Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: The Uncanny X-Men 114-116 Into the Savage Land

uncanny x-men 115

This week I'm taking a look at the Savage Land story from Uncanny X-Men issues #114-116 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. The X-Men had previously been captured by their archvillain Magneto and imprisoned in his base in Antarctica. They managed to escape and battle him to a standstill, but were forced to flee as the Antarctic stronghold is engulfed in lava from an exploding volcano.In the ensuing chaos the X-Men are separated, with Jean Grey and the Beast escaping into the Antarctic wilderness, where they are rescued by helicopter.

The rest of the X-Men, however, are trapped underground and have to try and blast their way out. They manage to do so, but find themselves coming out into... the Savage Land.

The Savage Land is a prehistoric wonderland nestled in an Antarctic mountain range and kept warm and tropical by alien machinery that was left there eons ago. Sure, whatever. Works for me. So the X-Men find themselves there and have to find a way out. No sooner do they begin to take in the awesome vistas than they are greeted by the local wildlife. A hungry pteranodon shows up and almost kills Banshee, but Wolverine, still an uppity pipsqueak with anger control issues at this early stage of his development, gets to cut loose and wreak a little havoc on the reptile. This earns him a rebuke from Cyclops for being reckless, but Wolvie's like whatever.

Meanwhile Storm and Banshee have spotted a village from the air, so they make their way there. The village belongs to the Fall People (one of the races of people living in the Savage Land) and the X-Men get some much needed rest and relaxation for a few days.

In the meantime we get a glimpse of Jean and Hank back at the X-mansion, grieving for their friends who they believe to be dead. Jean feels lost without Cyclops. Too bad he doesn't feel the same way. Okay, he does, but is just having a hard time realizing it or something. See, the X-Men think Jean and Hank are dead as well. Cyclops mopes around the Fall People village and wonders why he doesn't feel more grief at Jean's demise. Maybe somehow since they're in love he knows on a psychic level she isn't really dead? They don't really suggest this in the comic, I'm just making that up, but why not? Otherwise it's kind of curious the way he feels, but I'm sure Claremont was going for something here. Storm even questions him a bit sharply on it when he mentions it to her. We then get a glimpse of Wolverine mourning Jean as well. Wolverine clearly does feel grief at Jean's loss, and is having a hard time dealing with it.

Storm goes swimming after talking to Cyclops and gets ambushed by Karl Lykos, a mutant who is an energy vampire of sorts. Lykos transforms into a pterodactyl- like creature called Sauron when he absorbs others' life force energy. Lykos senses incredible life force energy within Storm and attempts to drain just a little of it for himself, but the sheer power within her causes him to transform into Sauron. The other X-Men arrive and Sauron is defeated after a pitched battle, during which Sauron mesmerizes Wolverine and uses him against the other mutants. The team is then met by Ka- Zar, the Lord of the Savage Land (Marvel's version of Tarzan, basically), and find out that Lykos and Ka- Zar were coming to the X-Men for help. Turns out Cyclops knows Ka-Zar from way back, so after introductions are made they all go back to the Fall people village to sort things out.

The X-Men learn that Lykos, an enemy of the original X-Men years ago as Sauron, has been living a life of relative peace in the Savage Land until recently, when he came upon a strange scene in the jungle. He witnesses the high priestess Zaladane sacrifice a man to bring Garokk, the manifestation of an ancient sun- god, back to life. Garokk wastes no time in trying to conquer the people of the Savage Land, and Ka-Zar and his allies have not been able to stop him. That's where the X-Men come in.

Problem is, Cyclops says no to Ka-Zar's request for help. Cyke feels that their first responsibility is to Professor Xavier, who he feels will be a target for Magneto now that everyone thinks the X-Men are dead. He says they need to get home first and protect the professor, but he tells Ka-Zar that once they do that they will come back to help. Ka-Zar understands and tries to lead them out of the Savage Land, but before they can leave the entire area is engulfed in a blizzard and they realize that Garokk has tampered with the climate, causing the tropical Savage Land to freeze over. Realizing they have no choice, the X-Men and Ka-Zar set out for Garokk's newly constructed city to confront him.

