Friday, July 29, 2011

[Review] XVI

XVI by Julia Karr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I highly enjoyed this book. It’s the first in a series, but the second book hasn’t come out yet. In a way, I wish I had waited since now I am anxious to see what happens with Nina and her friends. I hate starting a series I really like that’s only one or a couple books into the story. I get impatient to read the rest of the story, and this series’ next book won’t be out until 2012. Hopefully before the world ends.

This book centers around fifteen-year-old Nina Oberon. A girl who lives in a dystopian utopia that has taken away most rights from the people, especially women who are treated more like cattle than humans. At sixteen, girls are forced to get the tattoo XVI on their wrists showing that they are “ready” for sex.

The public in general is carefully fed what the Governing Council wants them to believe including the idea that sixteen-year-old girls are nothing more than sex-starved nymphs who deserve whatever happens to them. The girls themselves—referred to as “sex-teens”—often buy into this same line of thought, prepping themselves to become what the media portrays them to be.

Nina diffidently rebels against this, not wanting to have anything to do with lecherous boys and men or forced sex. Despite the constant surveillance they’re under, Nina’s mother instills values in Nina, telling her that there’s more to life than what the GC force-feeds them. Then, her mother is murdered, and Nina finds herself finding out thrown into another world where she learns more about her mother, her presumably deceased father, and the rebel world beneath their “utopia.”

This was refreshing for a number of reasons. Firstly, I liked Nina very much, which is saying something for the character for me. Lately, I haven’t been too terribly impressed with YA protagonists, especially their female protagonists. I’ve found more of them annoying than truly admirable. Authors seem to overplay the traits that make teens who they are thus throwing them into a category that makes them overly aggravating. This shadows their admirable qualities.

Nina is a typical teen. Yes, she has traits that make her annoying like other teens, but they’re not overworked. She’s a good kid with a good heart. She knows she’s worth more than what the media says she is, but she has to be careful about expressing her opinions. She’s a good big sister to her younger sister, Dee, and she loves her grandparents. She goofs off with her friends—one of whom is a sex-obsessed girl who is completely taken by the media. But she is likable.

Secondly, I liked the world. It’s a dystopian utopia where no one supposedly has to do without unless they decide that they’d rather not take any government assistant. While things like religion repression is outlawed and everyone is a vegetarian (and Nina can’t believe there was a time when people actually ate meat), history has been erased to suit the GC’s agenda, not to mention the way it treats its teenage girls.

Yes, it is very reminiscent of 1984, but Karr worked it to her advantage, and in mentioning some of the changes that the world has gone through over time, you see that it went through many changes including having a period where women ruled that supposedly didn’t work out before deciding the former United States needed to be policed strictly.

I also liked hat Karr tried to create a lingo for teens in 2150 A.D. and the whole world in general. But I couldn’t help laughing a little at cars being called “trannies.” When I first read about a couple of “trannies” bumping into each other, I had mental images of Chi Chi Rodriguez and Noxeema Jackson running into each other and falling out in the street.

There were parts of the story that were too coincidental or convenient, but that happens in YA books (and many adult books). However, I can see where it was needed to set off a chain of events. I'm hoping the later books will go into why teenage girls are the focus of so much misogyny in this society, but we shall see. Overall, though, I thought this was a great book and can’t wait to continue with the series. It’s been a while since I was this excited about a YA book.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 27 - Favorite Comic Book Movie

I just realized that I skipped a whole day and didn't even realize it. I did Day 28's yesterday, and so I'm going to do Day 27's today. What is wrong with me?

Anyhow, favorite comic book movie goes to two movies actually. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

I loved this movie because it was nostalgia heaven, just absolute fan service for geeks. And yes, Todd Ingram IS my favorite evil ex. :-)

Second movie, and I probably even like it a little more than Scott Pilgrim, is X-Men: First Class. Despite January Jones' uninspired Emma, I really enjoyed that movie and thought they did a great job of mixing action with the story.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

White Rabbit: A Gaming Conundrum Solved

Back in 2002, Red Faction II came out. While I will play games of that nature, they're not high on my "to-have" list. However, the song playing in the trailer for the game intrigued me so that it's haunted me for nine years of my life. Seriously.

Back in 2002, when the internet wasn't so ripe with all the information it has now. Google was still a baby and Youtube was only a sparkle in its father's eye, I scoured the internet and gaming forums in hope that someone knew this song. However, I couldn't find any information (and perhaps my searchfu sucked then and I SO misheard those lyrics), which is inconceivable by today's internet standards. So, I let it go, but the song stayed on my mind. I called off the search dogs.

Fast forward to nine years later. I've just gotten into because I love listening to people's personal mixes. I have a few uploaded, and I'm working on getting more up there. I'm still a newb there. Anyhow, I listened to a fanmix for the movie Sucker Punch. While listening to the song, I heard a line in a similar intonation that I remember from Red Faction II. Looking at the mix, I see that it's called White Rabbit by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

Remember, what the dormouse said, "Keep your head! Keep your head!"

But even though I recognized it, I knew this was not the voice that haunted me from the game trailer. While I certainly did enjoy the version by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, I knew it had to be a cover of some sort. A quick Youtube search told me that it was a cover of a song by Jefferson Airplanes. If Youtube was a person, they would've gotten a kiss with full-on tongue.

THIS! This is the song that I couldn't get out of my head for so long. And it's funny because the song did come to mind a few days ago when a friend and I were talking about Red Faction II. I'd told myself that I was going to do a search for the song again, but didn't. And since I didn't search for it, it kindly came to me.

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[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 28 - Favorite Comic Publisher

Probably Marvel. A vast majority of what I've read has been from Marvel. And even though I am branching out and reading other of stuff, Marvel still has all the characters I love. So... there...
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] A Comic You Wish They Would Make Into A Movie

I can has Runaways? Oh wait, they’re casting for that already, right?

