KimberlyFDR

KimberlyFDR

(17 comments, 37 posts)

In her youth, Kimberly could most likely be found in the local library, devouring books that covered everything from WWII History to Dr. McCoy's latest adventures aboard the Enterprise, with some X-Men thrown in for good measure. Saturdays were often reserved for PBS re-runs of Doctor Who and Red Dwarf. It was the closest a girl from NC was going to get to an adventure in space or a close encounter with the UK. Her latest television adventures have taken her across the United States and across the galaxies. She enjoyed SGA until it sadly went away, but she's consoled herself with the adventures of the Leverage crew and the Winchester brothers, and they help immensely.

Kimberly has degrees and certificates from UNC-CH in the areas of American History, Religion, Creative Writing, and Public Health. When she passed her Mensa entrance exam, she did not pull a John Sheppard, thank you very much. And, yes, she has a favorite astrophysicist (Neil deGrasse Tyson). Doesn't everyone? She also designs and programs websites in her daytime hours. During her nighttime hours, she can often be found online commenting on the latest media revelations of the day in between commenting on the latest fanfiction she read. She is KimberlyFDR both on Twitter and Livejournal, so come say hello! And you can find links to all her articles, as well as contact information, on her site.

Home page: http://kimberlyFDR.com

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Posts by KimberlyFDR
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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #8

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boom_thomas_alsop_008We have reached the end of the series and…I’m not sure I can say I am satisfied with the twist. In storytelling, we commit to a plotline, and when we learn that the journey has not been as it seemed, there is often a sense of betrayal. While it wasn’t quite like that in this series, there was a tinge of the feeling, and that brought about a range of mixed emotions as we closed the cover and thought over what it all meant.

We started off the issue with memories, but also a foreshadow. Thomas is recalling what he was doing during 9/11 and how his girlfriend was in one of the towers. You remember his girlfriend, the love of his life, Susie? Yes, commit her to memory, because she plays a larger part in this series than first realized. But that reveal comes later.

Thomas arrives at the scene of the remembrance and plays up the crowd with an overabundance of showmanship. It feels wrong, disrespectful, but it’s for a purpose. By stirring up the strong emotions, he can fuel the spell and release the souls. And by utilizing one more item in his family’s bag of tricks, he even manages to escape the cops who come after him, giving him long enough to go through the ritual and transport the soul box over to Emma while he is taken into custody. She ensures the souls were released to heaven. All seems to be going according to plan.

Though, I wonder if the assassination attempt was quite foretold. When an angry bystander pulls a gun on him, ranting that Thomas must pay for his sacrilege, not only does Thomas get shot, but Marcus as well when he tries to protect Thomas from the second bullet. But they’re alive, quickly transported into an ambulance, where Thomas says he just wants to get back home to Susie. That’s when everything you thought you knew about this story gets turned on its head.

We’ve seen Susie throughout this series, joining Thomas on multiple occasions. They were a happy couple, committed to one another. Except, it was all a lie. For ten years, Thomas has been living in a hallucination. Susie hasn’t been with him, because she’s been dead since the planes hit the towers. And if that weren’t bad enough, the morning of the attack, she had just revealed that she was pregnant. Piling on angst after angst.

So, how does this make us feel as readers? I am all for twist endings, and I enjoy when I can be surprised. But, there’s a difference in twists and deception. The latter is what I’m feeling now. Perhaps I’ll feel different once it’s sunk in, but for now, betrayal seems a good summary.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #7

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boom_thomas_alsop_007The 9/11 memorial is quickly coming up, and Thomas is determined to be there…even if it means breaking the law to do so. I feel like the end of this series can only be a success for him, but at times I doubt the through line.

When we start the issue, Thomas is still being detained down at the police station. The detectives on his case are of no use, and are trying to keep Thomas in custody overnight, just long enough to ensure he misses the ceremony. His lawyer, Mr. Hughes, has decided to take matters in his own hands if Thomas has any hope of getting out. Hughes distracts the detectives long enough for Thomas to do some magical slips out to freedom.

This is one of the many times I have issues with the “random magical item there to save the day” but it also underlies a problem with the universe as a whole. At times, Thomas seems to be using his position to his own financial advantage, but at other times he keeps all these magical ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ abilities pushed to the side until he can flash them in an emergency. I was hoping for more consistency as we went on, but I don’t feel like we’ve gotten it. Small issues, though, and things I can overlook for the grand scheme of things.

