Rocket Raccoon: A Chasing Tale (Written by Skottie Young, Illustrated by Skottie Young and Jake Parker)
Yeah, I know I said years ago I wouldn't be doing "first six issues of a comic series" collections anymore, but (A) this series only lasted 11 issues so this is over half of it anyway, and (B) I liked this more than anything else I read/watched this month so I'm reviewing it because screw you.
This isn't the most profound comic, but it's an entertaining space-fairing romp with very nice cartoon artwork. The first four issues are a serial in which Rocket hunts down another anthro raccoon hoping for information on his homeworld and some mythical book, along the way meeting a cast of wacky aliens. It ends with a bit of an anticlimax (which I guess is wrapped up within the remaining five issues) where the other raccoon turns out to be fucking Bucky O'Hare, and then rocks fall and everyone gets the crap beaten out of them. You can do worse.
The other two issues are self-contained stories. One is a jokey issue about Groot telling a campfire story with a twist thanks to his, let's call it peculiar speech habits. The last is about Rocket helping a war machine who wants to live a peaceful existence as a baker find his friends who have been forcibly re-recruited into battle. Interesting how the one-off short stories had more to offer than the four-issue serial.
Wings of Fire: Escaping Peril (Tui T. Sutherland)
Remember back in Moon Rising when I noted how much tamer the Jade Mountain sub-series is compared to the Dragonet Prophecy sub-series, when you'd think the books would be willing to take more risks with their aging audience? This is exemplified early in this book, where there's a big "Holy shit I can't believe Sutherland went there" moment... and then it turns out it was all an illusion. To which my thoughts shifted to "Are you kidding me?"
Escaping Peril finally finishes the story with Queen Scarlet that's been hanging around since the very first book. Peril was her personal assassin, but is now trying to overcome her past and forge her own life. Yeah, the "killer who was only doing it for the nuggets of validation they could scrape out of their master and is now seeking redemption" trope's not exactly original, but neither is using cement for the foundation of your house. Let's see what Sutherland builds on top of it.
Well, it's a little weird. I think Escaping Peril is trying to say your "quirks" or dare I say handicaps are as much a part of you as your memories. Peril is afflicted with a rare Skywing disorder called "firescales," meaning she generates too much fire and sets anyone and anything she touches on fire. This mirrors Moonwatcher's mind-reading and future-seeing abilities which made social life difficult for her until she got help on reining them in and found a way to help others with them.
But somebody offers Peril a magic necklace that disables her firescales... except the asshole that forged it also applied a spell that causes her to forget somebody important to her. After having a "my firescales are who I am" moment she disposes of the necklace and passes up on a chance to shut her firescales off without the "fucking with my memories" catch. Here's the thing, Peril's firescales make it hard to form relationships with other dragons as she can only touch one other dragon with his own mutation that makes him immune to fire, doing many daily activities like reading and visiting a bazaar, and hell, she can't even enjoy food because it's always ash by the time it gets to her mouth. Unless you're the type of Twitter or Tumblr user who makes your mental disorders your entire personality, why wouldn't you want to get rid of that, or at least be able to turn it on and off because sometimes it is convenient to be able to insta-kill somebody? It's one thing to say you shouldn't let losing a leg dominate your life. But if you had the opportunity to restore your leg good as new, why wouldn't you want to take it unless you're that worried about having to replace all your pants? Now apply that to a disorder that makes it impossible to enter a museum or book store, or removes your sense of taste, or, you know, causes you to kill anyone you touch.
But that's just weird. More annoying is a story element introduced in Winter Turning that keeps getting reused where dragons keep turning out to be other dragons, transformed by a magic scroll. I can't quite articulate why this bugs me the way it does. Maybe it's because it leave you feeling like an idiot for getting invested in a character, because it turns out they were somebody else all along (also known as the "Seymour Skinner Theorem"). Maybe it's because after a while, it stops being shocking because it's already happened five times, and you'd like Sutherland to come up with some other BIG SHOCKING REVEAL for once.
Road to El Dorado (G)
This movie has very pretty visuals and animation, and nothing else. Imagine my surprise when I learned the music was done by Elton John and Tim Rice, the same duo as The Lion King, because the songs here are terrible.
Soundtrack aside, the movie's not offensively bad, it's just... mediocre fluff, like it went out of its way to be as inoffensive as possible. It's your bog-standard story about two friends letting gold, or a woman, or godhood come between them only for them to realize they need to stick together, the only unique thing about it being the big breakup happening about ten minutes before the movie ends. And correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think a single person dies in the whole movie. Not even the guy who gets thrown on the ground and stepped on by a giant jaguar statue, he shouts "I'm still okay!" from under its foot. I know death isn't the only way to create stakes and drama and is even kind of a cheap way of doing it, but on the opposite side of the coin, why should give a shit when everyone is effectively invincible? And the ending feels like they wanted to do a big epic battle, but realized how expensive it would be to animate so they just went with... that anticlimax.
And I know this is going to sound SUPER strange coming from my hands, but why are there no videos on YouTube of the jaguar statue chase with Shadow of the Colossus music edited in? Because the only reason I can think of is copyright flagging bullshit.