Yes, I do read comic books and I'm almost a senior citizen. I don't usually blog about a comic book unless I consider it really noteworthy.
Ms. Marvel: Civil War II is a compilation of a number of issues of the Ms. Marvel comic book. Such compilations are marketed as graphic novels even though they originally appeared separately over the course of a number of months. I was recently astonished to find that this one is a nominee for Best Graphic Novel of 2017 on Goodreads. I understood completely once I'd actually read it. In fact, I voted for it myself. I also decided that I needed to blog about it.
Back in 2015, I read a memoir by G. Willow Wilson, the woman who has been writing Ms. Marvel. The only thing I had previously read by Willow was a mini-series for DC about African Justice League member Vixen which really impressed me. The first volume of Ms. Marvel compilations had already been published but I hadn't read it yet. Ms. Marvel is the first Muslim female superhero. Willow is an American Muslim with her own approach to Islam. If you are interested in that aspect of her life you can read her memoir, The Butterfly Mosque, which I reviewed on this blog here.
There have so far been seven volumes of Ms. Marvel compilations. Civil War II is the sixth volume. I've read all the previous compilations in this series.
I consider Ms. Marvel an important development for American popular culture. She is obviously intended to combat Islamophobia in the United States . Ms. Marvel is Kamala Khan, an American born Muslim teen with immigrant family members. I appreciated the fact that the series juxtaposes typical American high school experiences and Muslim family life. I have to say that the superhero adventure aspect seemed rather routine in the first four volumes. As a superhero fan, I was rather underwhelmed. Volume 5: Super Famous had a superhero plot line that involved economic issues for Ms. Marvel's Jersey City.
Civil War II steps up the drama in Ms. Marvel's superhero life and introduces issues that directly relate to the contemporary politics of minority communities in the U.S. There are justice and law enforcement issues. Ms. Marvel must choose between the policy decisions of respected figures and protecting her community. It's a much darker story which doesn't lighten up any when Kamala tries to get some rest from the troubling conflicts she faced as Ms. Marvel by visiting family in Pakistan. Ms. Marvel is no longer superhero lite. Kamala is growing up, and the problems she confronts are tougher to resolve. That's why I voted for Civil War II for best graphic novel of 2017 on Goodreads.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
When French author Gabrielle Dubois asked to become my Goodreads Friend, I took a look at her work to see if it interested me. This is the criterion that I use for authors on Goodreads. I noticed that she had a historical novel that had been translated to English that looked like it had potential. I purchased it from Amazon though I didn't have time to review it at that point.
As I expected, Dubois eventually requested a review of her novel that was translated under the title of Mistress Mine. She also offered to provide me with a review copy. I responded that I had already purchased it, and that I was glad to have the translation because it has been some time since I read anything in French. She then wanted to send me the original French edition to improve my French reading skills. I told her that was very generous and scheduled a review.
I had already begun reading Mistress Mine when Sous Les Eucalyptus Deuxième partie (second part) arrived in the mail. I noted that this French volume started at chapter 35. I had only reached chapter 25 in the translation at that point. So I had time to plan how I was going to handle my reading of the French version in relation to my reading of the translation. I examined a page at random and noticed that I didn't find the French very difficult. I had read a number of untranslated French classics as an undergraduate and had retained more French vocabulary than I realized. I found that I could read most of the page without referring to my French dictionary. This was good news because it meant that the project of improving my French reading skills would probably be a great success. I decided that my best strategy would be to read the translated version of a chapter and then follow it up with reading the same chapter in the original. This meant that when I encountered French words that were new to me, I could refer to my memory of the translation to decipher their meaning before looking them up in the dictionary. This process would assist me in learning and retaining more French vocabulary. Every chapter became easier to read than the previous one. I definitely recommend this method to anyone who wants to improve their French.
Since this is actually supposed to be a review of Mistress Mine I had better get on with it.
I would categorize Mistress Mine as a historical romance. I considered it far less stereotypical than most examples of this genre. Louise St. Quentin, the 19th century French protagonist, exhibits character growth. She eventually comes to understand what she really wants from a relationship. Fans of this genre need to understand that there is a sequel. This means that there isn't quite as much of a resolution as they might prefer. The ending may seem abrupt to romance readers.
In some respects, Louise St. Quentin reminded me of George Sand. I read and reviewed a couple of biographical novels about George Sand. Unfortunately, Gabrielle Dubois' heroine cared far too much about what people thought of her unconventional life. I often wished Louise were more like George Sand. Perhaps when she is fully mature, Louise will be a woman who I would find more inspirational.
