Tag Archives: Blog

Logan and Kurt Wagner’s Friendship: Why it Works and Why it’s Important

Friendships are wonderful little things. Anyone can form friendships with anybody. Maybe they have similar interests and/or backgrounds. Maybe they have some similarities and differences and those differences do not hinder a healthy friendship.

Friendships can be found anywhere. School. Work. At the park and so on. Even online. So long as people can interact with each other, friendships can be made. You’ll even find friendships in media, be it shows like Degrassi, movies like The Outsiders, or books like Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.

The point is, friendships can be found anywhere and everywhere. They are a significant relationship in everyday life, and can be with anyone.

Now, there are a lot of friendships in media that people will know of and/or enjoy. A few examples include, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from Sherlock Holmes, Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck and Peregrin “Pippin” Took from Lord of the Rings, Samwise “Sam” Gamgee and Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings, Han Solo and Chewbacca from Star Wars, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Flash (Barry Allen), and Woody and Buzz from Toy Story.

If there’s one friendship that might not get as talked about, especially outside of the X-Men sphere, it’s the friendship between Logan (Wolverine) and Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler). Compared to the likes of the Scott, Jean, and Logan trifecta, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver), Mystique, Rogue, and Destiny, Mystique and Kurt, and the Erik and Charles friendship, this might not be a relationship people think about when someone says “X-Men relationships”.

So I thought I would take the time to discuss what I believe one of the best friendships in comics. These two have such a close friendship and is one that should be appreciated for what it is. Because even with how different these

What it Means to be Human: Physically, Personally, Morally

“Kurt was the only guy that ever looked me in the eyes like a man, and spoke to me like one, and treated me like one. No matter what I did or where I was or how I felt. He was my best friend, and he never treated me like a damn animal.”
-Wolverine X-Men Second Coming (2010)

Isn’t that just a passionate quote? And it really says a lot about how people view Logan and just how different Kurt was in that regard. This quote also says a lot about being human, something both characters have an odd relationship with.

But what does it mean to be human? That’s something that can cause confusion or understanding depending on how you approach the question.

There’s the physical/biological side, where one would be able to identify the differences between say a human and a panda for instance. Or in the case of Science Fiction and comics, the differences between human and alien. Some aliens look human, but have superhuman abilities (Superman) and those that don’t (Martian Manhunter) and have different abilities and anatomy.

In a metaphorical sense, ‘being human’ can refer to imperfections or emotions. As the old saying goes, ‘nobody’s perfect’ and that seems to be synonymous with being human. And the emotional side of it refers to how, as human, people are supposed to have emotions. People are not robots and emotions are a key factor into that.

For X-Men, and more specifically Logan and Kurt, being human seems to refer to how good/kind hearted/pure a person is. And despite mutants being, well mutants, they are as human as anyone else. And considering X-Men was inspired by and originally an allegory for the Civil Rights Movement, being released on ’63, its safe to say that a feeling of being human is prevalent for this series.

And in the case of Logan and Kurt, being human has a double meaning. Both characters are known for being human (pure/integral or in appearance) in one sense and monsters in others (appearance and actions).

Logan: Human in Appearance, Animalistic in Nature

Starting with Logan, one would say he looks generally human. Barring the adamantium skeleton and claws. He could pass for human more so than Kurt, not even needing an image inducer to do so. When it comes to looking human, Logan certainly passes the appearance portion, much like a great number of other mutants. It’s only when the claws are drawn when he doesn’t.

But on the inside , he would be considered a monster. A man with a violent streak, who isn’t afraid to kill and with a berserk mean streak, it easy to see why people would be more scared of him and see him as a monster. And Logan knows it. He also has a more cynical world view. And while not inherently bad, it may make approaching him that much harder.

Kurt: Demonic in Appearance, Saintly at Heart

For Kurt, it’s the exact opposite. Being labeled as a monster and a demon were things that he grew up with. He was drugged by the circus, abandoned as a baby, even chased by a mob when they thought he killed some kids despite only killing his adopted brother in self-defense and a promise (if his adopted brother ever went insane, he promised to do whatever it took to stop him).

Yet, Kurt is the most pure hearted mutant out there. Logan even went as far as to say Kurt was the closest thing to a saint there is. While maybe not perfect, he is a wonderful human being. And that’s even more apparent when you consider who his parents are. He represents never judging people based on their appearances.

Time and time again, they show that there is good in them. Even if Logan is harsher in his methods, he does have a kinder side. And Kurt, despite looking like he would hunt someone down and kill them, has a heart of gold.

For them, being human is less of a feeling of normalcy, but something that shows how good they are as people. That while having faults and at times making not great choices, they are no less human than the average person and deserve respect.

Seeing their humanity is something that makes their friendship worthwhile. In a world where people’s humanity can be forgotten at times, friendships like these can help humanize people. That’s not to say that everything that criminals have done should be sympathized with, and that certain actions are inexcusable. Merely that the average person is human and should be understood, and sometimes it can be easy to forget a person’s humanity in the heat of a moment. And that’s what this friendship can symbolize.

Acceptance and Understanding.

“You are unique, Logan. And I do not speak of what has been done to you. Is a wolf evil when id culls the sickness from the herd?” -Kurt Wagner (Wolverine 2003 #6)

This ties in with the previous point, but in regards to how well both characters understand each other and respect their humanity. Humanity and psychology is something that’s noted when it comes to Logan and Kurt, but it’s not always understood. Not every X-Men will have as deep of an understanding as these two do as friends. Even less so for the average non-mutant. There are a few people who have a general understanding of the two and why they are the way they are.

One example would be Storm. When Kurt died, she understood that Logan was grieving despite disapproving that his anger was getting the better of him with some of the students. Yes, he shouldn’t have been on the offensive when they were just trying to light some candles, but she knew he was grieving and that he thought they were taking Kurt’s belongings. She also understood Logan wishing he had killed more people if it meant Kurt lived. Even if it meant this moment would have been their last. She also understood where Kurt was coming from when dealing with a case with a child and demons. He was taking his time, but understood why he was.

The Mindset

Out of the two, Kurt would probably be considered the morally pure of them. Not just because he’s Catholic and that somehow gives him higher morality (people can be kind hearted whether they are religious or not), but because his character has always been presented as forgiving, kind hearted, and wanting to understand. Him being Catholic may be part of the reason, but not the only reason.

That doesn’t mean he is without flaws. Like everyone else, he’s not perfect. He has flaws and has made mistakes.

His biggest personal struggle comes in the form of his trauma growing up and showing his true colors. Because the mob was so intent on killing him, and the circus treating him as less than human, being self conscious about his appearance is reasonable.

Logan, meanwhile, is the more pragmatic of the two. Having lived for more than a century, it should be no surprise that he views the world more coldly. He experienced wars starting with the Civil War, was experimented on, suffered losses, and was used as a government tool.

That’s not to say that he isn’t a good person in some ways. He may choose to kill, but his motive is not one of malicious intent or animalistic desires (anymore).

Like Kurt he has his own internal struggles. His memory being one. Being treated as an animal and experimented on is another. The world he was exposed to makes him a lot more cynical and the horrors he’s seen traumatic. Yet, it’s being treated and perceived as an animal that really strikes a nerve. Logan knows he’s done a lot of things in his life, some that can be more rationalized than others. And while part of him may be used to the reactions he gets, he seems to have this drive to prove he’s not some animal that kills for nothing.

Some people may be able to understand their plight, however, the people who seem to understand the most about Kurt and Logan is Logan and Kurt. There’s at least one instance for each that stand out (though there are more). Wolverine (2003) #6 and Classic X-Men #4 The Big Dare.

Wolverine #6 (2003) by Greg Rucka

In Wolverine #6 (2003), when discussing how Logan killed twenty seven men to rescue hostages of a cult, Kurt tries to understand the reasoning behind it. He wasn’t looking for an excuse, but to better understand of Logan’s situation. He argues that had Logan acted in malice by killing innocent people, Logan would become the very thing he hated, and Kurt would try to stop him.

However, if the men needed to be punished for their evils, they got what they got what they deserved. Considering what Logan witnessed, justified would be pretty accurate. Kurt then uses a wolf allegory, asking if a wolf is evil for culling the sickness out of a heard. Said allegory can be interpreted as wolves not being evil for plucking off the weakest link. Or in the case of Logan, how killing the sicknesses (evils) of the world he is not evil for doing so. Probably a little bit of both.