In that case, I can has Daughters of the Dragon.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

[Review] Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Without giving too much away, the story is this. Jacob’s grandfather has always told him fantastic tales about monsters and an orphanage for “peculiar” children. When Jacob grows older, he dismisses his grandfather’s stories as fairytales. Then, Jacob receives a strange call from his grandfather, and when he checks in on him, he finds him on the cusp of death after an attack. His grandfather’s last babbling words to him send him on a journey to a town called Cairnholm to find out more about his grandfather.

While he is able to fill in the gaps of his grandfather’s life during this trip, he also finds out something important about himself.

Even though this book came highly recommended by many people, when I first got into it, I was little skeptical that it would be as good as everyone says it is because the beginning was a little slow. However, after making it past the first few chapters, I was engrossed with this world. Personally, I didn’t think story was scary or “haunting” as the description said. It’s more along a fantasy mixed with sci-fi with some bits of intrigue. I don’t think I’d quite call this a young adult story, either. Even though the characters were young, it didn’t have that YA feel to it.

This plays out more like a mystery as little bits and pieces are revealed to the readers, and there was one major part of the story that I figured early on. But that didn’t make it any less of a great read. Also, I think part of the reason this was a four-star book for me is because of Rigg’s creative use of pictures throughout the book. All the pictures are real pictures (and some admittedly touched up for the book) that he borrowed from collectors, giving the book an almost eerie vibe.

It’s really hard to talk about this book without spoiling all the things that made it enjoyable, so I’ll end on this note: Bronwyn is my hero, and you’ll see why once you read the book.

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Viola... ♥

Can I marry a video game character yet (or at least a cosplayer dressed like Viola)?

Took a brief hiatus on Eternal Sonata and gaming in general due to how busy my life was. When I came home from New York, I found myself with some new responsibilities at work that included me gutting an old workshop that we give regularly and redoing it. I won’t say from the ground up since I kept much of the same material, but I changed it quite a bit.

That’s beside the point. The real point is that I still love this game. It has a beautiful, large cast of playable characters. And I can’t say enough about the musical influences or having Chopin as a playable character. The world itself is so vibrant and breathtaking. However, there’s another reason for this post. This post serves an undying ode to my favorite character, and arguably one of the more powerful characters on the game, Viola.

She was the fourth member to join my group after I helped her save her sheep from some crazies. From the beginning she’s been sassy, funny, and an all around joy to play with. She suits my playing style perfectly being equal parts offensive and defensive. You can use her from long range with her bow for some sniping and team healing courtesy of her awesome healing arrow. Or you can use her as an alpha striker dealing some serious beatdown with her bone crumble attack.

She’s the type of female character I love in RPGs. Mostly female characters are delegated to either being magical in nature (the Aeris type) or a character that can lay down a real smackdown (the Tifa type).  Not that there’s anything wrong with this because male characters are handled in a similar fashion, but it’s nice to encounter a (female) character who’s rounded in a game, a character who can give as good as she can get.

I have a set team that I typically play with that I know I’ll have to change a bit eventually. My mother-in-law played this game first, so she spoiled it a little for me. So far, I’ve consistently used Allegretto, Chopin, and Viola. Viola is in the top three (and she might be in the top two) for HP and attack strength, and she’s one level lower than both Chopin and Allegretto. When I need someone to make a big attack and end things I either depend on her or Allegretto who is your typical warrior/soldier archetype.

Not only can I depend on her to make a killing blow, I also use her heavily as my team’s primary healer despite a few of my other characters having some great spot heals. And healers with powerful attacks don’t seem to be the standard in my RPG games. They're either excellent magic types or excellent warrior types--rarely both. I’ve heard some argue that Viola is probably too powerful, and they might be somewhat right.

Chopin is powerful in his own right, but I use him because if his ability to drastically lower an enemies’ attack power with Mirage Blow, which has changed the favor of the battle in my favor many times. Against Tuba, I HIGHLY recommend equipping this attack as your main for a while. After taking a couple of defeats, I put it to good use after deciding I was fed up with losing. Healing Arrow (Viola) and Mirage Blow (Chopin) will be your best friends during this battle. It was amazing how well I was able to keep my team alive with Viola's heal.

Now, this game does have other witty female characters in Salsa and Falsetto, but Viola is a character that can hang with the boys and really be a real deciding factor on a team. Salsa can come off a bit annoying and brattish in her confidence, and Falsetto can seem condescending. The other females in this game seem skittish and always look as if they’re on the verge of tears (but they kick total ass, too). 

Viola is a goodhearted teaser who believes in speaking just what’s on her mind without coming off as overbearing or argumentative. She’s a great character and makes this game ten times more fun than it already is. 
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[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 25 – A Book You Plan On Reading

Skipped Day 24.  These dream matches/team-up things require me to expend too much energy because I have a gabajillion ideas for them and no way to narrow them down to just one or even a few.  That’s two I have to come back to now.

Two that I don’t know when I’ll actually get back to for the reasons I just mentioned.

A book I plan on reading. Can we just say laughing out loud. My comic to-be-read pile is huge. There are constantly things that I plan to read with new things being added to the list all the time. 

Just finished Sin City and started on Hitman and Scott Pilgrim. I’m thinking about starting Executive Assistant Iris and 300 really soon, though. However, ideally, I’d like to finish the two that I’ve already started, but I know how I am. I’ll wander on to something else and read it even though I’m working my way through those. 

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

[Review] Hell and Back

Hell and Back
Hell and Back by Frank Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out of all 7 books, this was probably my favorite. I'm glad that I saw the movie before reading these because I would've been so disappointed not to see this one (and Family Values, which is my 2nd favorite). The story is titled Hell and Back, but its subtitle is "A Love Story." And it is just that.

An artist and former soldier (Wallace) saves a woman (Esther) who's trying to commit suicide only to have her taken away from him in the same night after making a deep connection with her. And he's more than willing to go to hell and back to save her. Unlike so many other characters in this book, Wallace is a genuinely good guy. He sees things in a sense of right and wrong, and yeah, he does a whole lot of wrong to get Esther back, but he doesn't start as a gray character like so many of the other "heroes" in Sin City.

