Monday, October 31, 2016

Review of "Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Book One, Force Storm," by John Ostrander & Jan Duursema

Review of

Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Book One, Force Storm, by John Ostrander & Jan Duursema ISBN 9781595829795

Four out of five stars

The most significant page in this book is the “Star Wars Graphic Novel Timeline (in years)” that appears at the end. Like human history, there is a before and after switch point and they are labeled BSW4 and ASW4. The boundary point is the events in the movie “Star Wars IV: A New Hope,” so the acronyms are “Before Star Wars 4” and “After Star Wars 4.”
 The timeline goes all the way back to 25,000 years BSW4, to the time when the force was being felt, but no one had reached the point where they could have it with them. That is the context of this story. Space travel exists, but it is slow and the people that have some ability to channel the force are called “the Je’daii.”
 There is a great split on the planet Tython between those that could channel the force and those that could not. The planet was so dangerous that the people without the force as their ally could not live there, so they had to leave the planet. This split families, creating animosity that not even the necessity could override.
 It is a brutal time of wars, conquest and the book contains the nascent beginnings of what was seen in “Star Wars IV.” The story is complex, it is the first in a series, so most of the background material for the complete line is put in place. All of the main characters are strong, although there is a bit of unnecessary bickering between some of the Je’daii.
 In the tradition of Star Wars, there are powerful, deadly monsters and in the tradition of some human societies, there are gladiatorial contests. The book is a different form of Star Wars, some may not like it while others will enjoy the look back to a time far, far away when myths and the religions that they are based on were being formed.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Review of "Some New Kind of Slaughter ~ or ~ Lost in the Flood (and How We Found Home Again)" by mpMann & A. David Lewis

Review of

Some New Kind of Slaughter ~ or ~ Lost in the Flood (and How We Found Home Again) by mpMann & A. David Lewis ISBN 9781932386530

Four out of five stars
This book reminded me of one written by astronomer Carl Sagan many years ago. He was debunking the pseudoscientific theories of Immanuel Velikovsky, yet he pointed out one significant feature of Velikovky’s writings. This was the listing of many of the cultures that had the common myth of “the flood,” one so vast and deadly that it nearly wiped out all local life, if not all that on Earth. Sagan stated that this common myth is something that should be examined.
 This graphic novel expresses a few of those storylines. The main story is from the Sumerian version of “Epic of Gilgamesh,” and features the Sumerian king, Ziusudra. As the water rises, he has visions of other floods, such as that featuring Noah. There is the Asian tale of the Chinese creator goddess Nuwa and the modern story of a female scientist desperately trying to convince people of the dangers of climate change.
 The storyline moves rapidly between the various threads, sometimes popping from one to another within a linking context and other times with  little to nothing in common. It is a valid learning experience, for it points out that there is a common link to the human experience, dramatic changes in the weather that threaten the very existence of humanity. However, the rapid shifts from track to track and the similarities sometimes make them difficult to follow.
 In the myths, the floods are a consequence of the wrath of the gods due to human misbehavior. The only difference in the modern reality of climate change is that the human misbehavior is the direct cause of the massive shifts in weather.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Review of "Avengers Assemble: The Forgeries of Jealousy," by Kelly Sue DeConnick et. al.

Review of

Avengers Assemble: The Forgeries of Jealousy, by Kelly Sue DeConnick et. al. ISBN 9780785167983

Four out of five stars

 This graphic novel of the Avenger super hero team shows a clear tilt towards the teen female. Spider-Girl is in the Avengers headquarters and her first action is to complain about Iron Man stepping on her toe. She has something important to say about her missing social studies teacher, but she is brushed off by the Avengers because they are dealing with an inhuman pandemic.
 Like all teens, Spider-Girl complains about the reaction of the adults until she finally screams out her message. Since it is an important one, two of the Avengers are assigned to accompany her on their mission of discovery. They act very well as a team, yet find themselves in a life-or-death situation.
 The story contains a classic ruthless mad scientist character, only this time it is a beautiful blonde female. It is fundamentally a tale of the adolescent Spider-Girl engaged in a series of battles against the bad girls and guys with a rotating sequence of Avenger sidekicks.  Through it all Spider-Girl alternately complains and then is dramatically enlightened about the tactics of battling the super baddies. It ends with a scene that all teens can relate to, Spider-Girl is in her civilian clothes rocking with her smart phone.
 This novel demonstrates the stated desire of the Marvel executives to broaden their appeal to include females. Even though she has super powers, Spider-Girl is still fundamentally a high school girl and is sometimes treated like one. At times it is justified and other times it is not.