Review: Avatar, The Legend of Korra, book 2: Spirits

Legend of Korra 2

The second season of Legend of Korra returns with the characters we came to know so well in the first season, focussing, of course, on avatar Korra, who is now a master of all four elements.

But her friends, Mako, Bolin, Azami and others are of course also still present.

A whole new cast of characters is added to the show, we get more acquainted with the avatar’s family on the South Pole, but also that of air master Tenzin.

Whilst the focus is less on steam and diesel style technology, there is still plenty of it present in the series to keep it something that fits the ‘punk label.

Spirits is a great continuation of the series. The old characters have grown, its fun to see them interact with the additions to the cast and more importantly, the back story of the entire avatar concept is properly delved into, and a lot of questions that have originally been raised in Aang’s storyline (the original Avatar cartoon) are now being answered.

As the title already suggests, season 2 largely revolves around the spirit world, something that has always been quite present in the avatar universe, but rarely delved into very deeply.

It is thus wonderful to see it really featured in this season.

I would say it is necessary to have seen book one (Air) first, because else you will have missed a lot of back story and information you need to really understand all that is happening in Spirits. It is, however, not really necessary to have seen the first Avatar series, although of course it does help to have seen all of it.

Avatar remains one of the best cartoons available at the moment, and with the second season it has only improved on its storytelling, overall plot and characters, making it a great watch for everyone that loves cartoons.

Manga Review: City Hall, Tome 5

City Hall tome 5

The fifth instalment of French steampunk manga City Hall introduces a whole new cast of characters crossing the path of our familiar trio of heroes: Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle and Amelia Earhart. But it also marks the return of Harry Houdini, who is finding himself in a world quite unlike anything he’s ever encountered.

The plot which was set in previous editions continues to weave it’s way along steadily, and the new additions to the cast only enrich the story and add to ongoing plot.

This time the focus is a little less on familiar villains, instead it focusses more on events crucial to the continuation of the storyline and personal interaction between characters.

Once again, the only downside to City Hall its limited availability. It’s easy enough to come by in France or the French speaking side of Belgium, but by only releasing it in this language, a lot of lovers of steampunk literature/graphic stories are missing out. You only need pretty basic French to be able to read it, but you need to know your way around the language regardless. And admittedly the slang and colloquialisms can be terribly confusing if it’s not your native language.

I really hope that Ankama (the publisher) will finally get a move on and have this awesome series translated to English at the very least (and not just the first issue, but all of them) so more people can enjoy these franga, as they are definitely one of the best steampunk works out there at the moment, and the story keeps on getting better every single edition.

Comic Review: The Rocketeer & The Spirit “Pulp Friction”

Pulp Friction cover

The Rocketeer once again returns from the presses of IDW Publishing, with an all new adventure. This time he’s not alone but teams up with that other much loved dieselpunk pulp hero: Will Eisner‘s The Spirit.

Which is great news for fans of both heroes, as this particular crossover is pretty brilliant.

The story switches between both Central City, homebase to the Denny Colt, aka the Spirit, Ellen and her father Commissioner Dolan, who end up investigation the unhappy demise of, who’s body ends up discovered by Cliff’s girlfriend Betty in LA. Teaming up with Cliff Secord, aka the Rocketeer; Betty and Peevy to unravel the mystery at hand and make sure the culprits get caught. Travelling back and forth, with new villains and of course, the Spirit’s nemesis the Octopus, who try to pull through a dastardly plot via a new technological development.

Let me tell you this, you will give a piece of tech we have in pretty much every household these days with suspicion for a moment after reading this particular dieselpunk volume.

Pulp Friction image

Even though it combines two very different settings, the author and artists do a fantastic job representing both fantastically, and combining these worlds in a realistic fashion that does both justice. And the little winks to older issues of both as well as the Spirit movie are simply little strokes of genius. If the original creators of these fantastic worlds and characters were still alive, they would surely feel that the team behind Pulp Friction did them more than proud.

This time IDW even managed to not screw over the chronology and the latest edition is indeed, timewise, the last in the series. They did, however, hire three different artists for 4 issues. The styles aren’t that radically different, but still, it would be nice to see one artist for an entire Rocketeer storyline for once.

Whilst this is, like the other issues of The Rocketeer so far, a standalone storyline, it does help to have read at least the original Rocketeer works by Dave Stevens so you know the back story of the main characters from that setting. The same goes for Will Eisner’s The Spirit, although you can get away with just watching the movie from a couple of years ago to get yourself up to date enough for this story. This isn’t a necessesity of course, but it would help, else you may be left with some questions.

All of this aside, putting both of these cult heroes together actually makes for the best Rocketeer release to date, and I personally hope that this will be the start of a separate IDW Publishing The Spirit series as well, it would be certainly be something I read and collect with as much pleasure as The Rocketeer. And I’m sure that many fans of this genre feel exactly the same way. A definite recommendation.

Book Review: “Property of a Lady Faire” by Simon R. Green

Property of a Lady Faire

Simon R. Green returns with his latest, and seventh, instalment in the Secret History series. One of the quintessential three in the same major plotline and setting (the other two being Ghost Finders and the Nightside).

And just like in many other books, characters from other settings play a part in this one, I shan’t divulge who exactly, as that would be spoilers, I will tell you that Nightside fans won’t be disappointed.

The premise of this book is that Eddie Drood once again finds himself doing dirty work whilst trying to survive and save the lives of others whilst at it, with enemies breathing down his neck left and right, with his girlfriend Molly Metcalf, the wild witch of the woods, by his side every step of the proverbial way.

Facing new and old enemies along the way, from, also as usual, within the Drood family and from outside of it.

There’s plot getting wrapped up, and questions left unanswered, so hopefully we’ll get more answers in the next installment.

I would say that this book, whilst having a good solid plot and making for an enjoyable read, is one that wraps up parts of ongoing plot whilst having its own story, and at the same time setting the premise for the next novel in the series.

The Drood family has a major new thing happen to them, but Eddie and Molly remain much of the same characters as they were before, so if you’re looking for personal growth, Property of a Lady Faire isn’t really the book where you’ll find it.

It is, however, a book true to the Secret History universe as we’ve come to know it, which could be both positive for those that enjoy it as it is, but also negative for those that want something a little bit different for a change.
It’s a good read regardless mind.

Secret History books remain a wink to the good old, still properly atom age style James Bond, so if you like that genre of secret agent mysteries, this book series is definitely one to consider. Especially as the author is a master of weaving in excellent pop culture references and steampunk as well as dieselpunk elements that don’t just bandwagon with what’s hip and happening right now, but that actually contribute to the story. This time in a pretty major way even.