Tag Archives: Fiction

Holy War: What it Did Wrong and How I Think a Story on Nightcrawler’s Priesthood Could Work

Having read a portion of Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men run, I don’t think it would surprise anyone who has read it if I said it is a bad run. In a way, that is the nature of comics. Some authors’ runs are good, some alright, and some bad. It all really depends.

Chuck Austen certainly falls into the bad category. While he might not be at the top of everyone’s disliked list, I can’t recall the last time I’ve heard people say any of his comics were good. Points made for why he is considered a bad writer comes down to things like characterization, characters introduced, stories, and how he treated a number of female characters during his run.

Playing devil’s advocate for a moment, I do think there were good concepts in his run. That despite the stories themselves being executed poorly, the concepts themselves are not bad. For instance, Nightcrawler at one point being a priest, but not anymore isn’t a bad idea. It’s just how Chuck Austen choose to approach it that made it a poorly received story.

That said, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Chuck Austen’s two worst arcs happen to center on Nightcrawler (Holy War and The Draco). And while I might think there was potential for some concepts in both, I by no mean think they were good stories.

Because of that, I thought I would take these two arcs and see how I think they could have been made better. I finished Holy War earlier this month and I had read The Draco back in August. So I thought this would be a good time to look back at these two arcs and how I think they could have been written better.

I decided to divide it into two different posts so that each arc can be discussed as thoroughly as possible on their own. I’m starting with Holy War since it came first and isn’t as poorly received as The Draco (though not by much). And to approach it, I have divided it up into three parts: A brief synopsis of the story, what the problem was, and what I would do to fix them.

Holy War

Holy War (423-424) was a two part conclusion to wrap up a plot point with the Church of Humanity. After an incident on the school grounds, the X-Men look to investigate. As it would turn out, Nightcrawler ended up becoming a priest though them. The only problem: none of the X-Men remember this happening when Nightcrawler knows he would have told them. When they go to look into it, not only do they find out that the Church of Humanity is attached to several deaths, but was looking to make Nightcrawler a pope only to then expose him as an antichrist so that they could convince people of the Rapture.

What Did Holy War Do Wrong?

For me, one major issues boils down to making Nightcrawler the figure head for this group’s plan. Yes, he looks sinister to the average person (a.k.a. he looks like a demon), but if there’s one thing Nightcrawler is known for is being a Catholic. Even if it’s not always front and center. So making him a pope only to make him an antichrist would feel wrong for the character.

I also feel like it’s super odd that people are surprised that Kurt would want to be a priest or had actually became one. While he might not “look the part”, his fellow X-Men should know that he’s Catholic. Heck, Logan and Kurt did talk about it during the Claremont run back in the 70’s and 80’s. So it’s not like him stating he’s religious is that much of an anomaly. It also shouldn’t be that farfetched that he could be a priest. Sure, it could be odd at first because they know people have given Nightcrawler flack for him being a “demon”, but not to the point that no one thinks he could be a priest. This issue hits Havoc the most since he was the most vocal about how Nightcrawler shouldn’t be a priest because of how he looks.

I also wasn’t too thrilled with how Cyclops approached Nightcrawler at the beginning. It’s more of a nitpick for me, but something about Cyclops how he approached Nightcrawler felt too belligerent for me. I get that six X-Men getting hurt was an issue, but lashing out at Nightcrawler felt like overkill.

How suggestive characters were in this arc is another issue. Both verbally and visually. I can agree that this was an issue because a lot of the comments and how one or two female characters looked felt unnecessary. And the story could have been fine without it.

Before I If I had to give this anything positive, its the art. I know the art might not mean much considering I’m mainly talking about the story itself, however, if there was one thing that I thought it did better than The Draco, it was that. Because while Philip Tan does the cover art, which is a critique for The Draco, the artwork in the story itself is fine.

What a Better Story Could Look Like

I have a few ways that this could have been fixed. First off, separate wanting to make Nightcrawler this antichrist figure and Nightcrawler being a priest. In theory I could see both being their own story. From there, I could see a few ideas playing out.

Note: Kurt is no longer considered a priest. There’s a panel or two that addresses this in I believe Legion of X. There, he states how he went through all the vows and such, but due to circumstance, certain things didn’t hold up any longer. The vow of chastity being one that didn’t hold up.