After having time to think it over, Logan states how he’s not an animal, to which Kurt affirms that he isn’t. Because while Kurt’s allegory was metaphorical, one of Logan’s struggles is being seen as an animal. Something he has issue with in the past. Kurt knows this and has never once seen Logan as an animal (confirmed by Logan at Kurt’s funeral).

This shows how understanding, in this case Kurt, can be. Having an understanding of people is something worth having. Especially in friendships. Even if agreement isn’t always in sight, understanding and respecting friends is something worth knowing. And while there are lines, it never hurts to better understand another person.

The Big Dare (Classic X-Men #4, 1986)

One notable way that Logan accepts Kurt’s humanity comes in the form of The Big Dare. While he would later go on to say that Kurt is the closest thing to a saint there is, it’s this issue that cements their friendship while also trying to help Kurt get more comfortable walking around as his true self. Blue fur, tail, and all.

So Logan dares Kurt to walk around a town they were in without his image inducer. Note that he did not inherit Mystique’s shapeshifting, so he uses an image inducer to blend in. Logan wasn’t being malicious in doing so. He is well aware of how people treated Kurt in his past and doesn’t berate Kurt for hiding because of it. Logan just wants Kurt to be confident in his own skin, and to do so, needs to get comfortable being around people without hiding his appearance. Which is also gets brought up in the previously cited Wolverine issue.

Kurt agrees, and is surprised when most people seem unbothered by his appearance. Compared to the mob who attacked him, most people were either unfazed or curious about Kurt’s appearance, not malicious in either case. The only exception was with a gentleman who, upon realizing Kurt wasn’t wearing a costume, was going to attack Kurt. Logan retaliates by tackling the guy and going on the offensive, to the point Kurt has to separate the two.

Even though there was a bump in the trial, Kurt appreciated what Logan did for him and Logan replies with, ‘what are friends for?’ So not only does this issue confirm their friendship, but shows how having Kurt walk around as himself helped Kurt gain some confidence with it back.

Logan does this to help Kurt accept the part of himself he’s had to hide. He questions how Kurt expects to be accepted when even he won’t accept himself. There are things in life and relationships that will have to be accepted. Why that’s important in a friendship is because, whether it be a boundary, a limit, or what have you , being able to accept who you are is important. And sometimes it’s a friend that can helps you see it.

Death

“When you awaken from this earthly slumber, my friend, look for me. I will be there waiting for you.” -Nightcrawler (House of X #4)

Both characters have died. Both have been revived. The reason I bring up death in regards to their friend is how they approached the others’ deaths. It was never brushed aside, even with how meaningless death can be in comics at time, they grieved, and they never forgot how impactful they were.

Now Logan has died a few more times than Kurt has, with the whole soul shenanigans that rendered Kurt nigh-immortal. But that’s not to say Kurt never grieved over the loss of Logan. While I may not have read every Logan death, one that sticks out as far as Kurt grieving is in Nightcrawler #7 (2014). This series picks up after Kurt’s revival at the beginning of 2013’s Amazing X-Men.

About half way through this short lived series (issue #7 from what I recall), readers get to see Kurt processing the death of Kurt. And though we do not get to see Kurt shedding any tears, we do get to see how he processes the loss via an internal conversation. In a similar way to Logan, he wonders what he could have done differently to prevent his death, but with the added acceptance/hindsight to know that there was nothing he could do.

Using Jean as a comparison, readers get to see how Logan’s death hurt him. He’s a good friend to Jean, and did miss and grieve for her, but the fact that he admits that losing Logan in the present, hurt so much more. That alone, goes to show how much he cares about Logan. And though expressed more than shown, it doesn’t need to paint a picture to know how good of friends they are. The last few decades already helped establish it. Though we would get little things here and there that references parts of their friendship. Like when he gives Old Man Logan a framed picture of himself, much like Logan had decades prior.

And then there’s Logan. When Kurt died while protecting Hope Summers, loss only begins to describe how much Kurt’s death effected him. He nearly attacked a student, thinking they were going to take stuff from his room when they were only going to leave a candle. He regrets not killing more people, feeling like if he had Kurt would be alive. He bitterly hopes that his sacrifice was worth it.

But most of all, the connection they made is significant to Logan. Not many people have been close to Logan, whether it be out of fear of him or Logan generally being a loner. Logan has a hard time making connections with people, so when he loses one of the few people he has, it only makes sense that he’d be broken up about it.

Emotions, Mood, and Reading the Other

It saddens me to know that I share genetics with a man whose heart is so black that he sees no other options. Sees no possibility for either love or compassion.” Kurt Wagner Uncanny X-Men #434 The Draco Part 6

While showing emotion between friends is always a good thing, how the characters express them is one thing. And while they might not always express their emotions to each other, they know them well enough to recognize it.

Logan is typically known for exhibiting one of three kinds of expressions. Hardened realist, gruff loner, and angry. He’s not one for expressing emotions a lot. Love seen in a few instances, and sadness even less. The usual picture viewers get to see is a stoic or angry character hardened by his life experiences.

That’s not to say that Logan is without any “softer” emotions. After all, he has had a few loves, almost marrying Mariko at one point. I can also think of emotions surrounding Kurt’s death that he exhibited. Guilt that he couldn’t prevent it. Sadness and anger as he tried to cope. The one tear shed when he was reunited with Kurt before they fought Azazel and Kurt was revived. He can be a little more open with Kurt, be it with his philosophy, thoughts or feelings.

Kurt, meanwhile, isn’t as closed off emotionally. He will get angry, flirty, and sad. And if there was one way he reacts that’s notable is his self-consciousness as a result of trauma. Usually, he tries to appear happy and friendly, but does experience negative emotions and dower moments.

So when he appears withdrawn and depressed, like after he was resurrected in Amazing X-Men or when he was unusually quiet in Nation X #1, it’s something Logan is able to pick up on. Not only that, but try to get to the bottom of what’s eating away at him.

They are able to read each other better than others might. Both know the other’s quirks and demeanor well enough to know when something is wrong. They also aren’t afraid to be open with each other.

It’s also worth noting that they aren’t afraid of things like contact. While Kurt is certainly much more approach able, scenes like the one pictured here show that they aren’t afraid to show how much they care. Or at the very least the writer’s and artists, aren’t afraid to express how deep of a friendship they have.

While not trying to overgeneralize male friendships as a whole, in media, I don’t think it’s wrong to say that it isn’t common for two guy friends to express certain emotions or ‘hug it out’. Unless it was played for comedic effect or the media allows it because of the content (like a drama or something). Of course, entertainment has evolved in a lot of ways, but typically, it’s more likely that viewers will see girl friends hugging than guys (with other gestures like fist bumps or something as an alternative).

So little moments like Wolverine and Nightcrawler hugging in purgatory upon being reunited, while not groundbreaking, are moments that can be appreciated.

Conclusion: Why is Wolverine and Nightcrawler’s Friendship so Important?

“Dump that gizmo an’ walk right out Harry’s door an’ down main street– as you really are!” Logan Classic X-Men #4 The Big Dare 1986 

I conclude with a discussion on why the friendship between Wolverine and Nightcrawler is important. I’ve gone over a few reasons why/how it works, so I will only recap those briefly, while also adding a few more comments.

In summary, the fact that these two characters are complete opposites, can understand their quirks, and do have genuine emotional reactions with each other, especially when the other dies, Logan and Kurt make for an iconic duo. They might not always agree or share the same beliefs, but they respect/understand them.

With that said allow me to close out with one last question…

What Makes Their Friendship so Important?

One thing that has been consistent about X-Men is it’s message of acceptance. Being created during the Civil Right’s Movement, it’s easy to see why it would be. And when compared to DC, some people may consider Marvel a bit more relatable (though that’s not to say DC doesn’t have relatability whatsoever). Of course, given the nature of comics and superheroes as a genre, they aren’t as relatable on a technical level, but readers may be able to relate to Peter Parker as an everyday Joey was compared to billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne.

Circling back to X-Men, it’s safe to say that acceptance is it’s biggest symbol/theme. Not only that, but it is a theme that is timeless and will always be relatable. That’s something that make X-Men as timeless as it is. Because beneath the adamantium claws, teleporting, and psionic prowess, are characters who fight for acceptance and equality.

