Guest Review: FCBD Secret Empire–Spider Man

This is a guest review done by my wonderful boyfriend and the mind behind The Figure in Question! He went with me to Free Comic Book Day and he’ll be reviewing the books he picked up.

Synopsis:

The Marvel Universe is under siege from the greatest threat it has ever known! Everything has been leading to this as Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino bring the entire Marvel Universe together for the highly-anticipated SECRET EMPIRE series! UNITED THEY STAND against a common foe, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Defenders, the Champions, the Inhumans, Spider-Man and more must hold together as an unwavering front! Yet even their combined might may not be enough to withstand the awesome power of Hydra! Then, after his globetrotting adventures Spider-Man has returned to his friendly neighborhood as Chip Zdarsky and Paulo Siqueira present a sneak peek at PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER MAN! A new companion series to the best-selling Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker is back in the Big Apple he’s brought the Ol’ Parker Luck with him! Don’t miss your first taste of this back-to-basics and high-flying ongoing series!

What I first Thought:

This was the only FCBD pick-up that I knew about prior to arriving at our local store.  I’ve been following the events of Nick Spencer’s Steve Rogers: Captain America series, which is a direct lead-in to this.  Since it’s a continuation of a story I’m already reading, I obviously wasn’t planning to just skip it.  The general public’s not too hot on the whole Hydra Cap thing, but I’ve been enjoying seeing where it’s been going, even the Steve Rogers presented here isn’t “my Steve Rogers.”  I had no real opinions one way or another on the second feature, which is a Spider-Man story, unrelated to the main story.  I like Chip Zdarsky’s work as a writer, though, so I’m intrigued.

Ratings:

Since there are two unrelated stories here, I’ll be examining them separately.  I’ll note Secret Empire with an “SE” and Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man with an “SM.”

Art: 3/5 (SE), 5/5 (SM)

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Andrea Sorrentino’s work, if I’m totally honest.  I mean, he’s got an interesting style, and he can layout a page well enough, but his work is always kind of murky and washed out.  Not my ideal choice for anything having to do with super heroes.  I personally would have preferred the interiors had been more consistent with Mark Brooks’s cover, which I feel is more on par with Marvel’s usual style.  With Sorrentino’s interiors, at times, it’s a little difficult to figure out what’s going on in any given panel, and I had some real trouble making out which characters were which.  On the plus side, as I noted before, the layouts are pretty strong and he’s clearly having fun working the Cap and Hydra iconography into the shapes of the panels.  He seems to get a bit more comfortable as the story progresses, and the final splash page is a good deal stronger than the first few pages.

On the flip side, Paulo Siqueira’s work on the Spider-Man story really appeals to me.  The work is really clean and easy to follow.  The characters are all very lively, and sport some of the best expression work I’ve see from any artist that’s not Kevin McGuire.  The line work is bold and easy to follow, and the panel layouts do a really nice job of conveying movement as Spider-Man and Vulture sweep through the skies of New York.  Siqueira delivers a very iconic take on Spider-Man, in the vein of John Romita, Sr. and Gil Kane, who are two of my favorite Spidey artists.

Story: 4/5 (SE), 5/5 (SM)

The SE story is pretty decent for what it is, but there’s a big caveat on “what it is.”  It’s not a whole story, nor is it a beginning or an end.  It’s right smack dab in the middle of everything; it’s the rising conflict that’s leading to the main climax that will be the Secret Empire mini-series.  There’s a quick, broad strokes recap of Civil War II and a little of Steve Rogers: Captain America, before kicking things off with Hawkeye being ambushed by some Hydra goons.  He’s rescued by Black Widow, who informs his “gonna miss the war.”  The rest of the story depicts the major Marvel heroes battling Hydra’s forces, climaxing with the arrival of the Hydra corrupted Steve Rogers.  The final splash page shows our heroes defeated, Cap standing over them, wielding a certain thunder god’s magical hammer, while the narration proclaims of Hydra “They were stronger.  They were more powerful.  In that moment—They were worthy.”  This final shot has been the cause of some contention amongst fans, who say it preaches an uncomfortable message of “might makes right.”  I personally see that uncomfortable message as an indicator that something’s off here.  Cap’s turn to Hydra was the result of the Cosmic Cube rewriting reality.  Recent story developments have amended that it was actually setting reality back on the correct path.  However, if Mjolnir is allowing Steve to wield it, perhaps this shows that Steve is supposed to be worthy enough to wield it, deep down, perhaps indicating that his true nature really is what we’ve been seeing all along.

