Saturday, April 25, 2015

Convergence week 2

Convergence week 2!  Princeless the Pirate Princess, Danger Club, and Sensation Comics! Spoilers ahead.

Princeless the Pirate Princess 3
This is good.  I'm now convinced Raven is gay.  She has a supremely confident attitude and her body language and style just makes me read her as gay.  I know that's not a very technical or specific description, but I just think she's gay.  I wonder if straight readers also get this vibe off her?  Let me know.

Danger Club 8
This is the alternate ending.  I have lots of thoughts about this, and I shall write them up in a new readers review.

Sensation Comics 9
Mike Maihack draws the main story  and Ben Caldwell does the cover.  I really wish DC would hire these guys properly.  The first story is about sisterhood and sibling rivalry, it's an all ages comic.  the second is Diana and Lois meeting fairly on in their careers.  Lois has been asked to do a fluff piece on Diana, and neither of them are impressed by the questions she's been given, so they rile each other up.  Diana is drawn with really good posture.  Then there's an alien attack and they end up working together.  Standard plot of heros meet, fight then realise they are both on the same side, but done with words, in character and with motivation, and executed really really well.

Convergence 2
Let's see, Dick Grayson has a son and they've lost Barbara outside the dome, and Dick's son gets killed for dramatic effect.  Not cool guys.  The Earth 2 heroes are around and Dick somehow meets with them, there are fights with the guys from a video game based world (Injustice?) and Earth 2 Thomas Wayne Batman meets post Flashpoint Bruce Wayne Batman.  And Alfred proves his worth via his understanding of everyone's favourite types of tea.  I liked this issue but I couldn't remember the details from it.  This might make a reasonable mini series.

I see now that week's 1 tie ins were set in Gotham.  Week 2's are set in Metropolis.  I wonder where week 3 and 4 will be set.

Convergence Aquaman 1
Hook handed Aquaman! My favourite.  If you like Aquaman you should buy this issue.  It's great.

Convergence Supergirl 1
OK, so this was a fun comic, but it is not Matrix Supergirl.  I'm not sure exactly when in her timeline she is meant to be from, but she is with a Lex who is treating her like dirt, and she has no problem with this.  This Lex is rude and belittling and awful.  I know I haven't read many Matrix comics but I don't recall the Lex that Matrix was with ever being this awful to her.
Mae fights Lady Quark and her husband, and the writer, Giffen, tries to tell us that Quark and husband are gay, but in denial.  It doesn't really work, it's quite odd.  The Ambush Bug turns up.  I didn't know they knew each other.
If you read this as an alternate Supergirl it works, but it's not Matrix Supergirl.

I like the art a lot.  The colourist has made everybody shiny like they are plastic, which I usually don't like, but the colours are bright, the pencils are cartoony and the inks provide definition without being harsh.  Having said that, I can't forgive this opening splash page:

Convergence Green Arrow 1
Another one that I can't figure out where is from in the timeline.  Connor Hawke is in Metropolis hunting down his Dad, Oliver Queen.  I don't think the writer had ever read a Connor Hawke comic, because this is not Connor.  He does not dress like that, nor talk like that.  Nonetheless, I like it as an alternate version of the Arrows.  My alternate theory is backed up by the appearance of Dinah and a teenaged blonde Canary who is Ollie;s daughter, apparently.

Convergence Catwoman 1
This was in line with the Catwoman of it's time, right down to the 'sexy' art (my 2010 post about which remains one of my most popular of all time).  Selina is protecting the downtrodden under the dome, which isn't something I recall her doing at this point in her career but nevermind, and is given Kingdom Come Batman to fight.  If KC Bats isn't trying to avoid a fight in the next issue I'll be... not pissed off, but rolling my eyes at editorial incompetence.

Convergence Steel 1
I like Steel and so I quite looked forward to this issue.  I have no idea what he's up to in the New 52 but I think I probably won't like that version of him.

This version is the Steel I know and like, and it has Natasha (hooray!) and a nephew who I'm not familiar with.  There are quite a few plot holes in this issue, see Anj's review here for more detail on that.  But I mostly enjoyed it. The organic spiky metal cat is very much of the era this weeks books are channeling, and that I'm not too keen on, just for aesthetic reasons.  It's a damn ugly cat.  My main problem with this is Natasha and brother seem to think that they are unrecognisable in their armour.  Their armour is moulded to their face, even to their dreadlocks for fucks sake, and we are supposed to believe that people can't recognise them, when in armour their faces are exactly the same but silver?  No.

