The Infinity Gauntlet (Infinity Saga, #1)

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Rating: ★★★★

I will acknowledge that I am not an expert when it comes to comics particularly to superheroes. I have seen all the Marvel films (pending with Infinity War as we speak) and know the brief background story of all the major characters. With that being said I still enjoyed this comic and recommend all Marvel film fans to check it out to get an idea as to what is to come for Infinity Wars. My only complaint is Thanos motives and the cartoonish vibe I got about that ending.

I do not know who is Thanos and I still do not fully know who is Thanos after reading The Infinity Gauntlet but one thing I do know is that he seeks power. He was supposedly dead but Death herself resurrected him and he deceived her with retrieval of the Infinity Gauntlet. When possessed with all the infinity gems you are essentially indestructible and basically the universe that we speak is over. For Thanos, he is in love with Death and wants to win her affections so he tries to maintain the promise of wiping off half of all living creatures in the universe. Sure enough in a matter of minutes, 50% of all humans, animals, and alien species are wiped off the map as though they never existed.

Doctor Strange discovers this mystery when Silver Surfer arrives warning about Thanos and it is up to the Avengers (what is left of them) and all galactic titans and villains to team up and stop Thanos from destroying the universe. Captain America is in charge as always but a new character comes into the mix by the name of Adam Warlock that claims to know Thanos true intentions and is the only one who can destroy him. This issue causes some riffs among the Avengers but they learn that they must be a united front in order to have a small chance at winning this ultimate battle.

I realize that readers such as myself will not think its 5 stars material because on my lazy end I do not know a bunch of the characters that are referenced or featured. I do not know who is Adam Warlock and the importance of his character connected to the Soul Gem and some villains that temporary seize control of Earth are creatures I have never seen in films. So in certain places I was a bit confuse and just kept telling myself to continue reading and persevere on. I grasp the gist of this comic at 85% and I think that is not too shabby considering the monstrosity that is the Marvel Universe. Also Thor turning into mortal if he’s not connected to his hammer is a bit ridiculous.

As for Thanos… I think the plot of trying to prove his love for Death was extremely weak and pathetic. Not to say that it is not believable (the crazy sh@t we do in the name of love proves it) but rather this persona of Thanos as the Ultimate Destroyer of Worlds gets watered down to a baby throwing a temper tantrum and made this graphic novel feel like a Saturday morning kids cartoon show. I do not know if it is also the time period that this comic was written but I feel like if Infinity Gauntlet was written in today, the writers and creators would have done a complete different plot line that would blow this Marvel Universe to a whole other dimension or maybe its just my imagination. All I know is Thanos main motives in the upcoming film are completely different!

I need to give a shout out to everyone who was in charge of the illustrations and the coloring because you left me speechless with this graphic novel. One issue I have about the old comic books is how the illustrations make the characters feel archaic compare to the animation that I grew to love as a child. Reading this graphic novel reminded me of when I used to watch the X-Men and Spiderman animated series from the 90s and that nostalgia factor made me cherish this comic.

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Rating: ★★★★★

I love spoken word poetry and I have discovered Danez Smith poetry multiples times both in personal and academic life. Fortunately I had to read this book for my Queer Studies class and I was in complete awe over his writing and how powerful his imagery is when talking about race, being gay, abuse, and falling in love. I have never written a review for a book of poetry and I cannot really describe into words the profound impact I’ve felt towards this book and Danez Smith.

Danez Smith breaks the book into sections; each has a separate theme like race, ruined, lover, etc. and yet the fluidity that flows between each poem never makes it feel like there is a discontinuity between the narrator and the reader. Even though I am not a black gay man I was still able to understand and empathize with Danez over the struggles he faces with his identity and the problems we face in this nation when it comes to race. Even though this book was published years ago it feels as though the topic he brings up is still extremely relevant in 2018 which is a huge indicator that we haven’t progressed much as a society.

Raw

I’ve spent all day trying to come
up with a metaphor for barebacking.
I’ve tried face against abrupt winter,
sockless feet against velvet floors,
punching a warm beast with paper skin;
none of them work. I don’t want to talk
about the risk. miss me with that
chatter about what I know is wrong. I know
the bones I could become, I know the story
& the other one too, how people disappeared
mid-sentence in the ’80s, how NYC became
a haunted bowl of dust. I know the monster
waiting to pounce my blood, but I wasn’t in
my right mind, I was barely in my body at all.

Some of the poems made me laugh to the brink of tears, some left me speechless, and some told beautiful stories even the ones full of pain and heartache. My favorite poems are Raw, Genesissy, Healing Attempt #3, and Mail. Danez Smith is a storyteller and I highly recommend everyone to pick up this book. It is extremely easy to read, comprehend, and a great eye opener to those who want to explore Queer literature and poetry.

Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch

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Rating: ★★★★★

WOW. If I can summarized what I just read it would be simply WOW. I expected the plot to go that route but damn I was not expecting it to happen so soon and I am beyond grateful that Kelly Sue DeConnick brought up the topic about the inclusion of transgender women into the feminist movement. I took a Queer Studies course this semester and one of the first passages I read for that class was reading lesbian theories written in 1979-1980 where this author basically said that trans women are not “real women” that in fact they are men who are envious of women and want to be like one of us. Vomit. I can still see how that mentality is still prevalent today and I am happy that finally we get to see this inclusion in a graphic novel no less.

In this volume we get details as to what is the secret plan which is they are building an arena in Bitch Planet. I am still confused about the details but it deals with some athletic sport that civilians worship and once the stadium is built they are finally going to include women into the sport. From what I am guessing the government officials want women pitted against women and degrade the value of women bodies to the point that they are animals meant to be tamed. Marion Collins is trying to find her sister and has the special skill of infiltrating the prison through the help of inmates and other insiders and out of sheer luck the system that operates the prison gets shut down.

Marion takes that opportunity and when she believes to have discovered where her sister is captive instead she finds out that this new character has the potential to cause a major revolt across the galaxy. It ends on such a cliffhanger and I do not want to reveal much about this volume because it definitely now has my attention and I need the next volume to be released already. Overall the illustrations are fantastic, and the background stories for the inmates truly carry the narrative and ties all the drama together. I cannot rave enough about how wonderful it is to read this graphic novel and witness feminist themes permeate through the story.

Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine

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Rating: ★★★★

Especially how the world and our current government is currently functioning it is scary to imagine that this dystopian world can actually come true. I remember a professor recommending this graphic novel months ago and it is fascinating to see how feminism is weave into this narrative and the power of using ones own voice as a weapon. Kelly Sue DeConnick is brilliant at bringing this story to life and I hope in the upcoming volumes we are able to learn more about this crazy and chaotic universe.

In the mere future (I pictured 2025 in my head), Men have had enough with women telling them what to do and decide that enough is enough. So laws were introduced and essentially made women become slaves to their husbands and to society. If a woman decides to speak for herself and defy this misogynist society she will be arrested and travel to another planet called Bitch Planet which is impenetrable prison that no one has been able to escape. To even shape the cultures mentality they renamed it as Auxiliary Compliance Outpost.

Through the course of this first volume we get glimpses into different inmates as they cope with living in prison, their backstory, and of course the dream of one day breaking out of this planet. Marian Collins in particular is my favorite character and can be considered to be the main protagonist of this series. While they are working as slaves to serve their sentence and to the government, word gets around that the head bosses in government have a secret project and it involves the inmates of Bitch Planet and they want Marian Collins to assemble a group to make sure it comes to fruition. That is how we see all hell breaks loose in the upcoming volume.

The biggest issue with this graphic novel is lack of details when it comes to the world outside of Bitch planet. A million and one questions were arising when reading it and while I understand that its impossible to answer them in a single volume it was frustrating that certain scenes left me in confusion. That is the only sole reason why it is getting 4 stars. This first volume was about world building for the readers and I believe the writers could have done a better job in that department.

Overall I can say that this graphic novel series gives me vibes of Orange is the New Black meets V for Vendetta and I am excited to see how DeConnick will manage this story because there is so much potential for this to be an epic feminist graphic novel! Something brilliant about the book is the illustration of misogynist propaganda that is showcase throughout the book which made me feel disgusted towards men because unfortunately I’ve heard and seen those themes of misogyny broadcast in real life. I cannot even begin to imagine the struggles that women deal constantly in society and DeConnick has the special gift at making feminist themes to be both subtle and obvious.

M. Butterfly

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Rating: ★★★★

Have you ever seen the infamous Madame Butterfly opera by Puccini? If that is the case then you do not really need to read this play unless you want to read a modern queer version of the opera. Remarkably this story that David Henry Hwang is based on a true story but it is not autobiographical because he wanted to create his own original story by using these people to enhance the narrative. So the audience is left wondering what actually happen and what is fictional.

During the Vietnam War, Bernard Boursicot, a French diplomat who works at the French Embassy in China leads a rather boring and typical life as a civil servant. He seems to be happily married and is practically a nobody at the embassy just another name to add to the paperwork. Until one night he attends a Peking opera and meets the opera diva, Song Liling. It feels as though it is love at first sight and the affair between them blossoms into this beautiful and organic relationship but there is one detail that hasn’t been mentioned which is… Song Liling is a man who is actually a spy trying to collect intel for the government.

This affair between them last for 20 years and people have often speculated whether Bernard truly knew that Song was a man and if so does that make him gay. I believe what is phenomenal about this piece is the fact that labels should not be applied to the narrative. Deep down I believe the illusion that Song portrayed was powerful enough to swept details about gender and sexuality under the rug and allow the romance to flourish between them.

Even though Song was a spy for the government it was extremely taboo to be dressed as a woman as a “lifestyle” and a crime to be engaging in gay sex. Another factor was Bernard went from a complete loser to man with authority and power due to scandalous affair. The idea of him cheating on his wife and being madly in love with Song brought up emotions and ideas of what it means to be a man to the surface and even the whole embassy knew about the affair and applauded him as though this is what powerful men are supposed to do.

