All posts by ArtsyOwl

She/Her who enjoys fantasy, writing, DC Comics and more

Teen Titans (2003) vs The Judas Contract (2017): Teen Titans Most Divisive Arc and How the Animated Series Did it Better.

For anyone who is familiar with Teen Titans, this is a notorious arc. Acting as a sort of climax for Slade get revenge on the Titans for the death of his son Grant (who’s death was caused by trying and failing to mimic the experiment that gave Slade his enhanced abilities), The Judas Contract would go down as an iconic and controversial arc. This is an arc that has been adapted three times (three and three quarters if you want to include Jericho and Slade’s backstory in Titans and Terra having traitorous/evil tendencies in Teen Titans GO!), in Teen Titans (2003), Young Justice, and the 2017 animated movie of the same name.

I want to discuss the Teen Titans adaptation of this story that took place over the course of its second season as well as the 2017 animated movie. Both tell the same story, but one was geared more towards a younger demographic and the other rated more so for adults. However, I would argue that the 2003 adaptation was a much better than the 2017 movie. But before I do, allow me to take a moment to discuss what made The Judas Contract controversial as well as my general thoughts on the story and how these adaptations where different.

Why So Controversial?

The reason that this particular arc has garnered it’s questionable reputation was for the relationship between Terra and Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson. Mostly the fact that a grown man was having a relationship with a teenager. While I cannot speak in depth about the reasons behind it, I know that Wolfman and Pérez (rest in peace) did decide to go with it to shock readers. They did want to go with Terra as the traitor of the group, which I can understand. Some of the choices made with it, like the relationship and her appearance when with him, not so much.

My General Thoughts on The Judas Contract

While I certainly agree that the Terra and Slade relationship was questionable at best, to put it mildly, I don’t think it was a completely terrible story. And while I would consider Deathstroke as one of my favorite DC villains, Ra’s al Ghul being my all time favorite DC villain, I won’t defend the relationship between him and Terra. I don’t think it should be, and I assume Wolfman and Pérez wouldn’t either (even if they have said it was meant to be as shocking as possible). I definitely think it’s one of those arcs that has historical importance in some ways, even if it isn’t a good story.

What I liked about Judas Contract was the fact it was Nightwing’s debut, it expanded on Deathstroke’s backstory and family, and introduced one of my favorite comic book characters in the form of Joey “Jericho” Wilson. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that Nightwing is iconic and a fan favorite, who needed a proper introduction, even if it was here. And Jericho is an LGBTQ+ character (currently bisexual), so I wouldn’t want to scrap this story and potentially scrap what would become representation later on (the thought about making Jericho gay, but ultimately didn’t due to him potentially coming off as a stereotype). Because of that, I don’t think Judas Contract was a total loss.

Teen Titans vs The Judas Contract: What Were the Differences?

The biggest differences these adaptations had, was the target audience. Teen Titans was created for a much younger audience, as such, a lot of the more mature aspects of Terra and Slade’s relationship had to be censored. Instead of making her a traitor from the get go, she was conned into going to Slade for help controlling her powers and betrayed the Titans because of him manipulated her into becoming his apprentice.

The Judas Contract movie was more so geared towards an older audience, as it had a PG-13 rating. It tried to follow the basic structure of the comic, but in the animated universe where Damian was Robin, Dick was already established as Nightwing, and the Titans consisting of Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle (Jamie Reyes), Terra, and the aforementioned Nightwing and Robin. It also mixed in the rivalry between Robin and Deathstroke, which had been established in Son of Batman, which is one thing I was never really a fan of, but I’ll get to that later. The only thing it didn’t include from the comics was Grant, Slade’s eldest son who died, and it heavily reduced Jericho’s role.

What I Feel The Judas Contract (2017) Did Wrong

I’ve narrowed down what this movie did wrong to two main reasons: The Deathstroke and Damian rivalry and the reduced role that Jericho played. While I’m wasn’t expecting a frame for frame replication of the comic, and am perfectly okay with taking creative liberties as needed, these are just two reasons that I felt hindered the movie. The latter a bit more so since the movie could have gotten away with telling Jericho’s story in a PG-13 setting when compared to the 2003 animated series.

The Rivalry

Starting off with the Deathstroke and Damian rivalry, I was never really a big fan of it. Granted, it only really appeared in Son of Batman and Judas Contract, but it’s something I felt wasn’t needed and put a bit too much focus on Damian. An issue I feel isn’t one that only I had.

For some movies, I could understand that, like Son of Batman and the Justice League vs the Teen Titans. Others, not so much. This and Batman vs Robin especially. The latter, I feel like should have been focused on Dick more since it dealt with the Court of Owls, which Dick had familial ties with. There’s also the issue of Jason and Tim not being in these movies at all despite the first and fourth (fifth if you include Stephanie) Robin, but that is a completely different issue.

Basically, all the attention Damian was getting was kind of annoying. I know I thought it was, and I kind of doubt I was the only one given how much some people disliked Damian around this time. And maybe still do.

Circling back to the Judas Contract, the reason I found this rivalry’s return bothersome, was for a couple of reasons. Deathstroke feels better suited to be a Nightwing villain and by extent a Batman and this rivalry with Damian, a child (ten to fourteen year old), feels shameless and/or unnecessarily problematic.

Though Deathstroke did start off as a Teen Titans antagonist, with characters who were in there late teens early twenties, once the New Teen Titans came to an end, readers did get to see him make a gradual change to becoming a Nightwing antagonist. And while I wouldn’t necessarily say antagonizing a group of late teens and young adults is much better, the reason why he didn’t like them wasn’t because he felt like a kid showed him up. It was because he blamed the Titans for his son’s (Grant) death.

Shifting from a Nightwing antagonist to a Batman antagonist I can let go for the most part since becoming a Batman antagonist isn’t unfathomable and makes sense. I just think keeping him as a Nightwing rogue just would have been better for Nightwing with his solo picking up in the nineties and Deathstroke feels like he fits into Dick’s rogues gallery.

My issue is with making him an antagonist for Damian. I can see Deathstroke being at odds with the League of Assassins as well as having brief ties to them. However, if DC wanted to have him at odds with the League, I feel like it’s better for him to antagonize Bruce, Talia, or even Ra’s than Damian.

Ra’s because he is the head of the League, both literally and in name (yes, I know Slade killed him in Son of Batman, but given how often Ra’s comes back, I doubt having him and Slade at odds makes sense). Talia, because she is one of the higher members of the League, despite not being next in line due to Ra’s feeling he has to be succeeded by a man (he respects female fighters like Cass Cain, Shiva, and his daughters, so I wouldn’t say he’s sexist so much as he has a traditional way of succession). And Bruce because he is who Ra’s considers as a worthy successor, even if Bruce doesn’t accept the offer.

