shinyjenni: Alicia from The Good Wife, seen from behind, wearing a red coat, in front of a wall of bookshelves (alicia books)
Fear Itself: Heroes for Hire
Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England 450-1500 - Henrietta Leyser*
Enemies at Home - Lindsey Davis
Saga vol. 5
Superman/Batman: World's Finest*
The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria - Max Adams
The Small House At Allington - Anthony Trollope
Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch
Rat Queens: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'rygoth*
The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman
New Teen Titans vol 2
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever - James Tiptree Jr
Tomboys and Bachelor Girls: A Lesbian History of Post-War Britain 1946-1971 - Rebecca Jennings*
Musketeer Space - Tansy Rayner Roberts*
Trust Me - Malorie Blackman*

Didn't finish: Bel Canto - Ann Patchett. I feel SLIGHTLY guilty for just abandoning this halfway through, but it was annoying me and I have a lot of other things to read, and also I spoiled myself for the end and it didn't seem worth it. It had that literary novel thing where there was a constant subtext of "by the way this is all SUPER MEANINGFUL JSYK", and I didn't like the fact that it was explicitly set in a mishmash of stereotypes rather than an actual South American country, and the few women mostly only got to be seen through the men's eyes rather than having point of view sections and ugh I just didn't care.

a selection of things I did finish )

(Quick housekeeping note: I have run out of room for new tags on LJ, which is why they are a little sparse over there. /o\ Also, because I haven't mentioned this in a while, my decisions about which things I write about are pretty random, feel free to poke me for opinions on things I haven't said anything about if you want! ♥)
shinyjenni: Steph carries Cass in her arms (she was my friend)
Finally got round to reading the 2002 Batman Family miniseries the other day! I enjoyed it a lot more than it probably warranted, because all of the Batfamily (ALL OF THEM) hanging out and fighting crime is just exactly what I want from a comic. ♥ The actual plot was a bit eh; I was pretty sad about who the villain was, and overall it just didn't tie up as well as it might have done (the plot thread from the Spoiler issue was just dropped, for example), but I liked the characterisation. There were also some lovely character interactions, particularly between Babs and Dinah (♥), Dick and Tim, and Dick and Cass - I'd seen bits of that last one on tumblr, but I was v. happy to see it in context. The art was pretty good too: not spectacular, but solid and non-skeevy, and Steph in particular looked SUPER CUTE with her short hair. The colouring was a bit iffy, though: one character's race seemed to vary from panel to panel, and Orpheus was whitewashed on the COVER of one issue. /o\ Also Babs was blonde at one point, leading me to believe for one glorious moment that Dick and Steph were hanging out together. ALAS NO. (Sidebar: does this happen anywhere outside of Steph's Batgirl series? I would LOVE to see it if so. Back when I thought the DCnU was a fixable universe, I wanted to see Steph and Cass reintroduced in Nightwing's comic (if they couldn't have their own book), because that would be such a fun and potentially adorable team. ♥)

I was really pleased that the Batfamily-and-associates at this point consisted of: one mixed race woman (Cass), one black man (Orpheus), four white women (Babs, Steph, Helena and Dinah) and only three white men (Bruce, Dick and Tim). But it's pretty sad to think that an equivalent series today would be four white men and one or two white women. :/ I mean, I know Orpheus was long gone by the time the reboot hit, but... if the reboot Batfamily WASN'T going to be pared down to just Bruce, Dick and Babs as it probably should've been, assuming a five year timeline, surely this would be a perfect moment to bring characters like him and Onyx back? To use their highest-profile character as leverage to up the profile of lesser known characters who AREN'T straight white men? Sigh.

At this point I would also like to plug the last three issues of Batman Beyond: #27-29 digitally, not sure what number the print version would be. They feature a new non-white Batgirl, Nissa, and are really great, especially Annie Wu's art. She and Comissioner Barbara Gordon (:D) have a fab dynamic, kind of like what Korra and Lin Bei-Fong might have had if Korra had just been a vigilante instead of the Avatar. If there is more stuff with her in I will definitely buy it. ♥
shinyjenni: River Song in her cell, looking up from her diary (river)
Teen Titans: Team Building
The Story of the Stone Vol. 1: The Golden Days - Cao Xuequin
Black Lightning: Year One
Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed - Jim Al-Khalili
Heroines and Harridans - Sandi Toksvig
Hero - Perry Moore
Doctor Who: The Child of Time
A Brief History of Montmaray - Michelle Cooper
Swimming Home - Deborah Levy
A Web of Air - Philip Reeve
The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Emily M. Danforth
White Cat - Holly Black
Showcase Presents Teen Titans vol 2
Gladstone's School For World Conquerors (vol 1)
Batman: No Man's Land Vol 1
Zatanna: Shades of the Past
The New Brighton Archeological Society Book 1: The Castle of Galomar
Alias Ultimate Collection Vol 1

many words )