Zdarsky’s Spider-Man story is a more complete tale.  There’s still a bit of a cliff-hanger (leading in to June’s Issue #1 of the series), but we get a fairly standalone little battle between Spidey and Vulture, as well as a quick lead-in conversation between Peter and MJ to help catch readers up to speed on where those two are.  The choice of Vulture as the primary antagonist is no doubt inspired by his presence in the upcoming movie, but it was still nice to see him sort of return to his routes, while still not completely backtracking.  We also see the introduction of the new Trapster, who I assume will be getting a larger role in the series proper.  Above all, I found Zdarsky’s dialogue to be very strong.  He’s got a good handle on Spidey’s quips and I even found myself laughing out loud once or twice.  I’ll definitely be grabbing the first issue of the main series when it hits.

Overall: 3.5 (SE), 5 (SM)

Details:

Title:  Secret Empire / Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man

Issue:  Free Comic Book Day

Publisher:  Marvel

Writer:  Nick Spencer (SE), Chip Zdarsky (SM)

Pencils:  Andrea Sorrentino (SE), Paulo Siqueira (SM)

Inks:  Andrea Sorrentino (SE), Walden Wong, Cam Smith, Jay Leisten, & Paulo Siqueira (SM)

Colors:  Andrea Sorrentino (SE),

Letters:  VC’s Travis Lanham

Release Date:  May 6, 2017

Pages:  28

Genre:  Super Hero, Action-Adventure, Marvel

Comic Book Review: FCBD Colorful Monsters

Synopsis:

D+Q presents a giant sampler loaded with 64 pages of our most beloved comics for kids – delightful misadventures with Moomin and his family, strange and spectacular tales of Kitaro, and more hilarious antics from Anna & Froga. Enjoy a sneak peek into the rollicking sketchbook of cartoonist Elise Gravel, with colorful monsters, imaginary friends, and activity pages where readers can draw right alongside her!

What I First Thought:

I got this comic from the local store during Free Comic Book Day 2017. I was interested in picking up some kid friendly comics and this one caught my eye!

Ratings:

Since there are four completely different stories I’m going to rate them separately. Kitaro and the Great Tanuki War will be represented by (K), If Found…Please Return to Elise Gravel will be (EG), Anna & Frogga (A&F), and Moomin and the Brigands (M).

Art: 4/5 (M), 4/5 (EG), 4/5 (A&F), 5/5 (K)

(M): The artwork kind of reminded me of the Saturday comic stripes. It was simple but creative drawings with contrasting colors. The artwork wasn’t always consistent, but I enjoyed it well enough.

(EG): I really enjoyed the artwork for this. It reminded me of the things I used to doodle in notebooks or no the edges of notes/homework during school. The line work is simple and funny, and the colors are very bright. It was very nostalgic, like someone took pictures of a kid’s school doodles and decided to share them with the world.

(A&F): The art was very simple and colorful. Again something that reminded me of Saturday comics, especially with short stories! I actually don’t have much to say about the art. It was nice and well done, but nothing to write home about.

(K): The art in this story is the best. The characters are simply done with enough detailing to make them unique. The background is really well done, close up and far away. The trees, grass, even the structures look so real without distracting from the characters in the panels.

Story: 3/5 (M), 5/5 (EG), 4/5 (A&F), 5/5 (K)

(M): I know this is just an excerpt from the story, but the beginning didn’t make much sense to me, and the following scenes didn’t seem to fit together even though they’re from the same story. I found the story to be cute and funny but the actions of the characters and the progression of the story didn’t make much sense to me. I really enjoyed the ending of this one though, I think it was my favorite of this story.

