Discuss and rate the last thing you read

Hawki

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Stormlight: The Way of Kings: Part 1 (3/5)

When I finished this book, I was glad to have done so, without any desire to move onto part 2. And in case it isn't obvious, that's never a good sign.

In the interest of fairness, I should point out that me reading this book was extended due to the divergence towards Big Damn Hero. Now, that wasn't the best book either, but I at least got something out of it, if only that it helped me in writing 'All the World's a Stage' (though canon's been made iffy thanks to said book, but whatever). But when it comes to WoK, if you asked me what I got out of it, the answer would have to be very little. It's at this point that I have to acknowledge that I can't really call myself a Sanderson fan, because there's been so much of his now that I've read that's simply been average. Rather, it's better to call me a "Mistborn fan," and by that, I mean a fan of the first Mistborn trilogy. Reading WoK, it's hard to believe that this is even by the same author, because while both utilize high fantasy settings, how those settings are portrayed, and how the stories play out, is like night and day. Arguably about the only thing WoK does better than Mistborn is worldbuilding, in as much that its setting is quite unique, what with its use of a single super continent with the effects on flora and fauna you might expect (and some you might not, like the spren), and it does a relatively decent job of fleshing out its cultures. But, newsflash to any aspiring writer - it doesn't matter how detailed your world is if the story and/or characters are sub-par. Mistborn might not have the same scale of worldbuilding as WoK, but it had far better characters and storytelling. And considering that Sanderson seems to be treating Mistborn as a side project to Stormlight...well, that's his prerogative, but it doesn't mean I have to enjoy it.

Now, you may be saying "but Hawki, you've only read part 1, how can you pass judgement?" Well, to that I say, part 1 consists of between 500 and 600 pages, so I think I'm pretty entitled to give some kind of judgement over that. However, I'm left to ask at the end of those 500-600 pages, what's actually happened? Stuff has happened, sure. I have my main characters who are doing stuff. But by god they're taking their sweet time. I mean, okay, Stormlight is planned to have 10 books by its end, but by God, give me SOMETHING. I've said up to this point that I'm fine with slow-burn stories, but I might have to reconsider that statement after this. That, or suggest that WoK is burning so slowly it'll still be burning by the time the universe enters heat death. Because when I look at the characters, at 500-600 pages, I don't get the sense that anything's really changed for them. They're both effectively in the same positions they were in at the start. Yes, technically Shallan has become Jeshnah's apprentice, and technically Kaladin has become a bridge crew leader, and technically Shin is now in the employment of people who know how deadly he actually is, but what's actually happened? Like, imagine if in Fellowship of the RIng, the first half of the entire book took place in the Shire. Yes, technically stuff is happening, but the story would have even less momentum than it does in its final form.

So, yeah. Can't say I like Stormlight. Maybe it gets better, maybe not, but if so, I shouldn't have to read over 500 pages to get to the good stuff. At this point, I think I'm pretty much off Sanderson - I liked Mistborn, but that's about it. Also, I think I'm going to go back to reading tie-in stuff and/or short works, because while they may not be literary greats, they can at least be read in reasonable timeframes.
 

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We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2014)

The transcription of a TED talk Adichie gave in 2012, amounting here to a brief essay. Towards the end of the booklet the author defines feminist as "a man or a woman who says 'Yes, there's a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better'". In a latter interview she boiled it down, fed up: "Whoever says they're feminist is bloody feminist".

I agree with pretty much everything Adichie says on the subject. Yes, there's a problem. Yes, we must do better. To me the issue speaks to common sense and is a no-brainer. This is why I didn't have much of a reaction to the book itself. I don't think I learned anything from it other than trademark Igbo sexism. So who is this for? If you agree with it then it's a pointless read. If you could benefit from reading this, you're probably not gonna. I imagine it best suited as a school read for kids, boys and girls alike.

Or maybe just turn it into a Beyonc? song.
 

Hawki

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StarCraft II: Shadow Wars (3/5)

So, I may be eating my words in reviewing this, in that the series could go beyond Issue 12. However, I'm choosing to review it now, because a) I'm dubious as to whether it'll receieve continuation due to the cuts in staff Blizzard's experiencing, and b) if it did end here, it's at least concluded its main arc.

