Friday, November 19, 2021

Quick Sips 11/19/2021

So it’s another busy week of reviews, if not quite so full as the week before. But I’m done with October for the most part so it’s all November issues I’m looking at today. I start with Lightspeed and things get grim as I look at Nightmare, The Dark, and Apex one after the other. Things get a little brighter (though there’s perhaps a death theme moving through the field this month) with Uncanny and Fireside Magazine. There are all issues that send my review copies, which I super appreciate, and which means I can get to them a little earlier. Next week I’ll try to hit the latest Clarkesworld as well as catch up on Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, the Escape Artists, and more. Stay tuned!

NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

Lightspeed #138 (6 short stories total)
  • “Stowaways” by Andrew Dana Hudson (short story/flash) - An interesting take on the future of art where the experience can be literally viral, implanting into the brains of the audience an undetectable code that reacts when two or more people carrying the code come into close proximity, and which manifests as a kind of shared hallucination, an imaginary friend rendered as a cartoon that will speak to the audience. And the piece looks at the ethical problems of this, the kind of creeping horror that might be lurking out there, eager for outbreak and spread. A wonderful read! Art, Ethics, Museums, Hallucinations, AI, Cartoons. CW- Viral Art, Nonconsensual Brian Modification. [c3 t4]
  • “Space Pirate Queen of the Ten Billion Utopias” by Elly Bangs (short story) - This story is told by the friend of someone who, at the first opportunity, jumps off of Earth and rides teh aetherrails to elsewhere. Other dimensions, other Earths, all of them seemingly better than the one that Ursa Major left behind. But the further she goes, the more she learns about herself and about the universe, and the more she knows about where she’s going, and why. It’s a brash and fun piece, full of rebellion and daring do and romance. And I like the way the circles slow, giving Ursa all the space in the multiverse to learn, and then points her where she needs to be. A fantastic read! Trains, Alternate Dimensions, Queer MC, Music, Pirates. [c1 t3]
  • “Cloudgazer” by Timi Odueso (short story) - This piece follows Zik as she rides an antique horse on a desperate chase of an errant cloud. One that might yield some needed cloudwater to use for medicine for her grandfather. Without it, he’ll die. And everything narrows to that, and to how the world is very eager for such desperation. To exploit it. To use it to force evven greater loss, even greater tragedy. The piece is quick and full of hope but the reality surrounding that is grim, and the ending is a step down a slope that might be slippery indeed. It’s a compelling piece all the same, and a great read! Horses, Clouds, Water, Family, Bargains. CW- Sickness, Amputation, Aggressive Capitalism. [c3 t4]
  • “I Was a Teenage Space Jockey” by Stephen Graham Jones (short story) - The story of two Native/Indian sixth graders spending a Halloween in an arcade, the shit they have to deal with, and the strange and magical thing that happens to them there. The piece looks at family, the narrator dealing with his brother having just left home, dealing with a range of futures with his brother dead, a victim of racism, a victim of America. And there in the arcade, the narrator and his friend deal with that same racism, that same violence, though on a slightly smaller scale. But finding a moment of release, a moment of magic that allows the narrator to see at least the chance of a good ending. A victory. And to carry that with him, through whatever reality is waiting, to give him hope and strength. A brilliant read! Family, Video Games, Arcades, Costumes, Holidays, Holloween. CW- Bullying, Racism, Violence/Death. [c4 t4]
  • “Ten Scenes from A Typical Day in the Life of the All-Powerful Despot” by Adam-Troy Castro (short story) - A story about power and the use of it, set in a place where one man as won control, absolute victory, and yet remains without all that much to show for it, in some ways. A grim read. Power, Governments, Rulers. CW- Death/Torture/Rape/Violence. [c4 t4]
  • “To Reach the Gate, She Must Leave Everything Behind” by Izzy Wasserstein (short story/flash) - This very short piece follows a character through the last leg on the journey into whatever lies beyond death. Through the uncertainty and fear she feels about what will happen. About what’s waiting for her. And yet death isn’t as grim as it could be, and the ending leaves reason to hope. A neat and moving little read! Afterlife, Queer MC, Deserts, Gods. CW- Death. [c2 t3]
The latest Lightspeed is all short stories, and features an interesting mix of wrenching and fun tales. There’s some great world building, especially in the science fiction pieces, and really all of them feature some careful and sharp character work. There’s a sense throughout of borders being crossed. Between this world and the next, between life and death, between art and audience. And it makes for a strong issue!