This is the only story that has a REAL hopeful ending, and if the movie had played more on the idea that Sin City did nothing but "spoil" and "kill" the people who live there, this would've been a fitting ending for it because it gives hope for, not just Esther and Wallace, but the other inhabitants who live there as well. They can find something worth living for in the city, and they can escape its clutches.

But I can see why it was omitted from a time saving POV and from a story POV. Wallace's hallucinations alone probably would've taken up the whole budget (and caused a helluva lot of lawsuits with all the recognized property used in his hallucinations from Captain America to Rambo to Hell Boy), and the movie seemed to want to play on that "hopelessness and revenge with very little daylight" theme.

But still... I would've loved to have seen this one on the screen. My heart was dreading the ending because I was sure Esther and Wallace were going to end up like so many other characters in the book and I didn't want them to. Wallace and his endless "ma'ams" and good manners through it all were too cute. Imagine my delight when they turned out fine. It was a good farewell to me. The lovers leaving the city just as the readers do.

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Turn the right corner in Sin City and you can find anything...

I've been reading the Sin City graphic novels, which I am enjoying immensely. These books are making me want to watch the movies again. I wish they'd included Family Values in there just because Miho is sensational in it. Sure, she never says anything (as usual), but she's kicking all kinds of ass in it. Miho kicks butt in the movie, but she's got nothing on her graphic novel incarnation.

I do have a question, though. Who is that with Miho? Is it Dwight? Or just some random guy that's in with the girls in Old Town? I figure it's Dwight because he seems like one of very few men they trust to get involved with their business because of Gail. He's also proven his loyalty to them and shown that he'll back them up whenever they need him.

This is making me want to watch the movie again. The "Salesman" is in two of my favorite scenes from the movie. But now I want to go back and pay more attention to Miho's scenes. I think I'll do that.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

R.I.P. Amy Winehouse

I hate to say this is the least surprising celebrity death in recent years, but it most certainly is for me and many others. Amy had a long, public, very ugly battle with drugs. Everyone knew this, and while some people (like myself) hoped that she would get better and continue her career, I think most people accepted that things would not end well for her.

We all have our demons. Some of us have a harder battle than others with them. Sometimes we beat them, and sometimes we don't. I thought she was an immensely talented artist, daring to be different when she debuted than what was norm for pop at the time (and in many ways still is). She's made her mark on the world, and unfortunately, she goes on to join the 27 Club.

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[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] The DELUXE Edition

Didn’t have much time to do these this week due to some other things that I did during the week, so I’m doing days 20-23 in one big post. Hopefully, I’ll be able to be on top of things for the rest of next week since  I am nearly done!

Day 20 – Favorite Super Power or Skill
Good question. I like many powers, but I think one of my favorite actually falls in the paranormal field. I love psychometry. I think it’s fascinating that someone would be able to tell a whole history from something they touched. And also, maybe because the characters that wield it make it seem so smexy like Quinlan Vos of the Star Wars fame.

Day 21 – Favorite Writer
Having recently been introduced to Greg Rucka by a fellow comic geek, I’ve decided that he is my new favorite writer. Up until that point, I would’ve said Grant Morrison. However, Rucka writes what I love best. He makes these characters real to me by writing about the psychological side of them, delving into their past, their fears, giving them a cohesive personality and background. Even though I personally think that Batman & Huntress: Cry for Blood is my favorite comic by him right now, he sealed my love for him when I read these words from Batman: Death and the Maidens:

I can’t remember my mother. The mind betrays emotion. What the head knows, the heart forgets […] It is only intellect keeping them alive now. I can’t remember them anymore. Not really. Not honestly. And I am afraid… I don’t feel it anymore…

I’ve always wondered about that. I knew that Batman’s parents’ death would always stay with him, but what would he feel like when the feelings fade after years. Would he know it? What would he think of it? Yes, I realize that their deaths impacted him greatly, but after so many years, the pain would lessen. The influence would still be there, but it’d be so easy to forget their faces, to have scar tissue where the pain once was. I liked that Rucka touched that in that comic. And he’s always tackled these issues with various characters.

I love the action, but sometimes what really draws me to a character is how much I can relate and empathize with them. Rucka knows how to really bring these things out of these characters.

Day 22 – A Comic Book Second Volume Which Disappointed You
I can’t say that I can think of one right off hand that’s disappointed me. But I will give this more thought and get back to you on that. I’m sure something along the way has made me go “meh…”

Day 23 – You Favorite Artist
J.H. Williams III! Have you looked at his art? Especially his Batwoman art! OMG, MY FEELINGS!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

[Review] Let the Right One in

Let the Right One in
Let the Right One in by John Ajvide Lindqvist

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Simply put, this is a vampire novel. A young boy who shows repressed homicidal tendencies befriends a vampire named Eli, a friendship that forces his whole world to change. I'm sure everyone knows that by now, but unlike so many vampire novels today, there's nothing sparkly or darkly seductive about this world. It's evil, twisted, and ugly.

The ugliness of it all is what made this compelling. This is a fairly fast-paced read despite the page count, crafted so well. The story makes you want to keep turning as you read about horror after horror, defeat after defeat. And yes, in some of this, you do feel a sense of triumph when bad things happened to the characters who "deserve" it in this book.

I wanted to say that the characters in this novel have few redeeming qualities, but while some of these characters are truly disgusting human beings, most of them are just people struggling against poverty, alcholism, and other real world problems. Their lives become so entwined with each other because of Eli. You do managed to feel some sympathy toward some of the characters, but that doesn't take away from the ugliness of this story.

Trigger warning on this one.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 19 - Comic Book City/Universe You Wish You Lived In

Since there are very high chances that I'd be maimed, kidnapped, robbed, hit by debris (since apparently it's in good taste to destroy at least half the city every battle) and many other undesirable conditions that probably all include some type of pain, I have to say none of them. They're nice on paper, but I wouldn't want to live in those places.
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Monday, July 18, 2011

[Review] Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test

Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test
Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test by Mark D. White

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first venture into the Philosophy and Pop Culture series. I wasn't disappointed with most of what I'd read. I was a little hesitant to read this at first because I thought these essays might've been just slapped together to appeal to an audience, but it was much more than that.

