Saga (Part 1)

The only reason I haven’t already written like 5 posts about Saga is because I don’t like to write about things I haven’t finished reading (except that post about stuff that’s hard to read, and even then I’d still rather write having read the whole thing so I can judge fully and fairly) but I can’t finish it because it’s still ongoing. And there’s no end in sight (in a good way). So we’ll call this post #1 of a TBD number of posts.

I LOVE SAGA.

THE ART IS SO GOOD. (Fiona Staples is amazing.)

THE STORY IS SO GOOD. (This is my first Brian K. Vaughan but I will definitely read more.)

Are you not reading Saga already? Definitely start right now. I’ll wait. I’m kind of jealous of you because that means you can read the first 40 issues all at once instead of having to wait a painfully long month for each new issue to come out.

I’m in love with pretty much everyone in this story, just fyi. The characters are all interesting and complicated and believably human (but not literally human). Cause there are no humans here. There is such a variety of everything though! Of species! Of orientations! Of genders! Of skin colors! IT’S SO GOOD.

Perhaps my favorite of the characters though, is Lying Cat. Which is basically just a giant cat that accompanies an assassin and serves as a real-time, living lie detector. Somehow it also manages to be sassy and endearing. I can’t really explain it especially since it also kind of looks like a hybrid between a Sphynx cat and a monster.img_0390

The plot of the series is entirely too expansive to try to explain here. But the setting is sort of like Star Wars (lots of different planets and races getting roped into a war that doesn’t innately concern them) + Romeo and Juliet (except instead of families hating each other, it’s their entire species who are at war with each other) + civil war (not necessarily The Civil War so much as any war that occurs on shared land that couldn’t/shouldn’t be destroyed except in this case instead of having to live on bloodied/salted/radioactive land, they can’t blow each other up because they are dependent upon each other for gravity).


More to come.

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Lovelace and Babbage

Okay, so technically this book is called The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage but…the adventures really aren’t that thrilling? So, we’re going with just Lovelace and Babbage because the book is still educational and interesting it’s just not, y’know, exciting.

In case you don’t know, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage theoretically invented computing – theoretically because they never actually made the Analytical Engine they wrote about. As such, that title still belongs to Alan Turing because he actually made the thing. But they did come up with the first ideas of a bunch of stuff that we still use today and that’s still pretty impressive for people who were alive in the 1800s. It’s worth noting that pretty much everything in the book after the first section that describes the (actual, depressing) historical events is historical fiction and therefore not real. I thought it was going to be like they were Batman and Robin solving crimes but it was actually just cartoonish accounts of interactions that mostly actually occurred with the addition of the Analytical Engine as though it had actually been built and used and Lovelace not dying super young.

So… THIS HAS THE MOST FOOTNOTES OF ANY COMIC I’VE EVER READ. (I’d really like to say it has the most footnotes of anything I’ve ever read at all, but alas I have read a David Foster Wallace.) Kind of an offputting number of footnotes, honestly. But about halfway through I decided to just read the comic like it was a comic and come back for the footnotes (and also the extensive endnotes) after I was done and that worked way better for me. Especially since the added notes mostly don’t pertain to any particular sentence or frame, they’re just letting you know that although there’s no way to verify that this scene occurred, they are definitely pretty close to actual historical events and people.

The art in this is so cool! I really kind of want to buy a second copy and use it like a coloring book (something I also still badly want to do with the Scott Pilgrim series…maybe I just love coloring books and black and white graphic novels really resemble coloring books but with cooler themes…).

A Babbage party

An amalgam of all of Babbage’s famous party guests in one place

Also there are excellent historical figures! Ada Lovelace is pretty kickass – her dad was Byron and her mom was so worried that she’d be a philandering mess like him that she refused to let her daughter read any poetry or even abstract math concepts ’cause that’s like the poetry of math, I guess. And Charles Babbage sounds like a cantankerous weirdo and it’s delightful that the author of this book is clearly in love with both of them. And there’s a cast of secondary characters who are historical figures I knew almost nothing about before reading this book.

Lovelace and Babbage nerding out at a party

Lovelace and Babbage

In conclusion, this book is cool but only read it if you were looking for a history, math, or engineering lesson NOT if you were looking for people in capes fighting crime. ‘Cause then you might be a little disappointed at the lack of explosions.

