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.

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. The Olympics are also winding down and that will help, we've been watching pretty heavily. 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. 


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

Ice caves on Lake Michigan. Article here

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 came back into town last night and told the girls I would bring them something, but wasn't sure what. Then I thought... Krispy Kreme! Yes, food! We have a KK across town, so over I went. They were hopping too on a Friday night, and with it being Valentine's Day- even more so. Lots of couples in there having some doughnuts and coffee. Let's just say there were happy faces when I came home with two boxes of Krispy Kreme (and yes- flowers too!)- cause you gotta have glazed and chocolate glazed after all. Then we sat and watched the Olympics- a pretty good night.  

Oh, and hats too. Big hit! Almost as popular as the doughnuts...  


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

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.  

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?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tuesday Tunes #4

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 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, 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.  


Mulled Murder


No new books this 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.