A Look at Low, Volumes 1 through 4

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Sebastian the Crab was dead wrong when he said everything was better under the sea. It’s not a bunch of dancing fish and singing crustaceans like Disney would like for you to believe.

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No, it’s nothing quite so nice as all that. It’s more like hordes of deep sea pirates out for your blood, aquatic abominations that want to eat your face, and corrupt leaders who want to keep hope and morale, well, “low”. (You just knew that pun was gonna be used somewhere in this review. May as well get it out of the way now.) 😉

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So, for something a wee bit different, I’ve decided to go ahead and review the first 4 volumes of Low in this one post, rather than review them each separately. The main reason for this, is that I experienced very mixed feelings while reading this series. As I’ve mentioned before, Low wasn’t one of those reads that I was head-over-heels in love with upon finishing the first volume. In fact, if my boyfriend hadn’t already bought the three other volumes, I probably would have ceased reading this series altogether. I hate to say that because I had really been looking forward to reading it and I enjoyed the overall concept, just not the execution, I suppose. It’s always a bummer when you feel like you wanted to like something so much more than you actually did, and that’s exactly how I was left feeling. Fortunately, this series improved dramatically as I continued reading it. Volume 1 may have been a rough start, and definitely my least favorite of the four volumes, but I’m glad I carried on and continued reading the story.

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Low, Vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope introduces us to a grim future for humankind where, due to the sun’s lethal radiation, humans have been forced to live in the dark abyss of the world’s oceans. It’s been a very long time since humans left the surface behind, and resources are dwindling to the point of no return as we meet our central characters, the Caine family. This is a very busy volume with a LOT going on, and also the longest of the four installments. So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of it and talk pros and cons regarding this particular volume.

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PROS:

  • A really cool concept. The whole post-apocalyptic science fiction set in the deep, dark vastness of our oceans had me completely psyched to read this.
  • The artwork and colors are lovely. Greg Tocchini (the artist) and Dave McCaig (the colorist) do a good job bringing to life the beauty and oftentimes horror of the world and characters that Rick Remender (the writer) has created.

CONS:

  • This series does have some decent character development overall, but I wasn’t feeling it whatsoever in this first volume. One character in particular has a complete moral shift in gears and character change over the course of a time hop so we’re given like no actual evidence of him growing or changing, he just does so between his last appearance and the next, and it’s honestly quite jarring.
  • Okay, I’m certainly no prude, I’ve generally got no issues with sex and nudity, but this was just . . . a bit much. Tons of female nudity and abuse, women being used for sex and then having extreme violence inflicted on them immediately after, orgies everywhere, etc. A lot of the outfits the female characters wear seem like they were designed that way simply because “tits” and “ass”. Again, this complaint is coming from someone who doesn’t typically shy away from mature content, but the male gaze was sooo prevalent in this one.
  • There’s an overall “always have hope” message in Low, and it felt especially preachy in this volume. It left me feeling like I’d had it hammered in my face over and over and over again. I get that it’s a good message to put out there, but the sheer repetitiveness of it was maddening at times.

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Low, Vol. 2: Before the Dawn Burns Us is where the series begins to get get a little better, in my opinion. In this installment, we see some of the bigger complaints I had with the start of Low slowly begin to simmer down. I also began feeling more invested in the characters and what was going on. The stakes are getting higher, and we get to learn more about different characters and different places with their own big bads. I found myself going from not liking Low by the end of the first volume, to liking it by the end of this one. Was I in love with the series at this point? No, but I did like it.

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Low, Vol. 3: Shore of the Dying Light is, without a doubt, the volume that I liked the most. Tensions are on the rise and there’s a lot at risk in this installment. Also, it is hands down the volume with the least blatant overuse of pointless female nudity which, I’m sorry, has been a real issue for me through this series. You can tell the intentions are for several of the characters to be represented as strong female characters, but I can’t help but feel that it is a little undermined when you randomly have one of those characters in a fight scene in volume 2 where she’s suddenly totally topless because reasons. I mean, come the hell on. Volume 3 was a nice reprieve from this sort of thing.

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Low, Vol. 4: Outer Aspects of Inner Attitudes takes us back to some of the events that went down in volume 1 and reveals something pretty interesting and story-changing events that unfolded. There’s plenty of action in this one and some trickery and surprises. It leaves off on a point that has me curious to see where the story will go when volume 5 comes out. It’s not going to kill me to wait for it like it does with some other stories from Image.

