The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Publication Order, #1)

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Rating: ★★★★★

I vividly remember going to see the Disney film adaptation and falling in love with the world of Narnia and Aslan. I was supposed to read this novel in the 5th grade but due to Hurricane Katrina and Wilma I did not attend school for almost a month making it impossible for my class to devour the novel and see the film adaptation. Over the years I have always wanted to invest my time in the series and started reading the chronological order with The Magician’s Nephew which I thoroughly enjoyed but the desire faded until now thanks to the PBS: The Great American Read. I did my research and decided that I should follow the publication order.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobedeals with the Pevensie children (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) who have evacuated from London during World War II to escape from the Blitz. They are sent to live with an old professor and one day Lucy discovers an old wardrobe in one of the rooms and enters it. What she does not realize that the wardrobe is magical and now has transported her to the magical land of Narnia. She walks to a lamppost and befriends a faun named Mr. Tumnus who invites her to tea and with a change of heart saves her. He was supposed to trap Lucy and give her to the White Witch because Lucy is a human being who fulfills the Narnia prophecy.

Narnia has been living in harsh winter for years because the White Witch has claimed that she is the true ruler of Narnia and only the two sons of Adam and the two daughters of Eve can claim the throne and put an end for the White Witch destruction and Lucy safely returns to the Wardrobe to tell her siblings about all this revelation and they refuse to believe her. Time passes by and during a game of hide-and-seek Lucy enters the wardrobe again but this time around Edmund follows her and ends up in Narnia as well. He is in complete shock and is trying to find Lucy instead he meet the White Witch. She uses her magic to employ Edmund as a spy for her and orders him to recruit all his siblings and take them to her ice castle. Edmund is such f%$king spoiled brat and for me personally he is not a redeemable character at all especially how he deceives everyone and is a bit cruel.

Finally what makes everyone believe Lucy is when the housekeeper, Mrs. Macready is giving a tour of the house to visitors and they are trying to hide from her so they enter the wardrobe and all the Pevensie children are together at last in Narnia. They learned that Edmund had lied to Lucy and gives Lucy the permission to lead the way and decides to check up on Mr. Tumnus who unfortunately is captured by the White Witch. What is also mysterious is a bird guides the children to a talking beaver named Mr. Beaver who is messenger sent by Tumnus to protect Lucy and send the children to meet the powerful and mystical lion named Aslan. When Mr. Beaver reveals the details about what Aslan has in stored for everyone, Edmund escapes and heads to the White Witch castle where he becomes a prisoner to her cruelty. The only way to rescue him is meeting up with Aslan.

Out of all my favorite characters I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Aslan. A lion is one of the majestic and beautiful animals I have ever seen and the fact that he is a metaphor for Jesus Christ is both a powerful image and interesting concept. His conversations with the Pevensie children showcase major advice for them and he is the glue that helps put everything together. The children have weapons thanks to St. Nick and he is able to rescue Edmund. Except that the price of saving Edmund meant sacrificing himself at the stone table by the hand of the witch. Definitely got the whole Jesus crucifixion imagery and I still found myself heartbroken over it but knew like Jesus that he would be resurrected someway or somehow.

For being a novel that was written over half a century ago it still holds up today especially Lewis precision to writing and getting to the core of the story. I was never bored when reading this novel and I believe it is a great series for children and adults to discover. C. S. Lewis is not a perfect individual and there are some major flaws that I had issues with but overall it can be a teachable moment for children. I hated how Lewis was adamant in his writing to showcase his sexist views that women do not have a place in the battlefield. Lucy weapon is a small dagger and huge vial of medicine and Susan gets a bow and arrow. They never use any of their weapons except for the vial because they were too busy weeping for Aslan. I dislike how they relied on Peter to make all the decisions and dictate the roles for his siblings.

Another moment that I found annoying was how the children had forgotten about their life before Narnia as if it never existed and when they discover the lamppost again they cannot figure out why it strikes a sense of familiarity. The illustrations are fantastic and at times definitely helped providing me a visual when it comes to the creatures of Narnia and having it in color makes a huge difference. I cannot stress enough for everyone who reads The Chronicles of Narnia to pick up the Full-Color Collector’s Edition. Overall I hope the rest of the series lives up to this enchanting first novel and I cannot wait to discover more about Narnia and the Pevensie children in Prince Caspian.

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Runaways, Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home

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Rating: ★★★★

Ever since Rainbow Rowell made the announcement that she was going to write a comic book I was immediately sold on the idea. Rainbow Rowell can do no wrong in my book especially in the YA department because her novels Eleanor & Park, and Carry On are one of my favorite YA novels of all time. Another bonus why I was sold with this comic book series is the Runaways was created by one of my favorite graphic novel writers Brian K. Vaughan. This was automatically a win-win situation for me and when I got this graphic novel in my precious hands I consumed it in a matter of minutes.

