Parecomic and That Lovely Horrible Stuff

parecomicParecomic: The story of Michael Albert and Participatory Economics
Written by Sean Michael Wilson
Drawn by Carl Thompson

Not liking the current economy very much, a book about an alternate way for an economy to run seemed like an excellent opportunity for me. Especially since it’s a graphic novel and thus likely to be at least slightly livelier than other books about the economy.

However, while it wasn’t a terrible book, it wasn’t a particularly good one either and I was really not impressed with participatory economics as it was described.

The first two-thirds of the book were more a biography/personal history of the civil rights era. I found this portion extremely interesting, even if it wasn’t saying much about participatory economics. The people and the times were interesting enough that it was okay that I didn’t find the main character (or any of the other characters) very sympathetic.

The later third of the book did discuss participatory economics, but did so very poorly. This is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like I might understand why Ayn Rand was so down on liberals and socialists. Given that this book was written in Albert’s words, defending his ideals, presumably to the best of his ability, I have to admit that maybe Rand wasn’t entirely making up her annoying “liberal” characters as I’d assumed.

Albert wants to save the working class and the poor, but he sure doesn’t respect them. He argues that white-collar workers aren’t any better than blue-collar workers but assumes that it’s obvious that white-collar work is better and more empowering than blue-collar work. He assumes that everyone will like the same things and dislike the same things and generally have the same opinions if only they really understood. Thus, in his view, business meetings can reach consensus quickly and easily, and if you don’t agree with him, then you just don’t understand the situation.

It started out interesting, but ended up mostly irritating. On the other hand, it was well-illustrated, the first part was interesting, and the book as a whole wasn’t that long. So, faint praise, but still praise.

FinalCOmpsThat Lovely Horrible Stuff
By Eddie Campbell

This was in the nonfiction new-release section at my library and it seemed to be a graphic novel about currency, which I thought would be interesting. Instead it was mostly some biographical ramblings of the author about his money troubles. It did have a section about the stone money of the island Yap, which was really interesting. I wish the whole book had been like that. Instead I mostly got annoyed at Campbell for being whiny. Like Parecomic, it was interesting and well-illustrated (and really quite short), but the main character was even more off-putting.

Comic Book Glut

RurouniKenshinRurouni Kenshin: Restoration
By Nobuhiro Watsuki

This was one of the free comic books that I picked up at Free Comic Book Day. It is a teaser for an AU (alternate universe) version of Rurouni Kenshin by the original author. It was fun, but mostly I enjoyed it because it reminded me how much I love this series. The actual teaser itself wasn’t all that great. It reintroduced the characters and held their first meeting at an arranged illegal fighting/gambling event, which just seemed like a bit of over-the-top, idiotic, self-indulgence.

While the reboot wasn’t so great, I definitely recommend the whole original series of Rurouni Kenshin, following Himura Kenshin, an amazing swordsman who, after a bloody past during the civil war, made an oath to never kill again but still manages to find and be found by a whole lot of trouble. The anime series based on the manga is also really good, and the recent live-action movie was excellent! (The animated movies, branded “Samurai X”, however, should be avoided.)

Anyway, seeing more of these characters written and drawn by the original author made me bounce around grinning with excitement. But the actual thing wasn’t all that good. It was a it of self-indulgent fluff, and while there’s nothing wrong with self-indulgent fluff, if you actually want to read a good AU take on this series, fandom (in the person of Vathara) has provided several better options, including the urban fantasy Blades of Blood and it’s sequel Witchy Woman, the Star Wars-crossover Shadows in Starlight, or the historical fantasy Gargoyles-crossover All I Need is a Miracle (which is a direct response to the awfulness of the animated movies).

So this series is awesome, and I highly recommend it, but this particular comic book is not the best example of it.


HawkeyeHawkeye: My Life as a Weapon
By Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Javier Pulido

I’ve never really followed any of the Hawkeye comic books, but I enjoyed The Avengers movie a lot and the characters cameo in the Thor movie made me grin. So a new stand-alone comic book about Hawkeye at my library caught my eye. It was a whole lot of fun.

It’s a look at what Hawkeye, aka Clint Barton, is doing when he’s not out being a superhero Avenger… which is mostly getting into other types of trouble and going out being a secret agent for SHIELD. But it also involves hanging out with his neighbors at a rooftop barbeque/potluck.

Anna pointed out that the stories in this collection are all a bit grim, which I was going to argue with, except, okay, yes, they are a bit grim. But it left me happy. I liked it. Even though it does kind of imply that one of the main requirements of being a superhero is the ability to take a beating.


the-book-of-five-rings-a-graphic-novelThe Book of Five Rings
By Miyamoto Musashi, Sean Michael Wilson, Chie Kutsuwada, and William Scott Wilson

I picked this book up because I have struggled to read The Book of Five Rings for a while now. It was highly recommended by a seventh-don black belt that I was training with. And yet, I found it super uninteresting and unhelpful. In some ways it read (to me) like The Art of War, except without the value. The graphic novel version makes up for some of that lack by being really well illustrated. And from everything I’ve read, Musashi himself was a fascinating character and I wouldn’t mind reading more about him, despite not caring for his writing.

Anyway, I actually highly recommend the graphic novel as a precursor to the plain unabridged text of The Book of Five Rings. It will give you a taste of the text while making subject more accessible. It’s readable in about an hour. Then, if you find the graphic novel appealing, maybe you should try reading the original text in its entirety.

Although, really, I mostly recommend Sun Tzu’s The Art of War instead.


Elektra_Lives_Again_00-1book_coverElektra Lives Again
By Frank Miller

I read a couple of Daredevil series before and really enjoyed them (Frank Miller’s Daredevil: The Man Without Fear is excellent, as is David Mack’s Daredevil: Vision Quest although it largely focuses on a different character), but over all the quality of Daredevil comics varies wildly, so I also read a couple of Daredevil series before that I didn’t enjoy at all. Elektra is Daredevil (aka Matt Murdock)’s tragic girlfriend, a zombie-ninja-assassin who has her own spin-off series, but I had never read any of her comics that were any good at all… until now. This collection really brought her to life (haha!) as a character, despite her being a zombie ninja assassin. I liked the writing and the illustrations and just the whole feel for it. Well done.

Plus, there are two more Elektra graphic novels by Frank Miller for me to look forward to.