Book Review: Shotgun Arcana

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His artist is excellent, as usual

I reviewed Six-Gun Tarot a little while back, and it wasn’t exactly a glowing review. So I decided to give R. S. Belcher another shot with Shotgun Arcana, the second in his Golgotha series. With Six-Gun, I had a lot of problems with the false sort of feminism and cultural diversity he showed in those pages. In short, the Old West wasn’t exactly a great and shining example of equality or magnanimous spirit, and what was wrong with it was almost directly transferred into the pages of Six-Gun. He even invented a totally new slur for Chinese people I had never heard before, so there’s that. So how does Shotgun Arcana fare? Continue reading “Book Review: Shotgun Arcana”

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Alien Covenant Isn’t For You

aliencovenantMy wife doesn’t like horror movies very much, even though guffaws every time some doofus falls down on America’s Funniest Home Videos. So my story with Alien Covenant happens a lot. I want to see it in the theater, and she doesn’t. I might have gone to it for our drive-in excursion but there was a double feature of pirates and space superheroes… so there. Last night I got antsy and rented it off Amazon, which made me slightly annoyed that it didn’t come with prime and that I’m going to see it on the public library shelf a little while later.

The dubious privilege of Amazon Video is that you get to see comments. Which is frankly annoying when people ruin the ending before you even get to see the movie. But reading them, I get the sense that people just don’t know how to watch movies anymore.  Continue reading “Alien Covenant Isn’t For You”

Shin Godzilla: Stuff to Add

Ah, my local library strikes again, this time with a title that’s been long in coming: Shin Godzilla, probably the best inheritor of the Godzilla name to come along since the original film. The Guardian got it pretty right with their review, so I’ll just link you to it. But for me, this was a spectacular return to form with one of my favorite film directors in the world, Hideaki Anno, so here’s a little input of my own.

Continue reading “Shin Godzilla: Stuff to Add”

Expletives Were Made for this Morning

I woke up this morning to find out that a white supremacy rally had gotten violent and how one of the Nazis decided to run over the other side even after the group was dispersed by the Charlottesville authorities. @JuliusGoat voiced the communal outrage over this farce as eloquently as is humanly possible, and I was just feeling a little cathartic when I read about a hospital in India whose oxygen provider shut off the flow for an unpaid bill and killed more than 30 children who were relying on the stuff to live. Even for the news, that’s pretty damn depressing for a Sunday morning.

On the surface, these two events being reported in the same weekend seem completely unconnected. They’re on different sides of the planet, they involve two different regional groups. One is culturally motivated and the other is an issue of bureaucracy gone horribly wrong. But through a red haze of rage and sorrow, I’m motivated to write about how they’re the same many-headed monster. Once we know that, we can stop cutting off the heads and kill it once and for all.

Continue reading “Expletives Were Made for this Morning”

On Retro-Superheroism

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My wife had already started an epic Hellboy collection before I got into him

There is a very specific group of comics that exists in the world as sort of an ode to superheroism as a genre. I am, of course, talking about books like Tom Strong, Hellboy, and Atomic Robo, which I recently picked up with the handy “The Everything Explodes Collection” and do not regret reading at all. There’s a thread of commonality between them with an obvious charm. Each story works with a long-lived hero who starts as an innocent. He accrues experience and a grim sort of wisdom as the decades pile on, almost like they’re embodying the gradual cynicism that settles on the world with the years. And I think in the best ones, they offer a wonderful example of how we can come to terms with the things their heroes represent: acts we wish they had never committed, ways to attone, and the irreducible truth that without them, the world as we know it would not be here today.

This is an entry about a group of these books, which have existed in an underground capacity for many years and have finally found recognition in recent years.

Continue reading “On Retro-Superheroism”

Review, Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread

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Pictured: Cred

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Chuck Palahniuk fan, and I am really a little annoyed that my library still hasn’t recovered from the Great Move of 2015 and I can’t establish my epic shelf of cred in this regard. But hey, that might be a good thing, as Chuck apparently has a weird following of young white Americans who think he’s actually supporting their entitled subculture of race elitism. It doesn’t help that Palahniuk actually encourages this by owning the “snowflake” moniker or making it easy for conservative papers to wildly skew his edgy statements.  Here he is choking a porn star. I wouldn’t call it misogyny when the lady is enjoying it that much though.

Palahniuk is easily misunderstood because of his outrageous style and throbbing, wet finger pressed shamelessly to the pulse of American culture. He isn’t afraid to write people who are racist or misogynist or who feel oppressed in their everyday life. Palaniuk says things in this book like “By the time you turn thirty, your life is about escaping the person you’ve become in order to escape the person you’ve become in order to escape the person you started as.” Come on. How can a middle-income snowflake who grew up thinking they would be raised above the browns and the blacks only to find themselves in their 30s working in a Dairy Barn NOT get behind that? Snowflakes are white, people. Palahniuk is a master of symbolism.

There, I hope I’ve defended him sufficiently for you to give “Make Something Up” a fair shot.

Continue reading “Review, Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread”

Book Review: Heroine Complex

51tcua2zxsl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Let me just say that I don’t pick up books to review for tactical marketing reasons. Sure I support indie authors and fellow Asian authors, but in a rare fit of traditionalism my Chinese father named me for the concepts of steadfastness (read: stubborn) and belief. I like to think I have some integrity when it comes to delivering the goods on what I really think about books, and for reading books that drifted into my orbit organically. My usual fare is a sprinkling of Chuck Palahniuk, Haruki Murakami, Douglas Adams, Felix Gilman, et al. I don’t go looking for stuff that is calculated to match my reader demographic or would encourage people to check out my work. It seems a little dishonest.

My reluctance to delve too deeply into author marketing may be why Heroine Complex was both a pleasant surprise and a mixed bag for me to read. From Asian-American author Sarah Kuhn, the 384-page offering from DAW (affiliated with our favorite distributor Random Penguin) joins the ranks of Monstress in a niche of material created by Asian-American women that have been steadily building a delightful community of fans. In Heroine Complex, you’ll find demon karaoke, drama up to your eyeballs, and a complicated relationship with food, all cultural aspects that I recognize too well as a part of the culture I grew up with. Despite the flowering of anime and other Asian cultures in America, I found Heroine Complex to be a rare illustration of Asian American culture, where we’ve evolved a completely different lifestyle and values from our brethren across the pond.  Continue reading “Book Review: Heroine Complex”