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Adventureman

AdventureMan

Adventureman is the graphic novel pulp-loving readers were waiting for.

It has grand adventures (obviously), dashing heroes, ghosts, magic, science and interesting villains. It’s a perfect combination of a forgotten past and a remembering present, and never have I ever seen a title “The End and Everything After” that was both so self-explanatory and giving away nothing at the same time.

At least, not until you start reading and the story unfolds.

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What If Turkey Had Entered World War II?

If you look at a map of Europe and the Middle East, you’ll probably notice that two countries could have given Hitler access to North Africa and the Middle East without too much of a water jaunt. At the west end of the Mediterranean, Spain could have given him access to Morocco and then to the rest of North Africa. On the east end, Turkey could have given him easy access to the Middle East, then on to North Africa. German troops in Turkey could have pushed into Iraq, where Iraqi nationalists revolted against the British in 1941, then Jordan, Palestine and Egypt. They could have also pushed north from Turkey into the Soviet Caucasus region, going after Soviet oil that way rather than through the route which led to Stalingrad.

Both Spain and Turkey stayed neutral through most of World War II. I’ve seen several discussions of what might have happened if Spain had come in on the Axis side. I haven’t seen much on the potential roles of Turkey.

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Black ’47

Black '47

When I think of Irish history and the travails of the Irish people, I can’t help but want to repurpose what Porfirio Díaz allegedly said about Mexico: “So far from God, so close to Britain.”

The history of English, and later British, rule in that green isle is suffused with cruelty. Ireland has been described as Britain’s “laboratory of empire”. Ben Kiernan, author of Blood and Soil: a Global History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (2007), and the chair of the Genocide Studies Department at Yale, argues that there was a certain genocidal logic in Ireland that preceded what the British, and later Americans, did to the indigenous peoples of North America and Australasia.

The most infamous British atrocity is the Great Irish Famine, sometimes called the Irish Potato Famine, which lasted from 1845 to 1852. Black ’47 takes place in what is said to be the worst year of this catastrophe.

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Lady Mechanika, Volume 6: Sangre

Lady Mechanika, Volume 6

Lady Mechanika‘s sixth volume (chronologically the seventh), Sangre, disappoints and delights.

As always, the storyline is fantastic. The supernatural theme from Volume 5 (review here) is continued, but with a whole other manner of creature on the opposing side. You don’t need to have read the previous volume to understand the events of Sangre, although I recommend reading the chronologically first story of the series, La Dama de La Muerte (review here).

This edition switches between prologue events taking place 500 years before the story of Sangre, drawn by Joe Benitez and Martin Montiel, and the main storyline, drawn by Brian Ching.

Ching is by no means a bad artist. Its just that he’s not in the same league as Benitez and Montiel. And it shows. You see some of the story’s antagonists in the prologue, and they are much cooler; Lady Mechanika is so much more stunning. Their art is just better.

It’s disappointing, after six volumes of a beloved comic starring a much beloved character, to see the world and its inhabitants portrayed in a different manner that isn’t as pleasing as the original. But that is my only gripe.

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Führerprinzip

It would be misleading to think that Germany was the only nation where authoritarian ideologies became popular after World War I. In fact, all European nations let themselves be fascinated with this kind of ideologies, spurred by the difficulties of emerging from the destruction of the war and by the necessity to deal with profound and unexpected social changes.

After the war, many old regimes had fallen and nations were experimenting with new forms of government. Germany, with her experiment of democracy, was far from being an isolated case.

But in a continent where monarchy had been the norm for centuries, learning to manage a republic was hard for the politicians as well as for the population, and after five years of struggles across lands and social strata, people’s patience was very short. They wanted to see results. They wanted to go back to prosperity as fast as possible, and they also didn’t want to deal with all the changes that were happening and destabilizing the community no less than the war had already done. Whoever could promise them that was welcome.

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Five Came Back

Five Came Back

Never Was readers may be familiar with Frank Capra’s Why We Fight series. I’ve used animations from the seven films, which were produced for the War Department between 1942 and 1945, in several stories, including “How the Nazis Planned to Invade Great Britain” and “The Rise and Fall of Japan’s Empire in Maps“.

But did you know the animations were from Disney? That Capra used Axis propaganda footage in his films? And that there were four more Hollywood directors who made movies for the war effort?

I didn’t. In Five Came Back, Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Greengrass, Lawrence Kasdan, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Guillermo del Toro tell the story of how five directors invented the war documentary.

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Kedma

Kedma

The historiography of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is fraught at the best of times: a decades-long slog between two different peoples, each with ties to a small strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Benny Morris, an Israeli historian and a rather controversial one, titled his history of the conflict Righteous Victims (1999). Despite some polarizing remarks, I think Morris made a very clever decision in never specifying who exactly the victims are.

Saree Makdisi, in Palestine Inside Out (2008), argues the conflict is fundamentally about land. This may be true, but the reason each side wants the land so much is because of a sense of victimhood. The Zionists who founded the modern state of Israel had been targeted by centuries of antisemitism that culminated in the Holocaust. The Arabs of Palestine had been marginalized by the Zionists and by the British Mandate, culminating in what they call al-Nakba, or the Catastrophe; the expulsion of so many Arabs from the land that became the State of Israel.

You can see this in the dueling concepts of who is allowed to “return” to the land. The Israelis promote a “law of return” allowing anyone of Jewish heritage to gain Israeli citizenship. The Palestinians demand a “right of return” for the descendants of the refugees who were driven out by the barrels of Haganah, Irgun and Lehi guns.

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Expressionism

It is often argued that it’s easier to say what Expressionism was not, rather than to say what it was. Diverse and eclectic, this movement stressed deconstruction rather than building, individuality rather than the communion of feelings and experiences, making it inherently difficult to define.

Some say that rather than being a way to create art, a distinguished style or method of creations, Expressionism was more of a state of mind. The way artists felt about themselves, their society and the future of that society was more important than the way they expressed that feeling.

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