Friday, September 10, 2010

Old Man Logan (Mark Millar/Steve McNiven)



The title, Old Man Logan, is pretty self-explanatory if you're a Marvel Comics fan. It's about Logan when he gets old. That should be pretty self-explanatory for everyone, actually. Mark Millar decided to write a Wolverine story set fifty years after all the supervillains teamed up and basically took over the world. 99% of all the superheroes are dead. Logan (Wolverine) is still around, but he lives on a farm in California, working hard to make rent payments to his landlord the Hulk, whose family of green rednecks (brownnecks?) has been threatening to eat Logan's wife and two kids. He hasn't popped his claws once since the day the heroes died, so when an aging Clint Barton (Hawkeye) comes looking to hire him as extra muscle on a cross-country smuggling trip, Logan has some thinking to do. He clearly needs the money, but has no desire to get into any of the mischief he knows the trip will bring his way. His need to support his family ultimately wins out, and the pair head for the East Coast in a rusty Spider-Mobile.

Let me just say that there have obviously been many pseudo-post-apocalyptic Marvel stories throughout the years, but this is far and away one of the best. The general consensus was that it was difficult to follow on an issue-by-issue basis as it was released, but this week Marvel put out the trade paperback, so you can now purchase all nine issues together—plus pinups and such—for the low, low price of $29.99. It is incredibly easy to follow, fun, compelling, action-packed—a little bloody, though, so don't buy it for your 7-year-old—,overall a fantastic read.

Here's a short list of what to expect: Hulk babies; 50-story skeletons; mild superhero cosplay; Ultron as a loving husband and father figure; cannibalistic moloids; Venom T-Rex. In case you missed that last one, allow me to repeat myself: VENOM T-REX. Well played, Millar. Steve McNiven does an excellent job of making a clearly unrealistic world look frighteningly real. Old Man Logan looks, well, old. The rednecks look gross and hillbillyesque, the dinosaurs look very dinosaury. It's a very attractive book, I must say. This isn't my new favorite comic book story, not by a long shot, but it was very enjoyable. I mostly would've liked to see the world a little more. There were maps and references and all kinds of fun little goodies that alluded to the great war against the superheroes, but there wasn't enough actual content to satisfy me. You find out what turned Wolverine into a pacifist, but you don't get to see what the stories of very many other heroes. Millar, McNiven, if you do a sequel, I'd really like to know what happened to Squirrel Girl.


Old Man Logan
by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven

The plot is strong, but the characterization is really only there for Wolverine. There's also that huge gap in the backstory that, while it isn't the story Millar was trying to tell, is hard to ignore.

For there being so many of this dystopian future kind of thing just in Marvel alone (Earth X, Future Imperfect, Days of Future Past), I'm impressed that Millar was able to keep it interesting. I really do hope he writes a sequel someday.

It's a great story, well-told, with a lot of fun moments. It's not groundbreaking stuff, but you will definitely have a good time with this book. Highly recommended for sheer enjoyment factor.


Keep reading, Genoshans!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Disneystrology (Lisa Finander) and Year in Review

If you're a long-time fan of the site, you might remember last year's Year in Review post. Written shortly after my 24th birthday, it recounted my writing year and laid out some of my goals. I'm pleased to announce that many of these goals have been met, and several others surpassed, but I'm getting ahead of myself.


One of the books that I recently picked up from Quirk is a fun little coffee table thing called Disneystrology: What Your Birthday Character Says About You, by Lisa Finander. As yesterday was my 25th birthday, I thought it would be fun to share what the book says about the day, September 2. My Disney character is Hop Low, the smallest mushroom in the Nutcracker Suite's Chinese Dance, from Fantasia. Now, I don't particularly like being called a tiny mushroom, but I do love Fantasia, so I guess it has some credibility. Here's what the book has to say about the little guy:
Hop Low: Your showmanship emerges at a young age. Before your talents are fully developed, your achievements already captivate others. You seek out older and accomplished mentors to help develop your skills. Focused, you work dilligently at becoming proficient in your trade, knowing exactly where you need to improve and what you must master to succeed. Others respect your efforts and surround you with positive reinforcement.
Magical Gifts: Hop Low bestows the gifts of patience, aptitude, and physical agility. With his help, you can reach your goals and take your place at center stage.
Keys to Your Success: Finding your own rhythm.
Hop Low's Story: Fantasia (1940)
So that's not too bad. Even if you don't find your Disney character accurate to your personality, it's still a fun book to check out, just to see what characters you and your friends are alleged to be. Just so you can get a better idea of what to expect in the book, here's a random sample of dates and their associated characters. Completely random. No significance whatsoever...
January 23: Mama Odie, from The Princess and the Frog
May 18: George and Mary Darling, from Peter Pan
May 26: Grand Councilwoman, from Lilo & Stitch
June 11: Mr. Soil, from A Bug's Life
July 18: Dallben, from The Black Cauldron
July 25: Luigi, from Cars
August 30: Eli "Big Daddy" Labouff, from The Princess and the Frog
September 4: Bernard, from The Rescuers
In case you're wondering about some of the big guns in the Disney Universe, Princess Ariel is October 8, Aladdin is August 7, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse are November 18. If you'd like to find out what your Disneystrology character is, write down your birthday in the comments section, or better yet, go out and pick up the book! It's not expensive, and it's a fun book to have around.