Acceptance is also a big factor in Wolverine and Kurt’s friendship. Both characters have the hardest time being accepted by others. A big factor of that comes down to perception and how people could fear someone as violent and cold as Logan or as demonic looking as Kurt. Both deal with their fair share of grief and panic from the masses.

Yet, somehow, when these two are put on a team, they almost instantly connect. Logan quickly comes up with a nickname for Kurt (Elf) and Kurt isn’t immediately discourage by Logan’s gruff nature. Both characters are considered monsters by their peers, the average person, yet somehow found each other and connected. Kurt was the first to learn Logan’s name, and Logan the first to push Kurt towards self-acceptance.

The weight of the world’s perceived disdain with them creates a sense of loneliness. Yet, that distance created a relatability and spark between them. Both characters needed someone who could understand them. Someone who wasn’t afraid of them. Someone who cared about who they were as people. And that is exactly what they got when they met each other.

That’s what gives this friendship such an impact. When the rest of the world was against them, they found each other, saw the best in each other, and proved that neither were as monstrous as people made them out to be. They saw them as the people they were and accepted each other for who they were.

Kurt Wagner: Irony at its Finest

Nightcrawler. Kurt Wagner. Demon. Elf. Several ways to name this member of the second class of X-Men. Though not as popular as his teammates, Wolverine and Storm, Nightcrawler is a character that is typically appreciated and enjoyed by just about anyone.

If there’s one thing I like about Kurt, it’s that he shows how he opposes every assumption and expectation that’s given to him in order to be heroic and kind hearted. I also enjoy how he seems to be a walking irony. Irony is a term that generally has a difficult time explaining itself, which can sometimes result in misusing it in daily situations.

Irony: When someone says or does something that is the opposite of what is norm. A literary device where contradictory statements or situations coincide when it normally wouldn’t. A humorous tool depending on the situation/statement.

Defining irony is hard. As is having a proper example. I had to look at several explanations so I could properly define it as simply as possible. The problem with defining irony and expressing it is that people may use irony incorrectly in place of coincidence (two coworkers wearing the same shirt on the same day, running into someone several times at the supermarket, etc.). Not intentionally I would presume, but it happens. Both have very similar executions, but coincidences are merely unexpected turn of events, where as irony is usually a literary technic or situation where the exact opposite of an expectation happens in a singular instance.

Some easy examples include, a. A fire station burning down, b. telling a quiet group to not speak all at one, and c. delivering bad news with “good news…”

With the definition of irony now kind of set, you might be wondering…

What Does X-Men’s Nightcrawler have to do with Irony?

It has to do with the character himself. Anyone who is familiar with Nightcrawler will know that he typically exhibits the following traits:

  • His appearance: blue fur (as opposed to Mystique, who’s blue hue is her natural skin tone), three fingers and two toes, fangs, yellow irisless eyes, and a prehensile tail.
  • He grew up in the circus
  • He was born and raised in Bavaria, Germany
  • He’s had multiple romances, including Ororo Munroe (Storm) and Wanda Maximoff (Scarlett Witch)
  • His mother is Mystique, the iconic shapeshifter and known adversary to the X-Men
  • His father is Azazel, a demonic mutant
  • Rogue is his adopted sister
  • He is often referred to as a demon among non-mutants, but to people who know him, as saintly and kind hearted as they come
  • He’s Catholic

There are two ways that this fuzzy blue elf fits into an ironic architype. That being his demonic appearance vs his Catholic roots and the fact that he comes from two morally questionable parents, yet is seen as one of the purest characters.

The Irony of Being a “Demonic” Catholic

“What does it look like?” -Kurt “Incongruitous. I guess I never figured you for the religious type.” -Logan

Uncanny X-Men #164 Binary Star (December 1982)

While Kurt would be categorized as a mutant (though how they define Azazel’s whole biblical demon shtick can get a little murky at times), there has been multiple instances where people would call him a demon. For instance, when he first met Charles Xavier, he was being chased by a mob who thought he was a demon.

As the series would go on, readers would find out that Kurt Wagner is a devout Catholic, who took the last name of a priest who protected him when he escaped the circus. This would become one of his defining traits and he never uses it as a way to make himself feel like he’s better than anyone else. In fact, it’s one of several differences that he has with Logan, his best friend, and they have a mutual understanding and respect for why the other believe what they believe.

His religious beliefs, coupled with his appearance would be a perceived irony as well as a literal irony to some degree. Because he looks demonic, people might not expect that he is particularly religious, least of all a Catholic (or similar). A general observation/assumption would be that demons wouldn’t be known for practicing any form of faith, yet, Kurt shows that such perceptions can be false.

This is something Logan kind of notes when he finds Kurt praying. He didn’t really care, but he notes that he didn’t see Kurt being particularly religious, and seeing him pray felt out of place . Kurt, wondering if it had to do with how he looks goes on to mention how he doesn’t get to church often, more than likely because of how he appears, but finds comfort in pray and his beliefs.

“Why, don’t I look the part? I’ll admit I’m rarely seen at a church — but I draw comfort from my beliefs and from prayer. Such comfort is dearly needed — by us all…” -Kurt

Uncanny X-Men #164 Jan. 1983

Logan doesn’t question it, but does tell Kurt why he isn’t particularly religious when Kurt suggests he tries praying. Like his friend, Kurt accepts Logan’s position, but notes how it must be lonely. Logan says he isn’t lonely, he has Kurt.

This scene shows how ironic/odd Kurt appears as someone who looks like he does while being Catholic as well as giving a respectful approach to their differing religious beliefs.

The Situational and Genetic Irony of Kurt’s Morality

If there is one aspect in Nightcrawler’s character that I would like to delve into has to do with his spirit and never falling to his past trauma. He is a character who, despite being given the worst deck in X-Men, manages to stay strong and not fall into darkness. If there is one thing that people seem to enjoy about Marvel and its characters, it’s the relatability and complexity characters have. While the same can be said for DC characters, it may be easier to enjoy or relate to a character. X-Men is a series that plays on that a lot, because the concept of unity and acceptance is something that people can relate to and each character has their own individual struggles alongside that. Even characters like Magneto may be considered antagonistic, can be easy to understand.

With that in mind, Kurt’s parents acts as both a struggle and an irony. Because both of his parents are more antagonistic, that would create some tension. And the face he wasn’t raised by either, shows how he may have had a better chance at making his own choices.

Mystique abandoned him as a newborn, throwing him over a cliff in some cases. She would later adopt Rogue. And despite coming around to him to some degree, she isn’t exactly winning any awards for being the best mother, even if her reason to abandon him had some validity to them. For her and Kurt, there isn’t much of a familial bond.

Azazel, on the other hand, only really wanted children to expand his legacy and return to Earth from the Brimstone Dimension (that little pocket dimension Kurt goes to when bamf-ing). For Azazel, Kurt’s existence was to justify his need. And while some sources say that Mystique was the only woman Azazel loved, where Kurt fits is anyone’s guess.

Of course, this is about irony and not Nightcrawler’s family quarrels. However a little context never hurt.

What makes Kurt and his family dynamic ironic is when you consider both parents would be considered morally suspect and Kurt being the exact opposite. One might think the old saying “evil breeds evil” would apply to this situation, or at the very least, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Mystique and Azazel’s child was corrupt.

So when their child ends up being one of the least corrupt characters in the franchise, it says a lot. While readers could look at this as two negatives creating a positive, which I could see as well, I think irony suits their morality dynamic very well. And while his upbringing with a mother who wasn’t Mystique, this kind of genetic/situational irony could work in an instance where he was raised by Mystique.

One example that came to mind was Kovu from the second Lion King movie. He was raised by Zira to follow in Scar’s footsteps. She spent years raising him to hate Simba and to take him down. Becoming like Scar and taking over Pride Rock was a big driving force for his character. Yet, as he infiltrated Simba’s pride and connected with Kiara and Simba, Kovu ends up not becoming like his adopted father and instead becoming his own lion and a better character.

Kurt becoming the opposite of what his parents were, much like Kovu, is a notable example of irony in a situation/genetic irony setting.

In Conclusion

Irony is a hard thing to define or give example of. It’s tricky and confusing, but with enough practice, something that can be made easier. Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler, is a perfect example of irony. His evil appearance matched with his Catholic upbringing and kind hearted nature coupled with him becoming the opposite of what his parents are on the morality scale are great examples of it.