Convergence Shadow of the Bat 1
I do not like the art in this.  It's very computerised and gritty.  The cover has classic angry Batman on it though, always entertaining.

So the book is about BruceBatman and Jean Paul (Azrael).  They team up undercover to take down criminals, then team up in costume.  Bruce does a shocking job of keeping people safe as folk die while he's involved with these criminals.

Convergence Green Lantern/Parallax 2
This I liked a lot!  The Lanterns are Kyle Rayner and Hal Jordan, but as Hal is depowered he understands what he did as Parallax and has voluntarily put himself in gaol as punishment for his sins.  Then the dome goes down and Kyle and Hal get their powers back, and Hal gets uppity and decides to destroy Electropolis.  There's a panel showing images from this weeks' Supergirl issue and her skirt is coloured blue, not red.  Now that pissed me off.  Apart from that I very much enjoyed this issue.  Get it if you are a 90s GL fan.

Convergence Justice League International 1
Another slightly odd execution.  Ted Kord is the leader of this JLI, which I do not understand, not when J'onn J'onzz and Cap'n Shinypants are around.  The Kord of that era was not leader material and I don't think the dome would have changed that.  I'm also a bit mystified as to how and he and Beatriz got together.

Having said that, it was really nice to see this gang back together and if you ignore those continuity errors it's a fun read, with reasonable art.

They end up ready to fight the Kingdom Come folks.  Ted's declaration of being ready to fight seemed a bit at odds with what he'd just gone through.  I don't really understand why the Kingdom Come lot are so ready to fight and kill alternate universe heroes.  I mean, they are still heroes, and I don't think the KC world changed them *that* much.  At this point I'd like to see more heroes refusing to fight, like last weeks' Superman was refusing to fight.

Convergence Superboy 1
This was the best of them all!  Superboy as he was written in the 90s, as the Metropolis Kid with his fantastic costume:

No content spoilers from me.  If you like the Super family this issue and last week's Superman are the ones to get.

Convergence Suicide Squad 1
If you like the Ostrander Suicide Squad run you should get this.  Waller is the Wall again and it's got the added bonus of Oracle and Carol Ferris.  I don't want to spoil it, so I'll just say you get this.

Now, I was under the impression that each of these issues would be characters from a different universe, but it seems that the Metropolis' are from the same post crisis 90s, universe.  Is that right? Is each week's story set in the same dome but focusing on different characters?  In which case, why aren't the heroes in contact with each other?  A year isn't enough time for them to all give up and drift away. And why are there so many villains being sent to dome?  I thought it was 1 champion per dome.  Help me out here guys.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Convergence week 1

I'm getting them all!  Reviews upcoming. With spoilers.  You have been warned.  Danger Club 8 I will leave until I have the second alternate ending,

Convergence 1
I think this is mostly the mean heroes from Earth 2, with a Grayson who was married to Barbara Gordon,  Their world has been destroyed and Telos is setting the scene for the fights.   I guess not all these heroes are mean.  Young Jay Garrick, Black Superman and Gay Alan Scott are here.  Fairly enjoyable.

These tie ins are all from the post millenium years, post Final Crisis, probably set in the years just before Flashpoint happened.  Which year, I'm not entirely sure,

Convergence: Batgirl 1
Steph has been chosen as fighter for her Gotham. She fights Catman and then Gorilla Grodd. Oh dear, she's not that good.  We get to see how Steph has spent her year under the dome which was pretty good, although I'm not sure I buy Steph being so happy out of costume.  However there is lots of Cass and TimRobin too. :)

Convergence Justice League 1
The lady Justice League are in Gotham for Jesse Quick's baby shower, which turns into her labour.  For some reason she is put on a stretcher when she gets to hospital.  I can't help thinking she'd be better walking, she doesn't look in that much pain.  Maybe they do things differently in the States,  I really like the art on the first couple of pages where Supergirl is rushing Jess to hospital.