All three of these characters are adults. And while I wouldn’t say Damian can’t fight Deathstroke, having Deathstroke as an antagonist feels off when you consider Damian in these movies is a tween to early teen. It feels odd that a grown man would be fighting a character around that age because he felt like this tween showed him up and feels like defeating him would give Slade the honor of leading the League.

I also felt like having the two at odds in Judas Contract takes away from the main story. It’ll be going through the motions and then it gets to a scene where it wants to bring up this antagonistic rivalry because Deathstroke wants to get Damian taken care of first and reveal that Terra’s the traitor here.

Jericho

With that said, allow me to jump into Jericho. First by saying, while I don’t mind that they took a few liberties with why Deathstroke was working with Brother Blood and H.I.V.E. I don’t think nixing Jericho’s role should have been one of them. After all, this was Jericho’s origin just as much as it was Nightwing’s and is just as important to the story as Terra’s downfall.

If they didn’t want to throw Grant in the mix, or just forgot about Grant (forgetting about him isn’t hard since he was dead after the first arc of New Teen Titans and never really got the resurrection Jason did) that’s fine. Not being able to work in Slade losing his eye from his now ex-wife Adeline because Damian did, that can be altered as necessary. If they had to alter it so that maybe Slade was working for H.I.V.E. to protect Jericho, that is works.

Do you know what they did? Had Jericho make a brief cameo and never brought up again.

Without writing the entire plot of Judas Contract, I want to take a minute to discuss what made Jericho so important. From who he was related to, what happened to him that caused his parents to split, how important he was to Slade despite the separation, and why they could have used him in the movie.

Jericho was introduced in the Judas Contract after all of the Titans but Dick were captured by H.I.V.E. (Deathstroke assumed Dick wasn’t worth perusing and potentially dead after attacking him while Dick was in retirement). Adeline had managed to get into Titans Tower with her son with the intent of revealing what Deathstroke did, revealing Terra as the traitor, and allowing her son to help rescue the Titans with a now Nightwing Dick Grayson.

During this exchange, readers are introduced to Joseph “Joey” Wilson, Slade’s second son, also known as Jericho. He could not speak, after an accident involving his father (He does use ASL). It’s revealed that Joey was abducted by the target Slade’s client wanted killed. And rather than giving his captor the name of his client due to honoring the integrity of the contract, Slade decides that he can save his son. He does, but because his reaction time was a second slow, Joey’s throat was cut. And while the hospital was able to save his life, it would render him permanently mute (He does get it back when he is possesed by the souls of Azarath and when he is revived in the Geoff Johns Teen Titans run, but it has been permanent with every relaunch). Because of this, and the anger she had towards Slade, Adeline tries to kill him, only being able to shoot his eye out because his reflexes caught on in time.

As I previously mentioned, that could have been altered given Damian was the reason for it. The same thing happened in Arrow with Oliver shooting Slade’s eye out, but I wasn’t not a fan of how they approached Jericho in Arrow for other reasons. In Judas Contract, they could have said that Adeline tried to shoot him, but missed completely or left it at Adeline and Slade divorcing before Jericho left the hospital and Adeline, Joey, and Grant were briefly put into witness protection while they moved.

Jump to the present and Adeline states that she and Joey wish to help. Adeline gives Dick the information he needs while Joey joins Dick as Jericho to help rescue the Titans. It’s also here that readers get a taste for Joey’s powers, which involve him being able to possess and take control of others, as he possess Nightwing to prove it.

They go off to save the Titans, but do end up captured. When they are brought before Slade, Terra, and Brother Blood, Slade is disturbed. This is the first time in years that he had seen his son, who he still loved, and is troubled by the fact that his son as been put into a nostalgic situation. Terra starts to realize that Jericho is Slade’s son, having seen photos of Slade’s family previously.

Jericho, upon regaining consciousness, possesses his father to help free himself and Nightwing as well as working on freeing the Titans. It around this point that Terra, in a deteriorating mental state, starts falling apart and attacks Slade and the Titans. She would ultimately die with Slade surviving and the Titans getting a new member. There is also a brief moment where Jericho feels guilty for hurting his father, who he still very much loved, despite knowing that it had to be done.

Because of this Jericho was crucial to the story. And while Teen Titans 2003 didn’t include Jericho in their Judas Contract arc, it mostly has to do with it being a show geared towards children and wouldn’t have covered half of what the comic did in this arc. Jericho also appeared later in the show and, had they continued, maybe viewers would have gotten something about Jericho and Slade’s relationship.

The Judas Contract movie doesn’t have the same excuse. It was a PG-13 movie and considering that they slipped in the comic version of Slade and Terra’s relationship, they could have easily gone over Jericho’s story. Even if they had to bump it up to an R rating because of the violent nature of Jericho’s accident, it would still be possible.

Keeping Jericho’s appearance to a minimum in the movie undercuts important elements of the comic. I remember seeing a discussion mentioning how both Terra and Jericho were a Judas in the arc. Terra is the Judas of the Titans while Jericho was a Judas against his father. Note: If I happen to find the post I will link it. And again, with Judas Contract being Jericho’s debut, he should have had a bigger role in the movie.

Because of that, I don’t think Judas Contract should have limited Jericho. I feel like including him could have worked if they had to cut some of the Damian and Deathstroke scenes and/or had a longer run time. If run time was an issue than that’s fine, but if that were the case, I do feel like they could have reworked or tweaked the movie a little bit to make it work out.

The character of Joey “Jericho” Wilson shouldn’t have been cut due to how important the character was to the source material it was adapting. It also had the rating to tell Jericho’s story. So I don’t know why they wouldn’t have included it.

With all of that said, allow me to jump into the Teen Titans version of the Judas Contract and what it did better.

What I Feel Teen Titans (2003) Did Right

When it comes to the Teen Titans animated series there a a few things to remember. That is was geared to a younger audience and as such, certain aspects had to be changed. Of course it did have mature moments, like the entirety of the episode Haunted, but there were certain things that they had to censor for the targeted demographic. Some that sound kind of silly in hindsight, like going with Slade instead of Deathstroke (because Deathstroke wasn’t kid friendly), and some censoring that made sense, like the whole relationship between Terra and Slade. That said, Teen Titans 2003 has gone down as a classic Cartoon Network program. As well as one of my favorites. That doesn’t effect why I felt it did the Judas Contract better, as there are episodes and such I can critique like Things Change and Every Dog Has His Day, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my favorite CN shows then and now.

What I felt season two, the season that focused on Terra and the Judas Contract, did right comes down to three factors: How they approached the Terra and Slade dynamic, Terra’s arc being a refreshing take on the character, and how it approached loss and betrayal.

The Slade and Terra Dynamic

One thing I think I can say most people appreciated is how the dynamic between Slade and Terra was changed. Granted, I never knew about the creepy romantic side of it until I was in my teens, years after the show had ended. That said, knowing that now, I think it was for the better. Not only because it wasn’t appropriate for a younger audience, but because they could still approach Terra joining Slade without it.

