Posted in Comics, Other Comics

Suburban Jersey Ninja She-Devils #1 by Steve Gerber

SJNSD Cover by Amanda Conner
SJNSD Cover by Amanda Conner

Title: Suburban Jersey Ninja She-Devils – “Jagged Image”

Writer: Steve Gerber

Pencils: Amanda Conner

Inks: Jeff Albrecht

Colors: Michael Higgins

Letters: Janice Chiang

Editor: Terry Kavanagh

Editor-In-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Summary: A group of suburban ninjas must face a demonic threat in New Jersey.

Initial Thoughts

With the American Girl recaps finally done, I can freely focus on doing 90s comic recaps without feeling guilt. This particular recap’s been left unfinished since 2018.

Suburban Jersey Ninja She-Devils is one of my favorite one-shot comics from the 90s, and it is bizarre as the title leads you to believe. Its two immediate claims to fame are being written by Steve Gerber and penciled by Amanda Conner. Gerber’s famous for co-creating Man-Thing and Howard the Duck, while Conner would go on to be recognized as THE Power Girl artist and one-half of the modern day creative team behind the current Harley Quinn mythos (alongside her husband Jimmy Palmiotti). It’s a little weird, because you can recognize Conner’s artwork but this is back when she had more of an adult Archie Comics vibe (well before Riverdale and the rebooted line).

The title immediately brings to mind Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. However, being published in 1991 (two years before Saban adapted Zyuranger for American audiences), I’m led to believe TMNT was the main source of parody for this book. Not surprising, as a LOT of people enjoyed doing parodies of the TMNT concept. This makes sense since the original TMNT comics were meant as a joke.

Despite being a Marvel comic, the story doesn’t really have anything to do with the Marvel Universe. Gerber throws in a couple of references but not enough to really give a sense these women operate in the same realm as the Avengers, X-Men, and Spider-Man. After publication, the title’s never been referenced again and I’m not even sure you can buy it on Comixology or Marvel Unlimited. I stumbled upon this comic several years ago among a collection of stuff someone brought to the store. It’s an obscure comic, but not obscure to the point it goes for $25 on eBay.

I’m not sure if the reason the book’s never mentioned in the Marvel Universe was due to Gerber’s wishes, or no one particularly cares enough TO reference it. It sucks they didn’t get picked as part of the 50 State Initiative in the post-Civil War status quo, or get referenced during the 2010s Secret Wars event. So once again it’s up to me to bring some cultural to your sad, sorry lives.

One last thing before we begin. Whatever happens in this comic, remember, JUST GO WITH IT.

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Posted in Making Out

Making Out #11: Ben Takes a Chance by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Making Out #11: Ben Takes a Chance by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)
Making Out #11: Ben Takes a Chance by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Title: Ben Takes a Chance by Katherine Applegate

Summary: Aisha found out first and she told Nina who had to tell Zoey, who let it slip to Lucas. Now Ben’s big secret isn’t a secret any more and they’re all waiting to see what will happen when…

Initial Thoughts

Ben in the title and it opens with a Zoey entry. We’ll all be lucky if I don’t break into bullet points within the first 50 pages. Or maybe we’ll be lucky if I do.

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Posted in Making Out

Making Out #9: Zoey Plays Games by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant!)

Making Out #9: Zoey Plays Games by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)
Making Out #9: Zoey Plays Games by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Title: Zoey Plays Games

Front Blurb: Life was bliss for Zoey and Lucas until Aaron showed up on the island. Now Aaron wants Zoey. Claire wants Aaron and Zoey’s got a secret that EVERYONE is talking about. How long before Lucas finds out that Zoey Plays Games

Back Blurb: Zoey plays games with Aaron and sets off a wave of broken hearts. Because Lucas is in love with Zoey, Claire has vowed to make Aaron her own. But the island is too small for big secrets.

Initial thoughts:

I don’t remember this book. It’s Zoey story, so that’s probably why.

Fun fact- this is the first Making Out book that wasn’t written by Grapplegate – they handed the series over to ghostwriters from book 9. Also, there are also no more reprints for these later books, so it’s firmly nostalgia from here onwards.

[Dove: Oh good, a Zoey book. You know how highly I regard the Passmore family in general, and Zoey in particular. This is the point where I really got sick of her nonsense, I think.]

[Wing: I’m pretty sure life wasn’t bliss for Zoey and Lucas, book, but cool. Coooool.]