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All in all, this series grew on me the more I read of it. I was curious to see what others were thinking of Low overall, so I looked up other reviews and they really varied. Some people loved volume 1 the most and felt it never really reached that high again, but I felt volume 1 was the worst of the lot and that it only improved from there. A lot of people felt the same way I did about all the gratuitous female nudity. Yes, there was some male nudity as well, but it was like a light breeze compared to a hurricane. Most people, like myself, were fans of the artwork, but some found it muddy and hard to follow at points. So, it seems this series is a real mixed bag for people. Have you read Low? Do you have plans to read the series? I’d absolutely love to see what you think of it. 🙂

If I had to give a star rating for each volume of this series it would go as such:

Volume 1: The Delirium of Hope: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Volume 2: Before the Dawn Burns Us: 3 out of 5 stars

Volume 3: Shore of the Dying Light: 4 out of 5 stars

Volume 4: Outer Aspects of Inner Attitudes: 3 out of 5 stars

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Saga, Vol. 8 (No-Spoiler) Review

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Woo! First review (and post) of the New Year! I hope everyone had a fantastic New Year’s Eve and an amazing start to 2018 so far. ❤ My boyfriend helped assure that much for me by stopping by our local comic book store New Year’s Eve and picking up this delightful title that just came out at the end of December. Needless to say, I about screamed with joy when he pulled into the parking lot and revealed his master plan.

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Brian K. Vaughan (the writer) and Fiona Staples (the illustrator) continue to weave their outlandish space opera of epic proportions in this volume, but add in some of the fun of the Old Wild West along the way. I don’t want to get into any spoiler territory, so we’ll keep things fairly vague as I talk about my feelings on this volume. And trust me, I got plenty of the feels for this series. ❤

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One thing I really like about the series as a whole is that it has a lot of heart, but not in a corny, mushy, or preachy sort of way. This volume is no exception. It continues to explore the theme of family, and what exactly family means when you really get down to it. It challenges convention at every turn and makes no apologies, and I utterly love it for that. ❤

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We see old and new faces alike in this volume and are presented with some pretty interesting “what-if” moments. It confronts deep-rooted feelings of both tragedy and hope head-on and still continues to surprise the reader with just about every turn of the page. This is a series that can make you cry one moment and then laugh another.

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Volume for volume, Saga makes for a quick, intense and often-times hilarious and utterly random emotional roller coaster. The characters are so well-written and full of their own troubles and flaws that it makes them feel completely human despite, ya know, the whole televisions for heads, and having horns and/or wings thing.

I honestly feel that just about everyone can find SOMETHING they can relate to somewhere in this series. So, if you have yet to hop on the Saga bandwagon, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???! Do yourself a favor and GET. ON. THAT.

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5/5 Stars.

 

The Christmas Tag!

I’m feeling festive this year, so when I saw this cute little Christmas tag posted by The Happiest Pixel I decided to join in on the holiday fun! 🙂 Fun Fact: I used to be a total Grinch til Cupcakes and Machetes made it her personal mission to show me the joys of the holiday season. I was skeptical at first but have slowly come to enjoy Christmas and the chaos that comes with it. 😛

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1.) What is your favorite Christmas film?

I actually have a few. 🙂 It’s no secret that I love The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s definitely a holiday staple. I’ve also always enjoyed Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas Celebration and the more recent Krampus film from 2015.

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Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas Celebration

2.) Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

It’s always been fake, except for one year. That was the year my cat turned into the Hulk and took down an entire pine tree, bringing it and all it’s decorations crashing to the floor. Cats seriously up their dickhead game this time of year.

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3.) What is your favorite Christmas song?

Carol of the Bells has been my favorite for a good while now. 🙂

4.) What is your favorite Christmas scent?

Hmmm . . . I really like cinnamon scented things, especially around Christmas. It reminds me of when my mom helped my brother and I make cinnamon ornaments for the tree when we were kids. For several years I was pretty obsessed with Bath & Bodyworks’ Vanilla Bean Noel scent, but I kind of burnt myself out on it.

5.) Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

It’s usually pretty laid back. I pretty much just enjoy the company of who I’m with and we open one present that night. I’ve always done that since I was a kid. I think a lot of people do it, too.

6.) Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

See the above question. 😉

7.) What tops your Christmas tree?