Despite it being a “kid’s show”, it was able to approach this dynamic well. It went with the apprentice route from season 1, but with Slade conning Terra into believing he could help her control her powers. And while that might have helped, he also talked her into joining him without much trouble, unlike Robin, who he had to threaten to destroy his friends if he didn’t do as he said.

Slade basically gave her what she wanted while manipulating her into thinking the Titans were her enemies. And even though she agreed, Slade did have a contingency plan if she decided to defect. That being his ability to control her through her suit.

It wouldn’t last as she did regain control and sacrificed herself in order to save the Titans and kill Slade. Slade may have learned from season one, but he still failed to get an apprentice in season two.

Terra’s Character Arc

This is probably one of if not the only time Terra wasn’t pure evil. Unlike in New Teen Titans, the Judas Contract movie, Teen Titans GO!, and the comics (the Young Justice animated series also had a Judas Contract arc, but I haven’t caught up), Terra wasn’t inherently evil. She just wanted to find a home and family while also learning to control her powers.

Whether or not viewers liked Terra will depend on the viewer, and whether or not they like to ship them another issue entirely (shipping when someone pairs two characters romantically). However, this version of Terra is different than most, if not all of her other versions/adaptations. She wasn’t always a villain, looking for help wherever she could, and was redeemable.

What made this Terra unique, and possibly enjoyed more, was the fact that she could be redeemed. She wasn’t too far gone to realize she she messed up, even if it did take a while to realize that. She also wasn’t always evil. Of course, her actions while she was working with Slade aren’t excusable. However, she at least recognized that she was in the wrong and tried to make up for it however she could.

This came in the form of Terra sacrificed herself. It wasn’t because she had a vendetta, but because she wanted to protect the people who truly mattered (the Titans and Beast Boy especially) and reverse the damage she had caused.

Though she can still be critiqued for her decisions, I do thing that this version of Terra is one of the better ones. She was a character that wasn’t looking for chaos, but help, and unfortunately found it in the wrong place while in a state of naïveté. I’m sure that if they wanted to go with the ‘always evil’ route, they would have figured out a way to do it. I don’t think they would have wanted to for the sake of the show’s demographic and the fact she was a member of the Teen Titans, unlike Slade who was always the villain, but they could have. However, I think that by not doing it, Terra’s story was pretty effective.

Betrayal and Loss

It also addressed betrayal and loss in a fairly reasonable way. It almost feels like the five stages of grief with everyone approached her betrayal differently. Denial could be seen with how Beast Boy refuses to see that she is completely lost. Bargaining could be seen when Robin fights Terra, using his own time as Slade’s apprentice to try and reason with her. Anger was a common sentiment. This is seen the most when Raven fights Terra. Depression can be seen with Beast Boy after she defects in Betrayal. And acceptance can be seen after she thinks she destroys all of the Titans and it seems that even Beast Boy believes she isn’t realizing her situation and accepts that she has to be stopped.

As for loss, while viewers don’t get to see how the Titans are effected much. However, they do get to see how the Titans honor and grieve over her sacrifice. And when she returns in Things Change, Beast Boy tries to bring back Terra’s memories in the hope of having her become a Titans again, which unfortunately does not come to pass (which may or may not have been explored more in a sixth season if the show got one).

Those are three ways that I feel that Teen Titans 2003 did Judas Contract better.

What About Jericho?

For those of you who might be wondering why I’m not critiquing Teen Titans for including Jericho, the answer is pretty simple. Target audience and missed opportunities. Because of the target audience, Teen Titans did have to censor some aspects of what the show was based on. Sure, episodes like Haunted and the entirety of season 4’s Trigon arc were dark, but there were some things that were avoided.

Including the odd reason behind the whole Slade instead of Deathstroke name change, Teen Titans didn’t cover Grant’s death, which was a big reason why Slade was so dead set on destroying the Titans, and the sensitive nature of Starfire’s slavery and Blackfire’s role in it. It certainly wasn’t 4Kids levels of censorship, but I can understand why they would censor those aspects. With that in mind, I don’t see Teen Titans covering the nature of Jericho’s injury. At least to the same gravity as the comics did.

As far as missed opportunities, Jericho does show up towards the end of season 5. Why that late, I can only really speculate. I believe that was either because, it might have felt odd to throw a new character in at the same time as Terra, Slade’s son at that, or with the final showdown with the Brotherhood of Evil, he wasn’t the only new face to be with the Titans, and fit in with the Titans expanded team.

In the case of the former, I feel it is more excusable for Teen Titans as opposed to the Judas Contract movie since it was adapting the story over the course of a season and had to take some liberates due to what they had to cut out. Judas Contract 2017, on the other hand, was a straight forward adaptation with tweaks needed to fit into the DC Animated Movie Universe. Much like Hush and how Justice League War being an adaptation of the first few issues of New 52’s Justice League. So Judas Contract 2017 had the ability to stay closer to the original story as possible, unlike Teen Titans, which had to censor quite a few things in order for it to get to it’s target audience.

Plus, Teen Titans had a habit of having seasons focus on a specific character. There would be episodes that would focus on the team, but, the season would focus on a specific character for the season’s overarching story. Season one focused on Robin and his obsession with Slade, concluding with the Apprentice two parter. Season two focused on Terra. Three dealt a lot with Cyborg, H.I.V.E., and Brother Blood. Trigon was the center of season four’s conflict, which put Raven at the center stage. And five focused a lot on Beast Boy, his Doom Patrol roots, and the Brotherhood of Evil.

Which brings me to my next point. The nonexistent sixth season. While Teen Titans was ultimately cancelled after five seasons and given a movie to give it a proper conclusion, a number viewers would have liked a sixth season. This sixth season could have addressed how Terra came back to life and the creature they were fighting in the finale. I also like to think that season six could have addressed Jericho being Slade’s son.

Cancelling it did leave some questions and plot points unanswered. And while it briefly lived on in tie in comics titled Teen Titans Go! (not to be confused with the comedic reboot), but to my knowledge, they never addressed it there. Rose, Jericho’s sister, however, did show up in it, which might explain why she appears in the Teen Titans Go! series.

Conclusion

Teen Titans’ second season and The 2017 animated adaptation of The Judas Contract both told the same story. One had to be a bit more censored to fit a young demographic, while the other had the rating to explore elements that the other didn’t. Even so, how Teen Titans approached it was better. Because, while the 2017 Judas Contract was able to cover ground that Teen Titans couldn’t, focusing time on the Deathstroke and Damian rivalry and not including Jericho hindered it. More so than Teen Titans, which didn’t bring up the character until later for whatever reason the showrunners had. Teen Titans, though censored, was able to tell the Judas Contract story in a way that felt compelling and it was a refreshing take on Terra.