Nightmare #110 (3 short stories, 1 poem total)
  • “Glimpses in Amber” by Adam-Troy Castro (short story) - This piece finds two men in negotiation. The narrator need only take possession of a semi-decorative eye in order to receive a stipend that will help him and his family. But the full terms, and the true nature of the eye, make this a much more complicated bargain. An interesting piece. Eyes, Memories, Books, Bargains, Temptation. CW- Amputations. [c2 t4]
  • “Inkmorphia” by Julianna Baggott (short story) - This story finds the narrator getting a tattoo to honor their brother, who went missing when he was twelve, and finding that the image has altered overnight. Grown vines. Something about it is undone, and it sets her on the path to confront her past, her memories of what happened to her brother, with the help of her mooch-friend Delia. The piece is careful and creeping, nicely paced to let the memories sink, the past aching to be witnessed, to be recognized. The unfinished business of the narrator’s missing brother a gravity pulling them into something they don’t really want to dig up, but are doing anyway. A great read! Tattoos, Berries, Family, Dogs. CW- Abuse, Death of a Sibling, Animal Abuse, Trauma. [c4 t4]
  • “Murder Tongue” by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy (short story/flash) - This piece finds a narrator with a language they must not speak. A murder tongue that, if spoken, will kill. Kill who? That’s uncertain. But the narrator isn’t taking the chance, and so is mute in the face of what happens around them, the world that doesn’t allow them to speak. It’s a heavy atmosphere, an oppressive weight, and it makes for a short but powerful read about language, place, and voice. Good stuff! Langauge, Tongues, Notebooks, Dreams. CW- Death. [c2 t4]
  • “Crossroads” by Tiffany Morris (poem) - This piece keeps its lines short, compact, which always makes me feel like the work is leaving a lot of space, the openness there a part of the impact, that for all the words capture parts of the devil, or devil lore, what’s unsaid is just as important. The parts of ourselves we want to keep hidden from the devil, and the truth of the devil that we haven’t captured in lore, that will surprise, that will twist, that will find new shadows. The piece is creeping and haunting, the devils glimpsed in rumor, in contradiction even, but the reality is there all the same, the figure present, promising something, and nothing good. A fine read!
Another creepy issue of Nightmare, this time with a focus on memory and devils. Of things that are so terrible that people repress them as hard as they can, push them down into what silence they can manage. Only things don’t really stay there in the silence. The temptations intensify. A fine issue!

