Archive: May 2020

tweets for 2020-05-29

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-28

Friday, May 29th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-27

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-26

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-25

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-24

Monday, May 25th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-23

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-22

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-21

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-20

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-19

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

Book Review: Superman Smashes The Klan by Gene Luen Yang & Gurihiru (2020)

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

The Hero We Need

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley. Obvious trigger warning for racist violence.)

The year is 1946, and the Lee family – mom, dad, Roberta, and Tommy – has just moved from Chinatown to Metropolis, so that Mr. Lee can begin a new job as Chief Bacteriologist of the Health Department. Gregarious and handsome, Tommy fits right in, easily slipping into the spot of star pitcher at the Unity House. An aspiring journalist with a stomach made of jelly,* Roberta – birth name Lan-Shin – is immediately homesick for Chinatown, where she didn’t feel like such a “weirdo”.

And then her family is targeted by the local chapter of the Clan of the Fiery Red Cross, which lights a cross on the Lee’s front lawn and attempts to fire bomb their house. The Allies may have won World War II, and Superman literally just crushed the Nazi supersoldier Atom Man, but racism is still alive and thriving – and firmly entrenched in Metropolis’s social institutions.

Luckily, the Lees live right across the street from cub reporter Jimmy Olsen (who is obviously and adorably smitten with Roberta), and Superman and Lois Lane are pursuing the case, each in their own ways.

I’ve really been enjoying DC’s YA imprint, but Superman Smashes The Klan takes things to the next level. Based on a sixteen-part radio show that aired in 1946 called “The Clan of the Fiery Cross”**, the story expertly dovetails Roberta’s journey with that of her idol, Superman. At this point in his story, Clark Kent is thirty-something and has only been superheroing for ten years. As a kid growing up in Smallville, his differences were a source of shame: they marked him as different, a freak, nonhuman. Demonic, even. And so he learned to suppress and ignore his powers. It wasn’t until a circus tent that he, the Kents, and Lana Lang were sitting under caught fire that Clark used his super strength for good. After that, Mrs. Kent sewed Clark his iconic red cape and Superman was born.

Yet, even as Superman, Clark hides pieces of himself: he has super strength and super speed, yes, but he runs along phone lines rather than flying, because defying gravity would give him away as not entirely of this world. And his ruse works, a little too well: the story’s big bad, a grand Scorpion of the Klan, proudly claims Superman as the best of what the white race has to offer; irrefutable evidence of white superiority.

An honest-to-goodness alien from another world, created by two first-generation Jewish immigrants, Superman has always functioned as a stand-in for marginalized groups: refugees and immigrants of various races, religions, and ethnicities (depending on which group is currently being scapegoated). Superman is as American as apple pie and AK-47s, and he’s a legit alien. Yang masterfully underscores this aspect of Superman’s identity by enmeshing his story with Roberta’s. Both of these “weirdos” learn to embrace their differences, because it’s what makes them – and, indeed, the world – so damn special.

Yang’s story is also deeply steeped in history, in ways I wouldn’t have fully appreciated without reading his essay “Superman and Me” (it appears in pieces in the single issues, and as a whole in the TP). I especially loved the showdown between the scorpion and grand wizard, as the two clashed over the Clan’s true purpose.

This piece, in particular, seems especially relevant today.

* Roberta’s “gurgly stomach” is a mood.

** “To avoid getting sued by an organization that was legally recognized in several states, the show’s writers created a stand-in organization called The Clan of the Fiery Cross,” Yang explains in “Superman and Me.”

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2020-05-18

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-17

Monday, May 18th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-16

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-15

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-14

Friday, May 15th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-13

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

tweets for 2020-05-12

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Book Review: The Lost Carnival: A Dick Grayson Graphic Novel by Michael Moreci, Sas Milledge & Phil Hester (2020)

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

The Night Circus meets Romeo and Juliet, in the YA DC ‘verse.

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley.)

DC’s new line of YA and middle-grade graphic novels provide an excellent entry point into the publisher’s extensive catalog, and The Lost Carnival: A Dick Grayson Graphic Novel is no exception. I love comic books, but mostly stick to newer series/those based on other media I already love (think: Pretty Deadly / Firefly), since DC and Marvel’s decades-long history can be intimidating. (Where to start!?) Luckily, these are standalone stories that don’t require a whole lot of knowledge about the characters going in.

Here, Dick Grayson – the Robin to Bruce Wayne’s Batman – is a teenager living in modern day America. In keeping with the character’s original backstory, Dick comes from a family of acrobats; along with his parents, the Flying Graysons spend their summers traveling and performing with Haly’s Circus. Unlike the original incarnation, his parents are not mowed down by the mafia.

Rather, Dick is feeling somewhat alienated: bored by days that seem to blend into one another; unchallenged by the Flying Graysons’ predictable routine; and longing for a “normal” childhood. As if that’s not enough, the very fate of the circus rests on the Graysons’ (admittedly well-toned) shoulders: the circus is hemorrhaging customers, most notably to The Lost Carnival, a decadent affair that somewhat mysteriously threw down its stakes right across the way from Haly’s, seemingly overnight.

As tensions rise between the competing groups of carnies, Dick finds himself caught in the middle, torn between his family and the enthralling Luciana. Unlike his BFF Willow’s magic, Luciana’s powers seem to be the real (read: supernatural) deal: when her uncle calls forth menacing, Swamp Thing-like creatures, it’s up to Luciana to prevent them from escaping. The deeper Dick and Willow dive into the world of The Lost Carnival, the more bizarre things get. Can teenage love really conquer all? (Spoiler alert: No. No, it can’t.)

This is a really fun and surprisingly sweet story that’s an intoxicating blend of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Romeo and Juliet, and the DC ‘verse, with a YA spin. Even though the plot proved somewhat predictable, it’s still a fun ride. Dick is interesting enough, but it’s the supporting characters that really captured my imagination: Luciana, Willow, Quinn, and the employees at The Lost Carnival. And the carnival itself, naturally, which is all kind of magical and mystifying.

I devoured an ARC, so I’m not entirely sure what the finished art will look like – but what I saw was lovely indeed. The colors mostly alternate between a moody blue and glitzy gold-ish, occasionally coming together for that extra pop. Dick is a cutie, and the rep here is great. (You’ve got to love that there are not one, but two families of POC magicians.)

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)