I know turn it over to you. What are your thoughts on the Judas Contract story? Did you like the 2017 adaptation? Why or why not? What were your thoughts on Teen Titans adaptation in season two? What are your thoughts on Terra, in general and/or in either adaptation?

June in Review: LGBTQ+ Books

With June coming to a close, I thought I would go over books that I have read this month.  If you have read my post at the beginning of the month, which you can find here: https://the-little-library.org/2022/06/06/recommended-reads-for-pride-month/ you’ll know that I recommended some LGBTQ+ centered books.  In it, I mentioned how every so often I will pick a theme for what I will read in a particular month.  This gives me an opportunity to try new books and possibly find new books that I might just enjoy.  This June, I decided to do a Pride Month theme.  I had a few books lined up already that either involved LGBTQ+ characters or themes or was written by someone in the LGBTQ+ community, it lined up perfectly.

I read thirteen books and graphic novels this month that had LGBTQ+ themes and characters.  These are the ones I would recommend. And while I will try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, I will include a little Minor Spoilers warning just in case.

From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper

I had started this book towards the end of May and at the beginning of June.  I also included this book on my recommendation list since it was part of a series and I had already read the first book.  It only seemed fair to include it there because of that.  But now that I have finished it, I am going to do a separate mini review and recommendation.  As well as discuss a theory I had and whether or not it was true.

To start off, I really enjoyed this story.  I enjoyed Isidora and the story that this novel had.  I also enjoyed the enemies to lovers take that this story took.  It took it’s time and didn’t feel like it rushed into a romance between Rowan and Isidora.  It also approached the rivaling families and learning more about the other through the two leads well. 

If I had to critique anything about it, it would probably be a few uninteresting scenes and I guess I found the miscommunication around Isidora and Rowan when they first kissed and such a tad annoying.

Now in my recommendation, I theorized why From Bad to Cursed could have been included in the LGBT sub-tag/category of the Romance tag.  In it I stated how it was possibly Rowan could have been trans, thinking that that could have been what Isidora learned about Rowan.  He could have also been bi, which was a speculation I had after making the post and as I was reading the first quarter or so of the book.  With out spoiling really much, Rowan isn’t either.  So I will assume that people were tagging it with LGBT because other characters in the story are.

Either way, I did enjoy this book.  Between the two, I might like Payback’s a Witch a bit more, but I did like this book.

Miss Memory Lane by Colton Haynes

I was introduced to Colton Haynes through his portrayal of Roy Harper on CW’s Arrow.  Roy was one of my favorite characters from the show, if only a little underutilized/underdeveloped at times. Roy Harper is also one of my favorite DC characters, and I thought Colton did really well.

This autobiography caught my eye after a coworker and friend of mine did an ARC review for it.  Based on the synopsis on the inside cover, I thought it would be an interesting and deep self reflection.  It was and then some.  I knew some of the topics discussed might not have been easy to talk about, however, this book held no punches.  And that, is something I found fascinating and honest.  It was well written and Colton didn’t hold any punches.

It does touch some sensitive topic, so if you do plan on reading this, which I would recommend,  I do want to give readers that forewarning.  It’s a really good memoir and is worth a read.

Dana Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake

Working at a library has its perks.  Every now and then you may find a book returned or circulating that catches your eye.  That’s kind of the case with this book.  While that cover and title certainly grabbed my curiosity, it was the description on the back cover that sparked my interest.  Similar to From Bad to Cursed this appears to be part of a planned trilogy.  But unlike From Bad to Cursed this is the first book.

Dana Green Doesn’t Care is a fun read if your looking for a not so traditional spin on the wedding planning goes wild trope.  The second book Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail is set to release in November 2022 and book three Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date has an expected publication of some time next year.

I did enjoy this book for the most part. I enjoyed the chemistry between Claire and Delilah as well as how their relationship progressed and it was a fun spin on the wedding rom com. I also like how the reason for them wanting to split Astrid and her fiancé up wasn’t exactly malicious and them not liking him ultimately having some backing as they would later find out. How they went about it could have been different, but it wasn’t like they were out to get Astrid because of Delilah’s rocky relationship with her or feeling like marriage was going to take her away from her friends.

My only critique comes in the form of how it feels a bit Hallmark-like or cliché with the whole Astrid and Delilah making a bet about the latter getting with Claire. Maybe it was just me, but especially during the climax and resolution, it did feel a little formulaic/familiar. Not that I didn’t think Claire and Delilah shouldn’t get together, because they did have great chemistry. It just felt a little odd to me.

A Quick and Easy Guide to Asexuality by Molly Muldoon and Will Hernandez

As the title suggests, this is a quick and easy guide to asexuality. I found myself reading a few nonfiction books this month and this was a fun and quick read. It’s a graphic novel and I found it to be informative in a simple and knowledgeable way. It was the shortest book I read for Pride Month, clocking in at 72 pages, and is a part of a five book series. The other books in this series include A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns, A Quick and Easy Guide to Consent, A Quick and Easy Guide to Sex and Disability, and A Quick and Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities.

A Quick and Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities by Mady G and J.R. Zuckerberg

Speaking of other books in the series, I did read two other books in the series. The third, I will get into in a moment, but I thought I would discuss this one first. Much like A Quick and Easy Guide to Asexuality I found this to be a fun and informed read. It does set it up in a way that is simple and easy to understand.

A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson

I’ll most likely read the other two books in the series, however, I wasn’t sure if I would get A Quick and Easy Guide to Sex and Disability in time since I had to have it shipped from another library than the two I work at, and it could take a while, and A Quick and Easy Guide to Consent will depend on whether or not it gets to me in time.

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Having seen this series get a lot of traction at the library, I was curious and decided to check it out. This is a Young Adult/Teen graphic novel series that currently has four volumes out with a fifth on the way and a few tie ins including a Detroit Becomes Human styled what if and a mini comic. As well as a coloring book.

I’m caught up, and I have to say that I am really enjoying it. Nick and Charlie feel relatable, with each having struggles that readers can relate to. The art is nice and is a coming of age that isn’t afraid to shy away from serious topics that teens may find themselves relating to.

This series got a Netflix adaptation back in April of this year. I really enjoyed it for it being a sweet and realistic coming of age that deals with everyday drama of high-school while being LGBTQ+.

Batman Urban Legends

Batman Urban Legends is a series that has been on my reading list since I heard about what this issue confirmed. I’ll admit my motivation to read DC has been at a bit of a lull. With DC Rebirth, the overarching DC run that picked up after the New 52, ending and me feeling a bit burnt out from Nightwing’s Joker War tie-in and not knowing what to pick up next, I took a break from DC Comics. This is also around the time I started picking up the X-Men comics.

As I mentioned, Batman Urban Legends has been on my reading list for a while, however, it wasn’t until recently that I got motivated to jump into it. That and Sandman are currently on my list of DC reads, with the latter being recommended to me by a friend and so that I can prepare for the Netflix adaptation coming out in August. I do own Batman Urban Legends and after reading it, I thought it was enjoyable. The issue with Tim coming out as bi being the reason I wanted to check it out.