No sooner do they arrive though then they are accosted by Garokk's sentries riding giant pterasaurs. Several of the X-Men and Ka-Zar are captured, and it's up to Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler to rescue them.

The three of them infiltrate Garokk's city and, after finding the massive stadium where Garokk intends to execute them, manage to free the captive X-Men. In the confusion Garokk flees and Cyclops, seeing this, goes after him. They square off atop the domed city as Garokk taps the geothermal heat that keeps the Savage Land warm to replenish his power. In the course of the battle the dome shatters and both Cyke and Garokk fall to their doom- but Banshee and Storm come to the rescue. Banshee catches Cyclops and Storm goes after Garokk down a seemingly bottomless shaft- but something goes wrong and she is not able to save him. Storm, who considers all life sacred, takes this very hard.



This is a super early X-Men story, from the era before everything got convoluted and ridiculous. Claremont and Byrne were golden on this title, it was the absolute best thing Marvel was putting out and the characterizations were top notch.  Previous events from the series flow into this story and this story flows into the next, but this was a time when you could read a three issue story arc and know everything you need to enjoy it. Highly entertaining and recommended.

This story is part of the Marvel Masterworks The Uncanny X-Men Vol. 3.

Marvel Masterworks: The Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 3


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tunes for Tuesday #5 Missing Persons



"You look at me as if you're in a daze"




I love Missing Persons. Before there was Lady Gaga... there was Terry Bozzio.

What are you listening to?


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sunday Post #33/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Another week, no books read or reviewed. Been so busy with my new job that it has kinda taken everything over, but I hope to get some reading in this weekend. I love the ski jumping but have seen none of it (sigh). I've also enjoyed the ski cross, a lot of people crash and that makes it more exciting. Isn't that awful?  



Speaking of the Olympics, it's been fun watching the different events, although again the coverage is.. whatever. If I had more time I would just watch online to see stuff NBC doesn't bother to show. And the profiles... while they are often touching and help us to get to know individual athletes, I would just rather they show us more event coverage. I roll my eyes every time one of these starts. 

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG

Sunday Post #32/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?  

THIS WEEK ON THE BLOG

Tuesday Tunes 

CURRENTLY READING

COMING SOON 

 Legacy of the Clockwork Key (The Secret Order, #1) No Safety in Numbers

AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE 

Ice caves on Lake Michigan. Article here



Check out this Lake Michigan cam with current images of what's happening on the lake. Very cool. Also more from an up north blog here, about their explorations out on the ice. Here's a teaser image. 



So how was your week? 


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sunday Post #32/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

This past week I was out of town for work all week, and between that and the Olympics I didn't read anything. I also didn't post post anything or visit many blogs, so if I seemed scarce- I was! This week hopefully will be better on that front.  


I didn't acquire much in the way of books this week, but there's a little newness that came in. 

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG 

Sunday Post #31/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading? 

THIS WEEK ON THE BLOG 

Tuesday Tunes 


CURRENTLY READING 


COMING SOON 

  No Safety in Numbers


No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz

NEW THIS WEEK:

 Legacy of the Clockwork Key (The Secret Order, #1)

Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Baile

AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE

Marvel is developing a Black Widow movie. Yesssss! Per Variety.   



The Great Lakes are nearly frozen over for the first time in 20 years. Some cool pics here too. As a Michigan resident I love this pic of the Mackinac Bridge (courtesy of the Traverse City Record- Eagle). 

The Great Lakes, which hold nearly one-fifth of the surface fresh water in the world, are almost completely frozen over after an unusually cold winter.


Veronica Mars round up over at Hypable, including a clip    


Some Knights of the Dinner table humor

So how was your week? 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sunday Post #31/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

This has been a good week, I got a few blog posts up and finished a book I've been working on. 
Watching the opening ceremony was something of a frustration- little snippets of the event punctuated by the usual obnoxious commercials. If there was an option to watch these things without NBC's commentary or constant interruptions, I would pay to do so. 