So, Shadow Wars is...okay. I can't really complain too much about comics that have been given to use for free over time, but whatever, it's out there, I can review. Overall, it's...um, okay. It certainly gets better beyond the first three issues, where we get a sense of our main cast. I've got to be honest, none of them are all that compelling, but they're servicable. While the comic does set up threads for future conflict within the setting (in that the Daelaam are pissed at the Dominion, and the zerg are potentially facing a second Brood War), it pivots to Elms and co. by the midway point. Given the short issue lengths, it lacks the 'meat' of the Dark Horse comic series, but unlike Scavengers, ends conclusively.

So, yeah. I don't mind if there's no more. I'll say it before and I'll say it again, there was no reason to continue the StarCraft story beyond Legacy of the Void. We haven't reached Terminator 3 territory of screwing over past installments yet, and since time travel isn't a thing in the setting, arguably never will. Still, one of the very last panels in the series (if it is indeed ending here) is hinting at larger conflict to come. And conflict's the essence of drama, sure, but it appears that peace may well be a pipe dream in the setting. Which is arguably a shame, but I figure if there was a mandate to retain conflict within the setting (and given its nature as a game, it kinda is), then it's at least gone about it decently.
 

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Jurasic Park. At a litte over 500 pages it can seem intimidating, but once you get through some of the technobable its a good read, and doesn't leave you feeling board. If you seen Jurasic World and Fallen Kingdom, they even get to use some lines and ideas they didn't get to use in the first three films such as the Diolauge Malcom uses in the court room, or Woo explaining that they never made perfect replicas of dinosours nore did they ever try to.

It covers themes of over reliance on Technology, human arogance when it comes to both its capabiliies of controleing situations and that science is the be all end all and solves everything without taking the human element into effect (with Malcolm comparing the InGen people to someone bying a Saturday Special, who will have the imaturity and lack of emotional controle to kill their wife in a heat of passion whereas a martial arts black belt can kill you with their bare hands but chooses not to due to years of tempering their mind as well as their body)

This arogance is best seen with the InGen personal. Hammon, who despite being in his seventies acts like a five year old with a temper tantrum when he hears something he dons't like (namly its not going as smoothly as it could and his ideas are not helping). He also cuts so many corners with the funding and supplies of the resort he made a circle.

Woo who is so preocupied in making the animals and improving upon them he hasn't bothered learneing half their names or implications that half the DNA choices he used to fill the gaps lead to some of the troubling issiues they are having now (namly breeding animals).

Arnold, who is so preocupied with the big details fails to notic the small ones that eventuay lead to things crashing down again.

Nedry, Who's short sightedness and just desire to get back at Hammon for black listing and blackmaling him into finishing the security programing despite giving him not enough info to do it and at a fraction of what its worth, is going to do corporate espianage for 1.5 million bucks when the stolen embrios he has are worth ten times that.

Most of the characters are good.

If I have a problem with it its Lex, who is the kid sibling in the book and so annoying and obnoxious I am surprised no one chucked her at the dinosaurs to keep her shutted up. THere is also early on with one of the Campies that got off the island eating a newborn's face, so Trigger warning for anyone that had CIDS in their family recently.

Overal, good read.
 

Dalisclock

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Hawki said:
Stormlight: The Way of Kings: Part 1 (3/5)

When I finished this book, I was glad to have done so, without any desire to move onto part 2. And in case it isn't obvious, that's never a good sign.


So, yeah. Can't say I like Stormlight. Maybe it gets better, maybe not, but if so, I shouldn't have to read over 500 pages to get to the good stuff. At this point, I think I'm pretty much off Sanderson - I liked Mistborn, but that's about it. Also, I think I'm going to go back to reading tie-in stuff and/or short works, because while they may not be literary greats, they can at least be read in reasonable timeframes.
I'm currently re-reading this book and I'm around 900ish pages in...out of 1200. I read it back in like 2010ish when it was the only book in the series and now that I've got the next two on my bookshelf I feel like I have to re-read it because I only remember bits and pieces of it.

Yeah, if you're not feeling it, I'm not sure I can tell you that you're wrong. It's LONG and The Way of Kings is basically a prolouge to the Stormlight Saga(which is supposed to have like 10 books when it's done). Honestly, while some interesting things do happen by the end of the book, a lot of the most interesting stuff is worldbuilding, rather then plot.

I'll probably start the next book sometime this year, after I finish a couple more books that aren't 1000+ pages long.
 