I currently only have the first volume, which cover stories centering around Red Hood and Grifter separately. So while this volume might not have had the issues I was looking for, I would still recommend it and I will be getting volume two as soon as possible. That is where Tim comes out as bisexual and asks his friend (now boyfriend) Bernard out on a date. Overall, I would say that I am enjoying this series so far and would recommend it.

Conclusion

With some fiction and nonfiction, I hope I was able to help you find a book worth reading. If not, I hope you enjoyed this recommendation.

I’ll leave you with a few questions. Did you do any reading? If so, what? What are LGBTQ+ books you’ve read and would recommend?

Nightcrawler: Where it Started, Why I Like Him, and Comics I Own and Have Read

It might go without saying, but Nightcrawler is my favorite Marvel character.  In my experience, I will find that one character that I really get invested in and want to read up on.  When it comes to DC, that comes in the form of Tim Drake (Red Robin/Robin III), Roy Harper (Speedy/Arsenal), Joey Wilson (Jericho), and Ra’s al Ghul.  Of course, I enjoy other characters from both Marvel and DC (ex. Wolverine, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, Red Hood (Jason Todd), and Starfire), but there will usually be one or two characters that I will always return to.

I thought I would go over where my interest for Nightcrawler began, why I like him, and X-Men comics that I own, alongside Nightcrawler centered stories.

A Little Bit of Background on My Relationship with Marvel and DC

Before I jump right in, I feel like I should preface this stating how I was mostly a DC viewer growing up.  A number of my favorite shows as a kid included Static Shock, Teen Titans, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Batman Beyond.  I did watch Marvel shows like Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and snippets of X-Men Evolution, enjoyed the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, as well as liking the first 2000’s Fantastic Four.  I would certainly say I was more of a DC fan as a kids. 

That kind of continued when I finally got into comics during the rise of DC’s Rebirth comic line after spending years as a slightly more avid manga reader.  I started reading up on characters I liked and branched out and found new characters and series to enjoy.  Recently, I feel like I’ve hit a wall with what to read next with DC.  With Rebirth ending and not really knowing what to jump into next, I was at a bit of a stalemate.  During this time is when I got interested in checking out Marvel content.  More specifically Nightcrawler/X-Men.  I cannot pinpoint exactly when or why it started, but it was in the last few months.

Currently, I’ve read through a good chunk of the original X-Men run, read through the 2003 run of Wolverine, a few smaller X-Men runs like X-Men Gold, X-Men Red, and All New X-Men, and am planning to jump into Sandman (DC/Gaiman) and getting into the X-Men run starting with House of X.  

The Beginning: Where it Began

With that little bit of history out of the way, allow me to get into Nightcrawler.  I guess it would have started with X-Men Evolution.  I didn’t watch it much when I was younger, but when I did catch it, I found myself liking Kurt.  It probably had to do with how laid back he was and him being the more comedic of the gang (that probably contributed to why I liked TMNT 2003’s Michelangelo too).  One episode of X-Men Evolution I remember watching was Middleverse, the season one episode where Kurt accidently ends up in another dimension of sorts and meets Forge.  It wasn’t the only X-Men media I had watched over the years, as I also remember seeing Wolverine 2013, First Class, and was overall aware of the X-Men movies.  Though, I will admit that I never got around to all of it back then.  

Jump to the latter half of 2021.  I was trying to find more graphic novels to read, but I was at a bit of a stalemate.   I fell into a bit of a DC slump.  Rebirth was ending and The Joker War event, mainly what they did with the Nightwing portion, I think burnt me out a little.  Nothing seemed to be grasping my interest except for Batman Urban Legends, which is where Tim Drake came out as bisexual.  Side note: I actually purchased a hard copy of Batman Urban Legends not too long ago. 

It would be around this time that I would start getting into Nightcrawler.  And it involved a crossover in a DC community I am apart of.  It’s there that this interest in Kurt returned.  It would respawned an interest in Nightcrawler and be what lead to my getting into X-Men as a whole.

Then came the movies, which I am getting around to binging.  I think the only reason I hadn’t was because of how the timeline diverged after First Class and/or Days of Future Past, and for whatever reason that confused me at first.  That and the poor reception of The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Dark Phoenix.  In hindsight, the timeline of the movies isn’t all that complicated, and I’m still going to watch all of movies, weaker ones included.  The movies also had some stellar casting choices.  Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X, Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto, and Hugh Jackman were all iconic.  A good chunk of the cast was also good.  For instance, people really seem to enjoy Evan Peters’ Peter (Pietro) Maximoff, myself included. 

And of course, there’s Kurt Wagner.  Portrayed by Alan Cummings in X2 and Kodi Smit-McPhee in Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix, I would say both did well with the character.  I kind of like Kodi Smit-McPhee’s a little better, but Alan Cummings did good too.  I only wish either appearance confirmed Nightcrawler’s relation with Mystique, his mother.  Heck, they could have confirmed both of Nightcrawler’s parents in Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix since Azazel, his father, appeared in First Class (and later confirmed dead) and Mystique was present since First Class.

That’s were it all began.  An interest in Nightcrawler’s X-Men Evolution would go dormant until a crossover event reignited by interest in the character.  And his portrayals in the movies have caught my interest.  

The Character: Why I Like Him

Why do I like Nightcrawler?  There’s a lot to like about him, I think.  In terms of design, he looks pretty cool.  His abilities are neat and his weaknesses make sense.  For me, it comes down to personality, backstory, and what he represents.

In terms of personality, he’s light-hearted and optimistic.  He can display moments of anger, sorrow, and fear, but he is usually seen as pretty positive, all things considered.  And with Logan being his best friend, it’s the perfect balance to his more stern and pessimistic world view.  He’s flirty, but not in a problematic or annoying kind of way.  In some ways, he could be seen as a hopeful outlook for the future, while also not being blind to the problems in the world.  

His backstory.  There is a lot that went wrong in his life, despite what his more positive outlook might suggest.  His mother abandoned him as a baby.  The circus that he was raised in drugged and used him.  Said circus was also going to sell him to be a road side attraction if not for Margali Szardos, his adopted mother, freeing him.  And because of a promise he made, Kurt had to kill his adopted brother when he lost his mind and killed a bunch of people, not that the mob knew.

I think his past is something that helps show how despite how terrible things can be, people can still come out of it on top.  It might not be easy, but it is possible.  Life didn’t give Nightcrawler much peace prior to joining the X-Men.  Margali and her biological children certainly love him like family, but the circus they were apart of wanted to exploit him.  And the reason Charles found him being pursued was because the mob chasing him thought he killed Stefan Szardos and the missing people, when in actuality, Stefan killed the missing people and Kurt only killed Stefan out of self-defense and a promise he made to Stefan, where if Stefan went off the deep end, Kurt would stop him.  Yet, he never became cruel later in life, rather, he was a better person than those who wronged him.

