My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This volume turns up the tension. Erwin and his men (i.e. our core group) are in Eren, Mikasa and Armin’s hometown hoping to a) find out what other secrets Eren’s father might have hidden there and b) to put a stop to the Armored, Colossal Beast Titans. Of course, this means they’ll have to hurt or kill young men who were their friends, something that doesn’t seem to have sunk in to any of the younger recruits heads other than Levi who has no real connection to them.
So yes, this is full of emotion and battle scenes that actually advance the plot rather than just sit there being battles for battle’s sake.
Again Armin and Hange’s intelligence shine. Mikasa remains an ultimately disappointing character (I really think she was meant for more when this series started but she failed to launch in comparison to the others). Eren’s role is pretty much ‘become a Titan and smash stuff.’ I was disappointed a bit by Armin at the end but other than that, really enjoyed this and can’t wait for more.
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Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I vaguely remember this when it first came out but I was twenty-one at the time, and I think I was busy being twenty-one and prepping for med school. I had nearly forgotten Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean had done anything in the traditional DC Comic book universe. This one had hints of Batman in it but as a mere vehicle to the main storyline. (ditto the Swamp Thing and a few Arkham Asylum residents). Lex Luthor plays a more pivotal role.
Black Orchid has made a miscalculation that will cost her her life but she isn’t all she seems. In fact, she isn’t even human. At her death another of her sisters awakens, having more to do with the title orchid than she does with humanity. She only has partial memories and her creator tries to help her but the woman she was based on has a bad past and it comes back with sheer destructive force.
Left without answers she needs and with a child version of herself attached to her for guidance, Orchid goes on a quest for answers.
Overall I’d put the art at 5 stars. McKean’s dream-like art and its muted palette won’t be to everyone’s taste but I remember when this style dropped into the oft-times garish world of superheroes. It was revolutionary. It takes me back to when I was young and bright eyed. I will always have a soft spot for it. The story is more of a 3 star for me. I found it a bit slow, a bit fragmentary and too heavy on Lex Luthor and his ugliness. It’s still a graphic novel worth the reading.
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