The topics span a range of ideas in philosophical context including feminism, virtue, homosexuality. As with any book that has multiple writers, the essays themselves were hit or miss.I enjoyed most of the essays on Rorschach and Ozymandias. There was a great essay about The Comedian and Nite Owl. The essays centering around Mr. Manhattan were a little bland, though.

These essays posed great questions for discussion such as: Would superheroes work in a real life setting? Could we really trust them to be objective creatures who didn't give into personal biases? Or would they be whim to changing the rules to suit them since no ordinary man could challenge them and win?

I probably would've given it 4 stars, but I deducted for a couple of reasons.

First, the guy who wrote about homosexuality in Watchmen seemed like a poor candidate to touch on the subject. His view was very biased as a man who admitted that he was "sickened" by homosexuality and nothing about his argument was compelling. But he did manage to come off like that one guy who can't be racist because he has "black friends." Just replace "black friends" with "gay friends," and you have this guy. He tried to be objective, but it came off very forced.

Secondly, while I enjoyed the essays on Ozymandias and Rorschach--and not so much Dr. Manhattan, I wished it'd touched more on some of the other characters. Most of the book was dominated by those three with Rorschach being a character who had roused Kant in the writers. It would've been nice to read other ideas about the other characters and their actions beside what virtue Nite Owl's potbelly represents and a rambling essay about feminism that seemed to lose the plot.

Overall, a nice collection of essays. If you like Kant, you'll probably love this. He comes up fairly often. If you're looking for a well-rounded book that pays equal tribute to the characters, then you're not going to find it here.

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[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 18 - Favourite B-list Character

Does Deadpool still count even though he was butchered in a movie? He’s always been one of my favorite B-list characters. Yeah, I like him because he’s such a silly character, but everyone knows he hides behind that persona. Deadpool before he became Deadpool was a very different person and sometimes we catch glimpses of who he used to be when he was still just Wade Wilson.

Deadpool: The Circle Chase
In that regard you could say that I like him for some of the same reasons I like Storm because he’s a character who is more complex (in my opinion) than people give him credit for and has many more facets to him than just the "merc with a mouth." Even sometimes in his silliness, a seriousness follows it, especially when he reveals his face to someone (usually a woman). His jokes are more biting and self-loathing in those instances. The fight where Juggernaut rips off what he refers to as "his face" (his mask) he has one of those moments with Siryn (Theresa Cassidy) in Sins of the Past where she shows kindness to him after being initially repulsed by his face.

And though he usually shows that his actions are self-serving and all about what he can get out of the deal. There are moments when he can be selfless with no real gain such as when he went on to help Siryn’s uncle Black Tom and when he saved Copycat by allowing her to “copy” him (his healing ability saved her).

There's is definitely a lot more going on there than a mouthy merc. 
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[Review] Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I gave into temptation after seeing the ads for the movie all over Goodreads. Wow, what a story. I wouldn't say this was a hard story to read, but much of it is dreary. This book takes place during a time when women were only seen as vestibules to bear children--particularly sons. Other than that, their lives were "worthless," and they were often viewed as another mouth to feed for their husbands' families.

Living life under strict patriarchal codes, women were not allowed to air their grievances. They were encouraged to accept their lot in life and believe that everything that happened to them was their own doing, something they deserved. They were taught that they only achieved perfection through pain. However, these woman created a secret language used to convey their true feelings to one another.

This books follows the journey of two women whose spent their lives as loatongs (old sames)--women paired together to be the emotional pillars to each other that their husbands could not be for them. Their history together is painful, and their relationship poignantly illustrates the ever shifting face of female relationships.

Women, and our relationships with one another, are such complicated things. Even though this story takes place during a time long before women had many rights, some things remain true. Some of the same tricks they used then, we use now. We still share so many of the same fears, hopes, aspirations, etc. These things still affect us no matter our races, geographical locations, social statuses. Beautiful story.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 17 - Most Useless Villain

Look at this freak.
He's such a cliche. Watching him on The Brave and the Bold pretty much reaffirmed up what I always knew. Toyman is a ridiculous, completely useless villain, especially when you factor in that his main opponent is Superman. Sure, he can make some pretty nasty toys, but his main target is SUPERMAN, which makes him almost as relevant as moldy bread. 
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[Review] Obsession

ObsessionObsession by Kayla Perrin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sophie begins and obsessive relationship with the handsome Piotr after finding out about her husband's own affair, which has landed him in legal trouble. She soon learns that dishing out what you've been served isn't always the best way to heal your heart.

Perrin knows how to start a good story. She just seems to have some problems actually seeing her stories through to the end.

Also, I had a hard time caring about Sophie. She came off as brat-ish, and her brat-ish behavior followed to the end. I did sympathize with her, cheer her on, and felt her pain, but she was brat.

When I was finally at that point where I thought I could really like her, her shallow behavior ruined that. There seemed to be no real character growth for her.

She seemed to think that love was gauged by who bought her the better tennis bracelet. Okay book. I'll continue to read Perrin's works because she can create an intriguing storyline. She just needs to work on her weak endings.

(Originally read December 2009)

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[Review] Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter, #1)Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Note: Originally read December 2009. I'm pushing some of my oold reviews to my website. Don't mind this.

I picked up this book because I love the series. The premise of a serial killer killing other serial killers was just too interesting to pass up. You actually root for Dex, even though you know that he's the bad guy as well. The beginning of this book was just like watching the series. The series mirrored it perfectly. I could hear Michael C. Hall in my head just as he sounded on that first episode while reading the beginning of this.

Dexter spends a great deal of time trying to make us believe that he is completely incapable of any kind of human emotion, even as he does express a certain amount of elation while he's butchering others and while he's admiring the work of this new killer, and while that seemed repetitive for some readers, I interpreted it as a mechanism to make himself truly believe that he has no feelings because many of his actions and thoughts say otherwise. Yes, I do believe that he's partly right in his assessment of himself. It takes a certain kind of uncaring, broken person to do the things he does, even if it IS to others like himself. However, I don't believe that he's really as uncaring as he tries to paint himself to believe.

