Saturday, March 30, 2013

Collection of graphic novel reviews

Justice League: Origin

Batman: The Court of Owls

Supergirl: The Last Daughter of Krypton

Nightwing: Traps & Trapezes

Deathstroke: Legacy

Wonder Woman: Blood

Graphic novel review

Wonder Woman: Blood offers the third (or fourth) reinterpretation of the greek gods within the world of dc comics and while definitely the most modern, it's also possibly the most entertaining take on the gods of olympus. unfortunately these characters overshadow the book's star, who's voice is scarcely heard.

of all the revisions of dc comics' iconic heroes with its "new 52" launch, i was most interested in wonder woman.  the book opens with apollo, god of the sun, coercing his oracles into searching out the whereabouts of his missing father, zeus, king of the gods. the story quickly picks up when hermes, god of messengers, appears in rural virginia, to defend a young woman from centaur assassins. the young woman is teleported to london for safe keeping and apparently the home of wonder woman! the famous amazon princess and young woman, named zola, return to virginia and the super heroine makes quick work of zola's enemies. hermes reveals that hera, zeus' husband, sent the centaurs to kill zola because she's pregnant with the son of zeus! meanwhile, apollo watches all that transpires from afar, plotting his own campaign to slaughter the apparent new heir of zeus.

wonder woman soon finds she and zola share something in common, both women are connected to zeus, and their fate becomes tied together with factions of godly foes plotting their demise because of their involvement in olympian affairs. wonder woman's world is turned upside down when she realizes her mother, queen of the amazons, had planted a lie long ago to protect the princess from the envious hera. the queen of olympus enacts vengeance on the amazons when wonder woman teleports to london with zola and hermes. princess diana returns to the island home of her past too late and discovers her mother and sisters transformed in a poignant and dramatic scene that serves as a one of the book's most climatic moments. 

the brilliance of brian azzarello's writing, is that he finds a great balance of drama and action between so many intriguing characters. the soap opera of the olympian gods is brought to the modern world in such an excellent fashion that fans of comic books, reality tv, or even romance novels can all appreciate. though the 'witty' dialogue became slightly tiresome as if it were trying too hard to be smart.

a particular favorite character is strife, daughter of hera and sister of apollo. she's the villain you love to hate, taking neither side of a conflict, rather instigating all parties to suit her twisted desires. strife proves to be the perfect foil for princess diana who continually attempts to be the peace maker and leveled headed heroine one would expect. i can relate to this version of wonder woman, who righteously believes she knows what she's doing, but may not quite have a handle on events out of her control. we could all learn a thing or two from wonder woman.

the art fits the story with it's crisp and contemporary look by the book's main artist, cliff chiang. unfortunately, chiang does not pencil/ink the entire novel, and though tony akins admirably steps in to complete the last two chapters, his version of wonder woman is hideous. their designs of strife, hades, poseidon, and hermes could very well become iconic in the mythology of world of wonder woman and are probably the most outstanding aspect of, Wonder Woman: Blood.

the characters of the novel run the narrative, but not wonder woman herself. very rarely do we get a glimpse into the amazon princess' thoughts, though this changes slowly as the book progresses. what's obvious is that wonder woman is very much an outsider in the world beyond the shores of paradise island, but even among the amazons. wonder woman stands up for the little guy or girl and believes they deserve a chance to rise, that much is clear. i wish more time had been spent on getting to know wonder woman instead of introducing character after character (despite how much i like them). in the end, Blood is still fun modern take on the iconic super heroine.

Friday, March 15, 2013

You think you know me? Maybe you have no idea!

Steven & Troia, 2011
i've always been very forthright about myself, having long accepted my flaws as well has my more endearing qualities. but i'm always surprised by how little long-time friends, or even family, seem to know about me. so i thought i'd create a little game. i'm going to list 10 things you may or may not know about me. you think you know me? maybe you have no idea! read on and find out!

1. my parents are christian missionaries (or as i've coined them, "jesus freaks"), but have had a multitude of careers in my lifetime. my favorites would be the owners of  tae kwon do dojo and aerobic studios.

2. i became obsessed with wonder woman when i discovered her through my dad's old comic book collection and when i saw reruns of the tv show starring, lynda carter. the amazing amazon embodied strength, beauty, charm, wit, intelligence, humor, and compassion -- even for enemies -- something i've carried through all my life.

3. comic books brought me all over the world. it's true! based on the comic books i read from the '70s and '80s, i would draw my own comics and started taking art classes, then later going to art school, inspiring me to study abroad.

4. my mother had a brain aneurism when i was two years old. i was sitting behind her in the car when her brain just -- switched off. i still remember the thud her head made against the passenger seat window. i also remember seeing her again after surgery weeks later, a beautiful woman with no hair, but i was afraid to approach her outstretched arms.

5. i have a minor in nutrition. my reasoning for the degree was i wanted a backup if i ever got bored with the whole 'art thing'.

6. a former professor and dear friend took me under her wing and appointed me her intern/apprentice while she taught at the paris college of art. i learned so much about the world in those 3 months, traveling to other parts of europe on long weekends and holidays. i was devastated when my professor, a transgender woman, hysterical storyteller, fashionista, talented artist, and raging alcoholic, took her own life. there was a gaping hole in my soul for a long time.

7. my dog and two cats are among my most favorite people in the world. yes, you read that correctly.

8. i resisted becoming a teacher for a long time because my parents always said i would make a great teacher. so, of course, i couldn't be a teacher! but after life as a starving artist got old, i went back to school and became certified to teach visual art. turns out i love teaching!

9. my first degree is in studio art, focus on drawing and painting. that means i also studied ceramics, sculpting, art history, and printmaking for four years plus years. art education came later and became my real passion.

10. i was hit by a tour bus on a cross walk and thrown 10 feet, but survived with only a few scraps, bruises, and internal bleeding -- no gaping wounds or broken bones!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Update: I'm a survivor, 1 year later

Art by Ross Andru & Mike Esposito, 1967.
a year ago this month i endured a serious accident and miraculous recovery! i wrote about the experience here,

I'm a survivor

days later i had a wonderful birthday with friends, made all the more special after realizing i had a second chance at life. unfortunately, the following afternoon i was rushed to the er again! apparently my spleen had been discreetly bleeding and poisoning my other organs and it would be nearly 2 months before i was able to return to the things i enjoy like walking the dog, jogging, or teaching. in all i was hidden away from the world for an entire 12 weeks.

my life has returned to its standard craziness, though i still endure headaches and severe back pain from time to time. i'm told these symptoms of the accident may never completely go away. i've learned to cope and to listen to my body better. if it tells me i need to stay in for the night, i will. if the body feels like it needs a break, then i'll skip a workout. in the end, i think this accident was a way for the universe telling me to slow down, appreciate what it is i have in my life. and i maintain to do just that.

love to all of my wonderful friends and supporters. you make every moment of life worthwhile. the love and encouragement pushes me to do my best at home, in the classroom, or in the studio. thank you!

 a special shout out to mrs. mary lou morse, joseph holladay, and barbara binkowski who have done more for me than one could ever imagine. x

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Surprise gift!

an unused illustration sent to me from the artist himself, dave ross, from the upcoming, Iron Man: Armor Wars Redux, by david michelinie. so grateful! ross' art was a favorite of mine from his work on, Avengers West Coast, in the '90s.