***EDIT***I will no longer be taking requests to inform people of what their birthday character is. I apologize, but the number of requests has been staggering, and a) I would love for you all to go out and buy the book, and b) I just don't have the time to get to them all. I will finish up those that I have now, but unfortunately that will be all.***EDIT***

So anyway, birthday characters aside, it has actually been an exceptionally good year. If you recall, my goals from last year, as ever, were the following:

1) Continue to perfect my craft.
2) Develop more disciplined writing habits.
3) Meet more people who were interested/working in the industries I was hoping to break into (comic books and poetry, mostly, but writing is writing).

I am proud to say that I've successfully continued on with all three of those. Achieving #1 comes from writing, reading and learning as much as possible. #2 comes from sitting down and actually producing work, which I'm excited to say has been the case this year. The past three months alone I've written close to 70 new poems, which couldn't have happened if I hadn't just sat down and started writing. #3 isn't always easy to control, but I've been very lucky in that regard the last 12 months.

Last Fall I was going into my final year of USC's Master of Professional Writing program. Through the implementation of summer courses, extra credits for teaching, and other small things here and there, I ended up primarily working on my thesis those last two semesters. While it might have been fun to have more classes with my fellow writers, this meant that I had more time to write, which is always a plus. Also, as Poetry Editor for the Southern California Review, I was still seeing plenty of my fellow students. With the help of my thesis advisor, the extremely talented Amy Gerstler, I wound up finishing my thesis collection of poetry a full semester early. This meant two things: one, I was able to shop out my thesis to publishers during the Spring instead of after graduation, which we'll get back to in a bit; and two, I was free to pick up an internship. I was lucky enough to find my way into an internship with Archaia Comics, a relatively small comic book publisher based right here in Los Angeles. The time I spent there was absolutely invaluable, and I'm much more informed about the workings of that industry now than I could have ever hoped to become on my own. The real news, however, came the morning of May 13, the day before graduation, when Quirk editor Jason Rekulak, well-known as the brains behind Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, gave me a call to say that Quirk would love to publish my thesis! It was the best graduation gift possible. I headed into the summer with an insane amount of work to do to get the manuscript ready, but it was a problem I was glad to have. I can't talk too much about the book yet, but know that I put absolutely everything I have into making it something that I hope everyone will enjoy! It should be coming out next summer, so I'll let you know more closer to the publication date.

I've also been fortunate enough this past year to meet plenty of extremely talented people. Some of these include writers we've published in the Southern California Review, whom I met at a conference in Denver. Others are comic book creators whom I was very excited to meet at conventions in San Francisco and San Diego, via my friends at Archaia. The icing on the cake this past year, though, was the recent inclusion of two of my poems in the Summer 2010 edition of Disquieting Muses Quarterly, a prestigious online poetry review. Having to work constantly at my writing is sometimes exhausting, but the joy of getting an acceptance letter or email more than makes up for the hours of hard work put into each poem.

One of the most exciting things about this past year is that I'm still here writing book reviews. Thank you all so much for sticking around and reading the Daily Genoshan! By this time next year, my book will be published, and I hope to have even more projects in the works and news to discuss, but the DG will always be my first love. In the coming year I'd like to expand and use more guest reviewers, as well as introduce new features to the site, but at its heart it will always be a book review blog.

Thank you for your support, and, as always, keep reading, Genoshans!

Brian McGackin

Contact Information and FTC Disclaimer

FTC Rules: While I do not make any money from authors, publishers, or anyone else related to these books in exchange for these reviews, there have been times where I've received free copies of a book to be reviewed, and may receive more in the future. Due to FTC compliance rules, however, you should always assume that I have an ulterior motive, and thank them for their unceasing vigilance in the face of this ever-increasing threat of blog advertising.

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