(EG): This one doesn’t really have a story. It reads like someone’s journal and the doodles match the entry you read. I think this one would do very well for kids, or any adult needing to escape real life.

(A&F): This segment was made up of 3 different short stories, each cute and funny. The short stories didn’t have any correlation with each other, which was fine. The characters were odd but amusing, each different and well portrayed within their few pages.

(K): The story is simple with a good moral, don’t always trust those who ask for help. It’s normal for humans to try to help others, especially those who appear to be of poorer status. But looks can be deceiving, those who appear to be in need can make lots of money from those with big hearts, and this story serves as a lesson. I think this was my favorite!

Overall: 4/5

This was a pretty good sampler for the stories these excerpts came from.  Believe both kids and adults alike would appreciate these stories! Hopefully I’ll find more of these stories in the future.

Details:

Title: Colorful Monsters

Issue: Free Comic Book Day edition

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Writer: Anouk Ricard (A&F), Tove Jansson (M), Shigeru Mizuki (K), Elise Gravel (EG)

Art: Elise Gravel (EG), Tove Jansson (M), Shigeru Mizuki (K), Anouk Ricard (A&F)

Released Date: May 5th, 2016

Pages: 62

Genre: Comedy, Humor, Children’s

Book Review: Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant

Note: I got a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:

Details:

Title: Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant

Author: Carrie Mortleman

Publisher: Createspace

Release Date: April 15th, 2016

Genre: Children’s Book, Illustrated

Pages: 118

Synopsis:

“I’m Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant and I’m ever so tall, I’m Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant and I never fall. I have fur that is fairy floss pink, and it’s wonderfully fluffy and light. For although I am an elephant, I’m an elephant in flight!” Hellie the elephant has a very special skill – she can fly! But when she meets Queek the mouse, she learns that the power of friendship is the strongest superpower of all. Children will love flying with Hellie on this magical journey that blasts through fear and zooms into fun and friendship.

My First Thoughts:

I love getting requests for illustrated children’s books! They’re always so interesting and I love seeing how the illustrations help tell the story. So I was very excited to get this book in the mail and I read it just in time too, because I needed a serious pick-me-up!

Rating:

4/5

Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant is definitely a cute little read. The story is a little hard to follow in the beginning, but after a page or two it really picks up and gets easier to follow. The rhyme scheme was simple, but really nice because it didn’t seem like the author had to stretch much to get the words to rhyme. Some of the words that Ms. Mortleman uses I think would be a bit tough for younger kids, but I guess it’s a way to expand their vocabulary. I loved the illustrations of this book and I think they’re my favorite part. Each page is different, each character or scene has a different texture and I found it fascinating to look at. Overall, I think it’s a cute little book that I really think kids and their parents will enjoy reading together.

Related Reviews/Books:

The Midnight Glass Book Trailer

Along with the review request I was asked to upload a book trailer for The Midnight Glass.  Since I enjoyed reading the book I thought that I would help the author and small publishing house with advertising!

Book Trailer:

If you’ve been intrigued by my review  and the book trailer, please check out this book by D.T. Vaughn! I find that it’s very important to support self published authors or authors of small publishing houses because they don’t have the same resources as HarperCollins, Harlequin, etc. If you wish to support the author you can find his book on Amazon, where you can buy a paperback or an eBook.

Thank you for reading and have a blessed day!

Temporary Hiatus

Heyo!

Some of you are looking at the title and wondering what is going on! Well, first I would like to apologizes for my inactivity this week. I’ve had to write a lengthy scientific paper on GPR lines and local geology history for one of my classes on top of revising two other scientific papers, one of which I am taking a break from to write this. Fortunately, my fall semester is coming to an end next week. Unfortunately, I have a few more assignments to finish up and four different science exams to study for this weekend and the beginning of next week. And yes, my motivation to do any of these things is running super low, but oh well!