Mera is sad about not having Arthur around (fair play, she's essentially grieving and we all have bad and good days) and then Flashpoint Arthur kidnaps her.  I don't mind Flashpoint Arthur when he's one of several options of Arthur.  I'm not sure I buy Mera not fighting back more when he kidnaps her though.  One punch doesn't seem enough for the level of thuggery he showed.

Convergence: Harley Quinn 1
The cover for this is atrocious.  It's a bad imitation of one of the Gotham City Sirens covers.  Over the year Harley has recovered and is relatively stable, with a normal, loving boyfriend.  Then she is chosen to be this Gotham's champion so Selina and the newly repowered Ivy decides Harley needs her old mania and athletic abilities back, so they drug her.  And she reverts back to the old  Harley.  This makes it a pretty sad issue as she was happy before. :(

Convergence: Superman 1
Here we have a heroic, likeable Superman and Lois, as a couple, loving each other, being good people, in Gotham.  By this point I was starting to think this series was going to be set in all the Gothams, because DC has a constant Bat shaped hard on.  It's getting a bit tedious,

But, then Lois is pregnant!  I really liked this issue, I miss these guys,  Flashpoint Kal, Captain Marvel Lantern and Cyborg turn up and start causing problems.  Flashpoint Bats (Thomas Wayne) wonders what the implications are for Bruce, if this other world exists.

Convergence Batman and Robin 1
Ivy is running Gotham Park, growing produce for everyone in her Gotham.  What is unclear is if she has powers while the dome is up. the costume says yes, the rest of the issues say no.  Bruce and Damian have father-son issues and Jason turns up to confuse things.  Then the Extremists arrive to fight,  I'm not sure who they have to fight, but I guess the Bat posse will want to get involved.

Convergence: Speed Force 1
The font for the cover's title is awful.  Irey and Jai look a bit old on the cover, which is a shame,  Wally, Irey and Jai are trapped in Gotham, separate from Linda.  The dome comes down and they get repowered and Wally decides to go to the world of the Justice Riders (which is a great Elseworlds book) and he drags the kids with him in the speed force.  Then he runs through the different worlds (a fun way to see them) and a cartoon duck (?) speedster catches up with him.  And Flashpoint Wonder Woman turns up to fight.  This was another good issue, tho I expect that I like it for the nostalgia as much as the writing.

Convergence: The Question 1
This is a comic about Renee, Two Face and Helena Bertinelli.  It's written by Greg Rucka.  Of course it's good.  I won't spoil it, i'll just urge you to buy it.

Convergence: The Atom 1
Ray Palmer is the Atom but his tech has gone on the wonk and now only his hand enlarges,  The rest of the Gothamites think of him as a street crazy.  Palmer is desperate to find Slade Wilson and settle old scores, but the dome gets lifted and he gets transported elsewhere to fight Baracuda from the Extremists.  Then it turns out the voice in his head is Ryan Choi, I think.  This was OK, a bit strange, but OK.

Convergence: The Titans 1
Ok. all I remember from this is that Roy gets the chance to have his daughter back and he'll do anything, including kill other heroes, to get her back.  This struck a chord.  I can't put myself in that situation because it's impossible and I will never get my son back (and how it hurts to type that) but I will not call Roy a villain for doing so.

Convergence: Nightwing and Oracle 1
I love seeing these two together.  For some reason Ivy is in her costume, even though she's meant to be depowered under the dome.  Perhaps this is a different Gotham?  I have lost track of which of these issues are set from different universes.  If anyone can point me to a guide to the universes and the Gothams that would be good.
Babs and Dick fight the Hawks, and Sheira's costume design is gorgeous.

Overall I quite enjoyed this weeks comics.  Good fun, even if it doesn't make a lot of sense.  It's not always clear how the heroes know who they have to fight, which is a shame.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 25 weeks 2 days

I just called the midwife out because I've had a bad few days and desperately needed to talk to someone.

Movements are there throughout the day but they don't feel as strong as they have been in the past.  About a week to 2 weeks ago, I had lots of long periods where the baby would move for an hour or so, continuously, but I've had nothing like that for about a week.  I'm finding it difficult to understand patterns.  I was feeling and seeing movement on the outside, from about 20/21 weeks, but not so much now.  Since 18 weeks (I think) I've been having movement throughout the day, and I still am, but I don't know if they are right or not.  Sometimes I don't feel definite movement but I do feel pressure, or I feel a tightness in one part of my belly combined with some kicks, and I figure that's the baby moving into one area, but without full strong kicks every day, every few minutes I worry. Sometimes the movements feel more like gas or bubbles and that's terrifying.

