WWW Wednesday – 2017/09/20

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

NeverwhereOver the weekend I started reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, about a hapless hero named Richard Mayhew who helps an injured girl on the street named Door, which gets him wrapped up in a previously unseen world of strange and magical beings that exist under and around London. I’ve yet to experience the full breadth and depth of this world, but Richard has started to learn that his good deed has not gone unpunished, forcing him to dive headfirst into this world to turn his life back around. I love Gaiman’s writing as per usual, but at 75 pages in I feel I should be more drawn in than I am so far. I plan to finish it this week, at any rate, so I’ll be spending a lot of time with it regardless.

Recently Finished

TheAeneidI finally capped off reading the Aeneid by Virgil, which you can read a full review of here. I still love and appreciate this sort of literature, but I have been reminded that reading stuff like this is a more laborious love than other literature for me. It perhaps didn’t help that this was my least favourite after the Odyssey and the Iliad. There were many great moments, but I never really felt a strong connection to Aeneas himself in the same way that I did with Achilles or Odysseus. Though it will be a while before I move on to this, the next epic poem I want to read is, fittingly, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.

Reading Next

TheNightmareCollectiveAs I said last week, I’ve outlined some books I want to get through during the remainder of September and throughout October. I still plan to read Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett before the month is out. Hopefully I can actually accomplish that. As for October, one book looming on the horizon is an anthology of horror short stories called The Nightmare Collective, curated by the editors of PlayWithDeath.com. It’s a Kindle book I’ve had for a while that I’ve been saving for this upcoming season.

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Book Review – The Aeneid by Virgil

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Summary

Fleeing the ashes of Troy, Aeneas, Achilles’s mighty foe in the Iliad, begins an incredible journey to fulfill his destiny. His voyage will take him through stormy seas, entangle him in a tragic love affair, and lure him into the world of the dead itself – all the way tormented by the vengeful Juno, Queen of the Gods. Ultimately, he reaches the promised land of Italy where, after bloody battles and with high hopes, he founds the Roman people. An unsparing portrait of a man caught between love, duty, and fate, the Aeneid redefines passion, nobility, and courage for our times.

TheAeneid

It always feels a bit awkward when I decide to review something like Virgil’s Aeneid, considered a master work of literature millennia before I was born. This isn’t just a review of an epic poem from the dawn of the Roman Empire, however, but one of a specific modern translation as well. As with the copies of the Iliad and the Odyssey I’ve read over the past few years, this edition was translated by Robert Fagles with a lengthy introduction written by Bernard Knox. That all being said, I’ve realized that the work’s age does not invalidate my personal experience reading it, nor does my assessment put a dent in what is deservedly a celebrated piece of literature.

As anticipated, Knox’s introduction does a great job of giving context for the story. He begins by providing a lot of background on the history of Rome as it relates to this piece, before going into Virgil and his other works prior to writing the Aeneid. From there he breaks down information about the epic poem itself, outlining the entire narrative in a detailed summary. He zeroes in on specific aspects of the story in their own sections too, which grant further insight, especially on the impact the poem had on the future. If, for whatever reason, you want to go into this work blind I wouldn’t recommend reading this first, as it does tell you a highly summarized version of all important events in the story. I see reading this as important for more than just its story, however, and frankly I would have had much greater trouble comprehending or appreciating some parts of it without this primer.

Having read other ancient works translated by other people before, I’ve always found Fagles’s translations a lot more accessible to read. Still, it’s quite something to dive headfirst into an epic poem after being so used to reading novels and comic books. There’s no denying how much denser a work like this is. There is a rhythm and flow to the way the story is told that is exceptionally different from standard prose. I often found myself zoning out, reading the words but retaining nothing. I couldn’t come at the text the same way I usually read. To combat this, I found that reading each word in my head with emphasis — as if reciting internally — helped with retaining things significantly. This did require a lot more focus while reading, however, making picking up the book more of a chore than I’d have liked.