This book was like a personal look into the dark side of a person's psych (same with the series). It makes you wonder if that bright smile from the mailman is really hiding something sinister behind it.

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[Review] Batwoman: Elegy

Batwoman: ElegyBatwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Admittedly, the art for this series is what initially made me want to read this series. I loved how J.H. Williams III used black, white, and red to create these images of her that really popped out at viewers in my opinion. And I knew there would be a solid story because I have yet to be disappointed in anything that Rucka has written.

Batwoman, Kate Kane, finds herself going up against a madwoman named Alice who wants to cover Gotham in a deadly gas plume in order to become its new ruler, but there’s far more to Alice than Batwoman expects.

There are a number of reasons that I enjoyed this comic, but there are two that really rank high on my likes. First, it serves as an origin comic. You learned about Kate’s background from her desire to serve her country in the military—a short-lived dream due to her sexuality—to her time spent wandering aimlessly without much direction to her decision to take up the cape and cowl to serve her city after being inspired by Batman and even how this decision affects her relationships.

Secondly, you have this character who is technically part of the Bat Family, but she isn’t Batman’s to control—for lack of better word. Batman acknowledges her and extends his help to her, but he isn’t deeply engrained in her life as he is the lives of characters like Nightwing and Robin. She functions independently of him, has her own resources, and fights her own battles without having to consult him about her matters.

And even though he appears only briefly in this comic and even gives some of his gruff advice (telling her to cover her long, flowing hair, which is a wig, showing that he doesn’t know her identity at this point), he seems to respect her and what she’s doing by not interfering. I appreciate that in her character because it gives her a chance to really become super in her own right, a character that doesn’t cling to daddy’s coattails. This allows her to prove her own worth and show readers you don’t have to be Batman’s pet to make it.

Then, why have her take up the mantle of the bat instead of making her own identity? I think for the reasons that a put forth in the comic. She was inspired by Batman. She knows that the symbol of the bat stirs alarm in Gotham’s criminals. And part of it is to also show the Bat Family that is a friend and she intends to play by the rules set forth by Batman and will help when needed.

I’m starting to think that everyone should have Rucka write their characters’ origins stories. He has such a way with really giving characters depth when he gets his hand on them. His writing combined with Williams’ art made for a perfect reading experience for me.

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[Review] Batman: Red Hood - The Lost Days

Batman: Red Hood - The Lost DaysBatman: Red Hood - The Lost Days by Judd Winick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Before watching Under the Red Hood, I knew very little about Jason Todd. I knew there was a Robin that had died, but being as I was never a big DC fan growing up, I never read about his death or even had much insight on the character. I enjoyed the movie Under the Red Hood, and it prompted me to read more about the history of the character and find out about his return.

I'm not a fan of comics bringing back characters whose deaths have such a strong impact on the other characters involved. To me, that cheapens a character's death and the changes that he/she brought about in this fictional world. But I'm going on a whole different tangent.

This comic chronicles the years leading up to Jason Todd's return to Gotham. He's found barely alive by Talia al Ghul who has an unhealthy obsession with Batman and at first sees Jason as a means to getting to Batman. After being put in a pit by Talia to be made whole (an overall bad decision), Jason spends the rest of his years training for his return and his revenge, acquiring new skills that he hadn't learned during his time as Robin, funded by Talia.

Jason is an interesting character. I don't think he can be called a true villain. He does things that go against the "good" standard, but in his own twisted way, he is trying to do what Batman taught him. However, unlike Batman, he feels that a hero has to serve the same cruel punishment as the scum they fight, that doing the things they do doesn't make him any less "heroic." He believes it makes him "realistic."

Jason can't be called a true hero either because of his actions that go beyond that "good" standard. He's also not afraid to take out anyone who stands in the way of his goals of wiping out the criminal element. For him, it's less about protecting the people who need protecting and more about getting rid of the criminals using their own tactics. It's better to sacrifice a few to the greater cause than allow these criminals to hurt the masses.

I'm still not sure how I feel about Jason coming back, but the stories that are written about him show a character who obviously still wants to impress Batman and still has strong familial ties to the Bat Family and vice versa. He annoys them, but they still care about him and treat him like the wayward son that needs saving.

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[Review] Batman: Battle for the Cowl

Batman: Battle for the CowlBatman: Battle for the Cowl by Tony S. Daniel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Things are still spiraling down as Gotham's heroes try to keep things under control in Gotham. With Batman no longer around to scare the criminals, they've declared themselves the new rulers of the city.

Robin is increasingly pulling himself thin trying to help keep the crime down while telling Dick that Gotham needs a Batman to keep it from destroying itself. Dick resists the idea that they need to take up Batman's cape and cowl to bring Gotham back to some sense of order.

Because of the dire situations they're in, other heroes from different parts of the world come together in Gotham to create the Network. Together they try quell the crime that threatens to eat Gotham whole.

Then, a mysterious, murderous Batman starts a killing spree, taking down Gotham's criminals ruthlessly, breaking "the bat code" of not killing, forcing Tim to make a drastic decision. (And it's no surprise who it turns out to be in my opinion.)

It was nice to see other heroes coming to Gotham's aid, especially Knight and Squire, and you can really just feel Gotham's pain as it continue to sink deeper and deeper. I think Tim's desperation and exasperation of the situation shines through the best, though. You watch him fall deeper and deeper into an angry sadness.

Three people assume the identity of Batman in this book, but only one victor emerges.

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[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 16 - Funniest Comic Book/Comic Book Scene

A little late. I've been gone most of the evening, but since I haven't gone to sleep yet, It's still day 16, dammit! Two scenes of very many.

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[Review] The Question: Pipeline

The Question: PipelineThe Question: Pipeline by Greg Rucka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Question, Renee Montoya, is contacted by a man who is desperately looking for his sister. After doing some investigation, Renee finds that the girl has been kidnapped by traffickers. Once Renee recovers the man's sister along with some other women who had been kidnapped, she makes it her mission to find out who runs the trafficking ring and bring them down. Along the way, she teams up with Huntress whose money and skills come in handy for Renee's operation.