Storm Sister: A Review

Since I have reviewed the first book in Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series, I thought it was time I jumped into reviewing the second book, Storm Sister. This one is one that was in the middle for me. I enjoyed it, but there were elements I was critical of.

The Notion of Finding (Blood) Relatives being Problematic

I know I have already brought up this point in my review for Seven Sisters, but in the event you have not read it (in which I will have this in each review going forward), I will reiterate this here. That being a criticism that some readers may find. Essentially, it has to do with the fact that it has these adopted sisters, who spent their entire lives together, going out and looking into their blood family. It may come off as unnecessary as well as it may seem disingenuous for adopted siblings, and by extent adopted families, in general to do so. While I do see where that critique comes from, and wouldn’t dismiss it, I doubt that was the author’s intent. Having read all but the last book (which as of this post is unreleased), I personally never got that feeling. I could be wrong, which I am willing to accept, but I just didn’t read into it that way.

The Review

In this story, we get to learn more about Ally (Alcyone), the second eldest sister. After losing her fiancé, Theo, in a storm while sailing and the death of Pa Salt, to say she was in a bad place emotionally sounds accurate. She was also the only sister to see Pa Salt’s ship when he was buried at sea.

Ally’s story brings her to Norway in an attempt to learn more about Anna Landvik, a renowned singer. As she does, Ally learns more about her self and her family, and wonders about the missing seventh sister. She also discovers that, despite being dead, Theo left her with one last gift. Along the way she will encounter Tom and Felix, who she may or may not have a connection with (I’m not spoiling).

Positives

I would say that Ally’s story was a nice one to read. Getting to know Ally and how she’s different from Maia is great, as well as helping to make each sister feel different. I thought it was also neat to learn that Ally was nearby when Pa Salt was being buried at sea. Since it was something she and Pa Salt bonded over, it does give her some background into the relationship they had. And though maybe not as developed as it could have been, the connection she and her captain turned fiancé was built well enough despite her fiancé’s short time in the story

Anna’s story was pretty good as well. Having a character who had an affinity for music was a neat step away from the art studies that Izabelle went for.

Negatives

My main grip is with an element in Anna’s story. To me, Anna’s story felt kind of similar to Izabelle’s. Not in the sense of the set up (1st person for the present day character and 3rd for the person in the past), but because of Anna’s love life. While I do love the musical approach with Anna’s story, how she approached her love and marriage felt oddly similar to Izabelle’s in execution, where she had an affair with another man. It might not be that big of a deal for some readers, but it was what I had issue with.

Conclusion

I would give this story a seven point five out of ten. I thought it was a well written story with main characters that were well explored, and the Norwegian setting was a nice touch. However, the slight familiarity in Izabelle and Anna’s love life is what I feel made it suffer a little a bit. Regardless, I would certainly recommend this book whether you’ve read any of the others or not.

An Introspective in Controversy: Uncanny X-Men The Draco

As I continue to look into Kurt Wagner reads, I thought I would take a moment to do a little discussion. An introspective if you will. I have recently read and reviewed The Draco, and thought I would do a tie in introspective.

Why, you might ask, because tangents I had (that didn’t ended up making it into my review), felt like they deserved their own discussion. So while I continue on with book reviews and recommendations, I am working out two other posts that were too off topic for my The Draco: Review along with this introspective. One will look at Nightcrawler’s family, and another, discussing Azazel and why I think he could be a good character outside of The Draco.

Today, however, I bring you an introspective. I’ve broken this down into two parts: Why it’s controversial and my unpopular opinion, and I will conclude with a summary of my thoughts on it and if it “aged well”. For my full review, you can find it here: https://the-little-library.org/2021/11/24/uncanny-x-men-the-draco-review/

With that out of the way, let’s get to it.

Why the Controversy?

The Draco would go down in X-Men history, but not for a good reason. If I was talking strictly based on the story itself, a lot of issues come from it. As one of the worst X-Men stories or one of the most contentious Nightcrawler stories.

Now this (along side other issues in the Trial of Juggernaut volume) is the only comic by Chuck Austen I think I’ve read. So I can’t personally say whether or not any of his other works in Marvel (or DC) were better or worse. Though I can say that it was pretty poorly executed (more on that later). What I do know is that this was the story that lead to the end of Chuck Austen’s career with Marvel and DC.

While researching The Draco for thoughts, opinions, and such, I have come across a few different points for not liking this story or elements in it. This was a story that, not only would be what Chuck Austen would go down for, but also lead to a career ending stint with Marvel and DC.

Artistically Unattractive and Poor Storytelling

Getting the technical side of it out of the way, yes the story isn’t great and the art is shaky. If that was the only problem, I don’t think it would have became as infamous, but it’s still worth noting. When I read it, the art kind of reminded me of Dextor Soy, one of my favorite DC artists, who worked on Red Hood and the Outlaws (2016),but not as good. That may sound like a weird comparison, but it was the closest I could think of with the art.

And while bad art can bring down a good story in the case of The Draco, the story is not much better. I may be giving it too much credit when I say that there was a good concept there, but how it was executed was terrible. That much I do agree on, and I also agree that certain characters felt out of character.

I have also seen the case made (and reasonably so) on how certain scenes in this cross the line of harmless fanservice to going too far.

Azazel Being Kurt’s Father

Part of it comes down to what Azazel, the walking, talking demon of a mutant, does for the character he took part in creating. Now, Kurt is already kind of a walking, talking irony being a Catholic “Demon”, but for almost 30 years, it was only a physical irony and not a literal one. Kurt’s whole schtick is that he looks like a monster but has a heart of gold (as opposed to say Wolverine who looks human, but internally would be considered a monster). As well as, or alternatively, an example of not judging a book by it’s cover.

With Azazel being his dad and essentially the mutant equivalent to a demon/devil, fans felt like this gave the mob the right to go after this demon (Kurt) in their town. And it could feel counter intuitive of X-Men’s original message against discrimination. (X-Men was created in ’63 and one of the big things X-Men is symbolic of is the Civil Rights Movement).

My Unpopular Opinion

I may be in the minority when I say that I like Azazel (I’m sure there are others who do as well). That doesn’t mean I will discredit the criticisms with the character, as I respectfully understand why they are there.

I can certainly see how what Azazel is can dent X-Men’s overall moral/symbolism, however, I feel he adds to what Nightcrawler symbolizes. I feel he still proves that looks can be deceiving. And with both parents being considered evil, I feel like it adds an angle of evil not always breeding evil to the mix.

It’s worth noting that I am new to the comics for Marvel and X-Men as a whole. And having only recently gotten into the X-Men comics (thanks to Nightcrawler), I may be viewing Azazel as a character at a slightly different angle. Heck, The Draco wasn’t even my first introduction to the character.

The Draco was on a blog listing Nightcrawler centered stories, when I started looking for recommendations. It did have a disclaimer for how it was bad/poorly received, but it was still focused on him.

As I mentioned earlier, it wasn’t the first Azazel present story I read, Amazing X-Men and First Class were. I could have still hated him, sure, but I don’t.

Maybe I’m optimistic when I say he has potential in the right hands. Or maybe my introduction to him through other (non Chuck Austen) comics gave me the chance to view the character differently. Maybe both. And maybe in an attempt to find one good thing in The Draco, I took his other appearances as a reason as that one positive thing.

Readers have a reason to dislike him and I respect that. I merely see a character with potential and would have been better off not introduced by Chuck Austen.

What do I Think of The Draco? Did it Age Well?

I am in the majority when it comes to this story. It’s terrible. It’s poorly written. Poorly executed. It has bad artwork (which if you’ve noticed, I only used once cover twice in this entire discussion). And while I may defend Azazel to a degree, I can see why people would dislike the character.

As far as aging, it has not. It isn’t like Twilight, were it was a hit back from 2005-2012, but aged horribly. Nor is it like Lord of the Rings or Howl’s Moving Castle, which time has gifted with aging well.

The Draco wasn’t going to age well, but it wasn’t going to age poorly either. Being detested from the get go, the only thing time could do, was make it worse. And even if, someone read this and thought the hate was overblown, I doubt they would say it’s good.

In short, this story took what could have been a good concept, but executed it poorly and didn’t age for the better.

Uncanny X-Men The Draco: Review

In my journey to read Nightcrawler focused arcs, I decided to read this kicker of a story. Going into this, I knew that this is a bit of a controversial/hated title and got the writer blackballed by Marvel and DC. I wasn’t sure when I would get to this, but since I got a copy via my library, now is as good a time as any.