The Aeneid, by design, carries on the tradition of Homer, and for myself stood as the third book in a trilogy of important epic poems to read, following the Iliad and the Odyssey. Aeneas himself was a character in the Iliad, his future importance hinted at in that text. The Aeneid resonates with aspects of Homer’s epics in a compelling way while standing decently well on its own. Aeneas has an odyssey for the first half as he tries to make his way to Italy, meeting storms, monsters, and peril along the way. Once he’s there it’s not long before he’s faced with yet another all-out war before he can properly settle the Trojans in their destined home. I found it to be an interesting reverse order of Homer’s works. Something I wasn’t a huge fan of was the parallels Virgil attempts to draw between Helen and Lavinia. The former was at the very least complacent with being taken to Troy. Lavinia on the other hand appeared to have no agency whatsoever, yet there are lines that blame her for the war between the Trojans and the Latins. It may have only meant that marriage with her was the fixation of their conflict, but it sounded dodgy to me.

There’s much talk of future glory for the Trojans for founding the Roman people, as the poem stresses, but I couldn’t help feeling sympathy for our fiercely dutiful hero Aeneas. He seems entrapped by Fate, a slave to what it wants from him. At numerous points he tries to settle his people elsewhere, but is forced to move on, lest he (presumably) face divine retribution. Even if these plans do save him and his people from the wrath of Juno by means of destiny, it still feels like he’s nothing more than a pawn. As part of a narrative he isn’t even given much of a chance to be a character either. His leadership, dedication, and strength are so emphasized that there isn’t much personality to him when compared to the likes of Achilles or Odysseus. I’m sure this had a lot to do with the propagandistic aspects of the poem, as his establishment of order is meant to reflect upon Emperor Augustus, but it makes for a flat character.

I’m happy I read the Aeneid. While it is my least favourite of this trio of epics set around the fall of Troy, but it’s a lasting piece of literature for a reason. Though challenging, the language is beautiful and evocative, and it’s always a little sublime to read a tale that the eyes of innumerable people in different places and times have as well. If you’re wanting to read classic literature like this, I highly recommend the team of Fagles and Knox, the former’s translations being immensely enjoyable and readable, while the latter’s introductions provide a wealth of information to help you on your way. These deluxe editions also include pronunciation guides in the back, a glossary of characters for quick reference, as well as notes on the translation that can help clarify things further.

WWW Wednesday – 2017/09/13

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

TheAeneidI’m much further into The Aeneid by Virgil , currently at Book 10 “Enemy at the Gates.” I like Robert Fagles’ translations, but it is once again a little jarring for me to come to a work like this after strictly reading novels (for the most part). I’ll get more into this when I write about it after I’m done, but it’s interesting when you become self-aware of how your brain is processing something written in a more challenging way. I wanted to have it done by now (that is starting to become a catchphrase), but I’ve admittedly procrastinated reading it a little as a result of its difficulty. Being my own worst enemy notwithstanding, I hope to finish it by the week’s end.

Recently Finished

WWHIncredibleHerculesThough I’ve got other comic book series I’m meaning to finish or start, I read a trade on a whim (as I’m wont to do). This week it was World War Hulk: The Incredible Hercules by Greg Pak et al. This was actually the first volume in the Incredible Hercules series that I’ve read through over the past year, but was the last one I acquired. There aren’t numbers designating order on the spines of this series, so that’s what made things confusing. It’s not exactly essential either, in terms of story. It was typical comic book event tie-in fare (at best fine), but it was fun to see Amadeus Cho and Herc working together before becoming a notable duo of their own.

Reading Next

Guards!Guards!I’ve started to put together a plan for what I want to read next, in preparation for Halloween, my most favourite time of year. I’m putting together a line-up of books I want to get through and review in October, meaning I’m also laying out reading goals I think will be realistic for the rest of September. Provided that I finish The Aeneid on schedule, I still want to read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, as well as Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, in order to push further along with the Discworld series. I’ve heard this one is especially good, so I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully you’ll be hearing all about it over the next couple weeks.

