Zazuu's Quest

It has been a while since I've posted any reviews of games so I might as well (re)start now. Zazuu's Quest is a very simple two to four player card game best for kids (or total stoners, I suppose) wherein you try to collect cards necessary to fill nine slots with other cards to hinder other players as well as help yourself, the idea being that Zazuu got separated from the rest of his fleet and needs to find his way back home. Apparently, there's a whole series of games that are either similar in idea or complexity (if not genre), which I think is a good thing. Thanks to Kaitie for getting me this. Zazuu's quest

Jane, the Fox & Me - Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault

In many respects this, originally French, book is a charming tale about a young, lonely girl who is dealing with typical problems of being ostracized at school and thinking she is fat. To escape she reads Jane Eyre and images her life as different. Not to give much away, but things change for the better, and that is where my problem comes from with this children's story. Helene's--the young girl--life takes a turn for the better with the introduction of a new friend. While this is fine, the message the book seems to relay is that your life can become better if you have a friend. No doubt this is true, but the end result is that the way to beat depression and loneliness is to be lucky enough to have someone just show up in your life and be your best buddy. There is no impression in the story to suggest that an individual can take control and do an action to make themselves feel better about life. In other words, a person is helpless without the miraculous intervention of someone who is happy-go-lucky. Being that I have three nieces, I am actually quite appalled with the just hang on and hope, passive attitude it suggests. Still, the art is lovely, I'm just somewhat shocked that the disappointing message seems to have gone under the radar. 

The Silver Six - AJ Lieberman

For a kid's story, it starts with the murder of a bunch of families by a corrupt energy company. Eventually, Phoebe, her robot pal, and 5 other orphans band together to discover the truth behind what happened and fight to set things right. It's not a bad story, although because it is for kids there isn't a whole lot done in terms of characterization other than the smart guy wears glasses and the the brown kid is brown (Darren Rawlings' art is a great deal of awesome, though). I do like the empowering nature of the tale and it has a couple of minor twists to help it along. 

Rise of the Guardians

If the same amount of time was spent on the writing of this film as was spent on designing the look and feel of the characters, you would have a pretty grand movie. Nicely animated, the story is about Guardians, holiday and magical make-believe characters (like the tough as nails but jolly Santa that looks like he just got out of a Russian prison, or the Australian 6' plus Easter Bunny), that are in charge of fostering hope in children, their struggle against the Boogie Man, and their newest member: the mysterious Jack Frost. The trouble is that despite the fun of many scenes (yeti rule!), the writing was sloppy and focused on a couple of archetypes to make up for it. 

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood - Nathan Hale

This fourth book in the ongoing series that I've been reviewing is an impressive attempt to distill the causes and events of the first world war into a manageable size. It is largely successful taking into account that this is really a series for young readers, and the author himself recognizes that he should focus on smaller events in history. Don't expect to be blown away by details, but I think he made a smart move to portray the various factions as specific animals (somewhat) related to their nations--similar to what was seen in Maus

Monster Haiku: The First 100 Strips - Jason Deeble

This is a cute 4 panel series of strips revolving around traditional horror film monsters. The gimmick (for want of a better term) is that the strips are all done in haiku (the Japanese poetic style of 3 lines and 17 syllables). Honestly, I would not have realized this unless told--which I was, but not before thinking: "this wording is a little clunky," which shows you both how literary I am, and how unable I am to read a title). On the positive side of things: I think this is a great idea, Jason does a great job with keeping to his rule without it hurting the jokes, he's a great artists, and I think kids and adults will get a thrill out of his work. Plus he is a super nice guy and very glad I met him at NYCC. To be a little critical I have to say that the book, physically, had some problems. The binding is weak, the printing is too light (the comics all look like they have been left out in the sun or poorly copied), and for your own sake, Jason, put your name on the cover. As to the material, may I suggest that the 4 panels do not seem to give anything that he couldn't do with 3 (which is also the direction I see most strips going in, so if he wants to focus on marketing....). Additionally, I think Jason needs to spend some time fleshing out his characters. They are totally adorable and have their own personalities, but this collection doesn't so much as tell you anyone's names. It may seem like nothing, but mentally thinking, "yeah, that vampire kid character with the awesome hair," can get annoying. So take a look here to see for yourself.  Note that you too can get an awesome hat like this. He has another one of his Rob the Zombie character--yes, he does add names later, just not in this collection--which I actually liked better and looks great on me (I was made to be an undead parasite), but for the love of fish and all things fish monster-y I had to go with this one. Hopefully, I will see him at another convention sometime and get that hat too (and show that picture off to you, my adoring readers).

Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens

This is a collection of one big story and several mini ones about the vampire: Marceline, her band, the Princess of the Candy kingdom: Bubblegum, and their adventures in the land of Ooo. I really enjoy the TV show and am impressed with how much depth of backstory they put into a seemingly innocent kids' show, and my favorite character is the color eating, hard rocking, vampire queen Marceline. Naturally, I got a kick out of this sweet and funny, and often delightfully drawn, comic about Marceline's insecurity as she goes on tour. 

The Dumbest Idea Ever! - Jimmy Gownley

I've liked Gownley's work before and wanted to see what other works he has produced. This one tells the story about how he first (sort of) created a comic: the story, the motivations behind it, where the ideas came from, etc. It is his story about being a star middle schooler who has a bit of an identity crisis, once he move onto high school, and dedicates himself to comics. It is designed for kids to see the value of comics and how it might be a medium for them to express themselves. The trouble with this work is--and I'm starting to feel this may be a bigger problem with Gownley--that the work is all over the place. Let's ignore the fact that he makes himself out to be the coolest person ever, and stick to the general plot, which tends to jump around, making it difficult to realize where (or rather when) I am as a reader. Many of the characters are there for only a second, hinting at backstories that never materialize. Additionally, it seem like all the "difficult" writing: break-ups, deaths, etc. are simply left out. I felt I had a better story from the less than two pages of Author's Note than the entire almost 250 page graphic novel. I really like Gownley's art and his general story ideas, but unless he is able to find an editor that will actually get him to focus, I'm not sure his work is worth it. 

Avatar - The Last Airbender: Book 3

It's not that I forgot to post my thoughts on the final season of this awesome television show, but I avoid it due to disappointment. It was still better than most things you'll find on TV; however, I wanted a more impressive ending of the tale of Aang, the last Avatar (someone who can harness the power of all elements), and his quest to save the world from destruction by the Fire Nation. Books 1 and 2 were so filled with intrigue, internal and external conflicts, wit, and wisdom, while this one's focus was lots of explosions.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Jeff Kinney

This faux diary sublimated with awesome cartoony pictures is the first of a series I can't wait to finish. Greg is a middle school loser (and a bit of a jerk) just trying to get by the day-to-day drama that is the ridiculous world of a kid.