Why Read it?

Some of you may be wondering, “if you already knew who Azazel was and how hated this story is, why read it?” Well, my curious reader, I actually have a few reasons for checking this out. Some of which are directed at how bad this story is perceived, and one seemingly reasonable rational.

The main reason I decided to jump into this, is for Nightcrawler himself. You see, when I get into a series (tv shows, movies, etc.) or conglomerates like DC and Marvel, I will typically latch onto/be drawn to a certain character or characters. For example with DC, it was Nightwing and later Red Robin (Tim Drake). For Marvel, and by extent X-Men, it’s Nightcrawler a.k.a. Kurt Wagner. As such, when I get interested in a character, I will want to read stories focusing on them, be it a solo series or in a team. So I was going to check this out eventually anyways.

Now, for the poorly received perspective, I kind of narrowed it down to three main reasons. They are reasons that I felt anyone could or would have when read something that’s considered bad. And for each reason, I will use an example of a poorly received X-Men movie as a comparison for uniformity’s sake.

Firstly, I wanted to read it to see how bad it is. While whether something is good or bad can be subjective at times, this seems to be a title that is almost unanimously hated. Especially with media (comics, video game, shows, etc.). I haven’t seen a lot of people, if any, defend this arc, and I don’t think I blame them. Think of it like X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Someone might decide to it despite being told it was so bad (e.g. *insert comment about Deadpool*).

Secondly, to see if all the hate is really justified. Criticism is all fine and dandy, but sometimes, you may get a piece of media that maybe unjustly hated. Outside of Marvel, I would say it’s the 2009’s Watchmen. Was it a perfect adaptation? No, but I feel it did do a lot right. For Marvel, I’ll go with Dark Phoenix in this case. I have yet to see it myself (I’ll get to it since I am binging the X-Men movies), but from what I’ve heard, it’s one of those movies that certainly got a good amount of hate. Something it, and the previous Dark Phoenix movie (The Last Stand), have in common. This would probably be an example of a movie being justifiably criticized.

Lastly, it could be a case of a story being hated when it first came out, but maybe not as much today. Either because it’s bad in a dated sense (or what have you) or maybe it wasn’t as bad as you remembered, maybe being good for the time (but maybe not by today’s standards). Let’s go with The Last Stand in this case. Like Dark Phoenix, The Last Stand is considered the worst of it’s franchise. Both were also about Jean Grey and the Dark Phoenix entity. And both were a sort of conclusion to their own timeline/universe (TLS for the first three movies, TDP for First Class onward). Which one is the worst will depend on who you talk to, but while looking around at reviews and the like, it seems like The Last Stand is the least hated of the two. Maybe still bad, but between it’s release and now, it seems more people prefer it over Dark Phoenix (excluding how The Last Stand may have done Scott dirty). It may still be the worst of the trilogy, but it’s also had time for the hate to settle, though not completely wane.

My Review

With that little thought process out of the way, onto my review. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Honestly not too much.

I have to agree that this is a pretty badly executed story. I may still be new to the X-Men comic, but I know a faulty story when I see it. For instance, Heroes in Crisis being another poorly received comic I’ve read. And much like Heroes in Crisis, I feel like it had a good idea conceptually, but a terrible execution.

I feel like the idea of introducing Nightcrawler’s father wasn’t a bad concept. (Disclaimer: at one point Mystique and Destiny were planned to be his parents, with Mystique acting as the father via shapeshifting. But due to it not being appropriate for the time, it didn’t end up happening). However, it’s reasonable for people to dislike how they handled it. Be it for what Azazel does for Kurt’s character, how the story handled it, or Chuck Austen’s shaky writing.

I’ll try not to dwell too long on the whole Azazel being his father, but it is a talking point. I know it wasn’t well received based on it giving the mob credence for wanting to destroy the “demon” (Kurt) because now he pretty much is one, or at least the mutant equivalent of one (like how Angel is the mutant equivalent of… well an angel). I’ve also seen the argument on how having Destiny and Mystique being his parents like originally planned would have been preferable (which is reasonable and would be more accepted today compared to the 80’s and 90’s).

For me, I like Azazel as his father, which may be an unpopular opinion. That said, I do respect why he’s a disliked character in some circles. However, with him being such a conflicting character, you may be wondering why I like him. Which is fair. Usually when a character is disliked be it for poor writing (Euron Grayjoy), a character readers are supposed to dislike (Joffrey Baratheon), what have you, it may seem odd when someone does.

The reason I like him is for some of the reasons he’s hated as well as a few other reasons. I think Nightcrawler being a “demon” (or the mutant equivalent) still makes him a great example of not judging someone based on their appearance. Just with an added layer of one not expecting a “demon” to be kind hearted and morally outstanding.

I also feel like it gives an added layer of irony to him. He was already being a “demon” Catholic and this kind of cements that.

Side Note: I feel like, had he been introduced by someone other than Chuck Austen, Azazel would have been better received and developed.

There’s also the fact I’m getting into X-Men comics now as opposed to years ago. So my perception may be different. I know it is a big deal for some (in a negative way) and that’s fine. I just view Azazel as a character a little differently.

My itty bitty positive aside (I can and will go further, jut not here), The Draco was a mess. The art is bad. I compare it to Dexter Soy (one of my favorite artists) but instead of being charming, its a terrible version of it.

While I give it the benefit of having a good concept, it’s the execution is bad. I haven’t read Chuck Austen’s other works, but I don’t think any of it could/would be worse than this.

Having read some reviews on it, I can agree that characters can feel odd/out of character (Mystique for me). I’ve also read a post discussing how it crossed the line of harmless fanservice into gross territory. Specifically with Kurt, why he unnecessarily ogled at by a character, and how it was unnecessary for him to be various degrees of exposed. I agree with the user. Fanservice in and of itself isn’t inherently bad, but there is that fine line between harmless fun and grossly unwarranted.

In Conclusion

Do I think The Draco was worth a read? Yes. Is it good? No. Did it age well? Not at all. Was anything good about it? Conceptually, something was there, just poorly executed, and me liking Azazel as a concept and character.

If you asked for a recommended read, be it of an X-Men title or Nightcrawler story, I wouldn’t recommend it. I would suggest reading it for the sake of a Nightcrawler story, but with the caveat that it is one of the most controversial X-Men stories. And while I like Azazel, I feel like he was done better in First Class (the movie) and Amazing X-Men (2013). Sure, he was unceremoniously killed in Days of Future Past in the former’s case (how one kills an immortal like Azazel is questioned by some people) and the latter lead to Kurt getting booted out of heaven for losing his soul because of Azazel, but Azazel was handled better when not in the hands of Chuck Austen.

Transformers Dark of the Moon: Review

The third movie in the Michael Bay universe and the last one I saw in theaters. This is a movie that I do not see a lot of criticism thrown towards. It still has its fair share, but unlike its predecessor and The Last Knight, this is one that most people may not be as heavily critical of. In fact, it is probably one of the most well received of the Bayformers movies.

The Review

The third movie in the Michael Bay universe and the last one I saw in theaters. This is a movie that I do not see a lot of criticism thrown towards. It still has its fair share, but unlike its predecessor and The Last Knight, this is one that most people may not be as heavily critical of. In fact, it is probably one of the most well received of the Bayformers movies alongside the first movie.

Positive: Music and the Cybertronians

Obligatory feedback for the music and how the Cybertronians look. I could be in the minority with the design in some cases, but I do enjoy how the Autobots and Decepticons look in these movies. The Autobots and Decepticons that return are pretty much stayed consistent in the first three movies. Sentinel Prime looks pretty good, as does Shockwave.

The only Autobot I may have a slight issue with may be Que. Supposedly, he was supposed to be the movie’s Wheeljack. And if you’re not familiar with Wheeljack, think of him as a bot built like Ironhide (a fighter) with an inventor’s brain. They got the intellect, but not the look or fighting prowess. Other than that, the designs are pretty solid.

As is the music. The soundtrack feels like the previous two movies. Not in a generic way, but in an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” way. And of course, Steve Jablonsky does great with the score.

Negative: It Feeling too Long/Like it Drags

In my Revenge of the Fallen review, I mentioned how I felt the movie went by pretty quick. I didn’t count that as a positive or negative since I didn’t think it needed to. And to be blunt, RotF being quick may be a benefit for me since it is a worse movie.