Upon Thomas’ escape, he calls the mayor to tell him to call off the cops, but the mayor refuses. Then he tries to get up with Emma Caldwell, but she’s a little busy at the moment. Instead, he’s left to fend for himself, and dealing with the public is going to be quite difficult. He gets in a fight with the locals on a ferry and then they throw him overboard. Cue the memory flashback that enforces the lesson he learned way back then – he needs to get back up and keep fighting, even when it seems he’s already lost. He takes that advice now, and onward we go.

Out of the river, he goes to see Arnica, who has a client (Albert) tied up and gagged, as she was in the middle of a scene. She lets him use her phone to call Marcus and Thomas asks for help – show the live feed of the exorcism on the blog so that he can harness the power of multiple people believing to make the magic stronger. With that done, he heads out, with The O on his trail. Emma’s having the same problem, and they both manage to do away with them, temporarily for Thomas and seemingly permanently for Emma. I want to know what she did on that beach, because she’s got some serious power behind her to achieve such a feat.

As we end the issue, The O follow Thomas to the bar he had previously mentioned in a tweet, and thankfully a group of fans eventually show up to dissuade a bloody showdown. The group puts off The O temporarily, though Thomas vows to destroy them once he’s done with the 9/11 event. Will he even make it through the event? And if he does, is he in any place to follow through on his threat? We’ll have to wait and see how it all turns out.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #6

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boom_thomas_alsop_006I am ready for the action, and we’re hopefully nearing it since we’re down to the last three issues of this series. What will happen on 9/11? Will Thomas defeat Neziah or will the island be damned forever? I am hoping we’ll see something explosive coming down the line because so far it’s been more of a waiting game.

Even though Thomas is beaten and bloody, he is determined not to give up. He’s got a destiny and he’s finally living up to it in all the ways he was meant to. We soon learn that the ghost who made off with the box is someone Thomas is familiar with – Randall (Smoke) Clever, an old engineer who was cursed to his form by Neziah Bliss and has haunted the subway ever since. Well, that’s the first story we got. We soon learn that Randall was Neziah’s lover, and that he was cursed into his form because Neziah got Tunde to raise him from the dead. Don’t tick off a powerful Shaman because he will mess with the spell he was supposed to do, twisting it into a form it was not meant to be.

Thomas manages to regroup, heading to the Alsop Family Armory for supplies before taking on Randall. While I enjoy the vast array of items in the armory, I get tired to the multiple panels that show us items that aren’t of immediate importance. And, also, considering Thomas didn’t even use the items for Randall, but instead handed them over to Emma for safe-keeping, it’s less likely readers will recall their significance month to month. Maybe just show the items one at a time as he’s using them, which would help my memory better.

Thomas does eventually deal with Randall, I guess for good? The smoke ghost eats a finger that’s been stored in the armory and he seems to disappear, so I’m going with the theory that the storyline for him is over. Now Thomas needs to deal with Neziah, The London Rose, and the whole 9/11 fiasco. That is, if he can get out of jail in time. That’s right, we end the issue with Thomas getting arrested. The poor man just can’t get a break, can he? Until next issue, it’s onward and upward as we head toward the climax of this series.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #5

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boom_thomas_alsop_005It’s a constant struggle between Thomas and the public, as the world is slowly turning against him in his pursuit to save the souls of 9/11. His approach might not be the best, but his motivations seem solid. If only he could make it out of this with his reputation intact.

We start off the issue with Thomas interrupting a late night talk show. He comes in and uses his appearance as a platform to make an announcement about his current case. Jovial acceptance soon turns negative as Thomas talks about what he’s planning to do. Thomas says he’s going to perform an exorcism at the site of the towers on the 10th anniversary of 9-11. This seemingly crazy talk gets him permanently banned from the talk show. It seems the public is willing to go along with his paranormal talk as long as it’s good entertainment, but using the memories of people lost in tragedy is a step too far. I wonder if they will all forgive him if his plan succeeds.

Thomas keeps going on shows, talking about the case, and is continually labeled as insane. However, his promotion team is trying to spin the situation to their advantage. If they can make it seem like he was only kidding, if he tries for forgiveness, maybe his brief stint of craziness will be forgotten? But he’s not going to let anyone dissuade him, not even those closest to him. Finally, his producer gets fed up with him and casts him aside. Both public and private opinion is solidly against him.