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Posted in The Baby-Sitters Club

Baby-Sitters Club #7: Claudia and Mean Janine by Ann M. Martin

The Baby-Sitters Club #7: Claudia and Mean Janine by Ann M Martin
The Baby-Sitters Club #7: Claudia and Mean Janine by Ann M Martin

Title: Baby-Sitters Club #7: Claudia and Mean Janine by Ann M. Martin

Summary: Claudia’s participation in the Baby-sitters Club is curtailed when Grandmother Mimi suffers a stroke and Claudia finds herself “Mimi-sitting” and fighting more frequently with her sister.

Tagline: Claudia’s sister is an impossible person to live with!

Initial Thoughts

I really love this book, despite the fact that it has some heartbreaking moments and also, I adore Janine. The cover I have, Claudia looks like she’s thirty, what the hell, cover artist? And that is not the right kind of teapot. And why do they have stained glass windows? I think I’m focusing on the wrong things here.

[Dove: That’s Claudia? I thought it was her mom!]

Enjoy the fireworks, USA! And remember: the Kishis would be screwed under our current political regime, so let’s celebrate what we could be and fix the shit that we actually are.

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Posted in Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)

Title: Jurassic Park (1993)

Summary: Genetically engineered dinosaurs run amok at a tycoon’s island amusement park.

Tagline: An adventure 65 million years in the making

Initial Thoughts

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO I GOT THE GREATEST GIFT: JURASSIC PARK.

Of all the things I’ve recapped that I love, this may be the one I love most. Yes, even more than The Howling which was my very first werewolf movie and therefore will always have a fond spot in my heart. Jurassic Park has been a huge part of my life since it came out; my dad was a truck driver, and I spent summers on the road with him. The summer the movie came out, I read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, and I used to daydream about seeing dinosaurs running alongside the big truck, crossing fields and mountains. When I was in high school, one of my favourite concert season included playing the Jurassic Park score. (A friend of mine played the oboe, and it was one of the most haunting and beautiful bits of music I’ve ever heard.) To this day, a hint of the theme song can make me verklempt.

I love the entire original trilogy completely unironically, but Jurassic Park remains my most beloved. You’ve been warned. This is maybe less of a recap and more an explosion of feelings.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Making Out

Making Out #4: Ben’s in Love by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Making Out 4: Ben's In Love by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)
Making Out 4: Ben’s In Love by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Title: Making Out #4: Ben’s in Love by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Tag line: …with two girls (who just happen to be sisters).

Summary: First Zoey Fooled around with Lucas, and Jake found out. Then Claire wanted Jake, so she broke up with Ben, but ended up alone. Now Nina is in love with Ben and Claire wants Ben back. Will Claire try to steal her boyfriend back from her own sister?

Initial thoughts

I have such fond memories of these books! I first encountered them when Mizz magazine or Just Seventeen or something gave away a free copy of Zoey Fools Around. The first 6 books were released in 1994, so I was somewhere around 11 years old. I had been a devotee of SVT, but SVH never grabbed me and when these books came along I was hooked! I recently found out that the authors had been ghostwriters of some of my favourite SVT books, so I guess it was a natural transition. I’m excited to see how they hold up!

This is the books where Ben and Nina get together, and really, that’s all I care about because Nina is my Fave and after book 3 I just need her to have some happy.

[Wing: In fab timing, I met Katherine Applegate over the weekend, and one of the things we briefly talked about was Nostalgic Bookshelf, these recaps, and how wonderful Nina is as a character. (I also had her sign a copy of #3 Nina Won’t Tell for Dove, because of course I did.) Applegate was charming and friendly and smart, and seemed utterly delighted that I wanted her to sign a Making Out book, which was, she said, a blast from the past. If you ever get a chance to talk to her or listen to her speak, I highly recommend it. She was terrific.]

[Wing: Oh, right, this is a book recap. For all that I love Nina and Claire, I still deeply dislike Ben, so. This is a thing. As long as Nina is happy, though, I persevere.]

[Dove: I know for certain this is the first book I read, despite the early ones being free with Mizz. I can’t remember why I did that – I probably lost the first one before I got a chance to read it, and back then I was used to Sweet Valley, where you could just jump in and start reading anywhere. I don’t like Benjamin, but gosh do I love Nina, and I would follow her through a billion Benjamin-heavy books if necessary.]

