I think more than any Marvel movie so far, Thor requires the greatest suspension of disbelief. I mean, it needs a metric fuckton of it. The other movies require to you to buy that one man can become a superhero. This one introduces alien Norse gods and Frost Giants and other worlds into the thus-far fairly grounded universe. So mad props to Kenneth Branagh for making me buy it. Except I still cry, "WHY ARE THERE HORSES? WHERE DID THE HORSES COME FROM?"
All the references to other characters in the Marvelverse pleased me greatly. I really love how Marvel is creating a movieverse. Really really love it. Has this been done before? A bunch of unrelated movies taking place in a shared universe? I racked my brain and came up with the View Askewniverse, but I'm sure there are others. Except this is maybe the first time it's been done with different filmmakers all playing in one sandbox?
Also, that scene with shirtless Thor was...even I couldn't stop staring. In heterosexual news, Natalie Portman sure is pretty.
It is somewhat difficult to review Deadline, Mira Grant's sequel to Feed, without spoiling the first book, and I would of course never recommend someone read the second book in a trilogy without reading the first book because WHAT THE HELL. So instead I will point you to this fabulous review that sings the praises of both books without spoiling either one! Also, enjoy this book trailer! And, okay, I will say some words.
It is important going into Deadline knowing that it is a very different book from Feed. It has to be, of course, given the events of Feed. The first time I read it, that put me off, but the second time around, I appreciated it much more on its own terms. I enjoyed spending more time with the After the End Times crew. I was intrigued by the deepening conspiracy. And the worldbuilding remained intricate and interesting.
I believe these books deserve to be absurdly popular and turned into awesome movies. If you think they're just another series of zombie books, let me tell they are almost frustratingly low on actual zombie content (Deadline has even fewer onscreen zombies than Feed). The zombies are not the story; the people are. The zombie threat is the setting for a tale of politics, conspiracies, Internet journalism, love, friendship, fear, and that insatiable hunger for not brains but truth.
Jessica, one of my Spelling Bee for Cheaters teammates, recommended Meanwhile, by Jason Shiga, and I found a copy at Dr. Comics that was signed, since the author is a UC Berkeley grad. His degree? Pure mathematics. That should give you an indication of what sort of craziness is in store for you, for, lo, this is a Choose Your Own Adventure comic book.
You go get some ice cream. Your first decision? Chocolate or vanilla. Follow the path for boring old vanilla, and your story ends in boringness. Choose chocolate, however, and you find yourself at the home of a mad scientist with a time machine, a memory-reading machine, and, uh, the Killitron 2000. Guess what that one does. Now you are thrust into a hilariously complicated puzzle as you play with these three machines and attempt to avoid the dire consequences of your meddling! While the cover purports "3,586 Story Possibilities," what actually ends up happening is that you go around in circles a lot. But there are, in fact, correct paths! Paths that you must go down in order to get the machine codes and solve the horrific secret at the center of the story! And you can't cheat your way through the book either; in fact, just for people like that, Shiga stuck in a page that's impossible to get to by any path, just to fuck with you.
The entire book is navigable online, but it's much more fun as a physical book, which uses tabs that lead you from page to page. Plus, glorious color! You guys, this is a book that was MADE WITH ALGORITHMS. It's fun times.
You guys, remember when X-Men movies were good? Because X-Men: First Class does! I think I liked it more than Thor. It told an interesting story with compelling characters who just happened to have mutant powers. It's almost surprising how good it really is, but it does have a great cast and director: I've liked everything Matthew Vaughn has done.
It's hard to put my finger on what's so good about it, but the fact that it's over two hours long and I was into it—and often totally into it—every minute of the way should be a ringing endorsement.
To fill in a short gap between reading projects, I decided to read a couple Christopher Pike books I had picked up in Tucson. I remembered liking The Eternal Enemy, so I tried that one first. And, uh, it was not only hilariously dated (the plot revolves around a VCR that can tape the future) but, uh, poorly written. Telling rather than showing up the ass, combined with the occasional florid, overwritten prose. The main thing I remembered was the plot twist, but I had forgotten that the book then spends forty pages explaining the actual premise of the story, and that's where the pretty interesting stuff is. Even though, from a narrative perspective, what. I followed it up with Master of Murder, which doesn't have any supernatural elements except for the absurd idea that a high school student could pseudonymously be a bestselling mystery author (and a fictional publishing industry that would release books in a series over the course of ONE YEAR rather than six). This one was a little better written, or maybe it was just that I had gotten used to Pike's style, but I found myself very disturbed by the main character, our ostensible hero, as the life-imitates-art-imitates-life story went on. I have a few other Pike books I'd like to reread, but I don't know whether I should just enjoy them as nostalgic remnants of my youth.
And speaking of nostalgic remnants of my youth, Super 8 is really good! It's totally a throwback movie, like Goonies meets Jaws where the shark is an alien and the Goonies are kids making a zombie movie. I did appreciate that the bulk of the movie was focused on the characters, and the alien wasn't actually driving the human drama (but, no worries, the movie is not bereft of awesome alien action). I wonder if they'll make Super 9. (Note to Hollywood: please don't make Super 9.)
With the announcement that Bane would be the villain in The Dark Knight Rises, I thought it was finally time to read Batman: Knightfall, largely written by Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench, the classic tale in which Bane breaks the Bat. And for the first book, which focuses on an increasingly ragged Batman trying to stop the many inmates Bane has released from Arkham just to weaken him further, it's a decent story. But once the Bat is broken, he knows he needs someone out there keeping the symbol alive, and he appoints Azrael, whom I knew very little about but is basically a GIANT DOUCHE AND I HATE HIM. And so Knightfall becomes All About Azrael, when I wanted to read a story about Batman. Hell, the trade paperback doesn't even collect the issues where Batman is magically healed (among other important developments), so reading the story this way is kind of odd. We don't even learn about Bane's motivation for wanting to take down Batman and rule Gotham; apparently, that was covered in his introduction.
Not that there isn't good stuff here and there, of course. Tim and Dick are great, and the classic villains are fun. But I've read good Batman stories. This is not one of them.