Super-hero teams, black Brits and fear: books read (#SFWApro)

JUSTICE LEAGUE: Rise and Fall by J.T. Krul and Federico Dallocchio gives Roy Harper (variously Speedy, Arsenal and Red Arrow) and Green Arrow a heavy-handed dark night of the soul as the villains Prometheus and Electrocutioner level Star City and kill Roy’s toddler, leaving both super-archers half out of their mind with grief. I was incredibly unimpressed.

AVENGERS ACADEMY: Arcade Death Game by multiple different creative teams combines an Avengers Academy annual (the assassin Arcade targets the teens to prove his losing record with super-heroes is just a fluke) with a Spider-Man story (Arcade goes after Spider-Man and Captain Britain) and an old Marvel Team-Up (where Arcade plays a secondary role to Spidey and Nightcrawler and the assassin Cutthroat). Not the best AA material I’ve read, but a pleasant-enough read.

I wasn’t impressed with Jonathan Hickman’s NEW AVENGERS: Everything Dies TPB and the follow-up AVENGERS: Time Runs Out isn’t any improvement. This continues Hickman’s knockoff of Crisis on Infinite Earths (the multiverse is collapsing) and the moralizing about making hard choices (I’m inclined to agree with an acquaintance who argues that doesn’t fit well with the idealized heroes of the Silver Age), plus lots of talk, some unimpressive cosmic secrets and the third retcon origin for the Beyonder since the original Secret Wars. I’m guessing all the cosmic destruction leads up to Marvel’s recent universal reboot, but otherwise there’s nothing in this that interests me.

27189311LONDON IS THE PLACE FOR ME: Black Britons, Citizenship and the Politics of Race by Kennetta Hammond Perry (cover image by John Franks, all rights reside with current holder) looks at the wave of black immigration from the West Indies in the 1950s and 1960s after the creation of the British Commonwealth made citizens of the Empire citizens of Britain. For many Jamaicans (such as the calypso star “Lord Kitchener,” who offered up the title quote when he emigrated) this was a sign from the government they were as good as any white, and as entitled to equality and a life in the metropolis; many whites, of course, were less sanguine, leading to race riots and No Blacks Allowed signs much to the distress of the government (which liked to present England as free of the kind of racism then dogging the US). Heavy on sociological jargon (Perry uses “discourses” a lot), but worth wading through.

AMERICAN PANIC: A History of What Scares Us and Why by Marc Stein looks at America’s long tradition of political paranoia, including Masons, Jews, Catholics, uppity women, slave uprisings, Commies and now Muslims, but the results didn’t work for me at all. Part of that is because I know a lot of this, but it’s also because Stein doesn’t dip very deep. I realize he’s focused on America but things like Europe’s history of anti-semitism and anti-Papacy ought to have been covered as influences on our own attitudes. Stein also tends to explain paranoia and bigotry as the result of “unverified claims” (that blacks are stupider than whites, for instance) without looking at why people bought into the claims. Disappointing

RACE, GENDER AND THE POLITICS OF SKIN TONE by Margaret Hunter was disappointing too. I’m aware that the idea that Lighter Skin is Sexier affects both Latinos and blacks, and while Hunter went into the topic in detail (and heavy academic prose) she didn’t add much to my knowledge, just made the point in detail. Might be worth reading if the topic is new to you.



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