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG 

Review: Mulled Murder 
Review: Avengers: The Final Threat 
Tuesday Tunes
Discussion Post: Male vs. Female POV in YA 

Sunday Post #30/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading? 

THIS WEEK ON THE BLOG 

Tuesday Tunes 

AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE 

The Star Wars Episode 7 rumors are flying. Mara Jade, canon changes and more. 

Which fictional city should you live in? I got Cloud City from Star Wars. Ah, Bespin. No Rivendell for me? Kinda bummed. 

Have you seen the stick figure families on the back of cars? Well this cracked me up. 



Kinda like this one too: 




Review: Mulled Murder

Mulled Murder

Mulled Murder by Kate Kingsbury is a Christmas themed cozy mystery set in England in the Edwardian era. It is the last of the Pennyfoot hotel mystery series, although you do not need to have read any of the previous books to enjoy this. I bought this having no idea it was part of a series, and it was no big deal. The story starts off with a body washed up on a beach outside the Pennyfoot hotel. It turns out that murders and mystery are no stranger to Cecily Baxter, the owner of the hotel. The hotel is known for having strange going on, especially at Christmastime, no doubt a reference to earlier novels in the series.  The body turns out to be a guest of the hotel, and when it is discovered later that he was a private detective working on a case, the plot deepens.

There’s a lot going on at the Pennyfoot hotel this season, including a wedding for one of the housemaids, a theater production on Christmas Eve and new staff to train. To make matters worse, the plumbing goes out- but the new plumber seems more interested in the housemaids than in getting the lavatories back in operation. Cecily soon discovers that the murder and some of her staffing issues may be related. A young woman is found one morning in the courtyard, half conscious and with no memory of who she is or where she comes from. Cecily takes her in and tries to keep everything together long enough to get through the holidays, but soon finds that something nefarious is happening at the Pennyfoot... or perhaps under the hotel, in the tunnels beneath the wine cellar. 

I likd this story well enough, however it didn’t grab me and demand to be read, so I did drift away from it a couple of times. The perspective shifts between Cecily and various of the help staff- Pansy (the maid getting married) and Gertie (the chief housemaid) primarily.  

The author sprinkles enough red herrings to keep you guessing, although some readers may figure things out a little in advance- or rather figure who out, as everyone here has a secret and some are related to the murder and some are not. There’s not a lot of suspense here although the end picks up a bit, with Cecily exploring an old smugglers tunnel and putting herself in a bit of peril. I would have liked to have had more of this earlier on, rather than just alternating peeks upstairs and downstairs, but Mulled Murder is a fine read and a comfortable little Christmas mystery. 

From Goodreads:

This holiday season at the Pennyfoot, the head count is down—but the body count is up…

With one of her housemaids leaving to get married, Cecily Sinclair Baxter wants nothing more for Christmas than some good help. Instead of visions of sugar plums, she’s calling the plumber to deal with flooded bathrooms. Then there’s the surly new janitor, who acts like he got coal in his stocking.

But as Cecily scrambles to hire and train new staff in time for the holidays, one of her guests is beyond help. Gerald Evans is found stabbed to death on the beach, and Cecily soon discovers he was a private investigator from London looking into dark doings involving the Pennyfoot. Who among the staff or guests was being pursued, and what secret drove that person to cold-blooded murder?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: The Avengers The Final Threat



The Final Threat is a story that ran in the pages of Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2. Written and drawn by Jim Starlin, known for his cosmic sagas at Marvel, it tells the story of a mad demigod, the heroes who arrayed themselves against him, and the fate of a tortured soul who strove to be human, but was in some ways much, much more. Starlin's work was so trippy that according to Sean Howe in Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, fans would send complimentary joints in with their fan mail!    



Adam Warlock as a character evolved from a messiah- like figure to a cosmic wanderer, reflecting the angst of the times. His early stories recounted him battling his future self, The Magus, and the Universal Church of Truth, an intergalactic empire. At one point he acquired a soul gem, with the ability to steal the souls of others. As the story here begins, Warlock arrives on a far planetoid and finds a dying Gamora amongst the ruins. Gamora was a deadly assassin in the service of Thanos, and considered the most dangerous woman in the galaxy. She tells Warlock that Thanos plans to extinguish the stars in an act of stellar genocide. After taking her soul into his soul gem to relieve her suffering, he returns to Earth and enlists the Avengers and the Kree warrior Captain Marvel to help him stop Thanos. 