With all that being said, second, I would like to announce that I won’t be able to post anything until after my exams are over next week. I’m terribly sorry, but my grades come first, even before books…However, that doesn’t mean that I won’t be reading in between killer study (cram) sessions! So hopefully I will be able to get the two reviews that I owe for the books that I read at the end of November after my last exam, write the November wrap-up, and start reviewing the books I have planned to read this month.

Third, speaking of the books I plan to read, this month will be full of Star Wars and fairy tale retellings! There may also be a non-book related post about the newest Star Wars movie after I see it…What can I say? I grew up with the original trilogy! Also, I will be coming up with a review outline for manga, comics, and other graphic novels so that I can do some expanding.

Well, that’s about it! If any of you are also in the last leg of your semester, I wish you the best of luck.

Ta-taaaa for now!

P.S. I may have used this as an excuse to put off working on my last paper for a little but longer…

Why I Couldn’t Finish Abandon

AbandonDetails:

Title: Abandon

Author: Meg Cabot

Publisher: Point

Release Date: April 26th 2011

Genre(s): Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Mythology

Pages: 320

Synopsis:

New from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a dark, fantastical story about this world . . . and the underworld.

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she’s moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can’t. Because even here, he finds her. That’s how desperately he wants her back. She knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

First Thought(s):

I love mythology, especially Greek mythology, so when I saw this book was about Persephone and Hades I got excited.

Here’s the Deal:

So I couldn’t finish the book. Now, I won’t be one of those people that reviews what they read and applies the review to the rest of the book. I believe that it is unfair to post a review for a book you did not finish, because it is always possible that the book got better some point after you stopped reading. However, I will explain why I couldn’t finish the book.

I stopped reading the book a few pages after a hundred and it was surprising how little the story actually progressed in those hundred-something pages. The story starts off at the main character’s “Welcome Home” party, and then there were several pages of backstory. I’m not saying that backstory wasn’t necessary; in fact, there were several times in which I questioned if this was actually the first book in the series. What do I mean? The main character, Pierce, was the narrator that would constantly mention events as if the readers knew what she was talking about, then sometime after she would go into backstory about the event we had no idea she was talking about. I’m sorry, but I prefer my books to have a chronological order about them. The story would have read better if it had started out with how she got to the Underworld and back out, not talk about it 50 pages after the story began. Instead, the beginning was kind like “yea, so what?”

My biggest problem with this book was how it was structured. I also couldn’t connect with Peirce or John; they were kind of flat for main characters. Now, they could have gotten rounder sometime later. However, these characters didn’t compel me to read further, especially when I was no longer interested in the story.

This book will be placed at the bottom of my ‘to-be-read’ pile to be re-read later. Maybe by then I can get through it without wanting to chuck it out a train window. Also, the experience I had with this book will not affect my opinion of the other books by Meg Cabot.

Related Reviews/Books:

Coming Soon!

Mission and Setup

I never thought that I would take this plunge, but I finally have. Today, I am jumping into the sea and I hope that my voice will not drown amongst all the others.

My mission, as a blogger, is to read and review any fiction book that I can get my hands on. The reviews will be honest, but completely of my own opinion and should not be taken as fact. The books that I will review will come from any year; they will range anywhere between old to hot off the press. From what I see, most book bloggers focus on what’s new and that’s a shame. Why? Because there are gems from every year.  Just because I started blogging after they came out does not mean that they should be ignored. I also want to introduce people to books that they might have missed or were too young to read when they were first published; to introduce all kinds of books, old and new, well-known and soft spoken, from big name publishers and self-publishers, etc.

How will I handle this blog, you ask? I’ll post a few times a week to start out. Each Friday I’ll have some sort of news oriented post, like new releases, confirmed books/sequels, updated reading lists, etc. From there, I’ll post either on Sunday or Thursday. Thursdays will be either a book that I have read before (and reread before posting) or a book that wasn’t released in the current year. Sundays will be books that were released in the current year. Eventually, when I am more comfortable, I’ll expand my reviews to manga and other graphic novels.