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Reading in the Past – G. Willow Wilson’s Cairo

When I picked this up back in late 2007, I wasn’t even looking for it.  I was browsing the graphic novel aisle at Barnes and Nobles, when the purple hardcover caught my eye.  I picked it up, checked out the back cover, skimmed the first page, and bought it on an impulse buy.  I was not disappointed; plus it introduced to me to the poetic spiritual poetic writings of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī–yes I do read other things besides comic books and graphic novels.  Since then it has been listed as a top graphic novel for teens by both the American Library Association and the School Library Journal.

Now about eight years later I am reading it again on a rainy Saturday afternoon, waiting for Hurricane Joaquin to blow ever.  I couldn’t remember much about it, not even who wrote it. It wasn’t until I picked it up off my bookshelf that I realized that it was written by G. Willow Wilson, the current writer of Ms. Marvel and the voice behind Kamalah Khan–which happens to be in my pull list since issue #1 (yet another entry to my little black book of future blogs).

Once again it did not disappoint. Great art, stoned camels, hashish smugglers, genies, a female special forces Isreali soldier, and the undernile.   I’m surprised this one has not yet been made into a movie or something.  It deserves a wider audience in film.

Here are some quotes:

“So today I hit one of those STONED camels with my truck.”

“We don’t pull things out of thin air, we manipulate probability. The ability to create belongs to someone else.”

“The unexpected keeps us humble.”

“Fear is never a noble weapon. EVER.”

“Due respect to the tribe of Adam, but my kind was created first, it’s hard to keep us down.”

“Even when you’ve been hurt, living is braver than dying.”

Cairo

Informative Links:

G. Willow Wilson Wikipedia

Cairo Graphic Novel Wikpedia

Rumi Wikipedia

Reading in The Past – Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke

It’s late Friday evening, and I’m done with work, but I promised myself I’d get in a post tonight.  Feeling lazy I reached out to Batman: The Killing Joke. It looked slim enough that I could get through it within a few minutes of a quick re-read.

I was lucky enough to get this one shot graphic novel when it first came out back in 1988, and I have re-read my personal very-fine copy a number of times. Still, it has been at last ten years or so since I last looked at this prior to today.

Although my hazy recollections were positive, all I could really remember about it was that Barbara Gordon was crippled in it, it had one of the earliest Joker origin stories I was aware of, and there were these demonic midgets in those pages somewhere.

Doing some research (very little I confess) I found out that Alan Moore is very critical of this work, and only did it as a favor to Brian Bolland. Furthermore, there is a 2008 hard covered version, recolored by Bolland, who was not happy with the original (I may have to check that out one day). Nonetheless, many consider it to be the definitive Joker story, and one of the best Batman stories ever to be published.

Me, I enjoyed it then, and still enjoy it today. One thing though, despite it being a Batman story, I’d re-classify it as horror; but this may be colored by the fact that I am reading Moore’s ‘Providence‘ present day. The Joker I remember from my formative years was kind of goofy; but here in this book’s macabre artwork, I’m reintroduced to the crazy rantings of a murderous Joker, driven mad by one bad day, invoking images in my mind of a crazed Jack Nicholson from the Shining.  I can’t recall exactly when the Joker evolved into the murdering psychopath he is today–probably sometime in the seventies or eighties if memory serves me right –but it was Moore who set him off on the homicidal path that continues to date (I’ll have to add ‘Joker History’ to my little black book of future blogs).  

Moore, in one of his interviews, says “it isn’t about anything that you’re ever going to encounter in real life, because Batman and the Joker are not like any human beings that have ever lived.”  True as that may be, with all the hate and mass shootings–the madness in Oregon being the latest–happening in today’s world, I’m inclined to believe that there are too many Jokers in the world, and not enough Batmen.

Here are some quotes:

“How can two people hate so much without knowing each other.”

“Remember? Ohh, I wouldn’t do that! Remembering’s dangerous. I find the past such a worrying anxious place.”

“Memory’s so treacherous. One moment you’re lost in a carnival of delights with poignant childhood aromas, the flashing neon of puberty, all that sentimental candy floss … the next it leads you somewhere you don’t want to go … somewhere dark and cold, filled with the damp, ambiguous shapes of things you’d hoped were forgotten.”

“Memories can be vile, repulsive little brutes, like children I suppose.”

“Don’t get ee-ee-even, get mad!”

“Ladies and Gentlemen! You’ve read about it in the newspapers!  Now shudder as you observe, before your very eyes, that most rare and tragic of nature’s mistakes! I give you … The Average Man!”

“Faced with the inescapable fact that human existence is mad, random and pointless, one in eight of them crack up and go stark slavering buggo!”

“If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”

Killing Joke

Informative Links:

Batman: The Killing Joke Wikipedia

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