Warlock tells them that Thanos has assembled five soul gems, items of exceeding power, and together with energy siphoned from Warlock's own gem, has created his own master gem- with the express purpose of blowing the stars out of the heavens as an offering to the embodiment of Death. Nice, huh?

Warlock then mysteriously disappears, and the Avengers learn of a massive space fleet approaching. They launch themselves into space to engage, and Iron Man and Thor tackle the ships while the rest of the Avengers blast their way into the Sanctuary II, Thanos' flagship. They fight their way through hordes of alien flunkies, only to discover that Warlock has arrived ahead of them. Warlock has discovered his friend Pip the troll aboard- but Pip is catatonic, his mind destroyed by Thanos. Along with Gamora, he has now lost the two people who meant the most to him.


Warlock has learned that Thanos is on the far side of the sun in another vessel, and that this was all a decoy. Warlock and captain Marvel fly there, leaving the avengers behind, and attack Thanos. Captain Marvel destroys the star gem apparatus that Thanos was constructing, but not the gem itself. Warlock meanwhile is killed in battle by Thanos. Thor and Iron Man arrive, having followed them, and Thor battles Thanos while Iron Man destroys the gem. As this is happening, Captain Marvel witnesses a strange tableau- another version of Warlock appears and takes the soul of the dead Warlock into the soul gem. We then see Warlock inside the world of the soul gem, a place of peace where he is reunited with Gamora and Pip, as well as the souls of all those he defeated in the past. They are no longer enemies however- everyone is at peace within the gem. His old enemies welcome him with open arms.






The story then segues into a dream that Spider Man, on earth, is having, where he "sees" the events happening in space- and sees further that the Avengers aboard Sanctuary II have been defeated after Thanos rallies his forces. He strips the soul gem from Warlock's brow and plans to use its power to blow up the sun. Turns out that the dream is actually a psychic distress call from Moondragon, one of the defeated Avengers. Spidey goes to the Fantastic Four for assistance, but only one member- Ben Grimm aka the Thing- is home, so together they blast off and land on Sanctuary II. They engage Thanos' forces but are defeated, however Spidey manages to escape and free the captured Avengers. It's everyone against Thanos at that point, but even that is not enough- until Spider Man manages to call forth Warlock from the soul gem.



Appearing as a being of fire and vengeance, Warlock is the one being Thanos cannot withstand, and he is defeated. The story ends with the Avengers and Captain Marvel mourning Warlock, even as he finds himself once more in the soul gem, at peace.



This was the original Thanos "event" story, way back when, and ends with his demise at the hands of Adam Warlock. None of the Thanos stories since have topped it, in my view, and yet they keep bringing the character back. Diminishing returns every time. He even appears at th end of the Avengers movie (yes, that's him), presaging a role as the villain behind the scenes and no doubt an antagonist in a future movie. I think that's too bad, actually, because as good as this story is, I think there are more compelling Avengers villains out there, but that's just me. For me the Thanos story ends with this one, and it's a good cosmic adventure.



This story has been collected in various reprint volumes over the years. My version is the recently released Epic Collection, which contains this story as well as a host of other issues, including several other classic stories. I recently purchased this from Amazon and found it to be a good buy. 



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tuesday Tunes #4



Today I'm listening to a little Billy Idol. The last three weeks have been Aussie artists so this week I'm switching it up a bit. Any other fans of the Idol one out there?





What are you listening to?


Discussion Post: Male vs. Female POV in YA

I've been thinking lately about POV in YA books. I'm sure this has been discussed before yada yada but I thought I'd take a crack at it. I've seen bloggers comment on it from time to time. It's well known that the majority of YA readers are female. I've heard it said that having a male protagonist in a YA book is a tough sell. Do you think that's true? I've read a few books lately with male protagonists, and they were good, but I do enjoy the vast majority of female POV's I  read, and depending on the story I may even prefer it. So I guess for me, it doesn't really matter. Still, I want to touch on a few recent reads and share some thoughts on the POV mix.