Unfortunately, I am including this as a negative here because it feels like it drags. While this may vary from person to person, a movie that drags is less likely to be enjoyed. Dark of the Moon is certainly a better movie than it’s predecessor, but I did have a few moments through out the movie that felt dull and slow.

This is coming from someone who can enjoy the theatrical and extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This isn’t meant to be a flex, so much as a comparison, but these are films that run anywhere between two and a half hours to three and a half-four hours depending on the edition. And I could watch either version of these films without feeling like it drags.

Maybe the film is too long, or just feels that way. Which is weird when you consider the Transformers movies average around two and a half hours more or less. And Revenge of the Fallen, which is only four minutes shorter, goes by a whole lot faster for me. It could be that there was too much filler. I’m sure they could have cut out some of the job hunting or the something without feeling like we lose much.

Either way, this movie has moments where it drags. And while it may not hurt the overall movie for me, I could see how it could bore others.

Positive: The Story

While Revenge of the Fallen had a good concept, I’d argue Dark of the Moon had the better execution. It introduced Sentinel Prime, a Prime who predated Optimus. There’s also a plot about fusing the Earth with Cybertron and betrayal. There’s also Sam, who is trying to move on with his life.

We then find out that Sentinel is not all that he cracks up to be, and that he shouldn’t have been as easily trusted. So when it’s revealed that he is working with the Decepticons, it’s a bit of a surprise. It may not be an Earth shattering reveal, but it is one that I think worked. We are then treated to a large scale battle that tries to prevent the end of the world (for the humans) and a final battle with Optimus, Megatron and Sentinel.

The only thing in the story I may critique is with Dylan (Patrick Dempsey’s character) and some scenes. I kind of get why they had Dylan working with the Decpticons, but I can’t say I really cared for his motivations. Some of the scenes at Sam’s work also felt weird and unnecessary. Like the scene with Sam and Jerry (Ken Jeong’s character) could have been done so much differently. And Optimus’ whole flying shtick could have been ironed out a bit more. Also, I feel like Ironhide could have been kept alive.

Negative: Charlotte Mearing

I can’t complain to much about a number of the newer characters, nor can I complain about Wheelie and Brain since they are not on screen enough for me to find them annoying. Charlotte Mearing, on the other hand, I do find pretty annoying. She feels like a mix of Simmons in the first half-two thirds of the first movie and Theodore Galloway from Revenge of the Fallen: She’s strict and insists on doing things her way, blatantly ignoring anyone who has experience with the Autobots. Nothing against Francis McDormand, but the character was not likeable.

And maybe that is how the character is supposed to be. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to like her, and by not liking her, I am getting the direction they were going with. In that case, I would say, “I see what you did there”. But as it stands, I do not like the character.

Neutral: Carly

Now, with Carly, I wouldn’t say she was a bad character, nor would I say that Rosie Huntington-Whitely was terrible in the movie, I just couldn’t get latched onto Carly. As much as I did enjoy Mikaela, I do understand why she was replaced (whether or not it was in good faith, is debatable). But even so, I would have preferred if Mikaela returned in the movie. It’s water under the bridge now, and again, I wouldn’t fault Megan Fox for not returning, it is more of a preference thing at the end of the day.

Now the Transformers movies did take elements from the G1 series, like the make up of the Main Autobots and the Witwicky’s being an homage to the G1 Witewicky’s (Sparkplug (father) and Spike (son) Witwicky), it did do it’s own thing as far as other characters. And I kind of appreciate that in a weird way. Like the call backs are nice, but it didn’t rely heavily on them. With that in mind, I don’t feel like we necessarily needed Carly, who I believe gets her name from Spike’s wife in the 1980’s show. I feel like they could have gone with a new character.

That said, I feel a bit conflicted saying so. On the one hand, I appreciate the homage, even if not everyone gets it, but on the other, Mikaela felt more complex. Because while Carly was able to get Sam a job, Mikaela felt more proactive in the previous movies. She wasn’t entirely a damsel in distress and knew enough about vehicles and such to feel like she could fit in with the other characters.

I won’t deny that this may be more of a personal preference, but it’s mine. However, between Charlotte Mearing and Carly, I do like Carly more. This is also a change that I am fine with nowadays, but do remember not being too fond of it when I first learned of it (though I did not know the whole story at the time). As superfluous as it may sound including it, I am.

Positive: Wrapping up the Witwicky Story

Dark of the Moon would be the movie to conclude the Witwicky story. And I think this was a good place to end it. Because, while the Transformers movies would go on, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we were done with Sam Witwicky’s character. Keeping him around may have felt draining and I don’t think taking the route they did in G1 (which introduced Spike and Carly’s son Daniel), would have helped.

Dark of the Moon would be the movie to conclude the Witwicky story. And I think this was a good place to end it. Because, while the Transformers movies would go on, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we were done with Sam Witwicky’s character. Keeping him around may have felt draining and I don’t think taking the route they did in G1 (which introduced Spike and Carly’s son Daniel), would have helped.

Conclusion

Overall, I would give this movie a 7 out of 10, much like the first. Despite it feeling like it drags at times, this was one of the better movies in the series. It had a solid plot, some good designs, and concluded the Witwicky Trilogy in a good way.

Seven Sisters: A Review

As the old saying goes, Never Judge a Book by It’s Cover. Covers have a way of drawing people in, and while that may not always mean the book is good, it was what got me into Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series.

Working at a library, I get to see what comes through on a pretty regular basis. A few years ago, someone had returned the large type copy of Moon Sister, the fifth book in the series. I picked it up, not knowing it was the fifth book at the time and was curious. So when I found out that Moon Sister was the fifth book in the series, I decided to give the whole series a try. While some people may argue that you can read them separately (in theory) since each story is about a different sister, I do feel it’s best enjoyed reading it in order. Plus, one book may reference back to a previous one, so reading the entire series certainly doesn’t hurt.

And that’s what I did. I mostly stuck with the large type versions when I could. Because while my sight doesn’t need larger print, I had a preference for reading it in Large Type. The only acceptations were with Shadow Sister (Book 3) since my library did not have a large type copy, Sun Sister (Book 6) since I checked it out when it first came out, and The Missing Sister (Book 7), which I purchased around it’s release date.

Series Synopsis

After the sudden death of Pa Salt, six sisters are reunited. All of them were adopted and each sister is named after a part of the Seven Sisters constellation, with the seventh remaining unfound. Each sister is given some information into their past, including a name and a location.

The Notion of Finding (Blood) Relatives being Problematic

Before I hop into the review, I would like to address. That criticism is one that I have seen with this series as a whole. Essentially, it has to do with the fact that it has these adopted sisters, who spent their entire lives together, going out and looking into their blood family. It may come off as unnecessary as well as it may seem disingenuous for adopted siblings, and by extent adopted families, in general to do so. While I do see where that critique comes from, and wouldn’t dismiss it, I doubt that was the author’s intent. Having read all but the last book (which as of this post is unreleased), I personally never got that feeling. I could be wrong, which I am willing to accept, but I just didn’t read into it that way.

Personally, I saw it as each character looking into where they came from while still being very close to the adopted family they grew up and bonded with. They already knew they were all adopted, with each sister comes from a different race and ethnicity, and loved their family through and through. I read it as each character looking into their family, based on the individual (who for the most part is deceased with living relatives) that Pa Salt wrote down for each sister.

The Review

In The Seven Sisters, our focus is on Maia, the eldest. She is a known translator and is the closest with Aly (Alycone). Her search brings her to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which leads her to finding an elderly lady living in the home Pa Salt gave Maia coordinates to. Along the way, Maia meets up Floriano, a man she has been translating a book for, and they both try to find out more about Izabela. During this time, Maia finds out more about her heritage, family, and love.

Positives

Overall, I feel like this book was a great way to set up what we would expect from the series going forward. It introduces the revelation of Pa Salt’s death, introduces the siblings, and sets up the journey each will be going on when they decide to look into their family history. It also introduces the set up of getting a look into the lives of the person each sister is looking into.

With how it’s split, I do feel like the change in point of view (first for the sister and third for the person they’re researching) is a good set up. While it might always not have to do that when dealing with this kind of set up, it doesn’t hurt the book. I think it is a creative way to separate the two characters.

Out of all the sisters, Maia is certainly one of my favorites. She didn’t seem overly spoiled and was curious. She also seemed to have a close bond with Pa Salt, which given that she is the eldest, it would make sense that she felt particularly closer to him than some of the others.

