The end of April left me in a reading burnout that I knew was coming. One of my reading goals was to read at least 50 books this year and I’m closing in on that number pretty quickly. The pace at which I’m reaching that goal, a faster pace than I have in previous years, was the main indication that a burnout was imminent.
One of the best ways that I’ve found to help alleviate said burnout is turning to romance and comics. Romance because I can devour a book quite quickly, a day or two, and because they are just a pleasure to read. And comics because of how condensed some story arcs are and that sense of accomplishment you get from finishing a novel, especially comic trade paperbacks. So that’s what I did in May, I read a lot of comics and a couple of romances. And I’m not mad about it.
The books I read in May:
- An Extraordinary Union – Alyssa Cole
- Kingsway West, Issues #1 – 4 – Script by Greg Pak, Art by Mirko Colak
- Silk, Issues #18 – 19 – Script by Robbie Thompson, Art by Tana Ford*
- The Totally Awesome Hulk, Issue #15 – Script by Greg Pak, Art by Mahmud Asrar*
- I and Love and You – Susannah Nix
- Invincible Iron Man, Issues #4 – 6 – Script by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Stefano Caselli
- Black Panther: World of Wakanda, Issues #4 – 6 – Script Roxane Gay & Ta-Nehisi Coates, Art by Alitha Martinez (#4-5); Script by Rembert Brown, Art by Joe Bennet (#6)
- Black Panther, Issues # 11 – 13 – Script by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Art by Chris Sprouse, Brian Stelfreeze & Wilfredo Torres
- The Totally Awesome Hulk, Issues # 16 -18 – Script by Greg Pak, Art by Mahmud Asrar
- Ms. Marvel, Issues #16 -18 – Script by G. Willow Wilson, Art by Takeshi Miyazawa (#16-17) & Franceso Gaston (#18)
- America, Issues #1 – 3 – Script by Gabby Rivera, Art by Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera & Paolo Rivera
- Combination of Issue 1s: Hawkeye: Kate Bishop, issue 1 – Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero; Black Bolt, issue 1 – Saladin Ahmed, Christian Ward; The Unstoppable Wasp, issue 1 – Jeremy Whitley, Elsa Charretier; Malika: Warrior Queen – Roye Okupe; Black Panther and The Crew – Ta-Nehisi Coates, Butch Guice
- Thor: Goddess of Thunder, Volume 1 – Script by Jason Aaron, Art by Russell Dauterman & Jose Molina
- Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Volume 2: Cosmic Cooties – Script by Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare, Art by Natacha Bustos
- The Secret Loves of Geek Girls – Edited by Hope Nicholson
Out of the fifteen books that I read these are my favourites of the bunch and I pretty excited to talk about them.
Extraordinary Union was the first book I read this month. And it turned out to be one of the best. If you like historical romance, I implore you to read it. Alyssa Cole weaves together well-written and fully developed characters, a sizzling and undeniable romance, and plenty of American history into this novel, seamlessly. The story centers on Elle Burns, an African-American woman with an eidetic memory, who is a Union spy posing as a servant in the South to gather intelligence on the Confederacy. Elle is an incredible character and based on an actual historical individual. She’s strong, intelligent, kind, and resourceful. She also fully understands the world she lives in, the subjugation that she faces, even though she is a freed woman. She knows her value and she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty to get what she deserves and desires. Malcolm McCall, the hero, is no slump either; he is one of the best detectives the Pinkerton Detective Service (the predecessor to the Secret Service) has and helps ignites something in Elle she never knew she wanted before. It’s a beautiful love story. It’s a brilliant story. The intersectionality in this book made my heart sing. Go pick it up and read it! You definitely won’t be disappointed.
I said goodbye to Cindy Moon and the Marvel series Silk in May. Silk was the series that started my dive into comics. It was a brilliant series. It wasn’t always perfect but it was real. It covered a lot of different issues (mental health, family, being a millennial, etc.) and did so in a way that didn’t just gloss over them but actually explored them in the context of being a super powered human being. It was also a great source of representation for me. It was one of the two Marvel series with an Asian-American superheroine headlining her own series and one of the few that populate the superhero comic genre in general. Cindy Moon gained the same superpowers that Peter Parker (Spider-Man) did after being bitten by the same radioactive spider. Unlike Peter Parker, Cindy Moon was locked up in an underground bunker for 10 years before being rescued. (That kind of isolation does damage on a person’s psyche, damage that was explored throughout the series.) The series leaves off with an optimistic but bittersweet ending, possibly leaving the door open for Cindy Moon, who has a story that deserves to be told, to grace the pages of Marvel once again.
Fortunately for me, I discovered the “Big Apple Showdown” arc (issues #15-19) in The Totally Awesome Hulk series that brought together all the current Asian-American characters in Marvel comic universe together. This was the first time in Marvel’s history that so many characters of Asian-American descent graced the panels of a series pages and it was spectacular. I got to see two of my favourite comic characters, Silk and Ms. Marvel, interact with one another and fight aliens alongside one another. I was literally in comic book heaven reading this arc. It was a great arc that was not only fun to read and showed off all of Marvel’s Asian-American characters but also showed that being a hero means standing your ground and sticking to your morals, even when everyone else disagrees.
Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur and America were two other series from Marvel that I greatly enjoyed in reading in May. Lunella Lafayette and America Chavez are quite different characters, at very different stages of their life, in very different circumstances, with very different powers, but are both working towards forging their own unique path in the world where they are outsiders. Lunella is an Inhuman and the smartest person on Earth; she’s also nine years old. America is from a whole other universe able to punch through space, time, and other universes. Both of them are also a huge source of diversity and inclusion within the Marvel comic universe. Lunella’s series is one of the few all-ages comics with an African-American protagonist in the superhero genre and America is the first Latina LGBTQ characters to headline her own series. The journey that both of these characters are on are unique and exquisitely written, beautifully illustrated and amazing reads. They’re two characters that I can’t wait to read more about and look forward to seeing sticking in Marvel’s catalogue for a long time to come. (Fingers crossed since I’m side-eyeing Marvel Comics executives.)
The last book I read in May, while on vacation, was The Secret Loves of Geek Girls. The book is an anthology collection of essays, comics pages, drawings, poems, stories written by a diverse set of women who are in the involved one way or another in comics and geek culture. The anthology boasts work from writers like Marjorie Liu, Margaret Atwood, and Hope Nicholson (who actually edited the collection). Reading all these different stories about life, love, family, friendship, diversity, inclusion, and fangirling from all these different creators from all walks of life was fantastic. It shows that while we are all unique in this world, there are many different things that connect us and bond us together. I really enjoyed reading the collection and it definitely introduced me to creators that I had never heard of before.
Those were all the books I read in May. They definitely helped me overcome that reading burnout that hit me at the beginning of the month and definitely restarted my desire to pick up more diverse reads in the coming months. Thanks for reading!