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Watch the World Burn Wednesday (On Sunday)

Any number of days late and dollars short, but I wrote this so I might as well post it.

What I've Finished Reading

Two Marvel comic book collections, The Dark Phoenix Saga and The Complete Age of Apocalypse, and At Lady Molly's by Anthony Powell.

It was interesting to see the change in art and narrative style over time - The Age of Apocalypse stories came out after Dark Phoenix and before Black Panther, and seem to get the worst of both worlds. It has less of the direct, naive explaining of Dark Phoenix, but everyone is still monologuing about their powers at the start of every issue; the art is sometimes hard to see, not just hard to "read" like some of the panels in Black Panther, and much less attractive: lots of giant toothy mouths and small-faced women with no buttocks. All the men have stubble because it's a Grim Alternate Future, and Apocalypse, who was delightfully insufferable in the X-Men cartoons of the 90s, hardly seems like a character here. Partly this is an art problem: when practically everyone in your social circle is a gritty-toothed roid mountain, it's hard to loom effectively. The one character who does stand out and is consistently likable is Jubilation Lee, Bratty World-Saving Teen. The artist for her series clearly liked her a lot, because her face is more individual and attractive than anyone else's on any given page.

Dark Phoenix was more classically cartoonish and much, much easier to follow. Jean Grey, one of the original X-Men, is a powerful psychic whose abilities become too much for her to control. Some unscrupulous fellow psychics try to take advantage of her for personal gain, she fights back, and suddenly she's an unstoppable cosmic menace who destroys entire solar systems without thinking. Naturally this is upsetting for Jean and her friends, not to mention all those people she killed. The narrative style is pure old-fashioned Marvel cheese, with lots of in-dialogue exposition and apparently random bolding! but it's a form like any other, and it works on its own terms. There are some surprisingly effective panels. When Jean carelessly devours a star, we get our first and last glimpse of the people whose planet she destroyed, and we're shown everything we need to know about them in a single image: they're alien, intelligent, and afraid. They hold on to one another in the blinding light, a split second before the end.

What Anthony Powell has in common with Marvel Comics is that the same people keep showing up, changed but not entirely changed, and eventually you give up on the conventional expectation of an ending.

ETA on Sunday: For some reason At Lady Molly's and Casanova's Chinese Restaurant have been the only things I've managed to read in the past few days: all of Powell's gabby friends gabbing about who's getting divorced and who is too awful for words in the fashionable neighborhoods of the Thirties. Every now and then someone announces that they're going off to fight in Spain, and the rest of the cast make little choking sounds and ease themselves back into the warm whirlpool of their gossip. It's neither soothing nor overwhelming. I'm not sure what it is, but it's what I've been reading.

What I'm Reading Now

I had to read The Count of Monte Cristo a bunch of times because I couldn't figure out what the deal was with Villefort. Is he alive or dead? Alive, apparently, but then who did B. stab and steal a baby from? I don't know! I seem to have missed a thread somewhere. Anyway, I was almost starting to be bored for a second there, but now things are back to good thanks to Dantes' visit to the Morrel family! [Monte Cristo SPOILERS through about Chapter 56]

The Morrel kids, now thriving and happy, have made a little shrine of the purse and diamond from The Sinbad the Sailor Incident.
"- oh, you make us happy by giving us an excuse for expatiating on the subject. If we wanted to conceal the noble action this purse commemorates, we could not expose it to view. Oh, would we could relate it everywhere and to everyone, so that the emotion of our unknown benefactor might reveal his presence."


"Ah, really," said Monte Cristo in a half-stifled voice.

Honestly, I love the unknown benefactor stuff so much more than the Wheels of Revenge business. It may just be that the wheels aren't properly in place yet? But it's not really just that.

We also hear a little more from Haidee, Dantes' Greek "slave"/slave?/mistress?/ward? who even knows. It's a little on the dodgy side, whatever it is:

"Youth is a flower of which love is the fruit; happy is he who, after having watched its silent growth, is permitted to gather and call it his own."

Ew. But Haidee, it turns out, has a score of her own to settle, so we'll see where this goes.

Maximilien and Valentine are adorable. I hope Dantes' "revenge" is going to include helping them run off together in defiance of M. de Villefort's wishes, and not traumatizing them with M. de Villefort's gruesome death and/or descent into madness. Please be kind to the adorable young people, Dantes! I hope his meeting with the Morrels is what it seems, evidence that there's still a light dusting of cinnamon in the dark whorls of his heart.



osprey_archer thinks she's spotted a potential Runaway Lesbian in the cast, and I agree.

I began Balthazar what seems like ages ago now, and vaguely recall being surprised by how much I liked it, but we'll save Lawrence Durrell for next time.

What I Plan to Read Next

Probably Anthony Powell. Other books, eventually. Posting may be delayed.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
lost_spook
Nov. 13th, 2016 06:23 pm (UTC)


Ew. But Haidee, it turns out, has a score of her own to settle, so we'll see where this goes.

And, as I said, there's a possible relationship of the type you don't much like. ;-p

I can't remember enough specific details to say anything about Villefort or who got stabbed (was he stabbed but not fatally). All I can say is that everybody is connected in some way, that's certain.

Beyond that, sitting on my SPOILERS probably just gets harder. :-D

a_phoenixdragon
Nov. 13th, 2016 07:58 pm (UTC)
*HUGS*
osprey_archer
Nov. 13th, 2016 10:56 pm (UTC)
a light dusting of cinnamon in the dark whorls of his heart.

Yesss, I love this description of Dantes. As much as he hates to show it, I think there is some cinnamon left! He's a classic would-be cynical antihero with a heart of gold.

I love the Morrel kids and their little shrine. I bet they show it to everyone who comes into the house as soon as they can without seeming awkward, JUST IN CASE it is their mysterious benefactor come in disguise to see if they've lived up to his benefaction.

Did Dantes know that Haidee just happened to have a score of her own to settle against the very same people upon whom he must avenge himself? Or was Dumas just totally chill with introducing one more fantastic coincidence? Presumably we'll get more detail about how he found her and that will clear the mystery up.

And YES, I am 95% certain that Eugenie is going to turn Runaway Lesbian at any moment. Perhaps she will use the turmoil caused by Valentine and Maximilien's potential elopement to cover her own escape? Although old Granpere Noirtier would have to die before Valentine would ever leave him, so I think we may not have much movement on that front for a while...
scripsi
Nov. 14th, 2016 09:23 pm (UTC)
Dumas can be very annoying with introducing plot elements with explanations yet forthcoming. Well, most plots are, but his are excessive!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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