Short version: this month I particularly recommend Heroines and Harridans, The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Alias: Ultimate Collection Vol. 1. Plus Philip Reeve in general.
shinyjenni: Dayna on the flightdeck of the Liberator (dayna is more awesome than you)
- I really need to stop reading about Batman Inc #8, it's only making me unhappy. And I'm finding the way DC's been hyping it pretty distasteful - spoilers, though anyone who cares probably already knows ) The other frustrating thing is it's putting me off other comics - I was going to read the last volume of Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman run, which I KNOW is going to be both awesome and right up my alley, last night, but I just couldn't work up the enthusiasm. (Since DC has been having trouble with the word, I feel I should point out that this is what "toxic" really is: liable to put me off even largely unrelated comics, not "character with a fanbase that won't shut up about how poorly the said character has been treated".)

- Lack of posting recently is due to the fact that I have to do All The Things in the next few weeks, but am going to be away for a couple of weekends, oh dear. It's all doable, I've just got to get on with it and stop flapping around. (Oh, and I have a somewhat epic "things read in February" post on its way tomorrow...)

- One of the things is my Vidukon vidshow! It's getting there, though I'm having a surprising amount of trouble picking a Star Trek vid. Does anyone know any that are particularly spacetastic? (Or alternatively, does anyone fancy looking at my shortlist and giving me a second opinion? :D?)

- INFORMATION. Here is an excellent post on Blake's 7 and why you should watch it (spoiler: BECAUSE IT'S AWESOME) by [personal profile] lost_spook!
shinyjenni: Hermione from Harry Potter hugging her satchel; text reads "♥ books" (hermione hearts books)
(No December post as all I really wanted to say was "I love how Dustin Nguyen draws women's hair" which, while true, is possibly not worth an entire post all on its own.)

Can You Forgive Her? - Anthony Trollope
X-23: Target X
Doctor Who: The Devil in the Smoke - Justin Richards
The Cold Commands - Richard Morgan
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance - Lois McMaster Bujold
The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller
The Diviners - Libba Bray
Legion of Monsters
Teen Movie Times - Karen Healey
Nightwing: The Hunt For Oracle
Zatanna: The Mistress of Magic
Streets of Gotham: The House of Hush
Birds of Prey: Platinum Flats

rambling about books )
shinyjenni: Cass sits cross legged, wearing her Batgirl costume, reading a book and rubbing the back of her head (cass)
Justice League of America: Injustice League
JLA Classified: New Maps of Hell
X-23: Chaos Theory
Blue Beetle: Shellshocked
Blue Beetle: Road Trip
Batman: Heart of Hush
Global Frequency: Planet Ablaze
Dark Reign: Young Avengers
Teen Titans/Outsiders: Insiders
Bruce Wayne: Fugitive Vol 1
Bruce Wayne: Fugitive Vol 2
Bruce Wayne: Fugitive Vol 3
Green Arrow: Year One


Injustice League started off very nicely by making me laugh at Oliver Queen's bachelor party ("How could you possibly know that?"/"I'm Batman.") but descended into a fairly by the numbers punch-up. It also included a couple of one off issues, one of which introduced an alternate universe female Flash (yay!), who was sadly dressed like this. (Linked image possibly not safe for work. /o\) REALLY? *sigh* New Maps of Hell also started strongly, and made me really like Clark, who I can usually take or leave (Lois was great too! I always like her), and pretty much stayed good throughout. It also had a great role for Oracle, hurray! If only she still existed.

X-23's is a darker universe than I usually like, but I enjoyed Laura's characterisation and her relationships with the other characters, especially Jubilee. (HOWEVER. I picked this volume up when I was in the library, assuming that because it was marked as volume two, it would follow directly on from the one I've already read, which was volume one. Not so much! Also, as it turns out, the volume one I read wasn't the first volume one. That would be too easy. COMICS. *shakes fist*)

Blue Beetle = EPIC SPARKLY LOVE. I was overwhelmed with delight with these two trades, not least because they were HILARIOUS. Seriously, everyone who follows me on twitter should count themselves lucky that my laptop was switched off when I read it, because otherwise I would've tweeted basically every other line. ♥ ♥ ♥

Dark Reign: Young Avengers and Teen Titans/Outsiders: Insiders I think both suffered from being read in isolation - I am assuming that there was more build-up/context for both of them which I haven't read. While I quite enjoyed reading them, I was left feeling a bit "well... that happened" about them. I liked the fact that most of the powerhouses of the Titans AND the Outsiders were women: Wonder Girl, Starfire, Thunder, Grace etc. And I always enjoy a comic where Dick's motivations can be interpreted as "overwhelmed with feelings". (See also: Gotham Knights.) I still don't understand Raven, though.