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saint of m said:
Jurasic Park. At a litte over 500 pages it can seem intimidating, but once you get through some of the technobable its a good read, and doesn't leave you feeling board. If you seen Jurasic World and Fallen Kingdom, they even get to use some lines and ideas they didn't get to use in the first three films such as the Diolauge Malcom uses in the court room, or Woo explaining that they never made perfect replicas of dinosours nore did they ever try to.
And yet there's still no screen version of the "Muldoon sits in a storm drain blowing up raptors with a grenade launcher" scene :(
 

Hawki

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Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (3/5)

This is by the same author who wrote 'Jerusalem: Chronicles of the Holy City', and in both art style and approach to the subject matter, it really shows. That said, Jersualem is the stronger of the two, but I'm reluctant to describe it as the fault of the author.

Here, De Lisle stayed in North Korea for two months, acting as a liaison between a French animation company and SEK. The novel's in black and white, and it's quite fitting, given the grey architecture presence and the uptightness of those around him. I say those around him, but I mainly mean his assigned translators (read: people who make sure you toe the line). If anything, this is why I feel that Jersualem is more impactful, because he was able to get unfiltered thoughts from both Israelis and Palestinians. Here, everything he gets from North Korea is, with one exception, within the party line. His own thoughts in the story ask (paraphrased) "do you actually believe the bullshit that you're spitting out?" Chances are it's a bit of both, but we can only guess.

There's a kind of surrealness to the story, and it really fits, because there's an absolute surealness to North Korea itself. Pyongyang has three hotels. The highway that leads out of the city is completely bereft of cars. There's villages outside the highway, but no roads to them. There's blackouts, but a monument to the Great Leader is always shining. There's a film industry, but it's devoted to WWII/Korean War films (spoilers: North Koreans hate the Japanese). There's an impressive subway, but it has about four stops, and it's designed to withstand nuclear attack. Everywhere, there's portraits of the Great Leader and his son, or in one case Marx - someone that "capitalists know nothing about."

So, yeah. Jerusalem has more humanity in it. But the tragedy of the work, of North Korea as a whole, isn't that the people of the country lack humanity, it's that they're forced to suppress it. What we're shown is a society that's both normal, and terrifying. So, um, yay for Juche? Y'know, the thing that is studied in universities around the world because everyone outside North Korea is in awe of the Great Leader?

Remember that?
 

Hawki

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On Fairness (3/5)

On Hate (3/5)

Technically these are two separate 100 page books, but they're part of the same series, and approach their subject matter in the same way. Thus, I'll comment on them both together.

On Fairness is written by a union leader, and can basically be seen as a critique of neo-liberalism/trickle down economics. The idea that Australians value the idea of a "fair go," but this idea doesn't translate to a widening wealth gap, not to mention historic injustices against indigenous Australians. This gets an average rating because while I'm no economist, the book's arguments are basically preaching to the choir (least in my case). Like, I've always been dubious of the lack of market regulation and privatization (especially with prisons, which is turning to a disaster in the US as far as I'm aware), but at 100 pages, the book can't go into that much detail.

On Hate is written by Australia's former race-discrimination commissioner. This kind of suffers the opposite from the former book, because on one hand, the book does present new information...sort of. Like, I think it's fair to say that white supremacy/right-wing extremism is becoming a big problem, and the book could basically be summed up as "yeah, no shit - it's worse than you think." That's a bit of a glib reading of it mind you. Still, the book doesn't really spend that much time on offering solutions to the issue. Like, the former one at least identifies a problem and gives a solution to said problem (don't trust in an unregulated market to serve society), whereas On Hate is far more ambiguous.

So, not bad reads, but at 100 pages each, neither of them can reasonably be expected to go that in-depth.
 

Hawki

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Pokemon XY: Volume 1 (2/5)

So, I've been going on a semi-Pokemon binge since Sword & Shield were revealed. Nostalgia dies hard it seems. That said, nostalgia isn't enough to cover this manga issue. And no, it's not because it's XY, when I stopped playing the games after Gen 2, and stopped watching the anime during the Orange Islands segment. No, it's because of the fact that the characters are insufferable. We have one, "X," who spends the entire issue moping because he's scared by the papparazi, as everyone had such high expectations of him when he won a tournament. As a concept, it isn't bad. In execution, it's trite and simplistic. And the other characters fare little better because they're all such little angels, while Team Flare are evil, and...yeah.

