Skyward Volume 1 by Joe Henderson – A Review

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Skyward Volume 1 by Joe Henderson
Art by Lee Garbett and Antonio Fabela
Comic Books | Sci-Fi
Goodreads
Published by Image Comics
Released September 25, 2018
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

I would like to preface this review by mentioning Hoopla, a website that allows you to check out all sorts of books, comics, films and television shows, and audiobooks using your library card. I use it exclusively to read non-Marvel comic books (I use Marvel Unlimited to read those), and I’ve been so impressed by their selection. I noticed this book there and the premise caught my eye.

Skyward is a comic series about Willa Fowler, a woman living on Earth after gravity has gone haywire. In volume one, we don’t learn what caused G-day to happen, just that it was caused in part by her father. We watch as Willa discovers that one of the richest men in the world, Roger Barrow, used to work with her father. She reaches out to him to try to help her father, who has become a recluse. Mr. Barrow isn’t quite what she was expecting, however, and she finds herself trying to save both her and her father’s life instead.

As I mentioned already, I really enjoyed the premise of this series, although I have many questions that I hope will get answered in future issues. Questions such as what happened to large bodies of water when gravity stopped working? How are birds doing with this change? Stuff like that.

The art was beautiful in this series and the coloring perfect. I’ve found that the color palette of a comic book has just as much power as the art itself on setting the tone of the story.

The story was well-paced and I enjoyed the number of panels that focused on the world of the people living “above.” The only gripe I had with Skyward was that some of the side characters seemed very one-dimensional and that Willa was the only one who felt fully fleshed out. Hopefully, that changes with the later issues/volume two.

I definitely recommend Skyward for people looking for a unique new comic series to get hooked on. I’m looking forward to reading volume two.

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir – A Review

“Curse this world for what it does to the mothers, for what it does to the daughters. Curse it for making us strong through loss and pain, our hearts torn from our chests again and again. Curse it for forcing us to endure.” 

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The Book

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Random House
Released June 2018
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Facebook | Pinterest
Affiliate Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | ThriftBooks

Read my reviews of the first two books in this series:

Synopsis

This is the third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series, following the stories of Laia, Elias, Helene, and more. The ruthless Keris Veturia is still up to something, and the Nightbringer is getting closer to his nefarious goals.

Review (SPOILER WARNING!!!!!)

The An Ember in the Ashes series has quickly become one of my favorites. I felt the widest range of emotions possible as I read this third book in the series, and I don’t know how I’m going to survive until the fourth book is out, which doesn’t even have a release date yet!

I’m including spoilers in this review because it’s impossible not to. If you haven’t finished A Reaper at the Gates yet, or (gasp!) you haven’t read An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night, bookmark this page and come back to it once you’ve read them. This is the kind of book where you want to be surprised and shocked at the twists and turns that take place.

First of all, we have a new narrator in this book: the Nightbringer. It was fascinating seeing his side of the story, and I hope that his narratives are much more prevalent in the next book. I enjoy complex antagonists, and he’s definitely turning out to be that. In addition, it was interesting having a non-human narrator.

Since the first moment Laia and Elias met in the first book, I’ve wanted them to end up together, safe and living a sweet, quiet life. Of course, because this series is all the pain, we don’t get that. By the end of the book, Elias fully becomes the Soul Catcher, and the last encounter he and Laia have was too much for my fragile heart to take, and when she gave him back the wooden armband he made for her, my heart literally shattered into a million pieces.

The real star of this entire book is Helene, aka the Blood Shrike. I never disliked Helene as a character in the first two books, but neither did I love her; she was just sort of… there. In A Reaper at the Gates, however, she really comes into her own and shines. So much of the story is centered on the increasingly difficult choices she needs to make, and she’s torn between following Marcus’ orders to save her little sister and doing what’s best for the empire. We learn how much she cares for her people, and not just the Martials, but everyone. One of my favorite moments in the book is when she finally puts an end to Marcus – it was such a powerful scene and no one deserved to kill him as much as she did.