And if that wasn’t enough, Thomas gets summoned to a meeting of the Five Families. They question his methods, mad over the fact he talked so publicly about the upcoming spell. Nothing really gets settled, and he leaves to hit some bars around town, tweeting his progress the whole way. It seems that Thomas has a motive for his actions. He is building up energy through public hate, meant to fuel his spell.

And with the last component, the hidden box, he would be in a good place to move forward with his plan. But that is going to prove to be the hardest to obtain. He almost has it, but then a ghost creature emerges and grabs it away. Will Thomas get the box back? Will he be able to go through with his spell and save all those lost souls? We have to wait until the next issue to find out.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #4

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boom_thomas_alsop_004The island’s connection to Thomas is weakening and the evil is increasing. It’s up to Thomas to fix all that’s gone wrong, and hopefully live up to the title he’s been bestowed. First order of business is reconnecting with his old friend and former band-mate, Emma Caldwell. He’s uncovered a disturbing situation and needs back-up. All the souls lost in the towers are floating there, at unease.

Thomas knows he’s off his game, and that’s why the ghosts got past him. He’s not the powerful man he used to be, with his connection to the island weakening. Thomas thinks this is due, in part, to the fact that he’s been doing the show. The island has pulled back because he’s corrupting the connection with his tricks, and that has weakened the bond. And he needs to set things right, because the evil that has been building and is about to boil over has been going on since the days of Neziah Bliss. It has been reawakened because of their former drummer Martin Delgado, a firefighter who was there when the towers went down. He recited the incantation that tied itself to Neziah’s, which is why it’s coming back so strong now.

The three of them were good friends, Thomas and Martin and Emma. And they used magic in their act, without a thought to the implications of their actions. Thomas’ father was none too happy about that, wanting his son to straighten up and take control of his destiny. Unfortunately, a young and short-sighted Thomas defied his wishes and actually stole a magic box from the collection because Emma had a plan to use a spell to get them a music contract. This action would have far-reaching consequences that are still being felt today.

The spell went wrong, of course. While they played beautifully, and actually caught the eye of a record executive, bad things were brewing, too. Martin saw the evil in all the audience and it was too much for him, so he quit the band. That same night, Thomas’ father was murdered, and soon after Emma left town. All of Thomas’ hopes and dreams were unraveled because of one action. And now he must set things right again.

Thomas thinks that if he retrieves the magic box that they stole and stashed, he can use it to overcome the evil that is permeating the island. Will his plan turn out to be a good one? Or will he create more havoc, throwing the island into a downward spiral from which it can never recover? We’ll have to wait and see on that.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #3

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boom_thomas_alsop_003The past is finally meeting the present in the Thomas Alsop comic, and now is when it starts getting interesting. With a deeper connection to his family’s past, I’m finally seeing the potential in Thomas and the lengths he might have to go to in order to set things right.

Starting off the comic this month, we got an admission from Thomas about how he doesn’t feel as deep a connection to the island as his ancestors did. We’ve seen it hinted at, but I’m glad that he finally came out and said the words. In fact, he’s been sliding on his family’s history for all his current success, digging into family journals to find old ghosts and make good entertainment for his media image. But he can’t just keep going like he has been. Thomas has a destiny, and he’s got to make sure he lives up to it by reconnecting with the island. His solution on how to go about that, though, doesn’t quite instill a feeling of mental stability.

Thomas’ solution for reconnection is to risk death by overdose. If he can get close to dying, then he can feel the connection better and maybe uncover why there’s been a constant darkness over it for all these years. Whether it’s a hallucination or reality, Thomas’ mind-trip does provide us with more clues and better visual connections between the past and present. He has a waking dream of drowning, thrust back to 1702 where he overhears the situation with Neziah Bliss and the implication that the boat he’s so afraid of is indeed cursed. Thomas knows this to be true, as he gets a clear image of the wood’s power when he touches it. Virgins drained the blood of good men to feed the forest, grow the wood, build the boat. Then the blood from the virgin daughters of the priests of The Black Ring was used to etch in spells to the wood, which was all used to keep Tunde under control. He is the dark force that brought death and destruction to the island, and continues to do so to this day.

The whole situation with Tunde is interesting, especially the yet-to-be-seen extent of his powers. We know he is said to be able to raise the dead, and The Black Ring wants to learn everything he can do, wants him to teach them his tricks. I have a feeling he’s going to be killing a few of them before willingly giving over his secrets, but I can believe that his overwhelming darkness has stained the island for all these years and continues to do so.