I loved this story. I thought it was well-crafted with just enough action and just enough storytelling to keep me engaged. Renee is such an interesting character, and it's great to see her getting the exposure she needs by giving her a role that highly suits her. The story takes a bit of an unexpected twist toward the end. I expected many things to happen, but it went the last place that would've come to my mind, and the ending had me holding my breath a little and wondering what comic I needed to read to get the answer to the question (no pun intended) it ended with.

Note: I've decided to push some of my reviews to my website automatically to save time. I read so many books that I can't quite possible review them all. So, the short reviews that I post for some will be posted on Blogger if I have no intention of writing a longer review.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 14 – Current (Or Most Recent) Comic-themed Wallpaper

Presented with little commentary.


Nook (up until about 2 hours ago until I got bored):

Nook (Now):

Note: I save my themes that I know I'll use eventually. I had the Deadpool theme saved from the 8th, but went back to my old faithful of Storm for a while. I have a Binary Ms. Marvel saved that will probably come into play soon. :-)
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 13 – A Book You’ve Read More than Five Times

I’m sure that I’ve read plenty of comics more than one time because I have so many that I’m sentimental about, but I’ll choose V for Vendetta.

The date is November 5th, 1997. War has ravaged England, entire races have been eradicated, the entire British populace is under constant surveillance, and the absolute power is absolutely corrupt. On this historic day, a man with a strong resemblance to Guy Fawkes (in action and dress) blows up Parliament. The bomber, a masked character named V, saves a girl named Eve from a violent crime and takes her under his wing.  
Moore's dystopian, fascist version of England, ruled by one central leader and his sects (named after parts of the body, such as Finger, Nose, and Voice), is systematically dismantled by the enigmatic V. Readers must ultimately decide if V is a mad anarchist/terrorist or a freedom-fighting avenger for good.

Originally published in 1989, V has been reissued as a hardcover book with never-seen-before sketches and two new vignettes. This story is slated to be released as a major motion picture in 2006, and demand should intensify as the movie trailers come out. Combining alternate history with moral questions about freedom and identity, this book would work well in a school setting; and while there is some slight nudity and violence, they fit well within the framework of the story.
-Jennifer Feigelman

V for Vendetta was the first book I’d ever read by Alan Moore and ranks as probably my favorite graphic novel of all them. I’ve read this probably more than a dozen times. It never gets old for me. 

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 12 – A Comic Book Everyone Should Read

Before getting into this, I wanted to say sorry that these have been later coming these last few days. I’m working on a big project at work, and it’s almost a miracle that I’m able to get these done at all. I haven’t really had time to write a post about much of anything else. Fortunately, Thursday is the day I make the big present, so maybe things will normalize then.

I already used Bayou as one of the most touching comic books that I’ve read. Everyone should definitely read it, but I’m going to give another recommendation, just to be fair. I highly recommend. Greg Rucka’s Batman & Huntress: Cry for Blood. I’m going to be lazy and just copy and paste my original review for the graphic novel. Excuse my laziness, but it sums up all my thoughts on it.
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Monday, July 11, 2011

[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 11 – Your Favorite Comic Book Cartoon Series

I purposely skipped Day 10 because I wanted to do some thinking on the subject before going into all that. With that being said, I’m sure this will come as surprise to anyone. I grew up on this series. It solidified my love.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

[Review] The All-New Atom Vol. 3: The Hunt for Ray Palmer by Gail Simone

Rating: 0.5 (out of 5)

“Don’t thou be frontin’.” 

This line greeted me early in the comic, uttered by an Amish “driver” whose buggy is nearly sideswiped by Ryan Choi. Probably the least funny lines ever written in history. A line that warned me to leave this place and never come back, a Ducreux meme gone terribly wrong. Did I listen? Hell no. Should I have listened? Hell yes.

The comic opens with Ray Palmer walking across what, at first, appears to be some wasteland. Upon exposition, we learn that he’s shrunken down to a size that so small it’s nearly impossible for his eyes to process colors and shapes.

He no longer has his belt and has to wait for the effects to wear off to return to his normal size. He vows his revenge on those he believes betrayed him—including the new Atom, Ryan Choi. This part wasn’t actually that bad. It set the readers up for something that sounded like it would be great.

Some things can be so deceiving.
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Saturday, July 9, 2011

[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 09 – Most Touching Comic Book/Comic Book Scene

The most touching comic book I’ve read recently is Jeremy Love’s Bayou. The story takes place in the south during the Great Depression. Lee is African-American and the daughter of a sharecropper. Her best friend, Lily, is a Caucasian girl who is snatched by a monster known as Bog. Lee’s father is accused of kidnapping Lily and is threatened with lynching, so she travels to a fantastic alternate representation of the south to find her friend and save her father.

Bayou mixes southern folklore, history, fantasy, and music to tell the story of this world that is marred by the darkness of Lee’s reality. It’s only a twisted reflection of the (her) real world. It encompasses friendship, love, being brave in the face of opposition. Love has written Lee to be so painfully human and honest much like a real child. She’s introspective and curious, questioning why these injustices happen. It’s a hypnotizing story that pulls out a range of emotions and touches the heart.

The most touching scene from a comic for me isn’t one that’s very flashy or some huge OMG moment. It isn’t one where someone sacrifices themselves to save others. Yes, there is some sacrifice in the scene I choose. However, that sacrifice was to relate trust and companionship between the people involved. It’s a simple scene between Rogue and Storm during their early X-Men adventures from Uncanny X-Men #185, Rogue: Public Enemy #1.

Rogue is still new to the mansion, and she’s still afraid of her powers. Storm was in the beginning of her Mohawk and leather phase, so she was dealing with things of her own that made her act a little out of sorts. The women have a chat by the lake where Rogue tells Storm about Cody, and they laugh thinking about how Storm wanted to quit the team when Rogue first came around.

Then, Storm asks her, “Rogue—has every exercise of your power been an act of violence? Has no one ever given himself of his own freewill?”