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Posted in Making Out

Making Out #3: Nina Won’t Tell by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Making Out 3: Nina Won't Tell by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)
Making Out 3: Nina Won’t Tell by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Title: Nina Won’t Tell

Front Blurb: First Zoey fooled around with Lucas and Jake found out. Then Claire broke up with Ben to be with Jake, and ended up alone. Now Nina is thrilled because she’s always loved Ben, and she’s finally got her chance. Only they’ll never get together if… Nina Won’t Tell.

Back Blurb: They’ve all grown up together on a tiny island. They think they know everything about one another… but they’re only just beginning to find out the truth.

Nina won’t tell that she’s in love with Ben. Ben used to belong to her sister, Claire, and who knows what Claire would say if she found out. But even worse, if Nina discovers that Ben doesn’t love her back… it will break her heart.

WARNING: This book and recap contain references to sexual abuse of a minor. If you have triggers, proceed with caution or not at all. This is the only warning you will get. I will be as tactful as I can, but you never know for sure what can trigger someone, so please consider this warning. If you see “A Note From Nina” as a heading there may be some of Nina’s dreams. Some may find the imagery triggering. I have labelled the dreams with a header, but they’re not hidden behind spoiler tags (as we don’t have such a thing on this site).

Initial Thoughts:

This was one of the last – if not the very last – in the series that I read. As I’ve said in my previous recap, I bought these in piecemeal in the pre-internet days. There was usually a selection of about five available and I would buy at least one, based on which sounded most interesting. However, this one I wanted desperately, because it was about Nina, and she was my best friend, because I didn’t have one in real life, and we already had so much in common (Guns N’ Roses, smoking, fashion choices that made me people roll their eyes, being inferior to family members, etc.) I just had to read this book. Our only difference is that she thinks highly of Benjamin. [Rosey: This book was the one I had the clearest memories of, coming into this re-read. because Nina! but also because Nina :,(]

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Posted in Making Out

Making Out #2: Jake Finds Out by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Making Out 2: Jake Finds Out by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Title: Jake Finds Out

Front Blurb: Zoey fooled around behind Jake’s back with Lucas, who used to go out with Claire. Claire’s falling in love with Jake, but she’s got a secret only Lucas knows, and she’s dreading what will happen when… Jake finds out.

Back Blurb: They’ve all grown up together on a tiny island. They think they know everything about one another… but they’re only just beginning to find out the truth.

Jake finds out, and life on the island will never be the same. First Zoey, his old girlfriend, betrayed him. Now Claire, his new love, has hurt him too. Somebody’s going to pay…

Initial Thoughts

Things are moving awfully quickly for Claire to be Jake’s new love. Also, that “somebody’s going to pay” line makes it sound like Jake is about to go on a spree killing, which would be a very different kind of story.

[Wing: ETA February 2: I have no idea why a version went out in January without any comments. It has been deleted and this is the real version. Sorry for any confusion.]

[Dove: Sorry I’m late, I was due to comment on this last night, but instead I was really ill.] [Rosey: I am even later than Dove. For no reason!]

Content Note: Brief reference to child sexual abuse and the trauma from that toward the end.

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Posted in Making Out

Making Out #1: Zoey Fools Around by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Making Out 1 - Zoey Fools Around by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)
Making Out 1 – Zoey Fools Around by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Front Cover Blurb: Ben heard it first, and he told Nina, who told Claire not to tell… but now EVERYBODY (except Jake) knows, and Claire’s wondering if she ought to say something because Jake ought to know that… Zoey Fools Around.

[Dove: Yeah, um, that’s not really what happens, that’s sort of the path of Ben’s theory of the crash, but no, doesn’t relate to Zoey fooling around.]

[Wing: I think it’s like that game where you write something, cover it up, and the next person writes the next scene without seeing what you wrote. No one writing the cover blurb got to see what was written for the back blurb or for the book itself.]

Back Cover Blurb: Zoey fools around and it turns their world upside-down. New couples are formed, friends become enemies and secrets are unearthed…

Initial Thoughts

One thing I love about this series is the wacky formats they throw in there, journal entries, quizzes, one week squashed into a daily countdown. I’m not being sarcastic, I genuinely love this about them.

[Wing: I used to work in publishing, and while this sort of thing can be difficult to work with when designing the book itself, as a reader, I love when publishers include it, including pieces in the character’s handwriting, as long as it’s legible (unlike in the original Baby-Sitters Club books). The daily countdown is probably my favourite formatting trick the authors use.]

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