Based on the portion of the French original edition that I read, I thought that translator Jane Hentgès did an excellent job. She was true to the essence of the text which is what I consider to be the hallmark of a successful translation.
Friday, October 27, 2017
Are you tired of being depressed by Grimdark fantasy? I know that I am. In fact, I was never a fan of Grimdark. I want to be inspired by fantasy. That's why I've agreed to post a couple of promotions for the type of fantasy that is the opposite of Grimdark.
The following is a guest post by Arel B. Grant:
The following is a guest post by Arel B. Grant:
Do you know about Noblebright Fantasy?
Noblebright Fantasy refers to stories in which the main motivation of the characters is an altruistic proposal or quest, and the world in which they live upholds hope and the possibility of better. Noblebright stories present characters that choose to act with kindness and honor, and are rewarded for their good qualities and actions. In a Noblebright Fantasy, the outlook of the story is a positive one and the world presented, although not perfect, is beautiful and valuable in the eyes of the characters.
Noblebright Fantasy in other media.
Although the Noblebright concept made its debut within the gaming community, as a counterpart for the “Grimdark” denomination of the popular game WarHammer 40,000, its popularity has grown ever since, and given way for people to start applying it through other media.
Literature, cinema, television, and comic books and animation are now being judged under this light, and the traits of Noblebright Fantasy are appearing in each of these spheres.
Today let’s talk about the genre as we can see it in the movie theaters.
Noblebright in the movies: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Probably the biggest exponent of the genre right now is Marvel Studios. Movies in their MCU have consistently kept to the Noblebright topic, presenting heroes that are self-sacrificing and have the power to save their worlds. From the plain courage and unshakable principles of Captain America to the self-imposed isolation of The Hulk, Marvel's heroes fight to protect those around them and use their strength not for personal gain, but for the greater good, even though it may not always benefit them. The Marvel movies present characters that are complicated and whose morals can be complicated, but that ultimately choose altruism over selfishness where it really matters.
Marvel villains are also complex and Noblebright in their own right. Recent examples like Thor's Loki, Guardians of the Galaxy's Nebula, and Spiderman Homecoming's Vulture are just some of them. They are villains that can be redeemed and hold qualities you can empathize with, and in one way or the other, they end up bowing to the heroes that protect their worlds.
Noblebright in the movies: May the Noble Force be with you
Another great example of a Straight-to-Cinema Noblebright piece is everyone's darling space opera, Star Wars. The Skywalker siblings' thrilling journey to rid the galaxy of the evil empire and restore the reign of piece of the Jedi knights is a wonderful example of Noblebright Fantasy. Luke and Leia's struggle, their courage and their strength, make for amazing heroes. The overall outlook of the story is filled with humor, adventure and the hope for victory. And their journey through the galaxy, although ripe with danger, is also filled with wonder, love and excitement.
Yet again in Star Wars' case, the villain is a crucial and interesting part of the story, and its redemption through family love at the end, contributes to the Noblebright quality of the piece. It leaves in the audience the message that the world can be saved, and even the utmost evil can be cleansed with the power of determination and kindness.
Noblebright in the movies: Pirates, Robots and More...
Beyond just the epic sagas and block-buster phenomenons, the Noblebright concept has been re-used in cinema many times over the years, not only because of its positive message. With its hopeful outlook, Noblebright Fantasy offers the audience the opportunity to believe in better, to strive for better, and to submerge themselves in a world that can be changed by the action of its heroes, that can be improved with the right motive, with determination, courage and kindness. Whether it be a young girl lost in a fantasy land, a conniving pirate entangled in a seven-seas quest, or a teenage boy caught in an intergalactic struggle with sentient robots, the Noblebright message at the core it's still the same:
"It's worth it to act. It's worth it to risk it. With your actions, you can make this world better"
Heroes and Swords: A Noblebright Fantasy Collection.
In the spirit of the classic fantasy of Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and Brandon Sanderson, authors of Noblebright Fantasy all around the world have come together in this E-book giveaway. With stories that are uplifting and full of hope, and heroes who strive for goodness and fight to save their worlds, Heroes and Swords will transport readers back to the glory of heroic fantasies, fabulous quests and characters full of charisma and courage
Instafreebie Giveaway link: http://abgwrites.com/heroes-swords-noblebright-collection/