I also kind of like how he got the last name Wagner.  At least originally.  I’m not sure if Marvel ever retconned the whole thing where Mystique was married to Baron Christian Wagner and had an affair with Azazel, which later lead to Kurt’s conception, and that being where Kurt got his last name despite not being the baron’s biological son.  Originally, Kurt took on the last name Wagner because of a priest to housed him after Margali released him and he was being pursued.  Father Wagner gave Kurt a place to stay, despite Kurt’s “demonic” appearance.  This is also where Kurt’s teleporting would come into effect as he would use it when Herr Getmann’s men came for him.  He did end up leaving the church, but Kurt didn’t forget the priest’s kindness, taking on the last name Wagner in his honor.  

As for what Kurt represents, I feel he fits into a few different categories.  I’ve mentioned how he represents good people rising up from bad situations, which is one thing he can represent.  Something else he represents is how people shouldn’t judge things based on how they appear.  The old Never Judge a Book by It’s Cover saying if you will.  He might look evil/demonic, but is one of the most kind hearted and saintly people out there.  That’s something that also makes his friendship with Logan great and so symbolic.  Both of them are considered monsters in some way, externally (Kurt) or internally (Logan).  Yet, both are also human.  Logan has gone onto say how Kurt is one of the most saintly guys he’s met, and Kurt, despite knowing how gruesome his job can be, sees the good in Logan and knows that he’s not an animal or evil.

One other thing I feel Kurt represents, and this could just be me, is irony.  He’s a “demon” yet he’s Catholic.  He’s morally good, while his parents would be considered morally bad (though Mystique could be morally grey given she isn’t purely evil and has helped her children).  Both of which I feel perfectly define what irony is.  

Reading Between the Lines: Comics I’ve Read and Comics I Own

I own a handful of X-Men comics.  Some solo series, some with the team.  Nightcrawler has a few solo series: Age of X-Men: The Amazing Nightcrawler, X-Men Icons: Nightcrawler, a four issue mini series, and two twelve solo series in 2003 and 2014.  Of his solo pieces, I own the 2003 and 2014.  I haven’t started them yet, but I have skimmed through both. 

As far as X-Men comics with Nightcrawler as a central character, I’ve read and own several.  Of course there is the X-Men run in the 70’s, starting with Giant Sized X-Men #1 by Chris Claremont.  That run, which does go on for several years, is recommended by quite a few people who want to start X-Men comics.  It’s a classic and a good place for a start.  I don’t own any of the Claremont run, but I do have a list of issues that I’d like to purchase one day.  A few other series I’ve read through in their entirety include X-Men Gold, Extraordinary X-Men.  I’ve read some of Wolverine’s 2003 run, some of Wolverine’s first solo, Second Coming, the story where Nightcrawler dies, and one volume of Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men.  Specifically the Trial of Juggernaut volume since it had the notoriously bad story, The Draco, which I only read after I learned about Kurt’s father through the First Class movie and his appearance in Amazing X-Men volume one (the one where Nightcrawler is brought back to life).

I like Azazel, and don’t mind him as Kurt’s father.  It’s a bit of an unpopular opinion, but that’s okay.  I was going to read The Draco either way because I wanted to see how bad it was.  But since I liked Azazel in his other appearances, The Draco didn’t tarnish it much, outside of thinking that the story could have been a whole lot better.

A few other comics I own, but have yet to start, include House of M, Inferno, Giant-Sized X-Men volume #1 (2020), Way of X, X-Men (2020) volume one, Amazing X-Men volume 1 The Quest for Nightcrawler, The Hellfire Gala, Wolverine (2020) volumes 1-3, The Death of Wolverine, The Return of Wolverine, Wolverine: Weapon X the Gallery Edition, and Wolverine the Deluxe Edition.  I might be missing one or two, but those are the ones I know I own.  Nightcrawler also appears in a number of them.

I would certainly say that my collection is very Nightcrawler and Wolverine involved.  Yes, the broader X-Men comics do have the rest of the X-Men, but if there was a pattern, that would be it.  Which is by no means a problem.  Everyone reads comics a bit differently.  I will certainly read a series if it interests me, but I also like reading comics with my favorite characters.  It’s a reader by reader basis.

While I would recommend all of these, if you are looking for Nightcrawler reads, I would recommend: Claremont’s run starting with Giant-Sized X-Men #1, Nightcrawler (2003), Wolverine by Greg Rucka #6, for both a great story with Logan and Kurt and a gem of a censor passing cover, Second Coming, Amazing X-Men, Nightcrawler (2014), House of M, X-Men Gold, X-Men (2020), Giant-Sized X-Men (2020), Return of Wolverine, Way of X, and Inferno.  There are more out there, I am still working my way through X-Men comics. 

And as for movies, I’d recommend X2, X-Men Apocalypse, and X-Men Dark Phoenix.  I know the last one is considered more of a miss, just like the Dark Phoenix adaptation before it (The Last Stand), but thought I would include it.

BAMF: The Conclusion

Though not X-Men’s most popular member, Nightcrawler is one that is generally liked.  For me, a combination of his personality, backstory, adaptations, and what he symbolically represents is what I enjoy.  I also really enjoy his friendship with Logan.  I hope you enjoyed this little deep dive into why I like Kurt Wagner.  

Now I leave you with the following.  What are your thoughts on Nightcrawler?  What are your favorite adaptations of Nightcrawler?  Favorite stories?  Who’s your favorite X-Men member?


Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: A Review

In honor of Kenobi’s release and May being dubbed Star Wars Month, I wanted to do a review of the movies. Starting off with the first chronologically, but fourth released, The Phantom Menace. While not the most popular of the Prequel Trilogy, heck, not even the most popular in the franchise, The Phantom Menace is one movie that can be looked back on with either fondness and/or a keen eye for constructive criticism.

Funnily enough, this is my second favorite of the Prequel Trilogy. It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure these days, as I can see how it is a flawed movie, but there was enough for me to enjoy it a bit more than the next installment (more on that movie later). But considering I was only six when The Phantom Menace came out, I am a bit nostalgic for the Prequel Trilogy.

The Phantom Flaws

Starting off with the flaws feels like a perfect start. Because out of the three prequel movies, this one probably has the most. In my experience I was able to narrow it down to a few factors: the effects, some of the designs, dialogue, and the political aspects of it.

Starting off with the more visually glaring aspect, are the designs for some of the characters. Now, some viewers will mention how certain characters and races, mainly the Neimoidians, Watto, and Jar Jar and the Gungans.

