What I Read: February 16-22.
Ms. Marvel, #11, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona:
You should be reading it because more than any other heroine or story I'm following at the moment, Ms. Marvel—Kamala herself, but also the book as a whole—feels like a direct descendant of Buffy. The pop culture references and the humor; that she doesn't fit in among her peers but ALSO has a small group of close friends; her desire to please her family while also shouldering this huge, huge responsibility; and GOOD LORD, the lump-in-your-throat feels that come from her hero/real life balancing act.
Blood Oranges: Siobhan Quinn #1, by Caitlin Kiernan: First in an urban paranormal series about a monster hunter who gets, in short succession, bitten by a werewolf AND turned into a vampire. Quinn is foul-mouthed, violent, smart, funny, and an ENTIRELY unreliable narrator:
If there were a how-to book, Demon Slaying for Dummies, or The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vampire Hunting, or a Wikipedia entry, or whatever, I think Rule No. 1 would be something like: Do not, under any circumstances, stop in the woods on the night of a full fucking moon and shoot up, when you know the rogue werewolf you've been tracking for a week is probably pretty close by.
It's pretty definitely a love-it-or-hate-it book, and I'll be reading the second one soon, soon, soon. (In other words, I loved it.)
The Shadow Hero, by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew:
It's about family and identity, teamwork and trust. Like any good origin story, there's joy in testing newfound powers, but there's plenty of tragedy, too. While it's not the focus of the story, The Shadow Hero doesn't shy away from or avoid dealing with racism and stereotyping, and it points out the offensiveness of some long-standing story tropes—like yellowface—simply by using them in a story that stars Asian characters. (One would hope that most readers would already see the problematic elements surrounding and within said tropes, but you never know.)
Vivian Apple at the End of the World, by Katie Coyle:
It's an angry story—Vivian has a lot to be angry about, in terms of her own personal journey and in terms of what her world has become—and again, with the parallels to our own world, at moments, it certainly gave me the I AM GETTING PARANOID Handmaid's Tale wiggins. But. But it's also a story about growth and forgiveness and truth; friendship and sacrifice and creating family and celebrating happiness; about living for each moment while also thinking about the future.
Astro City #20, by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson: Third in the Quarrel arc, and judging by the overarching themes, where our characters were at the end of the issue, and next month's cover art, I'm pretty concerned that it might be headed towards a tragic ending. Eeek.
DOUBLE BONUS POINTS for, in addition to dealing with everything else this story has covered, for this:
I love that A) Jess refuses to let MPH turn her into some sort of SYMBOL, some sort of GENERIC FEMALE, and that B) Busiek is making a SUPER point about the problems that would be inherent in a crimefighter with superpowers being romantically involved with a crimefighter who DOESN'T have superpowers. Jess didn't break up with him because she wants to date a jerk, she breaks up with him because she can't devote herself to crimefighting AND a relationship. She can only choose one, and she chooses the job.
Batgirl #39, by Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart: Yay for Babs and Dinah making up, and yay for Frankie being in on the secret. I still haven't been entirely won over by all of the newness, but I'm curious to see how the arc gets wound up next month.
Tomboy, by Liz Prince:
It's SO, SO FUNNY, and it's also honest and self-deprecating and warm and generous and heartfelt and thoughtful. Loads here about gender and assumptions and culture and our own ingrained prejudices. I read a ton of it aloud to Josh, which kind of defeats the purpose of a comic, but whatever.
Southern Bastards, #2 & #3, by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour: This book is totally, totally living up to the promise of the first issue. Dark and broody and violent and profane, with a strong Shakespearean vibe. (Not the language, but the storyline and some of the imagery.) LOVE IT.
Lizzy Bennet's Diary, by Marcia Williams: Pride and Prejudice for the middle grade set, loads of illustrations, fold-out letters and notes, and all sorts of adorabosity. I'm looking forward to reading her other stuff.
When My Heart was Wicked, by Tricia Stirling:
Tricia Stirling’s When My Heart was Wicked is about surviving abuse, becoming whole, and the hard work it takes to end a cycle. It’s about trying to choose protection over revenge; forgiveness over guilt; and how wanting to own something is not the same as loving it. For the most part, it’s beautifully written—Lacy’s connections between science, nature, and magic are lovely, her imagery is vivid and bright, her pain is searing and visceral—and the fantasy elements can be read as literal or metaphor.