthly schedule. This is a classic Batman, the detective at work title.

So who are your favourites? and do you have a whole new appreciation for the character Aquaman after seeing that latest Justice League trailer?
Jason Mamoa, you are 100% rocking it dude ;)

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Disney's The BFG - movie review

I was always going to love The BFG. Roald Dahl has forever been a fixture in my life, and what’s more, I snagged a free ticket – the greatest of many perks in library work! However, I was honestly surprised at how much I loved it, nay, respected it.

Firstly, whatever kind of new-fangled expensive CGI techniques they used, I am on board completely. I generally have a fairly low cringe tolerance for anything even facing in the direction of the uncanny valley, but I am very happy to say they the film was never even close to such territory. The BFG’s enormous mug is actually very realistic, alternating between crinkly and charming and touchingly solemn. At first I was furious to discover that my primary school teacher was NOT cast in this role, but I’ve since eased up. Peter, you would have been marvellous – but Mark Rylance does a wonderful job.

The landscapes are colourful, fantastic, stunning enough to rival your favourite avant-garde/surrealist directors. I cannot stress enough how much I appreciated the use of colour, and the palette is very of the moment in its techni-coloured shades of nebula/galaxy. In true Dahl fashion, there are plenty of silly gags (read: farts) to allow for chuckles across the age spectrum, and also some sage life lessons – i.e., bullies sadly exist (Jemaine Clement is brilliant as the main antagonist, the Fleshlumpeater), families are often neither neat or nuclear, and happiness invariably occurs alongside a dose of sadness. Of course in the end, kindness prevails – but if you’re into having your heartstrings tugged *gently* then it’s pretty much a winner in that respect.

If I had any complaints, I suppose it would be that there was nothing really scary about the film, which, to dedicated Dahl fans, may seem an aberration – especially as (in my opinion anyway) the trailer seemed to promise some chills. And you know, it’s about a little girl being kidnapped by a giant man and taken away to a land where other giants – GIANT giants considering that The BFG is really a runt of a giant – eat little children. But, if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, giving up on the more sinister side of Dahl’s oeuvre and making way for his sentimental elements, then I believe you will enjoy it. What it lacks in wickedness, it more than makes up for in lovely visuals, charm, silliness and warmth.

The BFG opens in New Zealand cinemas on Thursday 7 July, 2016.

Our thanks to Disney for providing the movie passes to our reviewer.