Saturday, 5 August 2017

Review: Ms. Marvel, Vol. 7: Damage Per Second

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 7: Damage Per Second Ms. Marvel, Vol. 7: Damage Per Second by G. Willow Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have not really been in the best of moods considering the changes that Marvel Comics have made to some of their characters this year. I don't think I need to state it out loud; but those changes have had been damn near stepping away. The only reason I do? Kamala Khan.

The Ms. Marvel team work really hard to bring out a quality comic that has solid characterization and importantly, characters you want to see do well in life. In this volume, Kamala has the face the possibility of one of her secrets coming out. She decides... that she's okay with it, on seeing how brave one of her friends is when facing their own secret coming out. It's a small way of showing that even heroes need to look to others for support, and that the best support can come from the most unlikely of places.

The first issue collected in this trade is centered around voting due to the time it was originally published. It's nice to see Kamala and her friends be able to throw their support behind something they really believe it.

I supere believe in Kamala Khan. I hope you do too.

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Monday, 24 July 2017

Review: Rise of the Isle of the Lost

Rise of the Isle of the Lost Rise of the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I read the second book Melissa de la Cruz had written for the Descendants series, I have to admit that it left me feeling like there was something really missing. I didn't know what it was, but it did make me hesistant to pick up the book until now. And... wow, self, you should have just pre-ordered and got it the day it came out

Rise of the Isle of the Lost takes us back to the Isle in a more ... reality ensues manners than the previous novel did. Not everyone is happy that Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay are out, they're actually a bit angry at it. That anger only grows when it comes out that those four might have had something to do with the barrier going back up within minutes of it looking like they might actually be free.

The Auradon VKs are trying hard to move on with their lives, but the Isle VKs do not have this choice.

Friends don't leave friends on the Isle.

This is Uma, daughter of Ursula's entire motivation. She may being framed as the villain in this and the sequel movie, but when your real motivation is just to get out of a really bad situation, it's hard to be angry. It helps. of course, that Uma is a fun character to read about and her pirate crew understand more of the world than most people in this franchise.

Okay not gonna lie I want to read something just based around Uma and Harry. That would be amazing. But this book was a return to good story telling of the first novel, and I hope that it sticks around.

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Friday, 21 July 2017

Review: Bat Out of Hell: the Musical

On Tuesday, 11th July 2017, I was able to see a performance of Bat Out of Hell: the Musical in the London Coliseum. I was fortunate enough to be able to see the full original cast for the show, with no understudies performing that evening. This is ... I guess it's a review, but I don't think it's a typical one, if that will make any sense to you.

The first question I should answer: what is the musical about? That's an interesting question and I'll do my best to answer it. Okay, so the show is set 20 Minutes Into the Future, following an accident which caused a portion of humanity to 'freeze' - once they reach 18, they never age again. We're roughly ... 25 years on from that event that still has no real explanation. Set in the city state of Obsidan, ruled by a guy named Falco, who is devoted to raising and caring for his daughter - Raven. We open on the eve of Raven's 18th birthday, and Falco Towers are being attacked by a group of these frozen teens known as The Lost, who have an enemagtic leader in a guy called Strat. At this ... trashing of Falco's home, Raven and Strat catch sight of each other and fall in love and ... that's pretty much the story. Well, no, he goes to kidnap her and what was a crush becomes love in the space of 10 minutes and ... yeah. that's it.

There isn't really a plot to this show, there's hardly any dialogue. It's an excuse to sing - really well - some of Steinman's most popular songs that he wrote for Meat Loaf. It also seems to be an excuse for him to use elements of his Neverland musical that never was (hence the whole thing with The Lost and their leader who looks a bit like an older version of the 2003 live action Peter Pan...)

Christina Bennington as Raven and Andrew Polec as Strat
I can't say the cast aren't great because they are. Vocally, they're fantastic and do as much as they can with the very little they're given. Personal favourite among the characters was one of the Lost, a boy named Tink who was frozen at just a bit younger than the rest of them. If any character in this show has an actual story, it's Tink. He goes through a full arc that really tugs at the heart and includes a beautiful rendition of I'm Not Allowed to Love, originally written for a Batman musical that also never came to be. This one song tells us everything we need to know about Tink and frankly I wish more of the show centered around him

Yeah, if I'm completely honest? Raven and Strat are not the rock kids whose story I want to follow. While there's a lot in the concept of Strat - the 'leader' of a group of forever teens who seems to be somehow looking to at least mature emotionally if he can't do it physically -  I personally found Raven to fall very flat as a character. She comes out with a few pretenious statements that I think we are meant to see as deep and is otherwise enclosed in her tower. Had the story centered around the idea of Strat's empathy wanting to free this girl from her imprisonment and not their whole love story? I think I would have been more into it. Though of course they had to close with I Would Do Anything for Love...