Six year old me didn’t know that these characters were racial caricatures. Even less so with Watto or the Neimoidians. It wasn’t until years later, and the rise of the internet, that I found out that they were. Whether not it was intentional, I could not tell you. I’m not defending it either way, I just haven’t found anything outright confirming if Lucasfilm and George Lucas made an intentional choice with it at this time. If there was one positive to come from the backlash it’s that Watto only had a brief appearance in Attack of the Clones while the Toydarian species, the Niemoidians, and the Gungans weren’t as prevalent, save for a few episodes of The Clone Wars and having very little screen time in the following Prequel movies. Though in the case of the Gungans, Jar Jar’s lack of screen time could have also been due to him missing the mark as the comic relief in The Phantom Menace.

Politics have been a part of Star Wars in some fashion. Whether it be in the form of the Rebellion vs the Empire or the governing system of certain planets. That said, the political aspect of Star Wars, at least in the original trilogy, wasn’t a huge focal point. It existed, but the focus was more on the fight between good and evil, battles in space, and the mysticism of the Force.

One of the bigger criticisms of The Phantom Menace, and by extent the prequel trilogy, is the attentiveness to the political side. It does feel a bit boring at times admittedly. Because while the political side could help build and diversify the planets (ex. Tatooine having a more Hutt dominated practically lawless state, not Republic abiding system, Ewoks having a more tribe based system with a chief, and Lothal having an Empire supporting leaders) in theory, the execution comes off as dull and prolonged. While a story doesn’t need constant action to keep intrigue, and political aspects not being inherently bad, there is a fine line between engaging and boring. The Phantom Menace falls into the latter as a lot of the communication and debate comes off as dull. Much like the previously mentioned characters, the political aspect is a bit more sparse, allowing it to have moments where it’s important and the not as engaging side being discussed in a conversation or two.

Speaking of dialogue, it is hit or miss. I’m not blaming the actors, some of the delivery does fall flat. A few examples can include how Anakin calls Padme an angel or how he says he’s a person and his name is Anakin. I don’t mean to jab at Jake Lloyd, as he was only ten years old, but those are examples of awkward dialogue.

And it’s not just a few lines from Anakin that seem to feel awkward. Jar Jar, who was supposed to be the comic relief of the movie, doesn’t have a lot of dialogue or actions that made me laugh. Granted, he does have less humor based dialogue, but I don’t recall his humored lines sticking. Not even when I was younger. For example, the ‘yousa point well seen’ quote when Obi Wan mentions what’ll happen to them if Jar Jar doesn’t take them to the Gungan city. While it is meant to be funny, I don’t think I so much as chuckled at it.

This is probably the least bothersome flaw, mostly because of the year it was released. With CGI being in its infancy when The Phantom Menace came out, it was going to age in some way. Whether something aged good or bad depends.

In the case of The Phantom Menace, while the practical effects work really well with some of the special effects, it has shown its age. On the one hand, while the more alien characters look passible enough, considering how far CGI has come, they aren’t as refined as some (though given what some of the special editions did, quite a bit of the CGI there doesn’t blend well). Things like the Trade Federation ships might be another point of how the CGI were a bit lack luster. All in all, the CGI hasn’t aged all that well.

In conclusion, it’s easy to see why this is considered one of the worst Star Wars films. And despite it being a guilty pleasure of mine, I do see its flaws. How certain characters look is questionable to say the least and the CGI has shown its age. The politics, while having the potential to have an air of intrigue, felt prolonged and dull. And certain dialogue didn’t stick the landing. With my flaws and critiques laid out, allow me to get into what I think this movie did well.

The Positive Menace

If there are a few things I can give The Phantom Menace credit for, it’s for casting, music, Darth Maul, and action. All of these are areas that, for the most part were well done. And these are reasons I enjoy it. One a little more than the rest.

When it comes to casting, there was a lot of good choices in this movie. Liam Neeson as Qui Gon, Natalie Portman as Padmé, Kiera Knightly as Padme’s decoy Sabé, and Samuel L Jackson, though maybe not his best, would become a staple in the series. We also have the return of Frank Oz as R2D2 and Yoda, Anthony Daniels as C3PO, and Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine/Sidious.

And while characters like young Anakin, the Gungans, and Jar Jar may be considered weak, I can appreciate that the actors did the best they could with the dialogue they were given. Basically, separating the dialogue and writing of the weaker characters, I would say that the actors themselves were fine.

That said, Ewan McGregor was (and is) one of the best casting choices out of the returning actors. The Prequel Trilogy is as much Anakin’s story as it is Obi Wan’s, and as such, we get to see how both of these characters grow. Ewan is one of the overarching positives that the Prequel Trilogy has. SO much so that Ewan will be returning to reprise the role in the Disney+ Obi Wan Kenobi mini series.

If there is one character that The Phantom Menace is praised for, it’s Darth Maul. For an antagonist who had very few scenes and only three lines of dialogue, he became one of the prequel trilogy’s popular characters. He looked cool, sounded cool, and had a double bladed lightsaber. As well as his fight with Qui Gon and Obi Wan being one of the best scenes in the movie.

People wanted more of him, his short screen time being a possible critique. As a result, he did get several books and comics as well as being brought back from the dead in the 2008 Clone Wars animated series. And when Disney acquired Star Wars, he got a few more comics and appearances in Rebels and Solo in their canon (with the books and comics released prior to the acquisition being labeled as Legends). For a character who only had minutes of screen time, he would become one of the most refined and developed characters from the Prequel Era.

The action in the movie is one of, if not it’s best, feature. It doesn’t have a lot, but that’s okay. It didn’t feel overly congested with action.

But that’s not to say that a little more action wouldn’t have made it better. Had it toned down the political aspect and added a little more action, there could have been a bit more of a balance. What we got though, was well choreographed and paced well.

And of course where there’s Star Wars, there is John Williams. As always, his score is something wonderfully crafted.

Each setting and scene had just the right tone and it all fit into the story. Going back to the Maul fight and the climax, Duel of the Fates was this movies Imperial March. While Imperial March is the most iconic piece from Star Wars, barring maybe the title theme and Binary Sunset, Duel of the Fates is no less iconic. So much so that it makes a subtle return in one particular seen in Rebels’ season 2 finale and in some ways could be seen as Maul’s theme. Just like Imperial March is with Darth Vader.

So despite the faults of The Phantom Menace, there are some good aspects in the movie. Aspects that could have needed more time or worked out well with the spectacles provided. One other positive this movie has, that I feel I should mention, is the pod racing scene. It was a spectacle in its own right and spawned an N64 racing game.

Conclusion

I would probably give this movie a five out of ten. It may be my guilty pleasure and what created my favorite Sith (Maul), but it does have a lot of flaws thanks to age and certain decisions made. Nostalgia can only go so far after all. However, I do think it’s enjoyable in its own right. If not as a good movie, than as a guilty pleasure or an it’s so bad it’s good kind of way.

What are your thoughts on The Phantom Menace? Did you enjoy it or would you consider it a bottom tier Star Wars film? Guilty pleasure and/or meme creator, perhaps? What are things you think this movie did right? And what do you think it could have done better?