Rogue took Storm’s powers violently once before and was unable to control them. But Storm reassures her that since this is a mutual thing, that she’s trusting Rogue enough as a teammate and a friend to make skin-to-skin contact with her, that everything will be okay, that she’s willing to take the risk. They hold hands, and suddenly, Rogue is able to see the world just as Ororo sees it. And it’s beautiful.

So simple, yet so touching, but it was broken up moments later when the feds got involved and Storm lost her powers to try to save Rogue. Okay, so maybe there was a little more sacrificing than I thought here. 
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Friday, July 8, 2011

[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 08 – Best Series Being Published Right Now

I’m not keeping up with too many on-going series right now. I’ll read a few essential arcs here and there, but I’m not as devoted as I used to be. However, I am reading two on-going series right now and I highly recommend them both. Yes, I am aware that I am cheating an awful lot on this meme.

28 Days Later – This follows the exploits of Selena who is living in a refugee camp in Norway. An American journalist, Clint Harris, asks for her help to get to quarantined London for a story he wants to publish.  I am loving this series right now. 28 Days Later has to be one of my favorite movies, and I was delighted to see that they used Selena as the main protagonist of this series. You manage to catch glimpses of who she was before the infection while following her journey to London. The writer(s) have done an excellent job of developing character without bogging readers down with too much exposition. It’s well-paced around the action.

Chew – In America, not too far in the distant future, chicken has been banned after the avian flu sweeps the world, taking many lives. The FDA is now running things, and they run a tight ship. Enter Tony Chu. He’s a cibopath, meaning he gets psychic impressions off anything he eats. He’s recruited by the FDA to help solve murders due to this special ability. I’d read some of these before a while ago, but after hearing about a possible TV series based on this, I decided to catch up on it. Tony’s world is full of dark humor. It can come off a little over-the-top sometimes, but that’s part of its charm. Everything in this world is revolves around food, even down to the characters’ names (Tony Chu, Amelia Mintz, Mason Savoy). I know it sounds crazy, but it’s a fun read. 
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 07 – Favorite Comic Couple

Do pairings that I’ve made up in my mind count? They don’t? Oh.

This is hard. I appreciate many couples. I dislike many couples. I can’t say that I have a true favorite pairing—at least not one that one could call canon. I am seriously struggling here with this one.  I guess I could do non-romantic couples, but then, there are too many couples to choose from for me, and I’d be here writing all day.

Maybe instead of talking about a favorite romantic coupling I like, I’ll just talk about why I don’t have a favorite. Comic book characters are often capricious when it comes to relationships. Some of this is the writers’ fault because too damn many of them are on one project, and some of this is just character and the nature of their “jobs.”

For the ones who aren’t changing significant others like underwear, there is no break out pairing. The ones I like, I like. The ones I don’t like, I don’t. Some couples I like more than others, but not enough to say that one is my favorite.

Forget it.

Why won’t today’s topic let me be great?

Credit: Comic Book Resources

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

But What About the Children?

This is not another Casey Anthony post to debate whether she’s guilty or not guilty or whether the case was properly presented or not. What’s done is done—regardless of where your feelings reside on the subject. And no, I won’t be taking part in any discussions that deal with her guilt or lack thereof.

So much of the outrage, judgments, and thoughts give more worth to Casey Anthony than the real victim in this mess—Caylee. It’s somewhat disturbing that everyone wants to have an opinion on Casey, but no one is standing up and saying, “Hey, what about the baby? Let’s have a moment of silence for her.” Unlike her mother, there is no closure for her.

Or do you even care? Are you acting like a shark that smells blood and just want to get in on the feeding frenzy? What about any of the other young victims of violent crimes? Caylee is hardly the first and won’t be the last. When do we stop giving so much power to the accused by calling for blood and start asking what can we do as a community to teach our communities better, to provide solace for the families who are victims in such situations as well?

There are no wishful Dexter memes here. There are no “shoulda, coulda, woulda” laments here. There are no arguments about what the prosecution could’ve done better here. There is sorrow. Caylee wasn’t much older than my own daughter is now, and I look at her and my heart hurts thinking of someone harming a baby so precious and innocent.

There’s sorrow for not only Caylee, but all those who have gone before her. This shouldn’t have happened to them. They did nothing to deserve this but dare to be born. Requiescat in pace, baby girl, and all who proceeded you.

Parents, hug your children. Regardless of whether you agree with Casey Anthony's verdict or not, hug your babies and let them know they are loved and what happened to Caylee should not happen to any child ever.
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[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 06 - Most Annoying Character

Okay, my first instinct made me want to put Cyclops here, but I decided that, while he is still my least favorite character ever, there are still characters who are more annoying than he is. I can’t rant about them all, but I will rant about the one who annoys me the most.

This guy. 

Oooh, just piss me off.

Superman is annoying as hell to me. I think he may be the character that annoys me the most by just being himself. While I have an irrational loathing of Cyclops that I refuse to let go of (and you can stop trying to make me like him… you know who you are), I think he serves a purpose and he has depth.

I look at Superman and my eye starts twitching. Then, the rage takes over. He’s perfect, has no real weaknesses, and just oozes Boy Scout charm. I know he has his moments that have been colossal, but overall he just annoys me.

I’m big on characters. And I enjoy characters that present multiple sides of themselves, who have real conflicts that I can empathize with. I like my characters to be someone I feel I can relate too, and Superman is mostly NOT that character for me.

I’ll admit that I do appreciate Superman’s simplicity. That whole small town boy who’s trying to keep some normalcy in his big city world is sort of endearing, but still, that’s not enough for me to be less annoyed with the fact that Superman (to me) comes off really flat.

And maybe this is just all bias speaking. Maybe I haven’t read anything about him that has really moved me to thinking anything differently about him. I’m always open to suggestions, and don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong… sometimes…
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 05 – Comic Character You Feel You Are Most Like (Or Wish You Were)

I know what everyone expects me to write here, and you know what? You. Are. Wrong.

I know a favorite character for many translates into someone they wish they were or who they feel represents who they are. A favorite character for me may sometimes do that, but mostly not. I don’t normally latch on to characters because I subconsciously see myself in them. I latch on to characters because I like their complexities. I tend to go for the characters that I feel are very multifaceted in nature.

