Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Batman: White Knight, A review

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As a sucker for a creative comic/graphic novel, I seized on the opportunity to read Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight. Written on DC comics black label, the collection of eight issues (the hyperlink above takes you to the collection) explores an alternate universe in which Batman has official run amuck with the law to the point in which he is placed in prison. These facts are established early on, as the opening pages shed light on a Batman in chains and a Joker free from the scrutiny of the law. This fact is not a typo or misprint, and in this universe Joker has successfully become a public hero and Batman, the ying to his yang, has become the enemy of the public.

While the validity argument of Batman as a hero is old hat, this limited series digs far deeper than the classic good versus evil battle. Batman’s crew, ranging from the current version of Robin, to ex-partners gone AWOL, to Batgirl, all question the worth of the man. Is he good for the city, is his quest to take down Joker and his band of villains worth it? Can they, his current and once trusted hands, deal with not only Batman, but the mystique of former sidekicks no longer living in their world? Further, the pages explore the financial cost of flying state of the art military technology through a city, actions that basically destroy the metropolis on a nearly nightly basis and the truth at the heart of Mr. Freeze and Gotham City itself. Packaged neatly and acutely self-aware, Murpy authors a quick, mature journey through the heart of Batman lore.

Salman Rushdie’s Fury: A Book Review

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Salman Rushdie’s Fury follows the life of Malik Solanka. Solanka, estranged from his family, wanders New York in an angry haze, a haze that hinders his existence, clouds his judgment, and even leads the man to question if he is in fact a serial killer. A former college professor and an entertainment mogul ashamed of the very creations that established his wealth, Solanka existentially explores both his existence and modern life in general. Unlike many of Rushdie’s novels, Fury digs into the culture of all humanity in lieu of delving into post-colonial themes. He chips away at consumerism, entertainment, and the culture of now, remarkably in an age prior to the advent of social media.

As always Rushdie’s prose is dense, but the experience is meaningful, for as Solanka discovers who and what he is, who and what he hates, and how to deal with his internal fury, he exposes fundamental truths to all humanity, for all of us are driven by our fury.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Michael Punke’s The Revenant: A Book Review

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Michael Punke’s The Revenant is a gritty, no holds barred piece of historical fiction. Avoiding cumbersome slogs through governmental structures and wars, Punke instead explores the life and struggles of the fur trapper Hugh Glass on the frontier lines of America in the early 1800’s. Ripe with conflict, Glass miraculously survives a bear attack, killing the beast in the process. When the two men left to guard him abandon the body, Glass becomes hell-bent on revenge, a quest that fuels first his survival and subsequently his recovery.

In clean prose, Punke quickly establishes the central conflicts—namely the intrusion of the white man into native lands while battling the very lands themselves. This novel, a piece that flows by with ease, pulls at the reader and paints a rugged picture of a rugged time. Starting in medias res, the novel seems to end in a similar manner just when it needs to, just when we are aware of Glass’ fate, and that of the two men who left him to die.