I enjoyed the Bruce Wayne: Murderer/Fugitive (I read Murderer a while ago) arc very much, despite not really caring overmuch about Bruce. (The few longueurs definitely coincided for me with the bits where I was supposed to be v. interested in his pain.) There was a lot of focus on the importance of his family, which I loved - seeing everyone's shocked faces in Vol 2 when he started talking about his feelings was worth the price of admission - and I loved that it specifically called out the "'Bruce Wayne' is just a mask" attitude as wrong and unhealthy. The "day in the life" issue I liked a lot, partially for the same reason - it shows Bruce doing good as Bruce, as well as as Batman. I was of course not happy that Vesper had to die to provoke this feelings crisis, but I liked that at one point Bruce actually acknowledges that she's the victim and that that's getting lost. Since I loved Checkmate it was great to see some more of Sasha, though I didn't love how the Batfamily more or less forgot about her. (Apart from Alfred. ALFRED IS THE ACTUAL BEST.) Oh, and one little thing: I was pleased to see Spoiler listed as a member of the Batfamily in the "previously..." blurbs at the beginning of each volume, even the ones she didn't actually appear in. ♥

I was and remain completely neutral on Oliver Queen, but a few niggles notwithstanding I thoroughly enjoyed Green Arrow: Year One. Very well written with great art - not something I'm usually good at noticing, but it was particularly good here.

In other comics news, [tumblr.com profile] operationbatgirlinc is having a Cass month! REBLOG ALL THE THINGS.
shinyjenni: Wonder Woman deflects bullets with her bracelets (wonder woman)
A lot of this has come out a bit grumpy. I didn't mean it to but I suppose it's easier to talk about not liking things. Skip to the Batgirl section at the bottom for sheer love!

Young Avengers Presents... I really liked the first volume of Young Avengers, but from then on it's been suffering from the same issue as I have with Teen Titans: on paper, it looks like something I would love, and I like the characters, and I really WANT to love it, but somehow I just don't. There's something not quite there about them and I can't put my finger on what it is. Bah. (These scans really make me interested in reading the new Young Avengers book, though.)

Heroes for Hire: Civil War Positives first: I really love how diverse this team is, and the writing was mostly pretty great. Misty Knight's voice came through very strongly in the opening pages, and I particularly loved the scene where she and Colleen are discussing the Registration Act with Iron Man, Spider-Man and Reed Richards: though they're broadly pro it as the best practical compromise in a bad situation, they're very aware of the potential dangers in a way that the three white men they're talking too aren't. Negatives: THE ART. It was bad in pretty standard ways, sure, all ridiculous postures, boobs akimbo, visible bellybuttons etc, but I find that sort of thing particularly annoying in otherwise woman-friendly books: it implies, basically, that women aren't really the target audience for these books, or even if they are, it's still vital that they appeal to (straight) men. Blergh. To be fair to the artist, he probably didn't design the ridiculous outfits most of the women were stuck with, but still. (I can blame him for the woman in the form fitting, split to the waist prison jumpsuit, though, right?) Of course, since it was written by Gray and Palmiotti, I kept thinking about how I would have liked it more with Amanda Conner's art: she can draw sexy women in ridiculous costumes but make it seem fun and playful, not leery.

Batman RIP ...eh. I think it's time for me to accept that I just don't like Grant Morrison's writing. Actually, it's not really the writing, it's the genre (ETA and the fact that I don't really care about Bruce Wayne at all most of the time probably doesn't help): I don't have much time for the whole "nightmarish landscape, all dialogue is Freighted With Meaning, no sense of humour, everything is Important and all the women are femmes fatales (or victims)" thing. (Beryl Hutchinson was the shining exception to that last, but she was only there for about a page and a half altogether.) The bits I did like (apart from the Beryl panels) were mostly the bits where Dick or Damian turned up and made me laugh. And I was made somewhat grumpy by the potted history of Batman which missed out Steph (SHE WAS A ROBIN) and Cass, and only included one panel of Babs - her getting shot, of course. SIGH. (Also, brief moment of silence please for the recently-retconned origin stories of the first three Robins.) I was fairly interested in Batman Incorporated, because the concept appeals to me, but now I know that Morrison isn't allowed to use Cass or Steph, I probably won't bother with it.

