Two women, in comics form


Two fascinating women who crash into classic tales and remake them in their own image. "Beauty and the Beast" becomes a sculptor and a shadow, and Supergirl gets to be Rooster Cogburn in a scifi retelling of True Grit.

They are both every bit as good as I hope that sounds.


085) Beast by Marian Churchland, finished July 24

Fantastic Comics has been having this crazy blowout sale on older graphic novels they need to unload, so the boys and I stopped by Saturday and picked up a dozen books for fifty bucks, including this one.

This is a fresh take on Beauty and the Beast and it is, in fact, actually fresh. It's roughly the modern day (I'm estimating 2000) and our hero is a young sculptor who is hired to attack a large piece of marble. Her benefactor goes by Beast and seems to be made of shadows, but she doesn't run and she does sculpt.

The art is beautiful and melancholy. I'm not 100% sure about the ending (a second reading might help) but the book as a whole is a clear victory.

an hour maybe

086) Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow by King/Evely/Lopes, finished date

By the time something comes into the library and I read it, I've often forgotten why I wanted to read it in the first place. Luckily, I trust past me and so even with a stack of comics I'm excited about (see above) I picked this up to read first.

I didn't realize until I sat down to write this review that it was written by the same author of a Superman story I wished to compare it to. Reading that review it's clear I liked the story, but the memory I'm left with most clearly is how deeply it expected you to know the DC Universe and all its fiddly details. This story too sends a supersomebody around the universe in service of a young girl but it avoids all the minor stumbling that got in Superman's way. And it's even more successful at managing the levels of storytelling and the cuts back and forth and the voice-forward narrator. In other words, it much the same but Supergirl is superior on every level. Except demanding of the reader a knowledge of minutia. And who wants to win in that category?

Part of what works particularly well in this volume is the model its following. If Tom King were to tell me Woman of Tomorrow was not based on True Grit I would call him a liar. The basic plot and the lead (nonsuper) protagonist are straight from the pages of that great American novel. This is not a knock. Everything's a remix and the trick is to steal well and understand the value of what you're lifting. As Eliot put it, "good poets make [what is stolen] into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn." That's what happens here. Because the differences between True Grit and Woman of Tomorrow are legion, but their souls remain in deep conversation. If someone wants to make an excellent Supergirl "television event," this should be their source material.

It's not just King's writing of course that makes this work. We're talking about comics, after all. While he may have introduced the restraints and the structure, it would not live without the astonishing and beautiful work of Bilquis Evely (colored with aplomb by Matheus Lopes).

One of the problems Lady Steed has with action movies is the action. It's cool and everything but it just goes on and on and on. She's not wrong. And while the ballet of violence provides its own beauty and done well can marvel and amaze, can reveal character and theme, can matter—it can also, not matter how excellent, drag a story to a dead stop. This story is about decades of violence, but the violence rarely if even holds center stage by itself, and some of the largest and most impressive fight scenes occurred between issues and were left unseen.

Incidentally, I disagree with the ending of Woman of Tomorrow, but exactly why what happened is what happened is open to debate and criticism and analysis. In other words, it is literary. I'm not making any claims that Woman of Tomorrow is perfect or anything, but it certainly does rise to the level of literature.

how long goes here


Previously . . . . :

final posts in this series from
  2007 = 2008 = 2009 = 2010 = 2011 = 2012 = 2013
2014 = 2015 = 2016 = 2017 = 2018 = 2019 = 2020 = 2021 = 2022

Earlier in 2023

001) The Dark Room by Gerry Duggan & Scott Buoncristiano, finished January four
002) The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander, finished January 6
003) Rose by Jeff Smith and Charles Vess, finished January 10
004) Acting Class by Nick Drnaso, finished January 10
005) Red Scare by Liam Francis Walsh, finished January 11

006) The Short Reign of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck, finished January 18
007) Filmish by Edward Ross, finished circa January 20

HOW many times?

