Book Review: Static Shock Vol. 1: Rebirth of the Cool

This is an incredibly difficult review to write. Not because of the book or anything in it, but because looking up links to post about Dwayne McDuffie makes me so incredibly sad. He was just so talented, and he did such a great thing creating Milestone Comics and characters like Static and Icon in a city like Dakota, and it just makes me sad. He was so young. I mean, he was an incredible blessing and talent in the comics and animation world and I don’t want to take away from that, but he was just so young and awesome and now he’s gone.

I was going to say that my first introduction to Dwayne McDuffie and his work was through the Static Shock cartoon (which is unfortunately not available as a complete series), but that’s not true. I was introduced to him through the Justice League cartoon on Cartoon Network. Whenever I saw his name at the beginning of an episode I knew it would have great one-liners or a fun plot. Whenever a new DC animation movie came out, I would check to see if either he and/or Bruce Timm were listed before giving it any of my time.

My daughter and I did watch Static Shock when it aired on Cartoon Network, and we really enjoyed it. We especially loved the Li’l Romeo theme song, and cannot, in fact, say Static Shock without adding the “Superhero” and “woo woo.”

As for the actual book, there are lots of differences between the comic book and the television show. Big, obvious differences such as Frieda is his best friend instead of Richie (and he is in love with her). Oh, and his mom is alive in the comic. Also, the tone is lighter on the TV show. Virgil isn’t a bullied kid, though he does still have a smart mouth. I don’t remember his origin story on the show except that he was present during the Big Bang, but in the comic he goes to get revenge on the kids who are pushing him around.

It’s hard for me to even write a review about the book because I was reading it as a celebration of the artist Dwayne McDuffie, not to read critically. I liked the look at the expectations for Virgil from his family, the way his mouth gets him in trouble, his angst about being a superhero, his romantic exploits. I like the different villains and not-so-villains. His relationship with Frieda is very interesting, and it would be nice to see how that continues to play out.

I think, if you like the television show, it’s worth the read. I think, if you are interested in the formation of an inner-city black superhero, it’s worth the read.

I think it’s worth the read.

R.I.P. Dwayne McDuffie. You will be missed.

YA of the ’80s and ’90s: 3; Support Your Local Library: 14/30; YA Reading Challenge: 9/20; POC Challenge 8/15; Graphic Novels Challenge: 3/10; Page to Screen: 1/5

Audiobook Review: Tangerine

But I can see. I can see everything. I can see things that Mom and Dad can’t. Or won’t.

I attempted to listen to the audiobook of Tangerine by Edward Bloor (narrated by Ramón de Ocampo) a few months ago with my daughter, but she deemed it boring, so we returned it to the library and got something else. But I still wanted to read it. So when I had to take a road trip alone recently, I went back to the library and got it. I am so glad I did.

It’s the story of Paul Fisher and what happens when his family moves to (fictional) Tangerine County in Florida.

I loved this book. LOVED. I loved the plot, I loved the characters, I loved the narration. I only listen to audiobooks in my car, and I wound up bringing the last disk of this one in the house to listen to because I had to know what was going to happen. I just had to. I couldn’t wait and listen to it piecemeal on my next errand.

Some of what makes this book awesome:

  • It’s unpredictable. I am something of a story expert. I can see plot twists coming from a mile away. With this book, even the stuff that I knew was coming unfolded in ways I didn’t expect. Not to mention there were several times I gasped out loud.
  • Okay, I mentioned the characters, but I really kind of just love the mom. I mean, yes, all the characters are well-developed, have clear motivations, etc. But I just get such a strong sense of the type of woman Paul’s mom is. I’m not saying we would be friends or anything (she is kind of uptight even by my standards), but, wow, I felt like I knew her.
  • I am not a huge sports fan, and, between soccer and football, sports are discussed A LOT in this book. However, Bloor uses sports to explore friendship and brotherhood and family, and I dig that. Needless to say, I am a huge fan of friendship stories in all of their different forms. Also, sports fanaticism is explored, and how it allows athletes–certain athletes, mind–special privileges.
  • Bloor takes a fantastic look at class and class privilege. Just…yeah, I really can’t say more than that.
  • If you are interested in community planning or development (like one of my friends), this book is allllll about a poorly planned community. All of the issues that crop up in Paul’s community happen because the planners didn’t understand the land they were building on or ignored everything they knew about it to make what they wanted. And, wow, does it ever backfire.
  • Can we have a little chat about favoritism? Because it’s pretty clear who is the favorite in Paul’s family. Hint: It’s his brother Erik.
  • Let’s have a little talk about the narration, shall we? Ramón de Ocampo is FANTASTIC. He’s a little old for Paul to be sure, but all of his voices are great. He’s super compelling. Also: hot. (Just a little eye candy for the people.)

My only complaint is that I didn’t get enough of Erik as the charmer. I get how Paul sees him and why, but I wish I could see a little bit more of how he charms grown ups. I mean, it can’t all be his football prowess.

Other than that, though, I think it’s pretty much perfect.

YA of the ’80s and ’90s: 2; Support Your Local Library: 13/30; YA Reading Challenge: 8/20; Audiobook Challenge: 2/6; POC Challenge: 7/15

(I’m counting this for the POC Challenge because the narrator is a POC even though the author and main character are not.)