Izabela’s story was also a pretty interesting read. I enjoyed how she wanted to find love and learn. However, due to her family’s social status, she found it hard to find love that didn’t feel arranged. I also like how her story tied to the house and the elderly lady that lived in it.

Negatives

One critique I do see with these stories is how the dialogue doesn’t always feel good or how the sisters interact with each other. While I personally see where they are coming from, I would say that it was less of an issue for me when reading it. That’s not to say it couldn’t use work, just that other things bothered me more.

While I do get why the elderly lady doesn’t want to be bothered with Maia’s inquiry, I do feel like she was a little harsh/stubborn. It does work itself out eventually, but this was a character who wasn’t that likeable initially when I first read it.

And I can kind of agree with the critique with how Izabela treats the man she married. Because while I know she loved the gentleman who was working on Christ the Redeemer, but I do feel like they could have handled the husband and the constructor situation a little differently. Because, again, while I get the reason for it, it does feel a bit unfair for Izabela’s husband, who genuinely loved her.

Conclusion

Overall, I would give The Seven Sisters an eight out of ten. I enjoyed the concept and some of the characters, but there were areas that I feel it could have done better. This book is one of my favorites, with the Moon Sister being the other. So if you’re looking to check out something a little different, I would recommend giving it a try.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: Review

Here we have one of, if not the most, critically panned Michael Bay Transformers movies. Alongside The Last Knight, Revenge of the Fallen is considered one of the worst of the franchise. Not that everyone was thrilled with the series to begin with, but this is a movie that is considered bottom tier. Released in 2009, two years after the first installment of the franchise, Revenge of the Fallen certainly turned a few heads.

I would have to agree, which I will get into in a moment. I feel like I may have seen this movie in theaters, but I can’t recall, so I cannot say what my initial impression was. I remember seeing Dark of the Moon in theaters, which is why I think I did, but I’m currently drawing a blank.

The Review

While I have a slight nostalgic attachment to this film, I can certainly admit that I am not as sentimental/nostalgic for this movie as I am for the 2007 movie. I am certainly more critical of this movie, and have a lot more issues with this movie, that I am less likely to excuse. And while this may not be the case for everyone, for me, this movie does feel like it goes faster. That’s neither a positive or a negative, but sometimes movies feel like they will either drag or go by really fast.

Negative: Risqué Humor/Content

If you’ve read my review for the 2007 movie, you may recall one of my critiques was how some of the humor didn’t hit because I felt like it was a bit raunchy/risqué. However, I feel like it was a little tamer there than it was here.

Once again, considering that Transformers is a series meant for a younger audience, and can be enjoyed by all ages, these jokes and cues felt like it was dialed to eleven. And not in a good way.

I don’t care if this is a PG-13 movie. Not all PG-13 movies need to be raunchy or risqué. And this is still a movie that parents would bring their kids to, just like they would for the similarly rated Avengers movies. As such, these kind of jokes could be deemed as immature and/or inappropriate for kids.

Whether it be Simmons’ comment about Demolisher’s underside, the whole scene with Alice, or Wheelie’s whole thing with Mikaela when Jetfire was introduced, this movie made some questionable choices in the humor department. While humor is certainly subjective, this is a critique that people will commonly have with this movie.

Positive: Cybertronians and Music

I’m lumping these two together since I don’t feel like there is enough for me to add for either. Because unlike the previous movie review, where I felt it was justified to have them separate, I don’t think they need to be here. The Transformers still look good here. The effects used to create them are solid. Of course Michael Bay’s signature explosion flair is there, but if we’re talking strictly about the Cybertronians, they’re good.

The music is also good. Steve Jablonsky’s score still works great here. As does the vocal tracks. I have no complaints about the music.

Negative: The Plot Device that is the Matrix of Leadership

Something that feels out of place is the whole search for the Matrix of Leadership. They spend a good chunk of the movie trying to find it so they can revive Optimus. And while I do get the reason behind it, I can’t help but think that them searching for it feels like a bad plot device. A cliché macguffin that the heroes and villains both want for their own reasons. One to save the world and revive Optimus. The other, to destroy the world.

Also from a lore perspective, it feels problematic. If you are not familiar with the Matrix of Leadership, you may think that it was just a plot device/macguffin to keep the movie going. However, that isn’t entirely the case. Originally, the Matrix of Leadership was an artifact given to Primes/Autobot Leaders and was what turned the humble Orion Pax into Optimus Prime. It’s said to contain remnants of Primus, the original Cybertronian.

And while it can be removed from one Autobot and passed down to another, it should not have been the case here. It feels like it was something Optimus should have already and maybe have it a) passed to another Autobot (presumably Bumblebee) or b) It stuck with him. That way, if the Decepticons still wanted it and the Autobots wanted to revive Optimus, at least they’d have it to do so while evading the Decepticons.

Granted, the Matrix of Leadership may still be considered a bit of a macguffin/plot device in the other Transformers media, which I won’t argue. It is kind of a strange artifact and its uses could be seen as such.

Positive: The Concept

While maybe not executed well, I’d say the concept for the story was good. The idea of a Fallen Prime seeking out vengeance against Optimus and the Autobots sounds like a cool concept. The revival of Megatron was also a solid concept (granted it wasn’t the Galavtron treatment like we would get later on, but still) and killing Optimus similarly to how he was killed in the 1986 animated movie was a neat touch.

All of these would make for a good story. The drama of losing Optimus, the panic that there is a vengeful Prime out there, and the chaos of reviving Megatron thrown into the mix would make for a solid movie. Certainly a solid sequel. I may dock points for the execution, but a good concept was there. But compared to the movie, I feel like it’s not as much of one given how it’s only ever used when it involves Optimus and death (as well as when he gets it as Orion Pax).

Negative: New Characters (Mudflap, Skids, Wheelie, and Leo)

I considered doing a Neutral point for characters, but since I had a lot of critiques for the newer characters introduced, I chose not to. I enjoyed Mikaela and, while I didn’t quite like the Devastator joke he made, I did enjoy Simmons’ eccentric humor. He was funny, had good moments, and John Turturro is just a joy in these movies (I may be in a minority saying that, but Simmons is one of the few human characters I enjoyed in the series). I also thought that Jetfire was a neat addition and it was interesting to see how they worked Soundwave and Ravage, with Frank Welker returning to voice the former.

That’s about all I wanted to say about the more positive characters (Sam’s neutral to me, at least in this movie, and I never really cared much for his parents). The next few characters are not so lucky.

Skids and Mudflap are a duo notoriously criticized, and I can’t say without merit. It has been stated that they are offensive racial stereotypes. While they certainly are, they also are just down right annoying. Nothing they bring to the table is anything of value. They weren’t entertaining, nor were they necessary.

The same could be said for Wheelie. He wasn’t really amusing. He tries to get an All Spark sliver, provides some exposition, and is a little too attached to Mikaela. Viewers only have to deal with him for like two movies. And while he may have seemed “tamer” in Dark of the Moon, I can’t say he got any better on a personal level in my opinion.

And then there’s Leo. Much like the previous three characters, he did not feel necessary to the plot. He just acted dramatic (for humor’s sake I would assume) and made as the comic relief character. Leo feels like a stereotypical conspiracy theorist mixed with a comic relief character. While I am not implying that all comic relief characters are terrible, how they are written/executed can make them that way. And I feel like that was Leo’s problem.

Conclusion

I would give this movie a 5.5 out of 10. I did enjoy the music and the effects from this movie. It had some good action and the concept was there and had potential. However, the humor, offensive and/or annoying characters and the use of the Matrix of Leadership really drag this movie down.

Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point Review

This was a book suggested to me by a friend. While looking for a book to review, this was one that sounded pretty interesting. Admittedly, I am not the most savvy or invested in Fortnite. It is a game that I never really got acquainted with, nor had much interest in. However, Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point is certainly a curious idea.

This may be a smaller review, given that this is only a six issue event, but I found a few things to discuss. Expect some minor spoilers, but not many.

Review

I certainly wouldn’t expect his kind of a crossover. While Batman certainly could fit into Fortnite as a skin or what have you makes sense, I wouldn’t think that the two franchises would work as a comic crossover. Sure, DC certainly has a lot of weird universes and crossovers (for instance Doomsday Clock, Flashpoint, and Dark Metal), but if you asked me if I thought they’d actually do a Batman/Fortnite crossover, I wouldn’t expect it.