Ultimate verdict: A success with some flaws.

Rainbow Rowell made the claim that you do not have to read the previous version of Runaways to understand this new reboot of the franchise and she is right and wrong about that claim. For the most part I believe you can read this series without ever having picked up a graphic novel in your life but there are some key plot points that during heated arguments with the characters made it extremely confusing on the context that I have not read the Brian K. Vaughan version.

Runaways begins two years after our iconic characters had the epic battle with their villainous parents so now they are no longer teenagers and now young adults. As for the Runaways, the entire team disbanded after the death of Gertrude and for the most part they have moved on their lives or rather try to forget about the past. For Chase, he never gave up trying to find a solution to save Gertrude and accidentally pretty much brought her to our present aka the future with his time machine.

Nico gets involved in this time-travel mess and using her witchcraft magic wand cures Gertrude of her injuries and now she is alive. I feel like this drama got some major tips from all these 90s television revivals if I am being honest. Now that Gertrude is alive now what? Quite simple get the band back together. Well it is easier then it seems. For the most part Nico and Chase are on board but Karolina, and Molly are happy with their new lives and who can blame them. Even though these runaways were practically family, now Karolina is experiencing the joy of attending university, a new girlfriend, and Molly is living with her grandma and enjoying the 7th grade.

Basically all the epic fighting is close to nonexistence for this first volume and pretty much the title says it all. Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home is essentially the theme for these characters and we get to see the wounds that haven’t been left treated for many of our super heroes. Having Gertrude alive again makes each and everyone realize who they used to be when all this sh%t went down and who they can possibly become with the family reunited.

The grandma being evil was extremely predictable and creepy with her madness at learning about the runaways DNA sequencing. I did not much care for her character and Molly was such a pain in the ass in my opinion especially since she had always known her grandmother was up to no good and yet allowed her research to persist for all these years. Overall I am glad that the gang is back together and I look forward as to what will happen with these characters once the bad guys popped into the picture. I am definitely expecting high school drama to rise to the occasion and lovers being reunited.

The illustrations for this graphic novel was beautiful and breath-taking and that alone should get all the stars. The coloring and the illustrations made me glued to the page absorbing every excruciating detail about the characters, the locations, and the subtle background that helped foreshadow the plot. Rainbow Rowell I believe was the perfect choice for this series and I hope her creativity continues to flow naturally and make this new series an epic one. I highly recommend everyone to pick this graphic novel up and discover these fascinating and troublesome adults.

Carnage, U.S.A.

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Rating: ★★★★

If I am being honest then I will admit that when it comes to the Spider-Man universe I am completely oblivious. I know who is Spiderman thanks to the films and cartoon shows I grew up watching as a child but now that they are making a Venom film with Tom Hardy (epic Man-Candy) I want to broaden my knowledge of Peter Parker’s world especially in reference to Venom and the other symbiotes. Even a newbie like me was thoroughly entertained by this graphic novel and definitely check out Sam Quixote’s review who is the sole reason why I checked out this graphic novel from my local library!

The symbiote known as “Carnage” is the epitome of evil and it is not shocking that the man who possesses the symbiote is a serial killer named Cletus Kasady. Spiderman thought that he had destroyed Carnage (which is partly correct) except due to some engineering and maneuvering Carnage survived and now wants revenge. So why not take matters into your own hands and go on a killing spree in Doverton, Colorado. Carnage has attached himself to the local civilians making them now as its minions and what he considers now one big happy family.

Spiderman, Captain America, Wolverine, The Thing, and Hawkeye come flying in to save the day and Carnage is quick to think two steps ahead and wraps his symbiote unto all of them with only Spiderman as the only escapee. Now Spiderman and a crew of other symbiote need to work together before sunrise in order to save the small town from being burned down to the ground. What I really loved and I wished other comics could follow suit is every time the reader is introduced to a certain super hero, you get their name printed in bold letters so you know who they are. Sometimes whenever I read a Marvel comic, some character will make a special appearance and for the life of me I am lost s to who they are and why they are important. I know all these superheroes by heart but still it was refreshing to see their name written in the background.

I still do not know exactly what it is whether it be the ending or during the key elements of this graphic novel where I felt like Zeb Wells could have gone the extra mile to blow this graphic novel out of the water and instead went a different route that sizzled and became anti-climatic. The illustration and the artwork for this graphic novel is incredible and Clayton Crain deserves a round of applause. Overall I think this story is completely different from the typical Marvel comics I have discovered and having that dark aspect was intriguing and look forward to discovering more about these symbiotes.

Thor, Vol. 2: Who Holds the Hammer?