Okay, in fairness, this is clearly a manga meant for kids, but even material meant for kids can be engaging for people above the intended age range at times. However, this isn't such a case.
 

Hawki

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Dragon Ball: Vol. 1 (3/5)

Dragon Ball: Vol. 2 (3/5)

Dragon Ball: Vol. 3 (4/5)

I'm grouping these together as I read them as part of a collection. While the ratings vary, as do my thoughts on the issues (in some cases), I feel it best to discuss this in one go.

So, Dragon Ball. This is a series I knew existed, but never really consumed until now. Disillusioned with DBZ ages ago for various reasons, I've always wondered about Dragon Ball, as to whether it might be free of said issues (power levels, saiyans, long speeches, the whole "get stronger to win, fight the next guy who's always stronger, rinse and repeat" thing). Well, so far it is, but in its place are a whole set of other issues, and at least for the first two volumes, these issues really weighed down the experience. Thing is...okay, there's too many sex jokes. Call me a prude if you want, but by the end, we'd gone into some pretty cringy, even creepy territory. This begins right from the start - Goku having never seen a girl before? Sure, okay - fits his backstory. Bulma explaining that no, they can't share a bed together, even if he did snuggle up with Grandpa Gohan as a kid? Well, yeah, okay - nice to know Bulma understands boundries at least. Goku nevertheless falling asleep between her legs, waking up, patting around them, and telling her she's lost her balls (she thinks the Dragon Balls at first)? Um, points for the pun, but you're really pushing it there.

It gets worse. It keeps coming. Roshi is absolutely insufferable. Bulma ends up wearing a bunny outfit because of plot contrivance. The sexual oogling/references go on, and on, and on. They're mostly not funny, and given their nature, plus the age of the protagonists (Bulma is 16, Goku is slightly younger), it's actually kind of creepy when you think about it. It also doesn't help that Bulma's goal in finding her, um, balls, is...the perfect boyfriend. Yep, that's her wish. And she gets a 'perfect boyfriend' with Yamcha at the end, so...yay for character development? I mean, look, usually I try to give the author's the benefit of the doubt. I've been accused of being too Watsonian. But when every female character is sexualized (Bulma, Chi-Chi...okay, maybe not Puar), when every male is either oogling the female or being oblivious, I'm left to ask who the manga's actually for. Horny teenage boys? Yeah, probably.

It also doesn't stop there, because the plot's very sloppy in some places. For instance, a key plot point is Goku growing into a giant ape under the full moon. They're trapped, fated to die in the morning, but the full moon is above, turning Goku into an ape that smashes the prison. Y'know when the whole "full moon plus Goku = ape" ability is set up? A few pages before it actually happens. Like, no. Just no. Chekov's gun, FFS. If the gun is fired in the second act, set it up in the first act.

And it's kind of a shame, because despite all this, there are elements that I like, though in fairness, a lot of them likely stem from a lack of elements from DBZ that I found off-putting. Like, there's no hard line between the usefuls and the uselessnesses. There's no long drawn out monologues about power levels, or channeling power. Least Yamcha isn't completely useless here. Least there's a kind of quirkiness and charm that comes through when characters aren't being pervs. Least it can be kind of funny at times when there's the author's note at the end of the chapter, usually at least prodding the fourth wall if not breaking it At least...ugh. Am I being too kind to this manga, or too harsh? I dunno. But it's a very mixed bag.

...or at least the first two volumes are, because volume 3 is an improvement. Not that you'd think so at first, because at the start, we get into really, REALLY uncomfortable territory. So, Goku wants Roshi to train him, but he needs to bring the old man a "hot babe" first. I mean...wow. Just wow. Like, it's not as if Goku is actually kidnapping females, but this is getting really, REALLY close to...well, close to a territory I don't want to get a visa for. Also, we get an ejaculation joke. Yep. We've gone there.

Thankfully, that stuff is minimzed as Goku and Krillin actually begin training. It's not exactly deep, but it's a much more plesant experience in that we can now play to the manga's strengths - humour (not of the dirty kind), quirkiness, and well drawn fight scenes. Of course, I know that in the future, Goku is going to be Super Saiyan God something something, and Krillin's going to be "useless human guy," but at least for now, it's endearing to see them train and spar. Goku's a bit of a Gary Stu in the manga, but it's not nearly as aggravating as what DBZ/Super bring to the table. And the martial arts tournament is fun. Seeing Yamcha again is fun. Seeing the fight scenes if fun. Seeing the results of Roshi's training is fun. The manga is, at last, fun in a genuine sense, rather than being a guilty pleasure. But that brings me to the end of Vol. 3. Whether I read beyond that will depend on library stocks.