That said, it is an interesting and pretty fun read. I may not be much of a Fortnite player, but I thought it was neat to see how they approached it: a wormhole opening up and Batman, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Deathstroke all found themselves pulled into the world of Fortnite. No one remembers who they are or knows where they are. Every twenty two minutes the time is reset and everything they did prior to it is wiped from their memories.

As Batman tries to figure out what’s going on, and encountering Catwoman (again), he tries to get familiar with the world. And once they figure out the first puzzle, they find themselves trying to figure out the next.

With it being only six issues, I feel like it had enough time to do what it wanted to. It didn’t feel too rushed or like it needed longer. I don’t think it would suffer if it was an issue or two longer, but keeping it at six worked.

Overall, I would give this a 7.5 out of 10. It had some great art and a fun concept that I feel people may be able to enjoy. And while maybe not something on the scale of The Killing Joke or Death in the Family, it certainly was an amusing look into a crossover with two well known franchises.

Transformers (2007): A Review

Being a 90’s kids, Transformers was one of the biggest animated franchises I grew up around. Maybe not the only animated staple, as Cartoon Network, Toonami, and Nickelodeon also great line ups of animation that enjoyed (including Courage the Cowardly Dog, Scooby Doo, Hey Arnold, Sponge Bob, and Dragon Ball Z among others), but it was a franchise that certainly had a growing fanbase sine the mid 1980’s, 1984 to be exact.

While I don’t remember watching Beast Wars and Beast Machines as much (I may have, but don’t remember), I would say the Unicron Trilogy (Armada, Energon, and Cybertron), were staples that I watched. Hot Rod was a favorite of mine, I didn’t mind Energon as much (though looking back, I can see the complaints and agree with them), and Cybertron’s animation was pretty good in my opinion.

Jump to 2007 and the first Transformers movie directed by Michael Bay was released. I remember seeing it with a cousin that summer and really enjoying it. Having never seen the 1984 Transformers (also know as Transformers G1 or just G1), it was the first movie that introduced me to what I called the “G1 Team” (essentially, well known bots of the G1 series). While the Michael Bay Transformers, a.k.a. Bayformers, may not have aged well, nor is it a perfect series in general, the first movie is one that I look back on fondly. So I thought I would do a review for it.

I may do a review for all of the other movies, including Bumblebee, which isn’t technically a Bayformers movie, but I still have to see. But today, I’d like to focus on this movie.

The Review

The Michael Bay movies are certainly a mixed bag and each movie may be a hit or miss for viewers (be they Transformer fans or not). Out of all of them, I would argue that the first movie is the best. It still has it’s flaws, but compared to say Revenge of the Fallen (a guilty pleasure of mine) and The Last Knight, I feel this movie is a much better one.

Positive: The Look and Sound of the Autobots and Decepticons

CGI is a tricky business and there is such a thing as too much and too little. As well as good and bad CGI depending on the technology, time, and effort. Since the Cybertronians (the actual name of the Transformers as a species) require a little more effort, with their vehicle forms being an exception, obviously CGI was going to be a must.

In my opinion, I think the CGI for them worked really well. Each of them look like how you would expect and look very mechanical (as they should). Even with Optimus having to have a slight color change with red areas being changed to flames, it works. And if you’re wondering why they did that, according to some sources, it was due to the red not being a good color to work with (green screen/motion/etc.) and the flames just looking cool.

Each Autobot and Decepticon looked pretty unique. They were all various types of vehicles and builds. And while the Decepticons may have had a more grey/monochrome color scheme, where as the Autobots had a bit more color, there was enough details to differentiate them.

The voice cast also is really well cast in my opinion. And while most might not have been tied to a Transformers property previously (For instance Hugo Weaving as Megatron and Jess Harmell as Ironhide), one Transformers veteran does return to the helm. That being Optimus Prime’s (and one dower Eeyore’s) 1984 actor Peter Cullen. Having not voiced Optimus much since G1, this was certainly a nice return to form and Peter Cullen would go on to voice Optimus in a few more Transformers related titles (like Transformers Prime, War for Cybertron, Fall of Cybertron, and Rescue Bots).

Negative: Too Focused on Human Characters

While having time to develop the human characters isn’t inherently a bad thing, there were times that it felt like it focused a bit too much on them. I don’t think we needed an extended scene for the interrogation nor do I feel like we needed a drawn out awkward scene with Sam and Mikaela when Bumblebee tires to set the mood.

I also feel that, at times, some of the human characters are not all that interesting and/or annoying. For example, while I kind of enjoyed the humor of Agent Simmons towards the climax of the movies (John Turturro was entertaining as the character), I did find him aggrivsting when he was first introduced in the film. Glen, the character who helped figure out that the sound/signal was coming from Frenzy was uninteresting, and Miles, Sam’s friend, felt unnecessary. Quite frankly, I feel like they could have taken out a character or two (mostly Miles and Trent) and they wouldn’t have changed the plot of the movie much if any.

Personally, I would have loved a scene or two that explored the war on Cybertron. Maybe a flashback of how Bumblebee lost his voice (a prequel comic kind of did that, but I feel not everyone would have read it) and prologue showing how The Cube was lost.

Positive: The Action

The action of this movie worked really well. The fight with Scorponok and the climax were the big battles. There were also some good smaller battles too. Like the Bumblebee vs Blackout fight and the Bonecrusher vs Optimus fight on the way to where the final battle took place.

For the fight with Scorponok, I feel it set up how the humans would initially react to such an attack. Not knowing what Scorponok was or where he came from certainly gave it an unknown territories type scenario. As well as setting up the realization that Scorponok wasn’t Earth made from a more casual observer (as Sector 7, the top secret government agency, already knew).

However, I think the battle in Mission City was the better battle of the two. An all out brawl was just what the climax needed. It’s Autobot vs Decepticon with some help from the Autobots’ human companions. Both sides want The Cube for different reasons: destruction vs preservation and not every character makes it out alive, with both sides losing allies (i.e. Jazz is killed by Megatron, Bonecrusher is killed by Optimus, Brawl and Blackout are killed by the human allies). Not even Bumblebee emerges unscathed, having lost both feet.

The action scenes are well done and serve the purpose they need to. Even of they don’t seem great in their entirety.

Negative: The Humor Doesn’t Always Hit

While I feel certain entries in the Bayformers series certainly have worse humor, I do feel like some of the humor here just doesn’t stick. Mostly when it comes to the more raunchy/risqué humor. Yes, this is a PG-13 movie, and this kind of humor can be utilized here, however, for a movie about sentient transforming robots, it doesn’t really fit. There’s also a particularly literal potty joke that, while in certain children media may come off as more tame, may come off as more eye rolling than actually funny.

Especially since this is a movie where parents may take their kids to go see (since much like the Avengers films, these are franchises that can be enjoyed by all ages despite the PG-13 rating). Again it’s worse in other movies than it is in this movie (just wait until I get to Revenge of the Fallen), but this kind of humor is simple flat in my opinion.

While certain humor does land, like the tone of the scene when Simmons, Maggie, Glen, and the Secretary of Defense deal with Frenzy. How Bumblebee handles Bobby Bolivia tries to get Sam into buying another vehicle and the Autobots trying to avoid being caught by Sam’s parents while he looks for his great grandfather’s glasses, where also well humored moments. However, the humor as a whole just didn’t lands, and I feel like the humor that didn’t do bring down the move a bit.

Positive: A Solid Enough Story

While the humor at times may feel off and the focus on the human characters a bit uninteresting, Transformers 2007 does have a solid story. I feel that it is everything you would expect from a introductory Transformers film. It brings them to Earth, shows how some people would react to sentient, unearthly robots, and gave us a reasonably constructed conflict.

Positive: The Music

Much like the look of the Cybertronians, I would say that the music is another positive that carries throughout the series. Between the (instrumental) score by Steve Jablonsky and the various main stream songs (for example several Linkin Park songs) work really well. None of the songs feel particularly jarring and linger as long as they need to.

Conclusion

Overall, I would gives this movie a seven out of ten. While not a perfect movie, and maybe not what people would have expected from a Transformers movie, it did a mostly good job. The designs of the Cybertronians were good and identifiable. The story was solid enough to work. It had plenty of action and well selected music added. And while the humor didn’t stick, and it felt that it focused on the human characters, I do feel that this was certainly an entertaining movie.