WWW Wednesday – 2017/09/06

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

TheAeneidI started reading The Aeneid by Virgil (translation by Robert Fagles), though really I’ve only read the fairly lengthy introduction by Bernard Knox thus far. As with copies of The Iliad and The Odyssey I read, Knox’s introduction does a great job of giving historical context and background information on the poem and its author. A lot of the information I recall having been taught before, but it was great to get a refresher. It feels a lot better to have this primer than simply jumping into the poem.

GuardiansOfTheGalaxyGuardiansDisassembledI’m also in the middle of Guardians of the Galaxy: Guardians Disassembled. Not only am I excited I’m finally reading about Agent Venom’s time on the team (the main reason I even picked these up) but it finally feels like an honest-to-god story about this team without loose ties to other story lines or playing a more supporting role. They’ve already started to plant the seeds that they’ll explore where the symbiote (Venom’s alien suit) comes from, and though some of that has been spoiled for me I’m excited to read it firsthand.

Recently Finished

DarkDiscipleI finished reading Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden just before the weekend last week. Had a good train ride into Toronto from my parents’ to finish it off before Fan Expo. I post a review on Monday, which you can read here. I enjoyed this novel quite a bit, especially having just concluded the series it was originally written for. What I imagined as I read as routinely in the style of the show. It even felt episodic at times, where the endings of certain chapters could easily have been the closing to credits in an episode. It is very much a novel for fans, however. If by chance someone tried getting into Star Wars with this book, I imagine they would find it more confusing than anything else.

Reading Next

NeverwhereThough I still have two Guardians of the Galaxy volumes left after the current one I’m on, I find myself looking toward other comic books series I need to complete. At Fan Expo I managed to hunt down the last two volumes of The Dark Tower prequel comic books series, so now I will definitely start reading those soon.

Otherwise, I want to get myself reading some Neil Gaiman again finally. I have two of his books on my 2017 to-read list, yet haven’t touched either yet. I will probably start Neverwhere once I’m finished with The Aeneid. Hopefully that will be within September, as I want to read some horror for October.

Book Review – Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

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Summary

In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. And when he orders the massacre of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council can see no alternative but to take drastic action: targeting the Empire’s most cold-blooded disciple for assassination. But Dooku is dangerous pretty, so the Council decides to bring both sides of the Force to bear—teaming brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous ex-Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Though Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served Dooku runs deep, Ventress’s hatred for her former master runs deeper. Determined to have vengeances and let go of her Sith past, Ventress must balance her growing feelings for Vos with the fury of her warrior’s spirit—and resolves to claim victory on all fronts. It is a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy … and her own doubt.

DarkDisciple

Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden is one of the new Disney Canon Star Wars novels, published in 2015. The novel is based on a storyline originally written by Katie Lucas as an eight-episode arc for the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. These episodes were not completed due to the show’s cancellation. Initially this novel felt more like an obligatory read for me. I hadn’t seen through the show yet, but wanted to read the new canon novels, so I picked it up alongside Tarkin by James Luceno almost a year ago.  Having recently finished watching the series finally, I became excited to start it. Not without its faults, I’m grateful that it exists, having given some closure on Asajj Ventress, a major recurring character throughout the series.

This novel is driven predominantly by its characters, rather than the pursuit of a plotline or end goal. It is presented as a story about the Jedi attempting to have Count Dooku assassinated, but that is merely a catalyst to bring Ventress and Jedi Master Quinlan Vos together. Even if you’ve only seen the Star Wars films, you know Dooku will not be dying here, so that requires the story to follow a different path than what it sets up. In this case, it is the romantic feelings growing between Ventress and Vos, complicating a plan that already compromises Jedi values, as well as the general consequences of the attempt.