The longest periods without movement are probably about an hour, maybe 90 minutes, which is normal I think, but every time there's no movement for a while it scares the shite out of me.

I'm told that the change in types of movement, and the strong vs weak movement is absolutely normal for this stage but..  well but is all I can write isn't it?  The midwife said that as my placenta is at the back if the baby has their back to my bump and is kicking the placenta that I won't feel so much.  She said that at 28 weeks it will get a lot easier to feel.

I'm worn out.  I'm listening to Sinead O'Connor on youtube and I'm worn out.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Fearsome journeys

I finished another thing on my to do list.  Yes, I know it's horribly anal of me to have a to-do list for things that should be fun but I need some order in my life right now.

This thing that I finished is the book Fearsome Journeys: The new Solaris book of fantasy.  It's full of short stories (novellas?) by a range of fantasy writers. Some were great, some were OK, some were bloody awful.  The good ones were:

  • The Dragonslayer of Merebarton by KJ Parker - this an irreverent dragon killing story, by someone who seems to consider it an inconvenience.
  • Leaf and branch and grass and vine by Kate Elliott - this has a very serious, quiet tone to it. It's about a woman in a war torn country, living in a rural area terrorised by the King's defenders. She finds a good man, General Ollivar and takes him to safety,  I think one of the characters is trans, but gender identity isn't an important plot point. 
  • Spirits of Salt - a take of the Coral heart by Jeffrey Ford - this got interesting towards the end, when the coral aspect got clearer,  I think I liked it more for the idea than the actual story though.
  • Forever People by Robert V S Redick - I love this one.  It's about motherhood and what you'll do for your sons, and grief, and lust and duty and responsibility.
  • Sponda the suet girl and the secret of the French pearl by Ellen Kages - A guy goes to steal a treasure and gets it royally wrong.  This is cheeky and mischievous (and I probably don't need to use both those adjectives here, but I like them, so nyaah) and while told from the point of the view of the guy thief it shows up his greed and naivety.  Delightful.

5 good stories out of 12 is not bad I think.  I'd like to read more by Kate Elliot, Robert V S Redick and Ellen Klages.  The authors in the anthology that I didn't take to are Scott Lynch, Saladin Ahmed, Trudi Canavan, Glen Cook, Elizabeth Bear, Ellen Jushner & Ysabeau S. Wilce (writing together) and Daniel Abraham.

Friday, April 17, 2015


As per my Entertainment to-do post I just finished Tanya Huff's Enchantment Emporium books.  They are delightful.

I picked them up because they were described as urban fantasy, but more importantly the first one was dirt cheap on the kindle.  I thought they'd be throwaway trash, poorly written but a good enough distraction.  I was wrong.  Spoilers ahead.

One of my problems with fantasy books is the very staid, traditional way in which authors write about 'magick'.  You know, they treat it as some serious force where you must understand the power and the responsibilities you wield, lest some horrific thing happen that will doom us all.  Urban fantasy books tend to reference old mystical power, held in the land and start waffling in a self indulgent manner about any old bollocks, where so long as it's traditional it's somehow more important.  The emphasis goes on the magic system rather than the story.

These books, also known as the Gale girls books, I think, aren't like that.  They are very domestic, the magic is used in an everyday manner and the plots and the characters are more important.  The Gales are a massive family of mostly women whose ancestor once shagged a horned God which gave all the descendents power of a sort.  This power is usually expressed in the form of charms - charms to open locks, to wish good health on someone, to eavesdrop on other's conversations, to make good pie, to have a plentiful supply of nappies.  That sort of stuff.  It's also said that the world accommodates the Gales, so if they need a last minute flight there is always room on the plane for a discounted ticket.  If they need to drive somewhere in a rush the lights are never on red.  At set intervals throughout the year the family takes part in ritual, of which there are 4 parts.