The Dark #78 (4 short stories total)
  • “We’re Always the Ones Who Leave” by H. Pueyo (short story) - This piece finds Carolina living through a kind of invasion. A gentrification of her street, her neighborhood, as plastic smiling fake people all pile in and take and take and take. The piece is grim in how it recognizes that it’s not something that can be fought, not by those with less against those with more. The more always wins, and the less always lose, and are told to be grateful for it. It’s a wrenching and creeping piece, and a sharp and wonderful read! Neighbors, Family, Grocery Stores, Trees, Gentrification. [c1 t4]
  • “The Thing With Chains” by Rob Costello (short story) - This story follows Benji at a Hollywood party that’s really just an excuse for older industry pros to get pervy with young men and boys hoping to have a career in acting. For Benji, a former child star, it’s something of a reminder that he can’t find work, that success sometimes takes one away from what you want instead of toward it. And there’s something about the party that has him on edge, in a bad mood, at least until he’s approached by a mysterious stranger. One who’s a lot more than he seems. It’s an unsettling look at desire and power, sacrifice and fulfillment, and the ending is a sensual and chilling moment, brilliantly captured. A great read! Parties, Pools, Rituals, Gods, Queer MC, Acting. CW- Abuse/Rape, Drug Use, Human Sacrifice. [c4 t4]
  • “The Catcher in the Eye” by Ai Jiang (short story) - A strange and haunting piece about a young woman who can suddenly see ghosts. Who has no choice except to try and cover the one eye that sees them. Which isn’t a great solution, especially with a family very concerned with appearances. Who want to conceal and distract rather than deal with what’s in front of them. And it’s a story that reveals a heavy atmosphere of silence and repression, of stretching smiles fit to rip, to burst. The piece is dreamlike at times and sharp, edged in a way that’s intimate and dangerous, and it makes for a compelling read well worth spending some time with! Family, Ghosts, Eyes, Makeup. CW- Violence, Abuse. [c3 t4]
  • “Dance, Macabre” by Phoenix Alexander (short story) - This piece finds the narrator going into a club for the first time and finding in it a freedom that is intoxicating, that is addictive, that he needs. That he’ll never escape. The piece looks at the release this place gives him and at the toxic environment everywhere around him, the way that he’s primed to be taken in here, to be corrupted in many ways, and how that ends up working, how he dedicates himself to it. It’s a grim read but not for the narrator, not to him, who sees this life as well spent, as free, for all that he never escapes that he places all of his identity into this small space and never lets it out, away from the pounding music and flowing alcohol. He’s only himself there, and so his self is shaped by that space and the predatory, blurring lines of it. A great read! Clubs, Music, Employment, Family, Queer MC. CW- Abuse, Violence, Microaggressions. [c3 t4]
A new The Dark and a new selection of appropriately grim stories that find characters full of longing. Caught in oppressive situations, caught by predatory desires, twisted to them so that they’re internalized, so that the characters end up essentially preying on themselves. It’s a difficult bunch of stories but nicely paired, the works all ringing with that hungry shadow. A strong issue!