 

Preacher

I feel obliged to post this before the TV show starts up (May 22nd, in case you didn’t know) even though I just finished reading all the comics a few days ago. So I feel like I’m still thinking them over .

I really enjoyed these comics overall! (Cool, got that nicety out of the way. Now to complain! And then after that more nice things, I promise.)

So, the art was probably my biggest issue with the series. Which seems so silly. But it is absolutely the most generic 90’s comic book art. All of the faces are drawn exactly the same. If characters don’t have different specific outfits they wear in every single frame (good thing Jesse has a priest collar on, honestly) it’s hard to tell them apart. Nothing is pretty. Nothing even stands out. It’s just visually plain and honestly a little confusing when side characters are introduced who aren’t readily distinguishable from the main ones.

(Jesse, Cassidy, and Tulip in a diner.)

Generic human faces. And these are the three main characters in a well lit room, so this is as good as it gets.

Also, as was pretty common in 90’s comics, women make up about 5% of this universe. There’s Tulip (yay Tulip!), her one friend (who is a barely developed character except that she is in love with Jesse and talks to both Tulip and Jesse about that at various points, which is not a particularly believable human thing), Jesse’s evil grandma, Featherstone (the Grail apparently controls Catholicism the world over but only needed one lady operative), and some girls who are only mentioned because of the fact that Cassidy either does or does not date them (spoilers: it ends poorly both ways). That’s it. And only Tulip has any character development or affect on the plot. Which is a real bummer.

And the guys who get so much plot and backstory and importance thrown at them? They both kinda suck. At being people. Also at life. For additional data, the list of characters who warranted Preacher Specials: Cassidy, Herr Starr, Arseface, The Saint of Killers, and “The Good Ol’ Boys” aka Jesse’s terrifying (southern stereotype) violent, inbred, hick cousins. (I read these, none of them were particularly good. Just in case you were curious.)

Jesse is basically the face of benevolent sexism. Tulip is like the only reliable person he knows. Also, as she repeatedly demonstrates throughout the story, she’s super great at killing people. But he leaves her behind every single time he can because he cares about her and she’s a lady human so it’s the right thing to do.

(Tulip being badass.)

Tulip being badass. (Those are bad guys, in case that’s not clear.)

Cassidy… Damnit, you guys. This guy was my favorite for a while. He’s sarcastic and mean AND Irish AND a vampire? But then he’s also your friendly neighborhood rapist, abuser, and absentee father. What. The. Fuck. And then, I guess, that’s all okay because he kind of helps but actually just doesn’t kill Jesse – he only breaks his collar bone and then asks for forgiveness. Which, I guess, if these are supposed to have Catholic morals maybe has its own consistent internal logic? Still,  I am full of rage for the ongoing non-death of Cassidy.

ANYWAYS I promised you pros and I have them! I am not a liar!

The plot of these comics is just awesome. There was probably some stuff I missed with the hierarchy of angels and demons and god and maybe even Jesse’s creepy family where knowing a little bit more about religious texts would have been helpful. Even without that understanding, I still speed read my way through them because I just had to know what happened.

Also there’s Tulip! I don’t know, have I mentioned that she’s really cool already? Why couldn’t this just be her story? She’s raised by her survivalist single dad until he dies and she goes to private school and meets her rich best friend who she then saves at a party and spends most of the rest of her life protecting good people she encounters just because it’s the right thing to do. Tulip is the real hero, guys.

And The Saint of Killers! Who I primarily like because he is basically Roland Deschain back before the Dark Tower went on way too long and I started to hate him.

So I have long since learned not to get my hopes up about TV adaptations (or movies, or radio shows…all of it is mostly a let down). But I am definitely going to watch this to find out.

But so far it looks like THEY ADDED DIVERSITY! (At least a little bit. I’ve only seen the photos of the cast they’ve put on Instagram so far.)

I can’t help but wonder how they’re going to do the special effects exactly though. This could be horrendously cheesy or very interesting… TBD.

(Glowing ball of angry space baby)

How are they gonna do this in a way that’s not hilarious?

Will religious people burn the AMC offices down? Does AMC even have offices? We’ll find out!

(Jesse meet Genesis. Genesis, Jesse.)

Jesse meet Genesis. Genesis, Jesse.