I like Ventress, so having things be a little more character driven isn’t a knock against it. She’d spent a lot of time toward the end of the series distancing herself from the Sith and reforming some of her ways, which helps to justify her willingness to let new people, like Vos, into her life. Vos had been featured in a mini arc before, though was not characterized much beyond being brash. Their chemistry together feels natural enough. I understand why the two are drawn to one another, but the narration could get a little too corny, even melodramatic, for my tastes. In some specific cases, this language is clearly used to avoid talking about sex too directly, but in terms of budding and growing emotions I would have appreciated a little more subtlety.

As a book made to supplement a series cancelled before its time, this book does a great job of capturing the tone of the show. This may be on account of having watched it recently, but I had no trouble imagining everything in the style of the show as it played out in my head. Even though it has transitioned to an entirely new format, it’s fairly easy to see how certain points of the story would have been divided up into episodes too. I think this made it weaker as a novel, which could otherwise tell a more seamless story, but given the context, I find myself much more forgiving than I would be otherwise.

The amount of world building and establishment is respectable as well, though it falls into the typical situation of being more for fans than newcomers. Thanks to narration that allows for more information than the audience would otherwise be privy to, we get a slightly better understanding of how different facets of the Force work, more particularly how people consciously use it, as well as the physical effects when it influences people of its own accord. There was a particularly poignant moment with the light side of the Force that I really liked, though conversely I wish the effect of the dark side on one’s mind was explored a little more firsthand. The story touches a little further upon different approaches to Force-use too. It’s a brief divulgence, but it’s neat to get a distinction between how the Nightsisters, Ventress’s clan, used the dark side compared to the Sith. It shows the galaxy represented as more complicated than simply Good vs Evil.

If you’re a fan of the Clone Wars series I cannot recommend Star Wars: Dark Disciple enough. It’s nothing ground-breaking, but provides a nice send-off for Ventress, a character who became iconic to the series. If you’re only a fan of the films, however, I would not recommend jumping in. It does the legwork to keep new or forgetful readers informed well enough, but to me this is a book made for fans who didn’t get closure on certain characters.

WWW Wednesday – 2017/08/30

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

DarkDiscipleI’m a little over half way through reading Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden, having finally exhausted all other content related to the animated series The Clone Wars. I wanted to have it done by now, but I’m confident I will have it done soon. I’m enjoying the book a fair amount. It certainly captures the feel of the show quite well, having been adapted from an arc meant for the series prior to its cancellation. In telling a story where two characters fall in love, however, it has a tendency to get far too melodramatic for my tastes. I have little attachment to Quinlan Vos, but I’m nevertheless happy to get this amount of story dedicated to Asajj Ventress, giving closure to her role in the Clone Wars.

Recently Finished

HellboyOddJobsI finished Hellboy: Odd Jobs, edited by Christopher Golden, shortly after my post last week, which you can read a full review of here. All said and done I was swept away by how much I ended up liking this collection. It was wonderfully strange and macabre, but also tragic, solemn, and heartfelt too. The authors went through great effort for each of their stories to be more than just another monster for Hellboy to fight. Not only do I have every intention of getting the latter two collections Odder Jobs and Oddest Jobs now, but I’ve started looking into the Hellboy novels too, the first two written by Christopher Golden himself.

Reading Next

GuardiansOfTheGalaxyGuardiansDisassembledI haven’t touched any Guardians of the Galaxy over the last week, but I intend to pick that up again soon, the next being Guardians Disassembled, which finally adds Agent Venom to the team. I’m also going to Fan Expo in Toronto this Friday, so I will doubtless be coming home with a lot more comic books that I will have to try to get to in good time.

I still have every intention of reading The Aeneid by Virgil as my next primary reading, it’s just a matter of getting Dark Disciple wrapped up. Hopefully, you’ll be hearing all about it come next week.

Series Review – The Defenders

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IMDB Summary

Marvel’s The Defenders follows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. A quartet of singular heroes with one common goal – to save New York City. This is the story of four solitary figures, burdened with their own personal challenges, who realize they just might be stronger when teamed together.