Why else would there so many psychopaths on my favorite characters list? I’m almost 75% sure that I am not a psycho.

The character that I feel I am most like (if I were a mutant that is) and whose abilities I’d want to have if I were a comic character would be Tessa Niles, Sage, from Marvel Universe. I’m a techie, and I would love to be a walking computer. LOL. Cyberpathy, yes! Kinetic memory, yes! Master martial artist and resident Gun-kata expert, yes! Low-level telepathy… not so much… but she got rid of that shit anyway to make a firewall in her brain to keep telepaths out. That is my kind of woman!

Some people may not be familiar with Sage. She was in the Hellfire Club for many years as Sebastian Shaw’s “pet.” I don’t think there was much known about her powers at the time. I think she might’ve engaged in some telepathy here and there, but not her cyberpathy. However, I don’t think there was much hint to her others powers given to the readers until X-Treme X-Men where it was revealed that she was a spy for Xavier all along. (Professor X is creepy. His grip is too far reaching for a benevolent person.)

I already feel that I’m aiding much more when I’m doing something technology related to help others. Even at my job where I am not tech support, I play tech support a lot there because everyone knows me as “the techie” and will come to me before they go to the help desk. (I’m also less condescending than the people at the help desk I’ve been told.) I know that sometimes I can come off as distant and open at the same time, which is something that Sage does very well.

I know there are other cyberpaths out there. Some may be even cooler than Sage, but I love her personality as well as her powers. When she came out with who she really was, I always knew that if I were a mutant Tessa powers are what I would want to have. So, she’s taken top honors in this category for me.
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Monday, July 4, 2011

In Further Appreciation of Dan Hibiki

Just in case you didn't think I was serious about my Dan love.

A fucking DANIMAL!

Trolling with Dan Hibiki. Because as any good Street Fight fan will tell you, Dan was invented with trolling in mind. LOL. And those death threats he talks about getting for kicking ass with Dan, please believe that DOES happen and fairly often. You throw people off their game when you start kicking ass at Dan.

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[30 Day Comic Book Challenge] Day 04 - Your Guilty Pleasure Comic or Character


I’m going to cheat on this one like I did yesterday’s challenge, but only slightly. My guilty pleasure character (and guilty pleasure comics) actually started life as a video game, but now has plenty of comics written about it. Some of the newer comics are pretty good. Some of the older comics based on this game… well… it takes a real fan to love them.

Without further ado, I present to you my guilty pleasure character!

Let’s give it up for Dan, y’all.

Dan is, without a doubt, the comic relief of the Street Fighter universe from his tearful passion to his made up style of martial arts to his pink gi and sparkly smile. While he doesn’t get much respect from the fans, Dan is the fucking man. And I’m of the opinion that if they’d made a movie about Dan instead of Chun-Li, it would’ve been a beautiful sight to behold. Wherever you have Dan, awesome is sure to follow.

Question: What’s more embarrassing than a girl beating you at MvC2 with a girl? Answer: A girl who beats you at MvC2 with Dan Hibiki.

How can anyone NOT love Dan the Man? I've been playing Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix on the PS3 because I used to love playing that back in the day, and all my favorite scenes involve Dan. Dan rolling around the screen annoying the shit out of Hsien-ko screaming "YAHOO!" until her hand is forced. Good stuff. 

Sakura fangirling over Ryu while Dan strikes his man pose with the streaming tears and "bulging muscles" in the background until her hand is forced (he was interrupting her fangirl moment after all). Morrigan morphing herself into different players doing their victory poses and when she morphs into Dan, he pops up on the screen and does his victory pose with her (they make a nice, clueless couple).

My favorite support move on Marvel vs Capcom 2 (no matter how USELESS) is Dan autographing his own picture and throwing it at your enemy. I don't understand all the "DAN INDUCES RAGE!" posts. I kid you not. 

There are people who play with Dan on the games, but admit that he causes them a great deal of anger until they're ready to throw the fight. Enjoy the comedic gold. In a game series full of people who want vengeance and respect and "My FightFu pwns your FightDu!", Dan is like the antithesis to nearly all characters in that game series (except when thinking about how bubbly Elena is). Sure, Dan wants revenge, but Dan is a cornball. Dan is full of FUN!

Let’s have a moment of silence for his awesomeness:

Danimations courtesy of TFG!

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This blog is a mishmash of thoughts, pictures, and rantings among other things about games I've played, games I will play, and games I am currently playing. From time to time, I may post book reviews that I've written that are about different games and/or game worlds. Feel free to recommend games or add me on the platforms I've listed. I don't do competitive multiplayer much anymore, but I'm always down for some co-op these days. I'm usually DigitalTempest everywhere unless otherwise specified.



PSN: DigitalTempest | XBL: DigitalTempest | Steam: DigitalTempest | Raptr: DigitalTempest

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Tiara has read 6 books toward her goal of 52 books.

Tiara's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Elfstones Of Shannara
tagged: upcoming-reads, currently-reading, 2016-audiobook-challenge, classi...
Gardens of the Moon
tagged: currently-reading, fantasy, z-narrator-ralph-lister, 2016-audiobook...

Tiara's bookshelf: read

really liked it
Review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge and 2016-audiobook-challenge
The Girl from the Well
liked it
More reviews @ The Bibliosanctum TL;DR Review 2.5 to 3 stars. Not badly written… I’m just disappointed by the squandered potential. I’m going to reread Anna Dressed in Blood to make myself feel better about this Longer Review: T...
tagged: 2016-women-of-genre-fiction-reading, horror, and young-adult
Thirteen Reasons Why
I don't think this quite captures the complexity of bullying and suicide, and some of the issues that Hannah started facing toward the end of the novel really seemed to detract even more from the feelings she was going through by having ...
tagged: young-adult, popsugar-2016-reading-challenge, 2016-audiobook-challe...
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
liked it
Spoiler free review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge
The Phantom of the Opera
really liked it
tagged: classic-horror, classics, audiobook, 2016-audiobook-challenge, horr...

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