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Rating: ★★★★

If you haven’t figured it out by now then it is finally revealed that Girl Thor is none other than Jane Foster. She is battling terminal cancer and refuses to use magic to save herself and since she has nothing to lose it suits her that she is worthy to become the Mighty Thor. Thor Odinson on the other hand is clueless that it is her which astounds me how stupid he is because if you connect the dots then it only leaves a small window as to who is the woman underneath the mask. Thor spends the whole chunk trying to figure it out only to end up back in square one. Besides that mini drama the main conflict for this final volume of this miniseries is essentially Odin wants Girl Thor destroyed and sends his robotic giants that are impossible to be destroyed.

Girl Thor at first has to fight by herself but Thor’s stepmother comes to the rescue recruiting Odinson and countless other Gods and Valkyries to show an example that Odin is out of his league. His absence had left a vacuum of power and since Frigga has been the leader of Asgard its bound to reason that she ultimately has the true loyalty of Asgard and it brings a riff between her marriage to Odin and the faith of the universe. Frigga believes that Girl Thor should be left alone because while she wishes Odinson to possess Mjolnir again for the moment the Galaxy needs a functioning Thor and this woman possesses something unique that separates herself from any other Thor.

The main plot was extremely short and for the last half of the graphic novel is full of annuals and short stories about Thor and Girl Thor and one comic from the Silver Age dealing with “What If” Jane Foster became Thordis. This graphic novel would have had a perfect score if it was not for that boring issue. I could not finish it for the life of me and it put me to sleep twice reading about Thordis. I do not know how people can enjoy comics from that era especially since the plot were extremely basic and predictable. When I realized that Thor changes into a mortal whenever he stops holding Mjolnir makes me extremely grateful that Jason Aaron eliminated that detail in this graphic novel and focused purely on the God aspect only.

The illustrations are off the charts for this graphic novel especially the transformation sequences for Girl Thor and Jane Foster changing back to her feeble state especially how the suit takes a huge chunk of her energy and life force. I am curious how long she will survive before she passes away. I believe her death will provide the reason for Thor to hold Mjolnir again because he will only feel worthy of holding the hammer in keeping the memory of Jane alive inside his heart and soul. Goodbye Thor miniseries and hello The Mighty Thor, Volume 1: Thunder in Her Veins !!

Thor: God of Thunder, Vol. 4: The Last Days of Midgard

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Rating: ★★★★

With the aftermath of Malekith, once again we go back to the fundamental principles of what made this series great as readers get to see Present Thor, and Future Old Thor trying to protect the Earth. Old Thor has failed to salvage what is left of the Earth which is a barren desert of a planet and now Galactus aka The Devourer of Worlds has finally arrived to destroy the Earth. Galactus has been begging for this moment to arrive for centuries and Thor is not giving up without a fight. Thor’s grand daughters and everyone else believes is a worthless cause and that he should give up but having seen the beauty that is planet Earth provides reason that it should not be destroyed that there is still a great chance to restore peace and harmony onto this planet.

Present Thor has to deal with Roxxon company whose sole goal is to deplete the Earth’s natural resources and how to make the quickest buck out of it. Roxxon Company and CEO Dario Agger (“The Minotaur”) is basically a cancer that is spreading rapidly and once again Thor is stuck dealing with politics again. Since Roxxon fortunes is ridiculous, they can change any laws of government to suit their needs and since Thor stormed up a huge financial lose for them, Dario Agger wants him to suffer and finds the perfect way to strike Thor at the heart. Why not buy and destroyed Thor’s beloved town of Broxton and make Thor beg for mercy! King Thor and Avenger Thor storylines have nothing to do with each other and I found that to be soothing because Earth was the main character of this graphic novel series.

Plus what stands out the most for this graphic novel is after having read Girl Thor miniseries first before God of Thunder, you definitely get to play connect the dots and the revelation of Girl Thor identity is a straight smack on the face. It was so obvious that I forgot about her character until these last two volumes of this series. She is definitely worthy of the Hammer because she has nothing left to lose except her life. I also thoroughly enjoyed Malekith origin story which makes complete sense why he’s a bit of a lunatic. I am also glad that something familiar from the past arrives to conclude this series *cough cough volume 1-2 epic weapon cough cough*

Overall the artwork is amazing as usual and sadly I wanted this graphic novel to receive all the stars but there was certain moments where it did not fully grab my attention or rather I felt meh about it especially with the whole Roxxon Company dilemma on Earth. What I enjoyed the most about this series is how each volume dealt with different aspects that encompasses what makes Thor a worthy hero. You see him deal with the Nine Realms as a God, protecting the Nine Realms from the God Butcher, and ultimately being an Avenger and protecting the Earth at all cost.