The first circle is comprised of Aunties - women who have gone through menopause and becomes more powerful, and one of the males in the family who is the anchor to the land and takes the form of a horned stag.  The second circle is one Gale girl and her partner.  The third circle is the rest of the Gale adults.  The fourth circle is whoevers left and they keep the general public away.

The ritual involves shagging.  It's not explained why it involves shagging, but the Gales do like sex, a lot, and everyone of any age (once they hit adulthood at 15) has a lot of (always consenual) sex. Even the 60 or 70 year old aunties.  They age well.  The books aren't graphic about the sex, the sex details are barely described at all.  Those keeping up will notice that the Gale adults taking part in ritual will be related.  Steps are taken to ensure that no one is shagging someone too genetically close to them, so it's basically a lot of cousins shagging.

Anyway, the books are more about the personalities than the magic, although the magic stuff is fun.  The Aunties are a force of nature and it's unclear whether they are powerful because of the magic or because of their sheer bloody belligerence.  No one gets treated as unique, or special, or the one holder of the powerful magic. They bitch and swipe at each other (and love and care for each other) and it's all remarkably straightforward and family-like, in a good way.

The first book is about Alysha Gale taking over an Aunt's junk shop and working out where the Aunt has gone.  The shop comes with a Leprechaun who promptly gets together with an Auntie.  There's dragons in town and a sorceror who's a bit too jumped up for his own good.  Book 2 sees one of Alysha's cousins, Charlie, helping a group of Selkies stop a gas drill being built.  Book 3 sees the Gales try to stop a massive asteroid hitting Earth.  The solutions in books 2 and 3 and remarkably straightforward and kind of glossed over, but not in a blink and you miss it way.  It's done in a way that makes sense given the style of the books (that don't lend themselves to histrionics, much, unless it's about pie).  It's all rather no-nonsense.

These are great fun and one of the better urban fantasy books I've read.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 24 weeks 2 days

If I was doing sub sub titles for these posts I'd call this one something like 'When do the excuses wear thin' or 'When do you have to just start sucking it up'.

I'm not great to my family (parents and sister).  I can be a right snotty toerag.  Always have been.  My family have a complex history and I'm unable to let things go, as much as I try.  This last year hasn't improved my mood.  Consequently I hold them to a higher account than I do anyone else, and am more likely to be stroppy with them than anyone else.

Part of this is because I think that I should be able to be honest with my family as I spend so much time modifying what I say and do to others, and so much time explaining stuff to others.  I think my family should just get it whereas I wouldn't expect anyone else (who hasn't lost a child) to get it.  Part of it is probably also because I know I won't drive my family off by being a snotty toerag.  Which is pretty shit for them, but does, I suppose, demonstrate that I have a high level of trust in them.  Of course they won't know this, which is where my reasoning and excuses fail, spectacularly.

Because I hold them to this (unknowable in their minds) high standard over the past year they have hurt me deeply on a few times, but on the other hand, they have also been absolutely great.  I don't doubt that some of the pain comes from where I was on that particular day, so isn't necessarily about them, but is about me.

But back to the potential sub sub heading of this post.
 'When do the excuses wear thin' or 'When do you have to just start sucking it up'.

Some people may be horrified to read these, thinking 'your baby isn't an excuse!' or You never have to suck it up and accept his death!' and they'd be right.  But at some point you stop puddling into emotion at every little thing (prolly not the big things though) and you need to start seeing other people, and other babies and just dealing with them and difficult situations.

I remember reading a post on Knocked up, knocked down last year which resonated, even in those horrific early months.  The writer lost her son at nearly full term and she had a couple of best friends who were pregnant at the same time and gestation as her.  She'd avoided the kids' birthdays for 2 or 3 years, and then her friend sat her down and said something along the lines of "Come on, I know you're hurting, I know you miss your son, I know everything feels like shit, but you can't avoid these kids forever, I want you to be a part of their life (and mine) and you need to suck it up and come to the birthday party".  And the writer did, and although she was sad she did enjoy the day.

Now I'm not saying this approach works at all times and for all people.  If the wrong person said it to me I'd give them such a cutting stare and a verbal lashing.  But I think the point about not hiding yourself away and doing normal life things is valid.  How long can I avoid seeing family just because it hurts to be reminded of who I've lost.  How long can I get away with being a ratty snotbag.  Is there a time when it's not just grief and it's actually just me being vile.

