Tag: Comics

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

Posted February 20, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 4 Comments

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill LeporeTitle: The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Goodreads)
Author: Jill Lepore
Narrator: Jill Lepore
Published: Scribner, 2014
Pages: 432
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The Secret History of Wonder Woman is the story behind Wonder Woman and her creator William Moulton Marston. The life of Marston is a fascinating and unconventional one, full of contradictions and this book really explores this in a bit more detail. The idea of Wonder Woman grew from the Amazons in Greek mythology and the feminist movement. Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in 1941 and is now one of the most recognisable superhero’s to grace the comic book pages. Despite this fact, there has not been a major motion picture about Wonder Woman yet, The Lego Movie (2014) has been her first and only film appearance to date.

American psychologist, lawyer and the inventor of the Lie Detector, William Moulton Marston created Wonder Woman under the pen name Charles Moulton, but it is his life that seems to be the biggest influence on this caped crusader. Wonder Woman is a powerful feminist and this may have been a little problematic for the movement. First of all, Marston’s Wonder Woman was a powerful woman but she lost her powers when bound by a man. This could be considered a symbol of the oppressive nature of a male dominated society however the frequency use pointed to his a fixation of bondage and submission.

Originally William Moulton Marston called his character Suprema and she stated that she was a “tender, submissive, peaceloving as good women are, [combining] all the strength of a Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman”. This in itself shows the problems facing the creation of Wonder Woman and Marston was very controlling of his creation and the vision he had for her. While on the surface Marston was promoting the feminist movement, his personal life contradicted his ideals; living with two women, his wife and his mistress, he expected them to fulfil all there wifely duties at home while his wife was the main source of income for the majority of their lives.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman is an interesting micro-history that explores the life of William Moulton Marston and Wonder Woman. While some of what is revealed within this book is nothing new, Jill Lepore does a good job of bringing feminist history into the world of pop-culture. There is so much worth talking about here and this book asks the question, should Wonder Woman be recognised as a feminist icon? Well worth checking out if you are a fan of this superhero or are just interested in the history behind her.

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Posted October 29, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Graphic Novel, Non-Fiction / 0 Comments

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloudTitle: Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (Goodreads)
Author: Scott McCloud
Series: The Comic Books #1
Published: William Morrow, 1993
Pages: 215
Genres: Graphic Novel, Non-Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I have been getting into comics lately and I am quickly discovering there is so much about this medium that I do not know. When trying to review a comic or graphic novel, I find it easy to talk about plot but talking about the art is difficult. I picked up Understanding Comics because there is so much to learn and I wanted a better grasp on the art form. And it is art, it might not be as highbrow as artists like Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet or my personal favourite Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, but it is still art. To exclude comics as an art form would be like removing Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollack or René Magritte from the art world because you ‘don’t get it’.

Now that I have had a little rant about art, let’s talk about comics and Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. This book is a graphical look into comics as an art form, exploring the history of comics and tries to explain the meaning behind the art. It starts off trying to define what a comic is, which I quickly realised was an impossible feat. McCloud ended saying “Comics are juxtaposed pictorial and other images in a deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or produce an aesthetic response in the viewer” but then went on to explain how problematic that definition can be.

A highlight for me was found in chapter two where Scott McCloud explored the vocabulary of comics. The chapter begins with explain René Magritte’s painting The Treachery of Images (1928-29), an artist I am a big fan of. I actually went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the hope to see The Treachery of Images, but it was currently on loan to the Art Institute of Chicago. What I liked about this chapter was how he took the meaning of this painting and expanded on it to help explain comics. He took something easy to explain and built upon that to the more complex ideas.

Reading Understanding Comics makes comics sound like highbrow pieces of art and maybe that is how we should view them. Instead of thinking about comics as a lowbrow medium, it is about time we experience the art and what it can tell us. In this book six major ideas around the art. Idea/purpose, form, idiom/style, structure, craft and surface; explaining how they can all work together to make great pieces.

There is a lot of information within Understanding Comics and I don’t think I have explored it all yet. It has equipped me with some new tools when reading and reviewing comics. The best thing about this book is the way Scott McCloud changes his art style and methods to explore the different ways you can execute the theories behind this book. I am glad he referenced all his work, especially when talking about other artists and how they write comics. The graphical representation of the art theory in the book helped me to understand comics a little better but there is just so much here that I will need to reread this a few times before it sinks in.

Rocket Girl, Vol. 1: Time Squared by Brandon Montclare

Posted October 5, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Graphic Novel / 0 Comments

Rocket Girl, Vol. 1: Time Squared by Brandon MontclareTitle: Rocket Girl, Vol. 1: Time Squared (Goodreads)
Author: Brandon Montclare
Artist: Amy Reeder
Published: Image Comics, 2014
Pages: 120
Genres: Graphic Novel
My Copy: eBook

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Dayoung Johansson is a teenage cop from a high-tech future investigating a megacorporation for crimes against time. She goes back to New York in 1986 to investigate the Quintum Mechanics Corporation. What she finds is far different to what she expected. As she slowly pieces the clues while trying to navigate a different place and time. Discovering that what she knows about her home is really an alternate reality that shouldn’t exist.

Rocket Girl: Time Squared is the first five issues of this bright and quirky series that combines high-tech gadgets in a time where New York wasn’t exactly a safe place to live. Just a quick search of New York in the 1980s and I found that the subway system saw over 250 felonies committed every week. It was a dark and gritty time to live in this great city. So when you read a comic that is full of bright art work set to this gritty backdrop the contrast really stands out.