The implication that the 1992 burial of “The Box of Lost Things” with the sealed spell inside is connected to the tragedy on September 11th was a bit too thin to follow, though Thomas believes it has a strong connection to Tunde’s situation. We leave the issue with him ranting to the EMTs and his friend Marcus Rogers that he has to save all the 9/11 victims. How he’s going to do this is yet to be seen. Personally, I’d like to see the connection spelled out in more concrete terms, but for now I’m willing to wait.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #2

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Is he a perceived fake or is his power known? That lasting question was partially answered in the new new issue of Thomas Alsop. However, I’m more concerned with the fact that the family backstory is teetering on the edge of information overload. Keep the balance, keep my attention.

 

My question last month was how much does the outside world know about Alsop’s abilities. While his friend seemed to be in on it, I wasn’t sure how much the everyday population knew. Here was this old rock star who became a paranormal investigator. As expected, he’s more cast in the light of media celebrity than known warrior. If someone believes in him, that’s cool, but it seems like the majority see him as some fake who puts on a good show. I guess that makes it easier for him to slip in and out of cases?

 

With that cleared up, we move on to the family backstory. In this issue, we started seeing a glimpse of how dense that backstory really is, and I began to fear we’d be overloaded by too much too soon. The informational boxes about his family armory items was already intrusive, and then we had to keep up with the whole family mansion by way of mausoleum, disapproving uncle and sister, something about the Five Families Treaty, and a whole host of other drama that had me wishing for a notebook to keep track of it all. The one thing we did get out of all that, which sparked my interest, was the fact that Thomas seems to be on a recovery mission for family heirlooms that were previously lost. He replaces a gun that used to belong to his father and marks the item off a list in his ledger. If this is his underlying mission, I very much approve. It’d be neat to see him taking back what is rightfully his family’s, one item at a time.

 

Maybe we’ll soon get more information on the other story threads that were teased in this issue, too. Like Thomas’ old band, The Black Sheep, or his ancestor’s involvement with The Black Ring and Master Bliss. It feels like everything’s connected, but how? I’m looking forward to finding out.

 

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #1

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Limited run comic Thomas Alsop has a reluctant hero, a dose of supernatural mystery, and an integration of the profound into our world. With an intriguing premise, I look forward to seeing where they carry this plot, though I’m hoping for some of the rough edges of the storytelling to be ironed out in subsequent issues.

Set mainly in 2011, New York City, we’re introduced to Supernatural Detective, The Hand of the Island, Thomas Alsop. He’s been given the title and the role through a family curse, passed down from generation to generation ever since ancestor Richard Alsop got cursed by the Mespeatches Indians back in 1699. Manhattan, the island itself, speaks to Thomas and gives him psychic nudges of when there are disturbances about. However, it remains unclear as to how much the “regular world” knows of the role or the existence of the supernatural in our world.

Thomas came to notoriety back in 2009, when his friend Marcus Robert tagged along on one of his missions and recorded it for posting on YouTube. As a result, the video got millions of views, Marcus became his producer, and Thomas got instant fame. He lives up to the rock star kind of life, with drunken binges, naked proclamations in his apartment, and frequent appearances on late night talk shows. Did the world know about the supernatural aspects before the video? It’s never explicitly stated, though Marcus seemed to be in the know. And no one’s claiming Thomas is off his head when he talks about his missions, so perhaps it’s a given? It would have been nice to have that clarification, though.

It would also have been nice to cut back on the dreams and flashbacks and switched points of view. When Thomas goes to sleep watching his television appearance, he dreams of his ancestor. That’s understandable, but then we completely change POVs and suddenly it’s Richard’s story for multiple pages. We even get a flashback inside the flashback, which is just sloppy writing. While I understand that we, the readers, needed to know about the 1702 incident and the ship, since it’s been recovered again in 2011, the integration of this could have been better.

Despite the problematic writing in spots, I don’t think this deters anyone from the series. I certainly want to know more about reluctant hero Thomas Alsop and what his family destiny really means. Here’s hoping the ride will be worth it.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Comic Review: Buzzkill TPB

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A superhero who gets his powers from addictive substances? Interesting! The main character’s ongoing battle between giving into his addictions and gaining the ability to be more than he was versus overcoming his addictions and returning to the (weaker) man he once was. Which side will he choose? And which side would you choose, if you were put in the same position?