The Paladin Prophecy (and its sequel Alliance) is a great example. It has a male protagonist but strong female supporting characters. Will is a great character, kind of a smart ass but tough when he needs to be. His relationship with Brooke is sweet and pretty innocent, no making out or anything, but then there's Elise, the mystery girl. Elise is way more interesting. So you almost (not quite) have a love triangle- another fun topic- but this time with a guy as the focal point. That was kind of new for me, or maybe I just haven't read enough YA yet. Anyway I thought both books were great, and fairly high visibility- but I don't see much mention of them on blogs.



Vitro

Vitro by Jessica Khoury (which I just reviewed here) was fun because it split the narrative between Sophie and Jim. Both characters were great, but in this one Jim seems more realistic- his reactions just feel like how someone would really feel or act. He's brave and does the right thing, but he has doubts and even panics once or twice when things get really bad. But at the same time he's a strong character- I think Jessica Khoury really hit it out of the park with him. Sophie is great too, but I thought Jim's was the stronger narrative. I'd be really curious to see what other readers think of this one.

Tides

Tides, which I reviewed a while back, has a guy main character as well. Noah falls in love with a selkie and has a sister suffering from bulimia. We get other perspectives too, including Mara the selkie, so it's not all from a guy's perspective, but a lot of it is. This is another book I didn't see much of on blogs, but I was pretty new to blogging when it came out and just may not have seen the reviews. Did anyone else read this?

I think the mix is probably about right. After all, if there aren't that many guys reading YA then it stands to reason you aren't going to see a ton of male POV's. When I'm at the bookstore though I see a lot of guys in the science fiction/ fantasy section, but not very many in the YA aisle. That's too bad in a way, because the YA section seems so much more vibrant. Yeah the guys aren't going to go for the romances, but there's dystopians, sci-fi, lots of stuff. The sci fi section by contrast seems tired and mostly older stuff- the same books that have been there for years (with some exceptions, of course). There's starting to be a little crossover, and that's good, but they're still pretty distinct. Maybe that's a good subject for a separate discussion...

So what do you think? Do you have a preference among male or female POV's?


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sunday Post #30/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I start a new job soon and am pretty excited about it. It's a great new opportunity and a good career move, too. I did get some reading done this week and posted a review for Vitro. It rocks, by the way. 

My reading may slow down a bit initially with the new job, but I'm only doing about a book a week anyway. It's funny how you can get used to something- before I started blogging I didn't really have anyone to discuss books with, at least not at this level. Now I can't imagine not reviewing my latest read, or discussing it with other bloggers! And all the books I've discovered, thanks to so many of you- wouldn't have even known about 'em. Too cool. 

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG

Saturday Snapshot 
Review: Vitro
Tuesday Tunes 
  
Sunday Post #29/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading? 

THIS WEEK ON THE BLOG


Tuesday Tunes 
Discussion Post: Male vs. female POV in YA books 
Review: Mulled Murder (hopefully)

CURRENTLY READING 

Mulled Murder

Mulled Murder by Kate Kingsbury




   No Safety in Numbers



No Safety In Numbers by Dayna Lorentz 

NEW THIS WEEK 

No new books this week! 

AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE

Captain America 3 has a director- the same guys who are helming the second one. They must be pretty confident in the sequel. 

Speaking of Cap- there will be a new trailer during the Super Bowl. Here's a teaser. 




Maisie Williams (Arya) was at George RR Martin's theater (yes, he has a theater) last week to meet fans. Check out the pics here at Martin's site. Cool! A few direwolves showed up too, apparently... 


Simon and Schuster sign on to Peanuts- it might be good to see Peanuts back in circulation, but depends on what they do with it. 

So how was your week? 


Saturday Snapshot #5

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at West Metro Mommy Reads.

To participate in Saturday Snapshot post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a link to your post at Melinda's site. Photos can be old or new, and be any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes. How much detail you give is in the captions is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online. 







Sun dappled water.