I'm not saying I'm there yet, that I can just suck it up and put on a good face, and put up with other people's good intentions.  But I think there's a danger of being consumed by the fear and the pain and not seeing a way out off this pit of horribleness.  I don't want that to happen.  I think that I can love C and miss him (more than I can bear if I stopped to focus) and I can still get some enjoyment out of things and still love this new baby.

Being pregnant again complicates all this a thousandfold.  It could be that I'm feeling positive today because I've hit 24 weeks and feel pretty invincible right now (push away all the thoughts of things that can go wrong).  I kind of want to write about the complication of feeling around C and this new baby, but I can't, or won't, because it won't be right and it's too personal and a whole mess of other things you won't get unless you are in my situation.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 24 weeks 0 days

So much junk in my head to write.

Firstly – I‘m 24 weeks!  Viable!  If the doctors detect a problem (and that’s a pretty big if) this baby has a chance.  It’s been moving all day which is great (more info on movements below)

I swapped out my top navel bar for a ptfe bar yesterday.  The ptfe bars are plastic and more flexible and so more likely to stay in.  Here, have a picture.

No, it’s not attractive, but neither is pregnancy.  Thinking of which, I haven’t checked my linea nigra for a while.  I assume it’s still there.  It never went between pregnancies.

I’ve been thinking about how much more difficult it is to talk to people close to me about stuff.  I barely talk to my family and I find being around the boyfriend’s family a bit difficult.  It’s just that they are so close to everything I think it will hurt more.  I need to have some distance between me and the person I talk to, even if they are still close friends.

I found this image on facebook today.
I must remember that.

I also emailed Count the Kicks about movement advice today.  Here is what I sent them and their response, which I think could be useful for other people to know:

-----Original Message-----
From: [redacted]
Sent: 10 April 2015
Subject: [your-subject]

Message Body:
I have your kick counter and wanted some advice on what constitutes a session. This is my second pregnancy, I'm 24 weeks now, my first son was stillborn last June after I followed bad movement advice so I'm quite anxious about this one and don't entirely trust my midwives. We got no known cause so it's unlikely he could have been saved (so I'm told) but that just makes me more worried for this one.

I've been counting a session as any new movement, whether it's one kick, constant movement for 15 mins, or constant movement for 1 hour.
I judge new movement as anything starting after a break between one movement and the next. Breaks can be between 1 or 3 minutes and an hour, I'd guess. This gives me about 30+ sessions a day.

Is this right? Or does it not matter the method in which I count, so long as my method is consistent and I recognise the patterns?

I don't really seem to have patterns yet, other than this child is moving lots. When are patterns meant to establish?
I have been told by my midwives that it doesn't matter what sort of movements I feel, or whether they are strong or weak, so long as I feel movement. Is that right?

Thank you for your help.

Their response to me:

Hi [redacted],

I'm so sorry to hear of the heartbreaking loss of your son last year, it's so frustrating that medical professionals are still giving out incorrect advice on movement and it is leading to detestation for families. It's no surprise that you no longer trust your midwives, but always trust yourself and your instincts.

What you've said is absolutely correct - as long as you are consistent with the way that you monitor movement and the length of gap that you use between episodes then that's absolutely fine. Patterns establish between 24 and 28 weeks, it varies lots though just like when people feel first movements. Making short written notes is really handy for giving you points of reference going forward.

They're right in saying that the type of movement doesn't matter, providing the regularity/pattern remains the same. In fact, as baby gets bigger, movement will likely change into stretching and rolling type movements rather than kicks and punches. It's important to remember that hiccups aren't classed as movement though as they are involuntary. 

I hope this helps, all the best x

Lisa Newhouse
General Manager

Count The Kicks
Registered Charity Number 1145073
I would like to add that I don’t necessarily blame my midwives for the advice they gave me last year.  They were telling me what they knew best, what their training was, and I do not believe they acted in anything other than good faith.  Perhaps this is denial, perhaps I’m genuinely being reasonable.

I’m considering posting what we discussed after the 20 week scan.  The 24 week scan is next week and I think it would be good for me to publish all meetings, if only because it will make it sink in for me.  I think there’s a danger of pushing all these painful discussions to the back of my mind and not dealing with them, which isn’t good for this baby.