Books

The Teen Titans were a second-string super-team until Marv Wolfman and George Perez made them A-list when they launched a new Titans series in 1980 (the cast of the Teen Titans toon was straight out of that era). THE NEW TEEN TITANS: Games was a graphic novel they worked on in the late 1980s (after Perez had left the book) but never finished until a couple of years back (when Wolfman wrote a new story to include Perez’ 70 drawn pages). The story involves federal agent King Faraday recruiting the team to take on a nutball terrorist (hoping by a mass terrorist attack to dramatize threats our government refused to recognize); the result is solidly entertaining, and it’s great to see the Titans at the top of their game (Wolfman’s 1990s work included turning them very dark). On the downside, the ending revelation about the villain really didn’t work and this gaves way too much space to one of the later members Danny Chase (Wolfman’s last shot at proving him an A-lister only makes him look like the Titans’ Wesley Crusher). Great even so.
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BPRD: 1946 by Mike Mignola, Joshua Dysart and Paul Azaceta is an outstanding entry set a year or so after Professor Bruttenholm found Hellboy in a ruined church. Now he’s in Berlin hoping to learn just what the Nazis summoned the kid for, only to get caught up in a Nazi experiment in vampirism and the parallel investigations of the Russian demon-child Varvara (“My dolly Katya will conduct this interrogation!”), who remains one of my favorite characters. Despite the mythos-developments this is a stand-alone collection, which is unusual with the Hellboy universe these days. Thumbs way up.
THE AMERICAN WAY OF EATING: Underground at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan comes off as a food-oriented Nickel and Dimed, as McMillan uses various minimum wage jobs as the basis for a look at how our current food production and distribution systems developed, how they operate and what may lie ahead (the more Walmart dominates a community the less of a price cut it offers). Perfectly competent, but it didn’t grab me at all, maybe because much of this isn’t news to me.
Of course Jessica Valenti’s THE PURITY MYTH: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women is familiar stuff too, but it’s also closer to my own interests. Valenti looks at purity balls, fact-free abstinence-only education, she-asked-for-it rape critics and opposition to the HPV vaccine as signs of the religious right’s madonna/whore fixation, which she argues is tangled up not only with sexism but classism and racism (so white girls on spring break in Mexico get more attention than nonwhite women in sexual slavery). On top of that, Valenti argues, the right-wing’s refusal to treat any deviation as anything but Sodom and Gomorrah makes them ineffective to boot, as jokes about Friends on downloading porn are seen as just as objectionable as actual child porn. An excellent analysis.
Like Cornell Woolrich’s Black Angel, his MANHATTAN LOVE SONG doesn’t age well (even worse in fact). The noirish doomed romance of the narrator with a woman working for unstated players in New York’s power structure is well written and well plotted, but the protagonist is an abuser whose history includes throwing scalding-hot coffee on his wife and deliberately stepping on her feet to teach her who’s boss; I suppose this might have worked for a flawed protagonist back in the 1930s, but I found it impossible to have any sympathy for his plight.

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Filed under Comics, Reading

2 responses to “Books

  1. Pingback: The narrow margin | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: More movies, more books | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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