One important topic that Hwang brings up is the racism towards Asians and the perception of women. He uses words like oriental, exotic, and other stereotypes to illustrate how Western civilization perceptions of the East has tainted Asian culture. Another brilliant example is the perception of the damsel in distress syndrome that particularly white men act towards asian women. My only issue with the entire play was the whole Madame Butterfly plot and analogy mixed into the story. Since I have seen the opera it was annoying to the point that it felt like Hwang was pounding the information into me. Because of that it was not a surprise for me the way the story ended and I will leave that to the readers to interpret that ending.

Gwendy’s Button Box

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Rating: ★★★★★

If I am being honest I will admit that I was extremely lazy when it came time to write a review for this novel and now that some time has passed I do not remember much of the story and plot. What I do know is I found it to be adorable and a mini-trinket towards King epic universe. If you are a fan of Stephen King then odds are you will treasure this short novella because there are familiar faces that pop up again and if you are a recent novice then you will enjoy the story simply because Stephen King is a powerful storyteller.

The story deals with Gwendy Peterson who is living a “normal” life in Castle Rock until she bumps into a mysterious man who gives her a present which is a button box. Except this bizarre button box can be a lethal weapon if used by the wrong hands so it is her responsibility that she is the sole user and all her actions can reflect the outcome for the rest of humanity. It is an interesting concept and showcases how when presented with great power comes with great responsibility. Some people are able to handle it and then others take matters into their hands and get greedy. It is all about finding a healthy balance between good and evil.

I worship Stephen King so I will always be biased and it’s rather a short and simple story so I have no doubt that someday in the mere future I will pick this novel up again and when I do I can give you a rather cohesive review. I also remember that there are illustrations throughout the novel and it gave the illusion as though I was reading a classic children’s story which was fascinating and made the experience even better. Until next time…

The Audience

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Rating:★★★★★

When I heard the news that Helen Mirren would be replaying the role of Queen Elizabeth II for this magnificent play called The Audience, I about lost my sh@%t when I realized that I would never get to see this magnificent performance on the big stage because I do not live in London or NYC. Luckily I was able to procure this fascinating play into my life and for months it remained untouched on my bookshelf until now. Every summer I get excited for the infamous BookTubeAThon which is a week-long marathon where you try to accomplish several reading challenges while basking in the fun of reading. I figured for this challenge I needed a book that was short and sweet and this fit the challenge. It helps that I’ve been marathoning the BBC version of House of Cards which surprisingly taught me how Parliament works and the role of Prime Minister.

Queen Elizabeth has been the longest reigning monarch in UK history and holds the record for having the most Prime Ministers during her reign (13 PMs as of 2017) which is shocking considering she has experienced all the ups and downs of the last half of the 20th century. So much has changed since she ascended the throne in 1952 and yet one tradition that remains the same is her weekly meetings with the Prime Minister. There is no written law in the constitution that enforces these two separate heads of government to meet and yet this tradition is hold sacred in British culture. These meetings all started during World War II under the reign of her father, King George VI with Winston Churchill and after the war was over it became a weekly routine that neither party wanted to stop.

Once her father passed away, Churchill became Elizabeth’s first Prime Minister who essentially taught her the rules of what these meetings dictate and as time passes we see how it has adapted and taken form under each new Prime Minister. These meetings are held privately without any written record of what has taken place which is understandable but imagine if we the public had the opportunity to know what exactly went behind closed doors between these two individuals and that is where the magic of Peter Morgan comes in.

If you do not know who is Peter Morgan, he is the creator of Netflix’s The Crown and wrote the screenplay for The Queen so it comes as no surprise that Peter Morgan has the gifted insight of tapping into the minds of the Royal Family. I believe he is perfect for writing this play because he pays major respect to both the Queen and the Prime Minister yet shedding light to the reality of what was taking place during each Prime Minister time in office. What I enjoyed the most about this play was Peter Morgan didn’t follow the dialogue in a linear format so there is a bit of suspense as to what particular Prime Minister is going to show up on stage.

At the end of the day the Queen will always guarantee her support for the Prime Minister and that is a difficult task to uphold because naturally we tend to have preferences when it comes to our leaders and over the course of decades there has been leaks about who were her favorites and which one she despised so Peter Morgan used that information to his advantage and while the conversations held in this play is fictional, Morgan has the natural gift of making it sound believable and it feels as though you the audience are these private meetings with the Queen.

I love anything that has deals with Royalty so naturally I am biased and I need to warn anyone who wants to read this play, if you have no clue about British history, Parliament, and the Prime Minister then I suggest you either pick something else to read or crack open a book and learn the gist of British culture because otherwise it will leave you completely confused. Remember this is a play not a novel so the author does not have time to supply enough information about the importance of each and every meeting that takes place in this story and the controversy that naturally surrounds the Prime Minister. If you have no qualms about it then I believe you will encounter a refreshing and beautiful take on Queen Elizabeth II and her relationship to the Prime Minister.

BookTubeAThon 2017 Challenge #3 : Finish a book in one day.