I’m doing double-duty with this comic because, a few days after I received me review copy, I found out we would be discussing it in the SuperMOOC that I’m currently enrolled in, Social Issues Through Comic Books. So not only do I get to talk about it with my fellow classmates, I get to see their perspective of the comic in relation to my own.

First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”

The comic takes an interesting approach to addiction, as it takes the concept and expands it into a much more visual and moral realm of the struggles addicts go through. When you take addictive substances, it changes you into someone else. Your concepts of reality are altered and you may feel like you are stronger and better than you once were. But what if this were true? What if you became super, able to bring forth good as a result of your addiction? That’s what the main character, who we first know as Reuben, is faced with. He feels that he becomes a better person because of his addictions. However, he also becomes a more violent person, as do many addicts, and that counteracts the good he feels that he’s doing. Knowing this, he tries to overcome his addiction, but it’s also difficult to knowingly walk away from something that changes him into the man he seeks to be. What would you do in that situation?

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The ideas that somehow he will control and enjoy his liquor drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.”

Reuben feels like he can handle his addictions, but it’s immediately clear that he cannot. While he asserts that he can control the powers that he gains, it’s evident that he can’t. He was pushed to seek help after a bloody battle that put his opponent in the hospital. In group, it’s clear he has strong anger issues. How can he control something that’s ultimately controlling him? But on the opposite side, how can he cast aside the advantage it gives him when there’s bad guys out that that want to use his weakness to their benefit? If he gets help, he’s putting others in danger. If he doesn’t get help, he’s putting others in danger. It’s a no-win situation. Added to that is the idea of inherited addictions and inherited personality traits, as we see with his father and how Reuben turned out. Can he break out of the destructive cycle that he’s in or is he forever destined to be his father’s son? It’s a fascinating illustration of the battles addicts go through. Even when the intention of being better is there, the journey is difficult.

Pick up your copy of Buzzkill today. You will not be disappointed.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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Comic Review: Breath of Bones: A Tale Of The Golem HC

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Being a World War II historian and a fan of the golem legend, Breath of Bones was a perfect combination of good storytelling and fantastic line art that held my interest the whole way through. The tale is told from the point of view of Noah, an Allied soldier who is going to take care of the upcoming attack with a repeat of something that happened to him as a young boy. And, so, we get pulled back to his childhood and a recounting of how his village survived with faith and strength.

When Noah was just a child, his father went to war along with the other able-bodied men of their village. Noah was left to live with his grandparents and wait, everyday, for his father to return. Sadly, the stark reality of war is that he will never see his father again. The monsters of Nazi Germany has stolen away this young boy’s childhood and made him grow up way too fast. But pretty soon the war is not some far-away threat, but one that is knocking on their village’s front door.

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An Allied soldier by the name of Simon Richards crashes his plane near the village. Noah and his grandfather, along with the rest of the villagers, hide him away and put out the fires of the crash, but pretty soon the event draws the attention of the Germans who send two soldiers to check it out. The villagers almost get away with the secret they are keeping, but after accidental exposure of Simon during a search and a resulting shootout that leaves one German soldier dead, one German soldier injured yet able to escape, and Noah’s grandfather bleeding from a gunshot wound, it is evident that the monsters outside will soon be coming into their home. It is up to them to fight or run away scared.

This is where the golem legend comes into play. Noah’s grandfather, Jacob, gifted him with a small clay figure prior, one that has been passed down from grandfather to grandson for many generations. Jacob is going to use the golem legend to build a large clay figure that will come to life through the power of faith and protect them from the oncoming Nazi attack. He gets the townspeople’s help to create the figure and then sends them on their way, hoping that they can escape to safety before the Germans come back. Choosing to stay behind, Noah, his grandmother, Jacob, and Simon all stand their ground and watch as the golem does indeed do what it was meant to do. And once his mission is completed, the golem goes back to being just clay again. The village is safe, for now.

And it is this memory of faith and safety that Noah uses again in present day. As we close the series, he is beginning to shape another figure out of clay so that the golem can rise up again and defend good men against the monsters. It’s a wonderful ending to a wonderful story. If you’re a fan of WWII, or the golem legend, or just a fan of great artwork and great storytelling, you cannot go wrong with Breath of Bones. Pick up your copy today and revisit the notion that good can indeed triumph over evil.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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