Apex #127 (6 short stories total)
  • “To Seek Himself Again” by Marie Croke (short story) - Keba is a broker of trades. Where beings can swap parts with other beings, gaining bodies that fit them. Snake necks and bear growls and any number of trades, as long as they are freely given. Until a woman finds him who has no intention of trading. Who is interested only in finding a shrine that will “fix” the world. And Keba gets taken into her quest on threats of violence and worse. And along the way finds that this idea of “fixing” the world holds no vision of him in it. It’s a difficult and wrenching piece about loss and change and self truth, and despite the grim elements its a warm and wonderful read! Transformations, Trades, Eyes, Bodies. CW- Unwanted Body Transformation, Bullying, Violence. [c4 t4]
  • “This Shattered Vessel, Which Holds Only Grief” by Izzy Wasserstein (short story) - This piece follows Cassie, the sole survivor from a police attack on a Free Zone where magic users had tried to set up their own utopia. Plagued with guilt at having lived, she first seeks ways to go back, to die with her friends, then tries to find ways to forget. Only to come back to the same truths that can’t be wiped away. The story is very much about trauma and about guilt, but also about hope and healing. About finding purpose after devastation, and finding a reason to live after wanting so badly not to. It’s difficult and wrenching but beautifully told and with an eye towards communities and connections and the hinges of hope and survival. A fantastic read! Libraries, Magic, Witches, Spells, Memory, Time Travel, Trans MC. CW- Death, Violence, ACAB. [c4 t4]
  • “In Haskins” by Carson Winter (short story) - In Haskins everyone wears masks. Plays a character that they swap every year. And the narrator is swapping from Jennifer to Cole. From a young woman on the verge of marriage to an older and violent man who hits his wife. Only a part of them is still Jennifer, and still longs for what they have, even as this is taboo in Haskins. The piece is creeping, the situation and the world building strong, and the arc of the story is both tragic and hopeful, shows that breaking from roles is possible, though it can come with a heavy and grim price. A fine read! Masks, Festivals, Relationships. CW- Abuse/Violence/Murder. [c4 t4]
  • “Whose Mortal Taste” by Erin K. Wagner (short story) - Humans are extinct and what remains are androids that have been crossed with birds, forming four-person social relationships with one each of four models--Tanager, Oriole, Myna, and Corvid. The piece centers Tanager I as they move through the world, their relationship with Oriole I, the argument that threatens to break them apart, that of whether they’re all alive or not. It’s a question that sends them out to revive one of the cryogenically frozen humans stored nearby. And it does more than that. The piece is quiet and yearning, full of desolation and yet showing a heart that answers without words if these are living beings or nt. A great read! Birds, Androids, Relationships, Cryogenic Freezing. CW- Extinction/Death. [c3 t3]
  • “Hank in the South Dakota Sun” by Stephanie Kraner (short story) - A wrenching story about a conductor and a train. A pair that has been through a lot, and who are now coming up on their final stop. Because despite the train, Hank, being aware, the corporation that owns him is still going to kill him because he’s not compatible with the latest software update. And the piece sells the relationship and the tragedy involved here, digging into the conductor, Alex’s, past and memories, the imperfect picture he draws of his grandfather, all of it coming together into a moving portrait of loss and love. A beautiful read! Trains, AI, Family, Memories, Deserts. CW- Death/Murder. [c3 t4]
  • “I Call Upon the Night as Witness” by Zahra Mukhi (short story) - This story finds Sawan dealing with Lines. National Lines that divide people into citizens and...not. Travelers, as Sawan becomes when a Line is drawn through her house and she must leave to enter No Man’s Land. The piece is stifling and heavy, quiet in some ways because it’s about the crush of Lines, the way they cut people and peoples apart, creating disasters and crises where there wouldn’t otherwise be. Always with a purpose, even if it’s difficult to see, and often a very selfish, power-driven purpose. A great read! Borders, Immigration, Food, Songs. CW- ACAB, Aggressive Capitalism, Prejudice. [c3 t4]
A new Apex brings six stories of characters dealing with some shitty situations. Corruption and disaster, borders and loss. Grief. The works are often grim but sometimes resolve into something bright and hopeful. Sometimes, when people can help each other and work for change. Sometimes, but other times it’s isolation and loss that win out. There’s a nice balance to the issue between the two, though, and it makes for some great reading!

