Review Bites

I love writing reviews. I love discussing what I did and didn’t like about a book, but sometimes, I may not want to write out a full review on some of the books I’ve read. I may have a few thoughts I want to share on something all the same, but I may not feel like it’s worth posting every individual one considering the short length. I figured that a post compiling short reviews/thoughts of what I’ve recently read but don’t feel like doing a full review could work just as well. They’re fun sized.

The Crow: Death and Rebirth by John Shirley

Jamie, an American student in Japan, searches for his girlfriend when she turns up missing. He finds her, but she’s different somehow. After she tells her father and Jamie that she never wants to see them again, Jamie begins investigating and starts to uncover some startling information. For his efforts, he’s killed, but comes back to avenge himself and his girlfriend. This wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, but it wasn’t that great (to me) either. I enjoyed some of the new elements Shirley added to the Crow mythos, and I really liked some of the dialogue. But then parts of it started feeling really kitschy, and there’s one scene where I almost just closed the book and walked away because no one can be that utterly stupid.

Comics for the The Crow are usually hit or miss (mostly miss) for me. I’ve enjoyed many of the novels and, of course, the movie, but the comics and I often don’t get along. I can only give this a 2.5 at best because it just wasn’t really my cuppa, but it gets an A for not turning into the mess I feared it would be.

Final Verdict
2.5 of 5 stars

Polarity #1 by Max Bemis

One day, Artist Timothy Woods wanders into the streets naked from the waist down and raving like a lunatic. The next day, he’s admitted to the psych ward and put on meds. Once he’s better and released from the hospital, the art he’s created during his period of madness reaches critical success. However, because he’s “stable,” he also finds that he can’t create as he used to. Clarity also makes him numbingly aware of hipster hypocrisy and just how mundane things are around him. He doesn’t like the mild-mannered man he’s become on his medicine. He felt he was bold, provocative, and inspired before medication. The medicine only deflates him. He wonders if losing that part of himself is worth the “sanity.” He decides it isn’t and stops taking his medication. But not only did the medicine suppress what he felt was his true self, it also inhibited his latent super powers. Now, there are evils lurking, but what’s a real danger and what’s just a product of his illness?

I loved this book so much, and given the premise dealing with Timothy’s mental issue, it can make you a little afraid that this book will derail itself because the writer will either try too hard or they won’t try hard enough because this can be such a touchy, controversial topic. However, I think Bemis did a fair job, but I can only speak as someone who’s never dealt with a mental illness. I don’t feel like he overplayed or underplayed Timothy’s illness. He didn’t villanize him for making the decision to go off his meds. He did show how this is detrimental to Timothy’s stability and the relationships he maintains, but it wasn’t tsk-ing him. It also didn’t make him seem like he was weak for making the decision either which is another thing people who write about mental illness are typically guilty of. It’ll be interesting to see how Timothy navigates through the world and his own mind. I do hope in the end there’s some middle ground that allows him to be the person he’s meant to be while giving him peace of mind.

Final Verdict:

Julio’s Day by Gilbert Hernandez

This is a slice of life comic that opens up with the birth wails of Julio and ends with his death rattle 100 years later in the same house and in the same bed. Even though there are many iconic things that happen from 1900 to 2000, the comic kept the impact of such events insular, choosing to focus on the small scale impact of these events and how they did or didn’t affect Julio’s family. Things like the stock market crash happened and the family acknowledges it, but what does it mean to a family that’s already poor? What does it mean to a family already used to just getting by? This book also focuses on the people in their communities and how they impacted Julio and his family’s life, as well.

This story was filled with dark family secrets, loneliness, betrayal, mental health issues, racism, turning sexual tides, and many other things. While that seems so much for one graphic novel, the pains and joys in this story are told with such simplicity, often times without words or with only dialogue that says so much without the characters ever going into full details such as Julio’s sister telling him, “I don’t feel so sad when somebody dies, Julio, because they fly away to explore the stars and planets. When it’s our turn we join them in exploring the universe.” The art, the pacing, everything was just right for this story.

Final Verdict:

Revival, Volume One: You’re Among Friends by Tim Seeley

A one day “miracle” of sorts happens in a small Wisconsin town. The dead come back to life. No, they’re not plucky zombies who want your brains, and some of them are in better physical shape after coming back to life than before they’d died. However, not all of them are quite right, and the town has been quarantined until it can be decided if really was a miracle, a hoax, or some biological process that needs to be understood and tested because what would something like that mean for humanity. Then, a murder occurs, and everyone becomes a suspect–both the living and the revived. Dana Cypress, an officer in town, finds herself on the case.

Even though this is not a zombie story, it was refreshing to see a take on the dead, perfectly normal human beings that died, coming back to life without being ambling, shambling zombie or a lot of magic and dimensions and alternate realities somehow altering the course of life. I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean. They’re just as confused as everyone else about what happened, and some of them aren’t quite sane anymore and feel cheated that they were robbed of death and can’t do anything that will end their own lives… almost… And one among them does seem to be a bit more special than the others and seems to have a purpose that hasn’t been revealed yet. And maybe that’s true of all of them. I just know at this point the story is dark-ish, complete with bible verses being quoted in creepy ways.

I didn’t rate this higher because I wasn’t really feeling all the scenes where some of the characters would break out with the hip slang/terms or AAVE. Reading characters saying things like “baby mama” and “playa-playa” was dumb. The only exception to this might be when the professor quoted Martin Lawrence. That was paced well and kind of funny. Other than that, it felt so out of place in the general context of the story. I’m not against humor in stories like these, but it has to be done just right. And this hip talk broke up my reading experience and made me shake my head. And I swear on all that is holy, if anyone in this comic says anything close to, “You got me straight trippin’, boo,” I will rage quit this comic and not look back. Marvel did this to me one time. I refuse to read anything else with anything similar.
Final Verdict:
3 of 5 stars

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