  1. Kurt becomes a priest, but leaves the church he’s stationed at because of overwhelming anti-mutant sentiments: This is one of two options where Kurt does become a priest, but decides to
  2. Kurt becomes a priest and the church he’s established at respects and appreciates him, but burnout and/or his heart not being in it anymore is what prompts him to retire: This one is a happier alternative to the previous one. Maybe he does go through the process of becoming a priest and finds a church where things work out for him. He’s respected and the people there accept and really like him. However, he ends up retiring. Maybe juggling his daily life, the X-Men, and priesthood makes him feel burnt out. Or perhaps, he feels as though his heart is no longer in it due to juggling everything and feeling like he isn’t as helpful as he could be. So he retires, leaving the church on good terms and is offered a position if he chooses to return in the future.

These are a ways I feel could have been a better story for Holy War. For me, I think if they removed the whole take down the Catholic Church by revealing Nightcrawler is the better option.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I do feel Holy War could have had the potential to be a good story had the story itself been written differently. Personally, I think if they just did a story focusing on Nightcrawler as a priest but eventually retiring, I think that would have been a better idea in the long run. Nightcrawler retiring on his own terms, be it from burnout or feeling it was his time, or the church loathing mutants, I feel would also be a reasonable way for him to no longer be a priest.

Note that I did consider an idea for the cult idea where a group tried to use Nightcrawler’s likeness for their cause. And in it, Nightcrawler would denounce it both in private and publicly (via a broadcast showing him taking down the cult that paraded around with his likeness). However, given how poorly received that angle in Holy War was, I thought it best to avoid what an alternative focusing solely on that would look like.

But what do you think? Do you think the concepts behind Holy War could have been good? Why or why not? How would you approach an altered version of it?

Shadow Sister: A Review

Back to reviewing this series by Lucinda Riley. Took a little break from reviewing the series since I had a few other projects in the works and I didn’t have the motivation to pick it back up. But now that I do, I’m here to discuss Shadow Sister, one of two books I would consider somewhere in the middle in terms of enjoyment, but one that I did enjoy aspects of.

General Disclaimer

While this series does involve each character finding their birth family, I do not believe that it was the author’s intent to diminish adopted families. Having read the series, I interpreted it as each daughter being given the choice to find their birth families if they so choose. With each daughter choosing to investigate their history.

Synopsis

The Shadow Sister is book three of the series and focuses on Asterope “Star” D’Aplièse, the third sister of Pa Salts (adopted) children. After the death of Pa Salt, Star and CeCe end up in England. As she investigates Flora and meets new people who will have a connection to her and her birth family, she opens herself to love and distances herself from CeCe.

Meanwhile, Flora MacNichol’s story of independence, schemes, and finding out what it means to love. Things take an unusual turn when Flora starts working as a hostess for Alice Keppel and she finds herself pulled into more than she bargained for in regards to love and her family. Including meeting a man she finds herself intrigued by.

Positives

What I enjoyed about it was it’s focus on more book and writer themes/backdrops. I am a bit of a reader and writer myself, so that was a nice touch of personality. The setting was nice too since it felt quaint and comfortable. I also liked Orlando and how he owned a book shop. Though I might not have liked certain reactions later on in the book, I did like Orlando’s character. And on a personal note, as someone who has a history of seizures, I related to him in that regard. Mouse was also an interesting character once readers got to know his story.

Flora’s story was pretty nice to. While maybe a little formulaic, I did like her character and story. I also enjoyed how she looked up to Beatrice Potter (well known children’s author and illustrator) and I believe the two did end up meeting.

Critiques

I think my biggest critique with this book was with how Star and CeCe’s personal connection becomes distant. While I was fine with them growing apart, with both characters needing to grow into their own people, I felt like there wasn’t as much communication before that point.

For me, it felt like Star wasn’t as attentive to CeCe’s feelings at times. She left CeCe to do her own thing, which was understandable in some ways, but I did feel like there wasn’t much communication between the two once Star got going with her investigating. And while CeCe was looking into some art related schooling, from what I recall, we dodn’t get to see much of her perspective on the situation. At least not until she leaves the letter for Star explaining why she left.

While I would want their relationship not to evolve and grow, it just felt like there wasn’t much communication between the two to the point where I felt bad when CeCe left Star the way she did.

Conclusion

Overall, I would give this story a six and a half out of ten. I enjoyed the setting, Flora’s story, and the side characters introduced. However, I wasn’t the biggest fan of how Star and CeCe had a falling out, and that hindered that for me a little bit.

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.

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.