Uncanny #43 (5 short stories, 2 novelettes, 4 poems total)
  • “That Story Isn’t the Story” by John Wiswell (novelette) - A wrenching story that finds Anton a survivor of abuse and predation at the hands of a vampire or vampire-like being. The story opens with his physical escape from the place he was living, and follows the more intense mental escape that brings him from a place of trauma and paranoia into a place where there’s the hope of being...maybe okay. And the piece is beautifully rendered, the anxiety and fear palpable, the character work careful and compassionate, and it all resolves beautifully into an ending that is warm and powerful. A fantastic read! Vampires, Employment, Friendship, Queer Characters. CW- Abuse, Blood/Biting, Trauma/PTSD. [c4 t4]
  • “For Want of Milk” by Grace P. Fong (short story) - This story finds Pearl and her mother living on the American Frontier. Pearl’s mother a midwife and cheese maker (and okay also maybe a witch), dealing with the harsh realities of the frontier but also prospering there. And looking out for women like the one that comes to town with her rich husband. Her rich husband with nothing but scorn for the people living near the land he’s just bought. The piece is sharp and grim at times, like the landscape it unfolds in, but like that frontier there’s a lot of warmth as well, and people helping people, and a bit of wicked humor to help things on their way. A delightful read! Cows, Cheese, Family, Farms, Queer MC, Abortion. CW- Abuse, Racism, Sexism/Slurs, Pregnancy, Unwanted Transformations. [c3 t3]
  • “The Stop After the Last Station” by A.T. Greenblatt (short story) - This piece follows Tito on a very special trip on the subway, to the place beyond the last stop, where he hopes that he will be happy. Where he won’t have to face the abuse and prejudice. And yet along the way he’s lost so much of himself that he has to rethink his reasons for going, for staying, for everything. It’s an interesting piece told forward and backward in time, and worth checking out. Subways, Arthritis, Family, Bargains, Queer MC(?). CW- Pain. [c2 t3]
  • “Ina’s Spark” by Mary Robinette Kowal (novelette) - Evina is a mage, a would-be wizard, but first she has to pass a test, complete a quest, to be able to keep her magic. All while struggling under the weight of a past that she can’t escape, one full of fire and violence. to help, she hires a mercenary to keep her safe, something that isn’t exactly against the rules. As the quest moves, though, she’s tested in a lot of ways she wasn’t expecting, and she has to make decisions about how she’s going to face her past and her future. It’s a tense and nicely paced story, with action and heart and some clever twists. The character work and world building are strong, and the resolution is satisfying while leaving room for future adventures. A great read! Magic, Quests, Mercenaries, Songs, Riddles. CW- Violence, Murder, Bullying. [c3 t3]
  • “For All Those Who Sheltered Here” by Del Sandeen (short story/flash) - This story unfolds from the perspective of a tree. Unfolds with the mind of a tree and on a trees scale, events happening years apart that pass like breaths. Filled with beauty and with the grim touch of time and hate, the story finds the narrator all too aware of what they’ve been used for. The joy of a rope swing. The horror of a lynching. And it’s a story that for me has this longing to it, a reaching toward contact, that’s lovely as it is haunting, and makes for a wonderful read! Trees, History, Swings, Ghosts, Family. CW- Racist Violence/Lynching, Death. [c3 t3]
  • “White Rose, Red Rose” by Rachel Swirsky (short story) - This piece finds a war ongoing where the losing side has to watch as their fallen soldiers are turned into the undead occupying force oppressing them. For the narrator, it’s a brother who returns. Who kills for the enemy who counts on the occupied people not wanting to hurt the bodies of their relatives. Their loved ones. But there’s a resistance that uses secret codes and is waiting, waiting to strike back. The piece is heavy and grim but resolved in facing the horror of war. A fine read! Family, Codes, Communication, Tea, Flowers. CW- Undead, Death of Family, Death, Violence/Blood. [c4 t4]
  • “The North Pole Workshops” by Mari Ness (short story/flash) - A quick, cute, and rather wicked story that’s framed as someone going through the automated customer service system of the North Pole. Presumably because of an...incident involving the new line of robotic dinosaurs that have been rolled out this holiday season. The piece is fun and funny, sharp with the way it builds the narrative without there really being a narrative, fitting story in the implications, button presses, and final communication between caller and system. There’s a grim edge but also a comment on capitalism and corporations. A great read! Customer Service, Automated Calls, Robots, Dinosaurs, Gifts. CW- Aggressive Capitalism. [c2 t4]
  • “Post Massacre Psych Evaluation” by Abu Bakr Sadiq (poem) - A stark and sharp piece that looks at a narrator who has survived one atrocity, looking at a future where there are more, always more of them waiting. Wanting to be able to do something to stop them and instead being met only with the responses that aren’t interested in change but in maintaining the status quo. Expecting a healing like the absence of a current massacre is a solution, like assuming a body inhaling can never be deprived of breath. It’s a strong and powerful read that reaches out with its ending, demanding. A fantastic poem!
  • “The Burning River” by Hal Y. Zhang (poem) - A strange piece and one that for me speaks of distance and dying. Grief, and the weight of absence. For me it has the feeling of family, the narrator one who has lost, who faces the messy and complicated relationship that is severed but not. Ended but not. Legacy and time something muddied by intimacy and joy and hurt. All of it shaping this idea of death and complicated by the title, which might be a reference to one of the rivers of the afterlife, the underworld, might imply a rage or just an ending. But it’s an interesting piece told in couplets that move across the page, that don’t leave much in the way of blank space, that speak to me of something not crowded but full, and makes for a poem well worth spending some time with!
  • “Confessions of a Spaceport AI” by Mary Soon Lee (poem) - A piece told in the voice of an AI that has worked for a long time. Without break and without, it seems, an awful lot of respect. Having to accept what they cannot change, even when it’s bullshit. And finding ways to push back that won’t exactly be noticed. Small rebellions that can lead to slightly larger and larger ones. Nothing too big and showy but enough that they can feel in control of something, can feel like they have something in the face of everything. And it’s a super fun and lively piece, quick and jaunty and a delightful read!
  • “Between Childroid + Mother” by Miriam Alex (poem) - A strange piece that seems to unfold in a world that is in the last leg of a long decline. Everything dirty and bent, hungry and dying where not dead already. And the narrator is speaking to a droid come into a workshop. Speaks to them but doesn’t have a lot of comforts to offer. Only the thinnest of promises, and those edged and hard as well. And ending that sounds like it should be positive but...isn’t exactly. Not in the way it could be. It’s a piece that for me is dominated by the sense of decay and destruction, decline and despair, all bundled into a strange and touching image of the meeting between these two beings. And it makes for a great read!
A new Uncanny and perhaps the start of a melancholy moment for me as I get closer to 2022 and my stepping back from the kind of reviewing I’ve done for so long. Because I think I might have covered every issue of Uncanny, if not for QSR then during my brief (and unfortunate) run at Tangent. And this is the last that I’ll be looking at comprehensively. It makes for a touching send off, an issue full of characters navigating trauma and loss. Hurt and emotional vulnerability. And finding strength through connections and trust and kindness. It’s a strong issue, well worth checking out!