The past and future also play off each other within this series, Dayoung Johansson is a teen cop and when she lands in 1986 she meets a police petrol. She bosses them around like she would normally do in her 2014 reality but obviously gets a different response from these police officers. It is obvious to say that Rocket Girl is all about clashing; the vibrant colours against a gritty city, past and future, and the list goes on.

While this is a lot of fun to read sometimes I found that the series attempted to get too complex, which can often raise questions about the science. The artwork was too busy at times that you had to spend extra time on once panel just to absorb everything and make sense of it. This tended to throw the flow off but only remains a minor setback.

I would have liked to see more of an exploration into the moral issues of time travelling and alternate realities but I know this is only the beginning of the series and that there is still time for this. I’m not sure where this is going to go, I can imagine that Dayoung would want to return to her alternate reality but to what lengths would she go to make sure that reality will happen? Brandon Montclare has set up a good premise and teaming up with Amy Reeder for the art means we will continue to see vibrant colours in this strange little story.

Black Widow, Vol. 1: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson

Posted September 14, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Graphic Novel / 2 Comments

Black Widow, Vol. 1: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan EdmondsonTitle: Black Widow, Vol. 1: The Finely Woven Thread (Goodreads)
Author: Nathan Edmondson
Artist: Phil Noto
Published: Marvel Comics, 2014
Pages: 144
Genres: Graphic Novel
My Copy: eBook

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Is it weird that I am drawn to heroes in comics that don’t have any powers? Batman and Iron Man’s only power is the power of money but I tend to be more interested in people like The Punisher (maybe his power is the power of not dying). So recently I read Matt Fraction’s series featuring Hawkeye and I wanted to explore my favourite Avenger, Black Widow. Thanks to a recommendation, I have now started the new Marvel Now! Black Widow series by Nathan Edmondson and illustrated by Phil Noto.

Natasha Romanov is Black Widow, a Russian soldier of fortune/assassin with a strict moral code. Her back story is a little sketchy. Through the course of the series there are hints that she once was a Soviet super spy but Nathan Edmondson intentionally keeps her past a mystery. Yet we still get a better idea of the character that is Black Widow and she really knows how to kick ass.

The Finely Woven Thread combines the first six issues of the new Marvel Now! series that follows Natasha on her different jobs which slowly start to piece together. Further into the comic Black Widow finds herself facing the Hammer of God, a mad Russian Orthodox monk wreaking havoc on the world. Soon Natasha is hired by Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D. and together they work towards uncovering just what is going on.

It is hard to summarise the plot of this series as there is so much going on and I don’t want to give too much away. It all seems random but in the game of espionage these things start to come together and you get the sense that there is something bigger lurking in the shadows. In all honesty I’m about ten issues into the series and I can’t remember which other heroes or villains appeared in the first six issues but there are some great cameos.

At times the writing by Nathan Edmondson is a little weak and clunky, you get the feeling that he is all over the place but then I also suspect that it will start to make sense and come together in future issues. However what stands out in this series is the art; Phil Noto has done an amazing job and I’m not quite sure how to explain it. It reminds me of water colour paintings, with rich and vibrant colours throughout the pages. It is just stunning to look at the art and yet it still feels very much like a comic book.

Recently I asked for some recommendations into the world of comics and I am happy with what I have in my wish list so far, but keep them coming. I will be continuing this series of Black Widow and I’m curious to see where it goes. It is a real joy to read a superhero that is not only a woman but also someone without superpowers.

Recommend Me… Comics

Posted September 13, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Recommend Me... / 6 Comments

Recently I have started dipping into the world of comics and graphic novels after I heard that the most recent reboot of Ms Marvel was the first Pakastani-American Muslim superhero. This new change was exciting, and there was also the news that the new Captain American was going to be Falcon, an African American and Thor was soon to be a woman. Finally, when Archie died after he took a bullet protecting his gay friend, I knew that it was time to jump into the world of comics.

First problem I found was the sheer amount of comic book series out there. If I wanted to dive into the world of a particular superhero, I had no idea where to start, what is good and what is bad. I asked a fellow book blogger (Nylon Admiral), as I knew she was knowledgeable in the world of comics. I have been given a nice long list of Marvel Now comics to try and I am very pleased that they are mainly woman superheroes (the new Black Widow, She-Hulk, Storm).

However I think I am just getting started and I know I have plenty of great series to read. So I thought I would ask for some recommendations. Not just superheroes but I want to explore some interesting comics and superheroes. However I would like to dive into the world of some of the greatest superheroes as well. To help here are a list of comic books series I’m currently reading at the moment, and keep a look out for some reviews in the future.

Currently on my TBR

  • Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (art by Francesco Francavilla)
  • Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick (art by David Lopez)
  • FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics by Simon Oliver (art by Robbi Rodriguez)
  • Peter Panzerfaust by Kurtis J Wiebe (art by Tyler Jenkins)
  • Richard Stark’s Parker by Darwyn Cooke & Donald E. Westlake (art by Darwyn Cooke)
  • Rocket Girl by Brandon Montclare (art by Amy Reeder)
  • She-Hulk by Charles Soule (art by Javier Pulido)
  • Storm by Greg Pak (art by Victor Ibanez)
  • The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan (art by Marcos Martin & Muntsa Vicente)
  • The Punisher by Garth Ennis (art by Lewis Larosa, Tom Palmer & Dean White)