So, yeah. Something something super saiyan something something perv joke something.
 

Agema

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Dalisclock said:
It's LONG and The Way of Kings is basically a prolouge to the Stormlight Saga(which is supposed to have like 10 books when it's done). Honestly, while some interesting things do happen by the end of the book, a lot of the most interesting stuff is worldbuilding, rather then plot.
Brandon Sanderson wrote some decent standalone novels. Decent in large part because they're relatively short, although he seems rather overfond of a "puzzle" mechanic where there is a logical system underpinning how magic functions that the heroes have to work out to save the day. After he was invited to finish off the massively overlong Wheel of Time, however, he seems to have contracted a severe case of Jordanitis. Peter F. Hamilton can be a similar offender here in the genre of science fiction. Slogging through 1000 pages of text that only tell 300 pages worth of story makes reading feel more like a chore than a hobby to me.

But some readers do love worldbuilding. It doesn't matter to them that page after page achieves nothing except to describe things they don't need to know in order to get on with the story. So as there is that demand, so there will be people like Sanderson to supply something they'll enjoy.
 

Hawki

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Agema said:
But some readers do love worldbuilding. It doesn't matter to them that page after page achieves nothing except to describe things they don't need to know in order to get on with the story. So as there is that demand, so there will be people like Sanderson to supply something they'll enjoy.
I'm kind of beating a dead horse, but I'll reiterate that Sanderson's quite capable of a "plot first, worldbuilding second" approach - again, see Mistborn. Of what I read, Stormlight is more "worldbuilding first, plot second." And as you said, I guess there's a market for that, but I'll always put plot, storytelling, and characters above worldbuilding.
 
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The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis-Williams.

An in-depth study into Upper Paleolithic cave art - it's form, structure, and place in early society. Incredibly well written, detailed and yet not assuming of prior knowledge on the part of the reader, it's a fascinating read. Using reference points from more modern rock painting cultures, notably the San African tribes and tribes from across North America, Lewis-Williams puts forward some incredible ideas for not only how and why cave art developed in our early history, but how the development of art may well have impacted the societies that created them. If you have any interest in the development of the early human psyche, find time to pick this book up.
 

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The Walking Dead: Volume 9 (4/5)

The Walking Dead: Volume 10/11 (3/5)

I read these three in a single sitting, and like Dragon Ball, I'm going to review them in one go.

I don't have much to say about 9, other than that I like it more than the others. It's quieter, slower, more character focused, in that it focuses on Rick and Carl in the aftermath of the fall of the prison. So, character rather than plot driven, and after the events of previous volumes, it's a refreshing change of pace.

10/11? Not so much. It's at this point where Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene turn up. Like many points where the show adapted plot elements from the comic, this is another case where I feel the show did it better (the show adapted vol. 9 as well, but both are more even there). There's like, not anything particuarly wrong, but I feel it's really shaky logic to abandon the farm to go off to Washington because some strangers told you that they can end the zombie apocalypse. Even their reasoning that the farm isn't safe because of herds doesn't really equate to "let's go on the road where we'll still be vulnerable."). So, yeah. Stuff happens. It's fine, but whether it be psycho twin, or cannibals, or Gabriel, or whatever else, again, seen it done better. I'm left to ask how quickly Kirkman has to come up with new storylines, because a lot of it comes off as having been made up on the fly.
 

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In Between the Sheets by Ian McEwan (1978)

Second collection of short stories of Ian Macabre, all sharing the themes of existential ennui and sexual perversion. They're intriguing and fairly disquieting although a couple feel like failed experiments.

"Pornography" is about a two-timing pornographer getting a nasty, emasculating comeuppance. "Reflections of a Kept Ape" has the title ape recall his sexual affair with a female writer who now ignores him. "Two Framents" shows two scenes in the life of a father caring for his young daughter in post-apocalyptic London. "Dead As They Come" tells a classic tale of love, bliss, jealousy and betrayal between a man and a... mannequin. "In Between the Sheets" focuses on another father-daughter story bordering on incest. "To and Fro"... I have no idea what it's about. "Psychopolis" is about a Brit expat having an existential crisis in "the vast, fragmented city without a centre" that is L.A.