Well, this year the only tree I’ve decorated so far is the one my room at work decorated, and we have a big beautiful silver bow on top. We’ll see what the other two trees I have yet to help decorate will be topped with this go around.

8.) What is the best thing about Christmas for you?

Spending time with my loved ones and doing all the festive activities with them leading up to the actual holiday. Also, the book club I’m in always has a fun Christmas party to look forward to.

9.) What is your favorite festive food or treat?

As of this year, I’d have to say that damn tasty Christmas Kronut I was just raving about in my last blog post. Other faves include the chocolate candy cane doughnut from Tim Hortons, the Bigby Peppermint Mocha Latte . . . basically anything chocolate and peppermint, apparently.

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10.) What is on top of your Christmas wish list this year?

Trump’s removal from office. A girl can dream, can’t she? 😛

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If you’re up to doing this holiday tag, have at it, and please let me know because I’d love to read your answers! 🙂

Happy Halloween!

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Let the festivities officially begin because Halloween is upon us! (Although I’ve been trying to squeeze in Halloween hijinks throughout the whole month.) 😛

It’s pretty dang cold here in Michigan right now, but that’s okay. I’m soaking up all this fall weather while I can. This past weekend I got to head out of town to spend it with my #1 partner in crime, Cupcakes and Machetes. She was hosting our book club’s October meeting and threw a lovely get-together with delicious fall goodies and an awesome tour of the old cemetery behind her house. I stayed the night and we wound up carving pumpkins and watching the first 2 episodes of the latest season of Stranger Things. (I can’t wait to see the rest of it!) It was a great way to spend the weekend before Halloween, not to mention how gorgeous all the trees were on the drive! 🙂

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I can’t wait to see all the costumes everyone wears at work today. I think I’ve mentioned this here before, but I’m a program instructor at a day program for adults with special needs and we’re having a big Halloween party with a costume contest, creepy sensory bins, spooky decorations, and room-to-room trick or treating. I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun. 😀

One of the major reasons I’m in the job field I am is my big brother. He has autism, OCD, and epilepsy. For a long time he wasn’t really into doing holiday-related activities. (In fact, for years my parents couldn’t put up a Christmas tree because in his opinion, that tree simply did not belong in the living room so it was coming down one way or another.) He’s come around though in recent years and even helped decorate the tree last year which was really nice. 🙂 Well, he’s embraced Halloween now, too, it seems. We got to decorate pumpkins together. I carved mine and he decorated his with paint and face stickers. He did such a great job and it was really cool getting to do that with him.

My pumpkin was supposed to be a pug face. Hopefully it looks sorta kinda like one. 😛 Anywhoooo, I hope you guys all have a fantastic Halloween! Are you doing anything fun today? What were your favorite Halloween activities you got to do this year?

Wytches, Vol. 1 (No-Spoiler) Review

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Happy October, everybody!! ❤ This is my favorite time of the year, so expect plenty of horror and Halloween related posts this month. To kick things off, I figured we’d start with a review of the first volume of Wytches. I’d heard some really good things about this comic and it did not let me down. In fact, it wound up being even cooler than I expected, with some really interesting twists on the conventional “witches” of some of our darker fairy tales of old.

The way this story beautifully unfolds the further you get into it kind of makes it hard to gush about without spoiling anything, but I’ll do my best. Although this is definitely a gritty horror story, the heart of it revolves around family, specifically the bond between a father and his daughter. It’s great because it doesn’t try to present a “perfect family”, but rather one with flaws but where there is genuine love. They definitely have their ups and downs. It made the characters and the world they live in feel more genuine, despite the supernatural hellish nightmare going on all around them.

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This is, in my opinion, a really creative spin on witches (or “wytches” as they are called in the story) and witch hunting. It isn’t just a “burn the witch!” sort of thing, with the story even addressing some of the all-too-real witch hysteria that plagued our own history. The way these ancient wytches have managed to survive all these years was pretty interesting, too. You can tell Scott Snyder put a lot of thought into this when coming up with and writing the story. I want so badly to go into all the little details that I enjoyed, but I feel it’s better for people to learn them as they go along. I’m just a sucker for all those cool little tidbits authors come up with when worldbuilding.