008) Maddy Kettle Book: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch by Eric Orchard, finished January 24 
009) Fantastic Frights: A Beginner's Guide to Scary Stories, finished January 24
010) Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary, finished February 2
011) Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, finished February 3
012) The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, finished February 4

013) Is that all there is? by Joost Swarte, finished February 6
014) Edge Case by YZ Chin, finished February 7

If it weren't for a friendly sex talk, everything here would be miserable

015) Double Indemnity by James M. Cain, finished February 10
016) Sex Educated: Letters from a Latter-day Saint therapist to her younger self by Bonnie Young, LMFT, finished February 13
017) Unmask Alice: LDS, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World's Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson, finished February 20 

A Bookful Bounty for thee and thine 

018) I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jeannette McCurdy, finished February 27
019–21) The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kershl, finished March 6
022) Displacement by Kiku Hughes, finished March 6
023) The Many Deaths of Laila Starr by Ram V and Filipe Andrade, finished March 6
024) The Homeland Directive by Robert Venditti and Mike Huddleston, finished March 7
025) Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, finished March 14
026) Last West: Roadsongs for Dorothea Lange by Tess Taylor, finished March 15
027) 22 Young Mormon Writers edited by Neal E. Lambert and Richard H. Cracroft, finished March 19
028 & 029) Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, finished March 23 & March 27

Literarily solving for X

030) X by Sue Grafton, finished March 28
031) Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary, finished April 5
032) Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century by Dana Stevens, finished April 5
033) Abe Lincoln in Illinois by Robert E. Sherwood, finished April 8
034) Theology of Play by J├╝rgen Moltmann, finished April 12
035) The Male Animal by James Thurber and Elliott Nugent, finished April 12
036) Bluffton by Matt Phelan, finished April 16
037) Number One Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss, finished April 15

From Lolly to Elias

038) Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner, finished April 17
039) The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson, finished April 19
040) Beware the Eye of Odin by Wager/Odland/Madsen/Dukeshire, finished April 19
041) The Complete Peanuts: 1965–1966 by Charles M. Schulz, finished April 20
042) A Wealth of Pigeons by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss, finished April 22
043) Elias: An Epic of the Ages by Orson Ferguson Whitney, finished April 23

Old Hollywood & Olden Times

044) Straight Lady: The Life and Times of Margaret Dumont, "The Fifth Marx Brother" by Chris Enss and Howard Kazanjian, finished April 25
045) Voices from the Radium Age edited by Joshua Glenn, finished April 26
046) The Ballad of YFB by Aaron Brassea, finished April 28
047) Reynaud's Tale by Ben Hatke, finished May 3
048) Superman: Up in the Sky by Tom King and Andy Kubert, finished May 5
049) Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary, finished May 5
050) Resurrection Row by Anne Perry, finished May 6 

Saying good bye to our friend Kinsey

052) More Gross: Cartoons by S. Gross, finished May 9
053) I Am Blind and My Dog Is Dead by S. Gross, finished May 9
054) Batgirls: One Way or Another by Becky Cloonan / Michael W. Conrad / Jorge Corona / Sarah Stein, finished May 11
055) Batgirls: Bat Girl Summer by Becky Cloonan / Michael W. Conrad / Neil Googe / Robbi Rodriguez / Rico Renzi, finished May 11
056) Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton, finished May 12 

The tyranny of getting stuff in the right order

051) On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder, finished May 8
057) Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Guruhiru, finished May 13
058) Four in Hand by Alicia Mountain, finished May 17
059) The Glob by John O'Reilly and Walt Kelly, finished May 20
060) Why They Can't Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Necessities by John Warner, finished May 24
061) Less by Andrew Sean Greer, finished May 25
062) Children of the Woods by Ciano/Hixson/Stevens/Otsmane-Elhaou, finished May 27
063) The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece by Tom Hanks, finished May 29

Such quality. Such excellence.

064) Here by Darlene Young, finished June 1
065) Theseus Volume 1 by Jordan Holt, finished June 1
066) Theseus Volume 2 by Jordan Holt, finished June 1
067) Reviews for Non-Existent Movies by Eric Goulden Kimball, finished June 5
068) The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, finished June 6
069) Anne of West Philly by Ivy Noelle Weir and Myisha Haynes, finished June 10
070) Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary, finished June 10

 Books read: a forensic investigation

073) These Precious Days by Ann Patchett, finished c. June 17
074) Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, finished c. June 19
075) The Burning Book: A Jewish-Mormon Memoir by Jason Olson and James Goldberg, finished c. June 21
076) The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich, finished June 23

From prehumanity to eternal destiny

077) Tuki: Fight for Fire by Jeff Smith, finished June 28
078) Tuki: Fight for Family by Jeff Smith, finished June 29
079) The Writer's Hustle by Joey Franklin, finished July 8
080) Future Day Saints: The New Arrivals by Matt Page, finished July 16
081) Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, finished July 18
082) Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary, finished July 19
083) Just One More by Annette Lyon, finished July 20
084) The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl, finished July 22
085) Somewhere Out There: My Animated Life by Don Bluth, finished July 22

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