Current Reading Update 5/23/17

Wow, has that much time since my last post passed already? Clearly, my life is not moving into a state of relaxation over the summer. Anyway, I thought some people might be interested in discussing some of what I’ve been reading lately.

Rick Riordan’s Trials of Apollo  – Yes, a third Percy Jackson Camp Half-Blood series! This one features Percy a little less than the first two, but I’m still enjoying it. I love how Riordan has completely different interpretations of some of these mythological figures than I do without me seriously disliking any of his takes, and he definitely knows his stuff much more than Wikipedia does. One day I’ll find a book of Greek myths or take a class that will fill me in as much, but until then Riordan’s novels are one of the best sources I’ve found for Greek mythology. Book 3 (13?) comes out May of next year.

Miss Marvel: Generation Why and CrushedKamala has been on my “to read” list for ages and I picked up No Normal back at Geek.Kon 2016 (wow, has it been almost a year already?). I was browsing at Barnes & Noble while promising to myself that I would spend at most $20 and I picked up the Trials of Apollo novels, a book on learning Japanese, Doctor Who: Engines of War, and the second two Miss Marvel trade paperbacks. (It feels kind of odd that by the time the Carol Danvers Miss Marvel makes her way to the movie-viewing public, the current generation of nerds will have grown up on Kamala.) These entries lack the novelty of the first, which is pretty much what’s always going to happen, especially since this is a small-scale book. Kamala is a street-level hero with a very small entourage, so there’s not much in the way of new dynamics being explored with each issue. What’s most interesting here tends to be the way Kamala deals with her family, though hints of her upbringing are sprinkled elsewhere (such as her reaction to finding extremists in her fellow Inhumans). I do hope the stakes are raised a bit for book 4.

Harry Bates’ Farewell to the Master – I picked this one up in preparation for my class on Science Fiction and Film Adaptations and I’m looking forward to the discussion. I actually haven’t seen either version of The Day the Earth Stood Still and I’m going to make sure I’ve watched both this month if we don’t do so in class. It always stands out to me now how much calmer the pacing is in older Sci-Fi than writers are told we can get away with now (there’s one scene where Cliff notices four times that he forgot to take a photograph of the action; no editor in 2017 would let that pass). Still, I like the mysteries that the story posits, and the way it plays with assumptions in a way that could easily be translated into a modern-day racial parody. (If this doesn’t make sense to you, imagine Gnut as being a “black strongman” stereotype standing next to a white, bearded Klaatu.) The story doesn’t feel sufficiently detailed for a full movie adaptation, which tells me that the movies probably took some very interesting liberties that I look forward to seeing.

Neil Gaiman’s American Gods – I’m finally getting around to starting this one, and I expect a great experience. I’m going to be starting and stopping this one, considering that I have four other novels that I’m required to read over the next four weeks, but I expect to be done with this one by the end of June.

Current Watching Update 5/12/17

As much as I’ve had difficulty keeping up with strict blogging deadlines, I also want to comment on the shows and movies I’ve been watching and books I’ve been reading. I also never intended for this blog to die, though most of the times I get started on a long article it’s out of date and pointless by the time I finish it.

So this is me, once again, trying to de-formalize the process. I will put some energy into long, proper blog posts, but I will also do short updates on conversations I’m interested in having right now.

Currently Watching

Iron Fist – at the time of writing this, I am finishing episode 9. As a writer, this show is very frustrating. In many ways, it feels like a first draft. Unfortunately, if it isn’t a first draft, it’s wish fulfillment. What am I talking about? Danny talks about his training, about meditation. He doesn’t actually show the signs of having experienced these things, nor do we get Arrow-style flashbacks to help it along. If it was written into his personality, a lot of things would have changed. For instance, at one point he hooks up with Colleen Wing. This could have been great. Two warriors, trained in different circumstances, each with great burdens and unable to confide in anybody else. This could have been a powerful source of connection. Instead, we just get…them hooking up. Maybe out of desperation, frustration, but still with no real connection. This is what Iron Fist feels like all the time. At some point I will write a more detailed article about this.

Doctor Who – I talk about this every week in An Unearthly Podcast. There’s very little to say that I’m not already saying, so I suggest you check it out. One thing we didn’t mention this week, though, is that it’s almost definitely Missy (with or without John Simm’s Master) in that vault.