A criticism I had about the book was that for the first half, it can be a little disorienting. We’re constantly in different locations, with different characters, and there’s a lot going on. I’ve always been a fan of multiple narratives, but there were a few times while reading this that I felt it may be too much.

Like I’ve mentioned with the previous two books, Tahir’s writing style is quick-paced and exciting, making these relatively lengthy books easy to read. Everything flows beautifully leaves you wanting more.

Verdict

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This is definitely a five-star book, and I recommend this entire series for anyone looking for a great young adult fantasy series.

Comic Book Review: Black Bolt by Saladin Ahmed & Christian Ward

The Comic Book

Black Bolt (Issues 1-12), collected in Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
Written by Saladin Ahmed (Twitter | Patreon)
Art by Christian Ward (Website |Twitter | Tumblr) & Frazer Irving (Tumblr |Instagram)
Goodreads (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2)
Marvel Unlimited
Published by Marvel, 2018

What It Is

Black Bolt is the King of the Inhumans. Well, actually, he was King, but he abdicated his throne and now finds himself in an ancient Inhuman prison out among the stars. He had meant to place his brother, Maximus the Mad, in the prison, but Maximus used his technology and wits to change places with Black Bolt.

The prison would be terrifying by anyone’s standards. Black Bolt’s powers are gone, and he has died many times at the hands of the mysterious Jailer, only to be brought back to life. He meets some of the other prisoners and befriends them, and they work together to escape. Their escape comes at a cost though.

This series explores Black Bolt’s history, his relationship with his son, Ahura, and who he is versus who he wants to be.

In case you’re not familiar with Black Bolt or the Inhumans, here’s a quick refresher:

My Thoughts

I loved everything about this series, from the writing to the art. Especially the art. I remember picking the first few issues of this series up in my local comic book shop months and months ago. I wasn’t a big Inhumans fan, but Black Bolt seemed like a pretty interesting character. After all, writing a character that cannot speak takes talent (Black Bolt’s power is the ability to topple enemies and even entire cities with just his voice). The reason I ended up buying all of these issues, however, was due to Christian Ward’s spectacular art. Every time I open up one of these issues, I’m blown away by the characters and the vibrant colors.

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Those are a few of my favorite examples, but it’s all good. Good art is vital for a comic book series; I can’t tell you how many issues I’ve picked up and abandoned because of how terrible the art was. After reading this Black Bolt series, however, I have found myself seeking out all of Christian Ward’s art.

I need to talk about Saladin Ahmed’s talent as a writer as well. As I mentioned before, a writer needs to get creative when telling the story of a character who cannot speak. Granted, there are parts of this series, such as in the prison, when Black Bolt loses his powers and is able to safely talk with his friends, but for the most part, he’s still the same Black Bolt we’ve come to know. With creative storytelling and the art to back it up, Black Bolt is an incredibly dynamic character who wants to save his friends and return to the world he knows.

I appreciated the character of Blinky a lot. She’s a child who was thrown into the prison after stealing at a bazaar and can use her Inner Eye to communicate with others and share memories. I love the childlike innocence her character brings to the story.

Blinky - Black Bolt, Marvel Comics
Blinky

Another aspect of the story I enjoyed was the peek into Black Bolt’s past, where he was completely isolated and experimented on by his parents. His son, Ahura, gets to relive his father’s memories alongside Blinky, and the last couple of issues deals with Black Bolt’s fragile relationship with his son, and Ahura learning about some of the reasons his father acts the way he does.

The last thing I’ll say about this series has to do with a panel that made me laugh. For those of you who might not know, Black Bolt is short for the masterpiece that is his real name: Blackagar Boltagon. Seriously. His real name always makes me giggle, but I lost it when I came across this panel:

Blackagar Boltagon - Black Bolt - Marvel

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)

Buy. This is an amazing series, and a great introduction to Black Bolt if you’re new to comics.