When Genres Compel Me: Five Books I Enjoyed From Genres I Don’t Normally Read

Has you ever read a book in a genre you don’t normally read that you found yourself enjoying? With so many genres out there, no one is going to like all of them. And sometimes, the genres we do enjoy may shift over the years.

Personally, I tend to enjoy fantasy, historical fiction, and general fiction with the occasional science fiction and nonfiction read. Fantasy has been a staple for me, having read and watched it since childhood. Historical fiction is a genre that I read when I find an interesting synopsis, though I typically will avoid World War 2 since I was never really a fan of the older WWII movies as a kid. Fiction, in my opinion, is a simple one that can’t go too wrong.

Genres I typically don’t read because they never really catch my eye include, westerns, romance, mystery/thriller, the aforementioned World War 2 historical fiction, and horror. All of these are good genres I’m sure, just not my cup of tea. And if you enjoy them, that’s great. Just because I don’t enjoy it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

With that said, I’d be remiss if I said I haven’t found at least one book in a genre I don’t particularly fancy. In fact, I have found a few books from genres I don’t normally read that I actually enjoyed.

The Power of the Dog

By Thomas Savage

Western

This is probably one of the most recent examples of a book that I found interest in from a genre I don’t normally read. Westerns have never really been my thing. I think I can pinpoint that to me not really liking John Wayne movies as a kid. I can understand why people like westerns (and John Wayne movies), but I do believe that my disinterest in John Wayne movies, at least in part, resulted in a disinterest in westerns as a whole.

However, a few months ago, while browsing social media, a person I follow was kind of discussing the Netflix adaptation of Thomas Savage’s The Power of the Dog. In it, she was inquiring about a particular scene, specifically a scene towards the end of the movie, and how much one of the characters might have known about the situation. It got me curious and I am thankful that she didn’t spoil it for me in the comments.

So I checked it out. The movie first and then the book. And let me just say, I really enjoyed it. It’s not a typical western, a.k.a. what you might picture when you hear western. Rather, a western that explored things like appearances not always being as they seem, the cruelty of one man, and the implications of being a closeted gay man in the 1920’s.

It’s a book that I can enjoy as I really appreciated how the author broke down the characters and how you shouldn’t judge people based on what you see. I would recommend giving it a read and/or a watch, though I know it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

The Star and the Shamrock Series

By Jean Grainger

World War 2

Here’s my World War 2 series. Much like westerns, I think I was never really a big fan of them because of John Wayne movies, and war movies in general not being my favorite in general. The history of wars is important, no doubt about it. However, when it comes to historical fiction, books centering around war don’t typically catch my interest.

The reason I picked this one up was because it sounded interesting and I have a bit of a soft spot for books involving Ireland, Irish culture, Irish history, and so on. When Liesl and Erich Bannon, the children of a Jewish German woman, are sent to live with family via one of the last Kindertransport, they must learn to get used to their new lives. Elizabeth, their aunt, does whatever she can to keep them safe. Though it’s not as peaceful as they would have hoped. Meanwhile, their mother stays behind trying to do what she can to survive.

As the series progresses, we get to see how the family grows. How they may one be reunited with their mother. As well as what Liesl and Eric’s lives are like years after the war ends.

The series is a bit of a quick read with there only being four books and roughly two hundred to two hundred and sixty or so pages per book. While it might not be as action packed as some World War 2 centered books, this is a series that is a nice read.

Sherlock Holmes

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Mystery

Mysteries, fiction, and romance seem to be the big three when it comes to sections. Especially at libraries, which I can confirm given I work at two. While fantasy and science fiction may be lumped together (not always, but I’ve seen it). If I had to rank fiction, mystery and romance in which I would be most likely to read, it would probably be fiction than mystery than romance. I can say that I’ve tried more mysteries than I have romances, but even so, it’s not a genre that I actively enjoy. Finding the right mystery is part of the problem. The overabundance of James Patterson releases is another.

Sherlock Holmes seems to be the one I am drawn to the most. After checking out the third season of BBC’s Sherlock (yes, I watched it out of order, but it couldn’t be helped), I got hooked. So I ended up checking out the all in one book as well as some of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes DVDs (which I would recommend) and enjoyed every bit of it. I also plan to add the complete collection to my leather bound classics collection because I’d rather have the whole series together instead of the individual volumes (Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, His Last Bow, and The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes).

I may not read a lot of mysteries but this is one I would go back and read. Sherlock Holmes is a classic and I would recommend it.

Atlas of the Heart

Brené Brown

Self-Help

Nonfiction is a genre that I’ll occasionally read. Typically about animals, biographies/autobiographies, psychology and mental health, entertainment, and writing. Self-Help books aren’t normally on my radar for no other reason than none appealing to me. Along came Brené Brown’s book “Atlas of the Heart” and after reading the synopsis, I was curious.

It’s a book that I personally enjoyed. It’s set up in a way that didn’t seem condescending or overly positive and provides insight from the author. I enjoyed how it breaks down several emotions and seeing the author’s perspective on them. I ended up purchasing the book after finding it in a shop while at the airport since it was a book that I wanted to ad to my collection.

It’s a book that I personally enjoyed. It’s set up in a way that didn’t seem condescending or overly positive and provides insight from the author. I enjoyed how it breaks down several emotions and seeing the author’s perspective on them. I ended up purchasing the book after finding it in a shop while at the airport since it was a book that I wanted to ad to my collection.

Dracula

By Bram Stoker

Horror

This might be cheating a little since I haven’t started Dracula yet, but it is on my To Read list and I own the leather bound edition. However, I wouldn’t say horror is a genre I really read. Not because I don’t enjoy horror, but because I’d rather watch horror instead of reading horror.

I will admit I was that kid who hated horror as a kid because I never liked “scary” movies. Chucky freaked me out and I don’t recall liking Jurassic Park or Jaws for how gruesome they were. Though looking back, they aren’t that gruesome on a technical level, but kid me perceived it as such.

Since then, I’ve grown to enjoy horror and will watch the occasional horror flick as they play on tv or through streaming services. Especially around Halloween. So the enjoyment of horror isn’t lost on me.

But watching it is different than reading it. And I feel the essence of horror is different between reading it and watching it. Watching it gives viewers a spectacle. The ambiance and tone gives off a chilling and unexpected experience. Reading it, I feel, lends itself to chilling and more detailed descriptions and scares. However, that difference could be how I am perceiving it at the moment.

As for why Dracula, I guess it just sounds appealing. It’s a classic and one that I feel like I would really enjoy reading. And since I enjoy the occasional gothic classic (Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera), Dracula feels similar in style.

Conclusion

While these five genres are not genres I usually read, they are genres I have found at least one book that I enjoy. Are there any books that interest you from genres that you don’t usually read? Are there any you would recommend?