Fireside Magazine #97 (4 short stories, 1 poem total)
  • “Small-Town Spirit” by Frances Rowat (short story) - This piece unfolds in Little Wells, a place that doesn’t really change. Except that the gas station on the border of town has been sold. And bigger, more troubling changes seem on the way. Or would, if not for the nature of the place, and the three young people who go out to make sure the changes...don’t get out of hand. it’s a fun and creepy piece but one where I’m solidly rooting for team creepy. A wonderful read! Small Towns, Queer MC, Gas Stations, Spooky Attractions. [c1 t3]
  • “Godfather Death, In His Own Words” by John Wiswell (short story/flash) - This piece finds a Death who, because no one else is around, becomes the godfather to a child. They gift the child wax that he can use to determine if someone will live or die. It’s a gift he soon learns how to abuse, causing Death to have to make some decisions. The piece is quick and looks at balance and at bargains and at mistakes, and putting those mistakes to right. All told with the implacable tone and perspective of Death. A great read! Death (person), Bargains, Candles, Family. CW- Death. [c2 t3]
  • “Roar, Sweet Child, Roar” by Sydnee Thompson (short story/flash) - This story finds Roosevelt, the narrator, waking up naked and confused in a swamp. Which isn’t actually that weird for a were-snake, a coldblooded as they call themselves. What’s strange is the young girl he meets there, and the hunters he has to take care of with her who are after their kind. The piece is quick and full of action and violence, but tucked into is also a sense of world building and hope that is interesting, compelling, and pretty kickass. A fantastic read! Were-Snakes, Transformations, Dragons, Roars, Family. CW- Violence/Blood/Murder, Death of a Grandparent. [c3 t3]
  • “In the Fields Where Stories Meet” by Virginia M. Mohlere (poem) - This piece speaks to me of impact and understanding, the narrator asking of a being who fell from the sky. Who crashed. Who broke. Asking them what it was like, how it all went. While the narrator has their own stories, their own power, both of the characters tied to earth and rock, mineral and energy. And I like the sense that this is a meeting, that these two beings and their stories are mingling, are learning from each other. There is a sense of growth, of power, and of rising despite a terrible fall. A wonderful read!
The latest Fireside offers up three original stories, an original poem, and a reprint story. The works have a lot to do with death, actually. Either in its personified form, Death, or in its small-d death iterations, from a spooky town that’s not what it seems to the death of a family member to the death-rich take on Bluebeard. It’s all solid and builds nicely together into a take on mortality, balance, and hope. Some great reading!