I like the way McEwan sketches psychological profiles with effortless precision and the ever troubling yet subtle hints at the true depths that connect one character to another. The collection is great overall, though a few of the stories feel like facile writing exercises.
 

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Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns (2012).

I don't usually read comics but you know. I was that bored. And I like Batman, or at least the Arkham games and the Nolan trilogy.

"Earth One" is to Geoff Johns what "Year One" was for Frank Miller: an opportunity to reimagine the Dark Knight's origins, albeit not as radically this time. It essentially keeps the same pieces and follows the same beats, but shakes up the mythos by reimagining the characters and their relationships (everything and everyone is even more tightly compacted around the Waynes than usual). Bruce Wayne, looking more than a fair bit like Sterling Archer, overcomes the usual arc of moral testing and early-day self-tuning as the Caped Crusader while never quite maxing out in badass (I guess that's Volume 2). I was more interested in what was going on with GCPD's Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock, who appear to switch seats as the bitter cop and his idealistic counterpart. Penguin also gets a special mention for his newfound creepiness. I enjoyed "Earth One", but aside from some intriguing departures and remixes it's still also more of the same, again.
 

Hawki

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Dragon Ball: Volume 7 (3/5)

Dragon Ball: Volume 8 (3/5)

Dragon Ball: Volume 9 (4/5)

So earlier, you might have seen my reviews of volumes 1-3. I didn't skip 4-6 by choice, but rather borrowed what was available from the library I worked at. That said, I didn't really feel lost, as I quickly got the sense of what was happening. So with that said, I will say that I did enjoy these volumes more than the previous ones, because while they have their own set of problems, the issues with the previous ones are mimimized. Basically, preferring one set of issues to another.

The issues that are mostly absent is that the volumes here are far less lewd than before when it comes to sex jokes and the like. Now, that's not to say it's entirely absent - for instance, Bulma tries to flirt her way around danger, there's gay jokes, and a moment where Krillin pulls down Bulma's shirt, causing Roshi to have a massive nose bleed, which covers the Invisible Man in blood, allowing Yamcha to see and defeat him. Because, y'know, classy. Still, it is a reduced issue. What isn't a reduced issue, and is in fact a growing issue, is that by now, we're have a clear precursor to DBZ's paradigm of "you're a saiyan or you're useless." Here though, it's not "you're Goku or you're useless," but Goku's easily the strongest character here, to the point where characters are in awe of him, and he can take out the entire Red Ribbon Army by himself. I will admit though, that I found myself being taken back to the Sonic the Hedgehog comics I read as a kid and...no, hear me out. The reason I say that is because with the Freedom Fighters, while they were a team, and each had their own strengths and weaknesses, Sonic was still the 'uber' character. This is arguably a similar situation here, in that while all the other characters are outclassed by Goku, they're not at the stage of being useless yet. Like, Yamcha is actually more competent than Krillin in this run, believe it or not. So, while it does bother me, especially in the context of knowing what DBZ will bring (and as far as I'm aware, GT and Super are just as guilty), it's a level of irritation that is amplified by context, while the whole sex jokes thing were confined just to Dragon Ball, and made it all the worse for it.

Now that that's aside, I can actually delve into what I like here. Basically, it's still fun. I usually gloss over fight scenes in manga and comics, but here, it's well done. Also, as powerful as Goku is, it's a level of power that he does have to earn, such as climing the Karrin Tower to get an elixir that'll make him more powerful, only to discover that it was the act of travelling and fighting for it that made him powerful. He goes up against an assassin in an enjoyable showndown - no long drawn out speeches and powering up here folks, just 90% martial arts, 10% ki blasts. The Penguin Island sequence is a drag, but other than that, it remains fun. It's absolutely bonkers at times, such as where we have a witch deploying Universal Studios monsters to fight the heroes (Dracula, the Mummy, the Devil, etc.), but it's bonkers in a good way. So in essence, while many of the worst elements of DBZ can be found to have their roots here in some form or another, it's not nearly as grating here. So nice job there Toriama.
 