DefendersHeader

The Defenders is a Netflix miniseries set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), bringing together Matt Murdock aka Daredevil (Michael Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and Danny Rand aka Iron Fist (Finn Jones) from their respective series to team up against a common enemy. This crossover series has been teased since before any of the Netflix series began, and has been slowly building with each new series. It’s here that we see the culmination of unresolved plot threads and the growth of seeds planted from these previous stories.

Right off the bat, I really appreciated how concisely put together this miniseries was. The usual 13-episode seasons leading up to this were by no means terrible, but each dragged at points, feeling a few episodes longer than they needed to be. This miniseries is a tight eight episodes long, noticeably better paced than most of what we’ve seen before. The slower moments feel natural, giving breaks between action without overstaying their welcome. Despite four protagonists coming together, none feel like they are given favouritism over the others either. Each have their own motivations to be there, inner conflicts, and moments to shine.

DefendersDannyAndLuke

The dynamics between the four of them are easily the most compelling part of this miniseries, befitting a team coming together at long last. Banter between them as a group is great, but more interesting are how they pair off to form their own unique bonds. Luke and Danny form a budding friendship of mutual respect for each other strengths, at times a little confrontational with Luke’s more down-to-earth assertive nature reining in Danny’s thick-headed over-eagerness and ignorance. Danny’s far-flung upbringing and life of privilege contrasts well with Luke’s compassion and dedication to the less fortunate people of Harlem too. I really wasn’t fond of Danny in season one of Iron Fist, but thanks to his interactions with the team, especially Luke, I’m hopeful he will grow into a character I will enjoy.

Matt and Jessica, on the other hand, seem to form a more professional rapport, finding that they work well with one another. Though more the case with Jessica than Matt, they’re both the more aloof members of the team thanks to how they handle their troubled pasts. I think they see this in one another, and while they don’t get overly chummy, each express understanding and sympathy to the other at different points. I also adore Matt’s full blown super-heroism as Daredevil, which he helplessly gravitates toward, contrasted with Jessica’s sassy disdain for it. It tickles me that Matt is the only one on the team with an outfit.

DefendersMattAndJessica

The one thing I had trouble with in this series is The Hand, the villainous organization the Defenders must thwart. While their desires become clearer here (finally) than they ever have previously, they simply didn’t do much for me. A new leader, Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) is introduced this season, and while I love Weaver as an actress I thought her character was fine, but nothing exceptional. There’s an intensity to Weaver that I know she’s capable of that I think would have been great for a villain, but she was instead a firm, assertive, yet soft-spoken character that didn’t affect me much. Sowande (Babs Olusanmokun), a new Hand leader we meet, has some good characterization and I still love Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho), but they were more sidelined as Alexandra held the reins on their whole plan.

I understand that the organization is supposed to be far-reaching, arcane, and formidable, but I just don’t buy into it. They lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, which they had in Daredevil season two with all the mystique and body horror we were treated to there. I honestly think they lost this along the way in Iron Fist, which muddied the water for the organization’s representation in the story line. Elektra (Élodie Yung) was the one saving grace for the side of villainy, who goes through her own arc as The Black Sky, the ultimate weapon of The Hand. I still don’t know what a Black Sky is, but Elektra was great nonetheless. I was concerned her story was going to venture into very cliched waters, but it took some surprising turns that highlight her darker inclinations, which I really liked.

DefendersElektra

Though not quite a bombastic blockbuster like The Avengers film, The Defenders was a worthy miniseries that brought a great cast of characters together, tackling a villainous force appropriately over their heads, poor development notwithstanding. The villains were sadly weak for me, but the drama and development of our heroes really did overshadow this. They all played off of each other really well, and while there is friction in the group, I enjoyed that they were more sensible in finding ways to get along. I hope they will start to play supporting roles in each other’s series going forward. If you’ve been following along it’s definitely worth watching. Otherwise, I would recommend catching up a little on the previous series first.