Thor: God of Thunder, Vol. 3: The Accursed

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Rating: ★★★★

Malekith the Accursed is a powerful warlock who has been in Azkaban  prison for years and with a help of few Elves he is able to escape and wants a wide spread genocide for the Elves species. The Elves have been divided for centuries and Malekith wants them to finally be reunited as the supreme race and the only solution in his demented mind is genocide. Thor would normally go to the rescue but this time around politics intervenes with this dilemma and now he has to lead a task force of members of each of the realms in order to accurate solve this crisis without favoring any parties.

Another issue for Thor is no matter how hard he tries to attack Malekith, Malekith is always 2 steps ahead of the game and unfortunately for this task force it is only getting worst as each member acknowledge the prejudices they feel towards each other. If Thor cannot be efficient leader, cannot save the dark Elves, and try to follow orders what does mean for the fate of the realms? Overall this graphic novel had so much potential for it to be a phenomenal story but lastly the ending left me angry. In the end Thor was being played by everyone and by trying to destroy him he essentially made Malekith the leader of the Dark Elves.

A huge important theme that I am glad that Jason Aaron touches upon is the idea that good does not always prevail over evil. Even though it is foreshadowed that Thor will one day destroy Malekith, the fact of the matter is that Malekith scored huge and Thor was the fool being played by everyone. Thor is livid and in the end is bitter about the whole experience. Even though Thor is a God, this story arc helped portrayed the complex conflicted emotions that we as human beings deal with on a normal basis reflected on Thor. I hope Malekith gets killed soon because I was pissed how Thor got royally screwed from Odin and every leader of the Nine Realms.

The illustration is perfect as always and kept me entertained to the edge of my seat as I get closer to how Girl Thor came to existence. Overall I am glad that I invested in this series and I am not ready for the epic finale with the 4th volume. All I know is Earth is in trouble… when is it not in trouble?

Paper Girls, Vol. 2

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Rating: ★★★★★

Finally I read a graphic novel that maintains the hype following the aftermath of the first volume. The Paper Girls escaped from 1988 only to end up in 2016. When they time traveled they bumped into the Adult version of Erin who is completely shocked as to what is going on. She is in disbelief that she is meeting her younger self and it showcase that something happened during all of this time-travel that the adult version has no recollection of this encounter and did not stay friends with the other paper girls.

Another important issue that arises is that one of the girls is missing. They discover an artifact that looks like an Apple TV and somehow the Adult version of Erin is able to unlock the device and search the contents. From messing around with it, she discovers that there is a route in place to the location of an abandoned mall and the younger Erin believes that this might be a clue as to where is KJ. The girls do not trust the older version of Erin but decide to split up and find their older self. That aspect of the story was definitely dark and heartbreaking especially with Mac’s future.

One thing I laughed so hard and it goes to show that I was fully absorbed into the story is when they are riding their bikes and someone has a sign on the front lawn with the slogan “Clinton for President”. Tiffany mentions like oh wow we finally have a female President and MacKenzie is quick to say, “No some lady is running, doesn’t mean she’s gonna win” Tiffany gets offended and asked, “How do you know? For all we know we could have 4 women presidents by now!” and Mackenzie’s response is AS IF . I was laughing so hard at the sad reality of how things turned out for this election.

While Erin is exploring this abandon mall with older Erin we get insight as to what happens when she grows up and for the most nothing really happens. Erin is not married, not dating anyone, still lives at home and works for the newspaper which may seem grim for many but younger Erin has no issues about it. In the process they are being watched and Stony Stream reeks of havoc as monsters have shown up because an Erin replica has surfaced to 2016 trying to find the Paper Girls and her time machine device magnified these creatures to Godzilla proportions.

When Erin retrieves what they are looking for in this abandoned mall it is a hockey stick that says do not trust the other Erin. The suspense is on and Brian K. Vaughan marvelously crafted that suspense making you figure out which one should Erin trust especially since these futuristic villains are after her and will not stop at nothing. The replica Erin suggests to the gang to come to the future as it is the safe haven to escape from the bad guys and reveals a bunch of time traveling concepts that start to make this story have a coherent sense.

The girls do not trust this replica Erin and dumps her back into her future and rely on the Adult Erin to save the day. The sky is pink again with the monsters and the older Erin sees that the 2nd location the girls need to travel is a crack in the sky. Luckily for Erin, her younger sister is a pilot and has a helicopter available to accomplish this task. Once they enter through this portal they find KJ but realize they are in a strange land and she was not the one who was sending them the message. Now they are stuck to discover where exactly are they.

Nothing good will come out of this new world and the devil omen carved into a mountain is a huge indicator as to what is going to happen next. The illustrations are marvelous as always and this second volume switched the narrative of it being like a Stranger Things vibe to more of a classic Sci-Fi Back to the Future meets Arrival universe. I hope Brian K. Vaughan keeps changing it up for each volume and I love that I am clueless as to what is going to happen. I leave these characters fates in Vaughan’s hands and I look forward to know if one of the paper girls will get killed in the next volume. Until next time…