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All in all, volume 1 was a great introduction to the story and I really wish there was already a volume 2 out so I could read that as well. This was a solid horror comic and one I look forward to reading more of one day. 🙂

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Looking forward to sharing lots of horror/Halloween posts with you guys this month, and talking about tons of beasties and things that go bump in the night! 😀

* Happy Mother’s Day! *

Woo! It’s Mother’s Day and I figured it would be fun to have the spotlight be on my own mom today. I consider myself very lucky to have the mom I do. Both of my parents are pretty damn amazing, but today’s Mother’s Day so it’s all about Mama Moth! 😛

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I went ahead and did an interview with the lovely lady I call Mom so you guys could get to know a bit more about one of the people who shaped me into who I am today.

Q: Are you more of a Science Fiction or Fantasy fan? Or both?

A: Fantasy! Your dad’s more into science fiction than I am.

Q: Favorite Mythological Creature?

A: Pegasus.

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Q: Favorite Visual Artists?

A: Ooh, I have so many. I love Brom. There’s Dali. Michael Parkes, Amy Brown and Brian Froud. I feel like I could keep going but I’ll stop with those.

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Q: What is your favorite thing about being a mom?

A: My kids. Watching you grow up into individuals. Spending time with you guys.

Q: What does your ideal “Girl’s Day Out” consist of?

A: Three things. Bookstore, Chinese restaurant, and then top it all off with iced cappuccinos.

Q: Favorite Family vacation?

A: Florida. All the winter breaks we spent in Florida were always nice.

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Q: What is one interest you had growing up that you’re surprised neither of your kids ever got into like you did?

A: Well, you like books like I do, you like art like I do, you like animation. You’re like a mini me, except a better version. So, probably sports. I think that’s about it, because you like baking and cooking and everything else I like. So yeah, sports.

Q: Do you think your kids look more like you or their Dad?

A: Your brother looks like my side of the family, but you definitely look like your dad’s side. So it’s a 50/50.

Q: Why were books so important to bring your kid up on and make sure they had in their life?

A: Because books are the best. They just rule. You could escape into another world and be who ever you want to be.

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Q: What are some of your favorite movies?

A: Hmmm . . . well, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, all of the Studio Ghibli Movies . . . oh, and Overboard!

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Q: Favorite Candy?

Black licorice

Q: What’s your favorite thing about your husband?

A: (Smiles.) He always makes me laugh and he’s got a good heart.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about your children?

(About my brother) He’s my gentle giant. He has an old soul. He’s just such a sweet and loving person.

(About me) You, my dear, always make me laugh, you have such a great heart and you always care about others. Just an all around great person to be around. And you make bad ass cupcakes.

Q: How would you describe your family?

A: We’re a nerd family who is fabulous. I wouldn’t trade any of you guys for anything. Except maybe a Choco Taco (evil mom laugh). No, seriously, I think our family’s a good family. Each of us is willing to help others and that makes it even better.

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Please note that at the end of interview my mom declared “DONE!” and pretended to drop a mic. lol

Shameless

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Things have been so busy lately, but I decided to put off some stuff and indulge in a lazy weekend with my boyfriend. I’m so glad I did. It was nice to get in some quality time together and just relax. During this time we also binge-watched season 7 of the American version of Shameless. Which, if you have not yet seen, is a hilarious and oftentimes shocking comedy-drama TV series that fully lives up to its name.

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The show follows the exploits of the dysfunctional Gallagher family living in the South Side of Chicago. William H. Macy plays Frank Gallagher, a drunken druggie of a dad who never ceases to shock viewers with all of his scheming antics in the daily grind to get by via any means necessary. Unfortunately for his six children, his motivations in life tend to be for his own selfish agenda rather than theirs, leaving them to fend for themselves with the oldest, Fiona, at the wheel. Thankfully, they are a resourceful bunch.

The show’s definitely for mature audiences. Loaded with sex, violence, drug and alcohol use, profanities galore, and whatnot, it’s definitely not for the little ones.

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It was crazy watching the seventh season (which still has the same main title sequence as season 1 did) and seeing just how much the kids in the show have grown since the start of the series. You see this family and their friends go through A LOT throughout the different seasons. Some moments and really good, some are horrible levels of rock bottom, and some are just plain WTF-inducing shenanigans. There’s never a dull moment, in fact there are plenty of moments that will leave you flat out stunned. A lot of times it’s like a train wreck and you just can’t look away. I’d say give it a shot if you haven’t yet seen it. You’ll either be addicted like I am, or completely turned off of it.