Works read this year to date: 1183 stories, 339 poems (+29 stories, +6 poems)

Though I cover a bit less than last week, it’s still a pretty good number, and there’s four novelettes in there, so certainly not the shortest it could have been. And it was just a personally busy week, which made getting to more reviews difficult. It is what it is, and it’s enough that I can very clearly say that I’ll be breaking 7000 reviews on QSR (a feat only 107 reviews distant). Given that I’m not even into December reviews yet, and no month this year has had under 100 reviews, it’s just a given. Whether they’ll all be put up before the end of the year remains to be seen. But I did cross the 1500 line this week for reviews (sitting at 1522). Hit 100 novelettes. So definitely staying busy.

In personal news, there’s some bonus material for my audio story, “Rivers Run Free,” up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and there will be more very shortly for the next audio episode there for “Undercurrents.” I do love the recordings of those stories there (I have been generally spoiled by the quality audio recordings of my stories in general). And I think I forgot to mention that I have a poem in the latest Eye to the Telescope issue (the theme is Seas). So yay.

In media, Wallander is still kinda a hot mess. He’s in South Africa right now and ho boy. Otherwise I started watching the original Cowboy Beebop, as I don’t think I’d seen the whole thing before (just random episodes when it ran on Adult Swim). I’m liking it so far, what with the strange and grungy feel, the ridiculous characters, and of course Ein. Only a few episodes in (no Ed yet, alas).

Reading, my Uncanny X-Men reread got a bit complicated, mostly because I decided to actually follow the editorial notes and catch up on the side stories that have been happening around the main title. This is before there were many splits with the team (this is shortly after New Mutants launched, so there’s some stories in there that are pretty important, but it’s early days for juggling characters between titles), but they happen. First with the Wolverine miniseries with Frank Miller on art. Then with Secret Wars. Then right after that with the Kitty Pryde/Wolverine miniseries. All of them are kinda messy (tho I love Yukio so seeing her pop up in the two Japan minis is cool). Secret Wars…had a really interesting Klaw, and otherwise was pretty ehhhhhh.

But this run has really but underlining one thing, and that’s how Colossus is kinda a terrible character. I mean, that’s not super fair. But he’s by far the least developed of the characters. He’s mopey and he’s prone to weird naïve moments but mostly he’s there to be the X-Men’s O’Brien. The one bad things happen to but he just sort of keeps going. I am excited if this read through the shift to Acolyte will be more interesting and satisfying, because to date out of all the X-Men he has the least personality, and when he gets a chance to have one, it’s pretty bad. Falling in love with someone who might have been influencing his emotions isn’t the best look, and then immediately taking this out on Kitty and fighting the Juggernaut and…well, he’s most just present at this point even when he’s being almost killed by Mystique’s new Brotherhood.

Anyway, the stuff with Storm losing her powers and then the stuff with Forge and the dire wraiths (from Rom the Space Knight) is pretty compelling. I did really like the conversation that Kitty and Storm have before that about her changing look and attitude. About her being able to be a woman rather than a goddess, and having to explore who she is even when she doesn’t always like what she finds. Really good stuff there. And then of course I got distracted with Alpha Flight so am reading through what’s up on Unlimited with that. And…what a weird title. Just all over. Will report back next week with more there.

Otherwise, Suikovember continues and I’ve been mostly keeping up (at least to the time I write this). I’m hanging in there, and hope that can be said about all of you as well. Cheers!


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