Dragon Ball Super – I’m really liking what they’re doing with the Universe Survival arc. On one hand, they’re stretching out a few days into multiple weeks yet again. However on the positive side, every member of the team is built up. This isn’t like the Cell Saga, where characters who haven’t truly mattered since Dragon Ball were brought in to be beat down. 18 and Piccolo received the least build-up, but that’s because they were training other members (and each one’s power level featured heavily in the Android Saga). Krillin, often the butt of many jokes, got more build-up than ever before, without being given unrealistic power levels. Gohan got an episode to build him back up to his pre-marriage levels (though I hope they do more with him). Master Roshi and Tien got an episode reminding everybody of their transformations and showing how powerful they were compared to other fighters.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic – Not much to really say at this point. The main cast are moving to the point where the lessons they learn apply more to the adults and parents watching and less to the primary audience, as compared to being equal for both. There are still some great moments when Twilight interacts with Celestia, but lately this show is just a “feel good” and not really carrying any weight.

CW ArrowverseLegends of Tomorrow is on break, leaving the show that I’ve been looking forward to the most to be Supergirl lately. I don’t have anything deep to say on this show at the moment, though some steps have occasionally bewildered me. I believe there’s an invasion coming up though, so that will be interesting, and I wonder if that will have to do with the fact that Mon-El played a much smaller role in the “Invasion” cross-over than the original comic. Arrow is in the “calm before the storm” stage, and I’ve been having trouble predicting its twists and turns as well. I’m withholding an opinion until I see where this truly leads. The Flash, on the other hand, has been full of frustrations lately. People are barely accepting the “time remnant” story for a number of reasons – why would a remnant of Barry have scars? Why didn’t he start to act like Barry when he forgot who he was? There are more questions than answers, about Savitar, about Killer Frost, and more.

Now that the semester is over, I should be able to catch up on some of what I’ve been watching and start with some of what I’ve been meaning to watch.

Watching Soon

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – I started watching this season but I haven’t always kept up. Like some others on this list, it’s a little harder to watch episodes of this than CW or Netflix shows. Not entirely difficult, but when I’m throwing something on in the background or maneuvering around piles of laundry waiting to be sorted, I’m more likely to throw on Youtube than to click my way through Xfinity online. It’s a form of laziness that I wouldn’t accept if I were reviewing full-time, and I’ll be making more of an effort to catch up now that there won’t be a stack of papers, journals, and textbooks on my chair full-time.

Gotham – Same as AoS

Sense8 – Season 2 came out recently and I definitely want to start that as soon as I can.

Uuchu Sentai Kyuranger, Kamen Rider Ghost, and Kamen Rider Ex-Aid – The same situation as AoS and Gotham, except that I also can’t watch these while I’m multitasking. I’ll be catching up on at least one of these very soon; after that, it depends on how my summer goes.

American Gods – I plan to start watching this after I read the book.

Hopefully I’ll fall into a rhythm where I can continue blogging regularly. It’s difficult to maintain patterns once the semester starts and I’m facing multiple deadlines a day, but I’m going to do my level best.

Welcome to Thor Week!

While I am fully aware that this is a brand new blog and there is no status quo, nothing to surprise readers with that they would otherwise have expected, there is also a flip side to that coin. That flip side is that I have never been able to avoid a special event or a theme time period. Here I find that the first new film release I intend to discuss in January is one that is preceded by two other films in continuity with it.

To this end I bring you Thor Week. We kick off with Thor: Tales of Asgard. This animated film gives us some tales about Thor and Loki’s childhood and ties in somewhat to the events of the two Thor live action films.

Next will come Marvel 1602. Forsaking the modern-day Dr. Donald Blake as his host, Thor appears centuries earlier in this incarnation, although still well after the earliest comics in Thor‘s chronology. What does Neil Gaiman’s alternate universe’s version of Thor have to say?

Bringing things back around to modern Thor, let’s look at one of the earliest films starring the Thor-Blake duo, The Incredible Hulk Returns!  This is a rather unique look, as part of the universe created by the 1980s Incredible Hulk TV show.

The singularly titled Thor comic is our next look, the volume that ends J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Thor with issues 601-603 and Thor: Giant-Size Finale. Does this comic deserve not to have a subtitle?

Thor, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s introduction to the Norse god of thunder, was one of many superhero origin films released as a build-up to a Marvel cinematic event. This film also includes an explanation about how gods of multiple pantheons can share one universe, which is something I will share my opinion on.

Following this is Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers, a motion comic that focuses on Loki as ruler of Asgard. How does this motion comic work onscreen, and what does this mean for our Asgardians?

The week wraps up with Thor: The Dark World, the sequel to Thor and The Avengers. Does this continue to raise the bar, or is it a failed follow-up?