MOVING ON. I reread Batgirl: Kicking Assassins as a palate cleanser and quickly became overcome with feelings. Cass does things to my heart. She's so beautifully serious, but not in an "everything is grim" way, she just takes things seriously. She's careful and thoughtful in everything she does, and especially in everything she says. (There's a lovely panel where she's telling two police officers about something the Penguin's up to, and her thought caption thingy - do they have a proper name? I feel like they must - reads "I practiced saying that". CASS.) And she's consciously trying to learn, all the time: training with Onyx (sidenote: what happened to Onyx? Was it something terrible, or did she just disappear?), thinking about what Batman would do, picking up tips from Alien, watching tapes of other heroes fighting an opponent similar to the one she has to fight. All the bits about her moving into her new neighbourhood are lovely, especially how kind Alfred is with her, and the bit where she goes to her first party and really gets into the dancing. Also, this is the volume where she almost drowns and sees a vision of Steph, who helps her to fight her way to the surface again. HEARTS.
shinyjenni: Wonder Woman deflects bullets with her bracelets (wonder woman)
1) Trailer for the animated Dark Knight Returns (part 1)! I wasn't exactly excited about this when I first heard about it, because I dimly remember not being that thrilled by The Dark Knight Returns when I read it about a decade ago, but this trailer has got me enthused by being mostly focused on Carrie Kelly. A girl Robin that Batman describes as "perfect"? YES PLEASE.

2) Some comics I have read recently:
  • Power Girl: Old Friends: I thought this series wasn't nearly as good after the Gray/Palmiotti/Conner team left, but it picked up a bit towards the end and I really liked the last two issues. (Also, I really loved the Gray/Palmiotti/Conner run, so "not as good as that" is not as damning as it sounds.) The penultimate issue was slightly obvious in its "yay girl power!" stuff, but its heart was in the right place, and I loved that there was a bit of diversity of body shape and ethnicity amongst the Power Girl cosplayers. And the scene where the main fangirl character got to the front of the queue and started off into a whole speech about what PG meant to her, only to get in a muddle and tail off with "...I forgot what I was going to say" was adorable. The last issue was a great showcase of what Power Girl can do, and I laughed a lot at this exchange between her and the villain: "Do you know what most vulnerable part of the body is?"/"...er, the heart?"/"No, you idiot, the back of the knee." *kicks* As closing lines go, "We have all the time in the world" is a bit clichéd, and it's not a patch on "it's only the end if you want it to be", but still, sadness. One thing I did really like about the art was how physically imposing Power Girl is; I've only seen scans of World's Finest, but that seems to be less the case there, which makes me sad.

  • Batman: Cataclysm was a bit of a slog, to be honest, though I did enjoy a) finding out that the Drakes apparently lived next door to Wayne Manor (!) and Tim had a secret tunnel to allow him to sneak out for Robining purposes (!!), and b) Dick Grayson running through Bludhaven, tearing his clothes off as he went, hee. I did feel it needed more hugs, overall. But I did enjoy the Huntress/Spoiler team-up, which is what I was reading it for, so that was ok. I liked that even in just one issue, there was space for their relationship to be fairly complicated - some things they had in common, some things they clashed over - and am now even sadder that neither character is around any more. :(

  • I've also been (slowly) catching up with Greg Rucka's run on Wonder Woman, which is just as amazing as I'd heard. I love Wonder Woman so much: her strength, her serenity, her clear-eyed compassion and her determination to do the right thing, whatever the personal cost. ♥


3) Still working on reading all the Booker and Orange prize winners. Had some trouble with 1999's Booker winner, Disgrace, since I entirely loathed the protagonist. I think I was meant to dislike him, but it's hard to read something when you just keep thinking "go away, go away, GO AWAY" at the point of view character. Amsterdam, the 1998 winner, I enjoyed a bit more, but it was let down by the preposterous ending. The closer I got to the end of the book, the more I thought "oh no, that can't be where this is going, that would just be TOO STUPID", but indeed it was where it was going. Shouldn't there be some kind of minimum plausibility standard for prize-winning realist fiction?

The 1998 Orange Prize winner, Larry's Party, was much better. It was full of warmth and affection, and it made all the characters seem like people in their own right, not just cut-outs orbiting the protagonist. It also helped that it didn't treat Larry's life as being Fraught With Special Meaning And Importance: his life is meaningful and important, yes, but only because everyone's is.

4) My things from the library pile includes a lot of Shakespeare-related books at the moment, inspired by reading James Shapiro's excellent Contested Will. The only one I've managed to read so far is The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street, which does a great job of taking a lot of small pieces of evidence and using them to build up a convincing picture of the milieu Shakespeare might have inhabited.

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shinyjenni: Wonder Woman deflects bullets with her bracelets (Default)
incorrigibly frivolous

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