Saint of M

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Aliens Omnibus 2

Didn't read the first one, don't need to. The two books in the 600 odd pages take place sometime after the Xenomorphes had infested Earth, and Humans have reclaimed large chunks of the planet. Book one follows a group of marines and a pharmaceutical exec try to find a purer form of Royal Jelly that a queen alien produces for a performance boosting miracle drug called Xeno zip. Its a good read, that seems like its going to be a strait up action film then you have a moment where things go to crap and you remember this is a book in the Alien franchise. Its also interesting to see to rival hives on an distant world go at it like two ant hives that cross paths.

Book 2 of the Omnibus is a heist story set within the Alien franchise. A dying scientist and former millionaire, a thief that is as skilled as she is beautiful, a down on his luck captain, and an android as well as an assortment of other characters go off to a distant world to snatch up a ship's worth of Royal Jelly from a Pharmaceutical group that acts as the big bad of both stories, and how things go down hill fast. Its more of a human drama, focusing on the characters and their personalities and development.

Its an easy read, probably 7th grade in difficulty, with many chapters being a page or two in length, and plenty of stopping places in case you have to. Surprisingly it has little in the way of gore. Sure aliens go splat a whole lot, but there are only a few moments when you see what they do, which I think works to its advantage. It makes the oh crap moments have more impact that way.

If I had any complaints, I think its how it does sex. It has American sensibilities in that it glosses over it, or we get to the day after. The closet we get is the Executive in Book 1 putting the moves on a soldier in a moment of weakness, even copping a feel on her, only to get cock blocked by the tough broad, hard drinking hard fighting brod of a comandign officer. Even then it has its moments, as its mostly to show how he puts on a show of confidence and drowns his sorrows in hot women and expensive liquore.

I'd give it a read.
 

Hawki

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The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (3/5)

This is the first of two LoZ mangas I read recently, and I'll deal with this one first. Short version is...I don't like it.

That's not to say it's bad, but I have too many gripes to say that this is "good." First, it's adapting its story from the Oracles games. Now, I've never played them, but as early 2D Zelda games, I'm guessing that they don't have much in the way of story. Given how thin the plot feels, I have a feeling that a lack of narrative in the source material has transported itself to the adaptation. This in turn leads to the second issue I have with it, the character of Raven - Link's ancestor from 300 years in the past. Now, thing is, I actually like this idea in principle, the idea of Link meeting one of his ancestors. However, it's an idea that at this point in time, I feel needs to have certain acknowledgements to work, among them that Link is fated to be constantly reincarnated due to Demise's curse. What's weird is that the manga actually touches on this through some words from Nayru, that Link is basically fated to keep appearing through infinity, but Raven...sorry, he looks like Link, arguably acts like Link, but he's not Link. And because he's basically perfect, he reminds me of a self-insert type of character. The type of characters that I'm just as guilty of writing way back in the day. In the end, it's taking a nice idea, but not fully engaging in it.

Third issue is that the manga feels designed for kids. Now, granted, it almost certainly is (it's listed in YA after all), and the Legend of Zelda series has undoubtedly had children as its primary audience for at least some of its games, and that aside, it's never been inaccessible to them (not in my experience at least). But given the story, and how it's presented, there's the sense that this is not only targeted at children, but that adults needn't bother checking themselves in. This is seen in the story itself (simple), how it's presented (simply, very binary), and in its characters (two-dimensional at best). So, while not outright bad, it's easily my least favourite LoZ installment out of all the ones I've read.
 

Hawki

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The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (4/5)

This is the second of the two LoZ manga installments I read. This only barely manages to get into "good" rather than "average" territory, but it's there all the same, and there's one reason for that - Linebeck.

With the original Phantom Hourglass, it's a game that lurks near the bottom of all the LoZ games I've played. Linebeck, as he's portrayed in the game, isn't really a major reason as to why that is, but he's not a character I'm fond of either. Reason for this is that his character arc is insanely predictable - coward becomes a hero. Yay. In the case of the manga however, it does alter things slightly with how it portrays his arc. It isn't really a case of X to Y, but more the idea that Linebeck's inherently a good person, and he's dwelling with the guilt of that one time he was a coward. It's a slight difference, but it makes his arc all the better for it. Plus, unlike the Oracles games, Phantom Hourglass has a bit more story to draw from, so the adaptation's working with a much stronger foundation.

That's not to say it's perfect though - Ciela's my favourite fairy companion (suck it Navi), but here, she kind of gets the short end of the stick. Plus, at the end of the day, it's still a manga aimed at kids. But unlike Oracle of Ages, I didn't feel barred from admission, so to speak.