To be very clear: Beinngton and Polec do as much as they can with the little plot there is, and their chemistry on-stage is undeniable. Vocally they are really amazing and to be able to perform those songs in the manner they do is something that's just amazing to watch, and I'd happily do it again because it really is such a delight to listen too ... It's just that my heart was stolen by a couple of rebel rebels in the West End 12 years ago, and I don't think there'll ever be a rock musical that'll do it the way they did.

ALL THAT BEING SAID? I do actually think you should check out Bat Out of Hell. It's a fun way to spend a few hours in London, and it closes 22nd August to move to Toronto with the cast. Thus far there's no news of a cast recording, but here's hoping. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Holiday Times!

I'm on the train down to London today! Only down for about a week, but it's nice to have a holiday.

I'll try to give a trip report when I get back!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Cartoon Capers: Paddington Bear

Due to the recent loss of his creator, beloved author Michael Bond, I thought I'd take the time to take a look at my personal favourite adaptation of the Paddington Bear books. There's been a few including - most recently - a live action movie, which has a sequel due out in November of this year. Paddington himself is most commonly depicted with a red hat and blue duffel coat, but it wasn't always this way. No, for a long while, he was shown with a black hat. Like in this version

This was first broadcast in January of 1976, and was a stop motion animation for the BBC. Paddingtom himself is three-dimensional, while everyone else is a cut-out. The episodes were scripted by Michael Bond, while narration and character voices came from actor Michael Hordern. This series was commonly repeated throughout the years, and I tended to catch episodes while growing up in the 90s. At five minutes each, they're nice little shorts that leave a warm feeling with the viewer.

To me, this is the iconic Paddington image. More so that another other image of him. I know the red hat is very popular, but there's something about the black hat that just stands out to me. Paddington himself is a little delight, and has been a personal favourite character for as long as I can remember. I still own copies of all the main books, and and attempting to track down the few I don't have just so I can read through them. 

Being a very well meaning bear, Paddington never wants to get into the scrapes he tends to find himself in, and it always seemed to get across the message that even if you go into something with the best of intentions, it may not end up as you hope. At least, personally. It also managed to never be very moralizing, which was always fun

I find myself kind of reaching for things to say here and a lot of it is because I don't think I've actually processed that Mr. Bond has passed. I expect, when it hits, I shall be very sad. But, like he said himself, it's always fun to picture that small area of London. To picture Mr. Gruber and Paddington sitting out with their elevenses and watching the world pass by. 

That's the image of Paddington that everyone should have. And it's the image that will always make me smile to think of.

One of my dear Paddington plushes. Yes, I have a few. He's adorable, okay?!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Review: Disney Princess Comic Strips Collection, Vol. 2

Disney Princess Comic Strips Collection, Vol. 2 Disney Princess Comic Strips Collection, Vol. 2 by Amy Mebberson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amy Mebberson is one of my favourite comic artists in the genre at the moment, and I really adore her Pocket Princesses web-comic, which means - of course - that I am a huge fan of these individual Disney Princess Comic Strips. Collection 2 arrived at my home today, courtesy of Amazon, and it didn't take me long to devour each strip with a smile on my face.

All the official princesses are represented - up to Merida, at least. Frozen onwards have not been included in the collection, and I'm not entirely sure why. Not that it matters - each Princess and her individual movie cast has their own moments to shine, and Mebberson reminds us why these ladies are people to admire. They're funny, kind, stubborn, smart, basically anything you can thing of. All the comics are played for humor, but more often than not there are genuine heart-warming moments. In this collection, the stand-out for that would be a long strip in which Tiana prepares her restaurant to feed the homeless of New Orleans. Lottie comes along with donates suits from Big Daddy to give the people some fine new clothing. The humor comes from Naveen apparently being a bit clueless to what's going on - he doesn't attend enough staff meetings - but the heart-warming of the strip shines through about all.

If you like Disney, these are definitely comics worth picking up and checking out. They are pretty much guaranteed to make you smile.

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Monday, 19 June 2017

Cartoon Capers: Dennis the Menace

So, in the last post - technically a cross-post of my Goodreads review but it counts - I mentioned that I had re-watched the Dennis the Menace cartoon that had been aired during the 1990s. Most of this is available on DVD now, but trying to find it can be a right pest. Not the point. The point is this: I thought I would look back and try to document (in my own way) the various television adaptations that the King of Menaces has had. Right? Here we go then.