Book Review – Hellboy: Odd Jobs edited by Christopher Golden

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Summary

In 1994, Mike Mignola created one of the most unique and visually arresting comics series to ever see print: Hellboy. Tens of thousands have followed the exploits of “the World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator” in comics form, and in the novel, Hellboy: The Lost Army, written by Christopher Golden. Now, fans of the comic can enjoy the world of Hellboy as seen through the eyes of some of today’s best writers.

HellboyOddJobs

Hellboy: Odd Jobs is a 1999 anthology of Hellboy short stories edited by Christopher Golden. It gathers noted horror writers of the time to tell their own stories about the character, including a story by the duo of Golden and creator Mike Mignola, as well as a special cartoon by Gahan Wilson. The book presented a new opportunity for me: I haven’t ever read a book of prose adapting a comic book character before. Novel and comic book spin-off of movies and TV series are quite common, but novels and short stories supplementing comic book series doesn’t seem nearly as prominent. It felt a little risky. Hellboy is strongly defined by Mignola’s iconic art style. With that absent, save for a single illustration at the start of each story, I wondered how well these authors could capture the spirit of the character.

Honestly, I expected this book to be just okay. I imagined middling stories where Hellboy faces off against some new monster in some strange place. Like I said, it was the novelty that drew me in. The first story “Medusa’s Revenge” by Yvonne Navarro was well-written, but was in line with my expectations. It came as quite a surprise to find that this was the weakest point of this book. It is a little cliché to report that an anthology offers a mixed bag, though it’s cliché for a reason. In this case, however, I found it solid through and through. Some stories are better than others, of course, but no story noticeably dipped from the quality of the others.

While adaptation would be possible, I appreciate that these stories don’t feel like they’re trying to write a comic book with words only. While still capturing the spirit of the world and characters, they feel distinct, using the format to approach things in a unique way. We get a lot more insight into Hellboy’s thoughts and perspective, for instance, which are much more limited in the comics. We see situations where he has to deal with normal people’s shock or intolerance at his appearance too, a detail the comic books are noticeably unconcerned with, and how he deals with that internally. This doesn’t create any dissonance between these stories and the comics either, but rather allows the story to take its time with smaller details, interactions, and what characters are thinking. This could run the risk of being too indulgent in a comic book, but that is not so here.

True to the title, many of these stories get very odd indeed. From a custodian being fellated by a petrified head, to business arrangements with rodents, to bigfoot breeding, these stories tell misadventures that pleasantly surprised me with their willingness to be bizarre and disturbing. While those previous examples are on the more darkly humorous side of odd, there are a number that have Hellboy face tragic and troubling facets of reality too, such as racist Christian groups in the Southern United States, discord in politics, and the horrors of the Vietnam War. Each has their own paranormal twist to them, but at their heart deal with real-world horrors. Other stories explore dark themes in their own unique ways as well, where failure is a grim reality, friends are lost, and characters’ abilities are their own worst enemy.

All in all, Hellboy: Odd Jobs was a surprisingly great collection of stories, telling wonderfully weird, somber, and macabre tales about the iconic comic book character. My only real caveat with the book is I wouldn’t recommend reading it without any prior experience with the main series. None of these stories connect directly to them, other than passing references, but I feel the key information from the comics about his past and his place in the world would leave you with unfortunate gaps in your reading experience. This is ultimately supplemental material to a greater series, after all, and that should be remembered. If you’re a fan, or have decent experience with the character, I strongly recommend picking this book up if you can.

WWW Wednesday – 2017/08/23

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

HellboyOddJobsI’m still reading Hellboy: Odd Jobs. I wanted to be finished with it by now, but some travelling over the weekend and needing to rearrange some things at home didn’t allow for as much reading as usual. Nevertheless, I’m loving Odd Jobs a lot more than the I thought after impression the first story left me with. The different writers do a great job of playing with the structure of how each story is told. Sometimes Hellboy is a first-person perspective, at others he seems more like a supporting character. The format allows them to be a little more thoughtful and introspective as well. Better than anything else, however, is these stories get really weird. The second story “Jigsaw” initiated this with a man suckling a stone human head, which only got weirder from there. I wasn’t sure if I’d pick up Hellboy: Odder Jobs before, but I am now.

Recently Finished

TrialofJeanGreyWhile I have not managed to finish any prose books, I did finish Guardians of the Galaxy/All-New X-Men: The Trial of Jean Grey, putting me at halfway through the series. It was a notable improvement thanks to the fact that the title finally gets to tell a self-contained story in one of its volumes, amounting to something more than just establishing character or weakly tying into a larger plot line.

With the original, young X-Men being brought to the future (long story), some galactic societies see it as an opportunity to prosecute Jean Grey for her crimes when her adult self was host to the devastating Phoenix force. She is abducted to be put on trial, and the Guardians and other X-Men must rescue her from this farce. The Guardians still weren’t focused on as much as I’d have liked, but that’s to be expected with two titles coming together. Frankly, there was no way the Guardians were going to get equal billing with the X-Men anyway.

Reading Next

TheAeneidI’m still intending to get to Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden any day now, I’ve just been letting my fixation on watching the unfinished episodes of The Clone Wars get in the way of properly starting it. With the right allotment of time I’ll hopefully be finished with it by next week, if not close to finished.

With a number of new books that I want to read coming out in October, I’ve decided to commit to reading The Aeneid by Virgil in September. It was actually the first one I wrote down at the start of the year on a list of books I wanted to finish in 2017. It’s high time I got to it.

WWW Wednesday – 2017/08/16

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

HellboyOddJobsI recently started reading Hellboy: Odd Jobs, an anthology of short stories edited by Christopher Golden. I’d been focusing on getting some other books read, so I’ve only read one story so far. It captured the spirit of a single-issue Hellboy case quite well, though for a large chunk of it the story felt rather unremarkable. What did work well was how it dealt with its monster, Medusa, integrating more obscure aspects of her mythology into where she comes from. I also really liked how it depicted being petrified by her, and the subsequent reversal of stone back to flesh and blood. The visual evoked by worn and broken statues returning to what they once were was unsettling.

Recently Finished

PyramidsI finished reading Pyramids by Terry Pratchett a few days ago, which I posted a review of yesterday. This novel was much more interesting than I expected it to be, though admittedly that stems from knowing almost nothing about it. Unlike others in the series that I’m looking forward to, I read this one because it was next. Nevertheless, it tells a thoughtful tale of belief, ritual, identity, and how becoming too engrossed in accompanying traditions can prevent us from moving forward.

 

GuardiansOfTheGalaxyAngelaCoverI also finished Guardians of the Galaxy: Angela, the second volume in the series that ran from 2013 to 2015. Unlike the first volume, this was rather disappointing thanks to Marvel’s unfortunate tendency to tie independent series to their yearly events in half-assed ways. I had to look up information for their Age of Ultron event series as well as Infinity to have a frame of reference for what was going on. Angela was an interesting addition to the team, but I’m soured that I couldn’t just get an extensive Guardians of the Galaxy story instead of dealing with the leftovers and sidelines of other storylines.

Reading Next

DarkDiscipleI’ve finished watching The Clone Wars, so Star Wars: Dark Disciple looms in my near future. The only thing that makes me hesitate is my desire to watch the unfinished episode arcs available on the Star Wars website. I’m on a kick with this franchise right now, and knowing there’s more story (even if the animation is horrifically incomplete) is actually alluring to me right now.

Otherwise, I’ve been thinking more about the classics I wanted to get through this year like The Golden Ass by Apuleius and The Aeneid by Virgil. I especially need to get the latter of the two read so I can finish the connected trio of epics, even if The Aeneid was written far later and was basically propaganda to help legitimize the Roman Empire.