Sunday, March 29, 2015

Inaugural Post - 100-Word Review


Doug: A few weeks ago I challenged our readers to enter the Guest Writer arena and perhaps take a baby step by writing a 100-word review. Apparently fish aren't biting, but since I've long had today's story on my mind I thought I'd try this myself. So here goes -- and at the end I'll evaluate the experience. Was it easy or hard to hit that 100-word parameter? What could I discuss, and what did I have to leave out? We shall see.


Doug: My earliest Thor story was the Mangog epic reprinted in Marvel Treasury Edition #10. Awakened by Ulik, Mangog lumbered off to defeat Odin. The All-Father had beaten back an invasion by an alien race and imprisoned them in the form of Mangog, who then possessed the strength of billions! This 4-issue novel is replete with action, suspense, awe, love... Love? My major takeaway was Asgardian loyalty. Thor’s devotion to Sif, she to him, the valor of Balder and the Warriors Three, and everyone’s willingness to die for the Realm Eternal seemed genuine. If you’ve not read this arc, seek ye it!



Doug: My 100-Word Review landed on your computer at 101 words. Not bad. But certainly not easy. I decided to start with as brief a review as I could craft off the top of my head, and here is what I got:

One of the earliest Silver Age Thor stories I read was the Mangog epic as presented in all its giant glory in Marvel Treasury Edition #10. Jack Kirby’s engine of destruction would surely bring about Ragnarok in Asgard. Freed by his would-be master, the Mangog dominated Ulik the Troll before lumbering off to defeat him who he hated most – Odin. The All-Father had beaten back an invasion by an alien race and imprisoned them in the form of the Mangog. Now this creature possessed the strength (and hate) of a billion billion people! The Lee/Kirby juggernaut gave us a 4-issue novel replete with action, suspense, awe and love. Love? My major takeaway was how loyal Thor and his friends were to each other. His devotion to Sif and she to him, the valor of Balder and the Warriors Three, and their willingness to die for the Realm Eternal all struck me as genuine. If you’ve not ever read this arc, seek ye it!

Doug: That's not very long, is it? But at 163 words, it's pretty far away from our target. Why does it have to be oh-so-close to 100 words? Because that's the hook, the gimmick. And it became a war against myself to trim it as close to the goal as I could. I initially wanted to include thoughts on Loki, the Odinsleep, and the Odinsword, but I knew space would not allow me to touch on those major plot points. So not even going there, I was still challenged to communicate some sort of brief synopsis with at least one parting thought or recommendation. I think I did that, but you tell me.

But man -- that wasn't easy! Next! 

PS: By the way, I read this story for today's review from the new tpb Thor Epic Collection: To Wake the Mangog. The book is chunky, reprinting Thor #s 154-174 in full color. Highly recommended, as the Galactus origin is in that run. Great, great stuff from Stan, Jack, and Vinnie.

 

10 comments:

Humanbelly said...

I wish to heaven I could remember who said it (one of those "I heard in on NPR" thingies--), but once upon a time a noted writer said in a piece of correspondence to a friend, something along the lines of: "I must apologize for the length of this letter. I didn't have time to write a shorter one."

So your experience is not w/out precedent, eh Doug?

My initial thoughts?

1) FANTASTIC covers! All four of them! I--- may just become a Thor collector!

2) And your capsule review does effectively seal the deal. It acts as just enough of a tease to let me know what I'd like, w/out encroaching on the joy of my own discovery.

HB

martinex1 said...

Doug, I think it is even a challenge to keep my response below 100 words. Ha. My count at end.

This is a story that just holds up well. The four issues are packed with so much mood, hope and dread, as well as characterization level throughout, not to mention epic battles and destruction.

I loved Kirby's Mangog design. So appropriately strange with the teeth, claw hands, and bull like? head.

The cover to 154 is one of my favorites with the monochromatic action background. That was common at the time and I really like this example.

I am amazed you could succinctly review and tease this awesome arc in so few words. 113!

Anonymous said...

I was never a huge Thor fan, but I remember liking the Mangog stories because he actually seemed like a credible threat for Thor.

The problem with writing a one hundred word review is when you focus too much on not going over a hundred words, you can swing too far the other way and end up well short of your goal. Hence this comment, which weighs in at a paltry seventy-three words.

Mike Wilson

Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, these are quite hard to do; I actually started to write a few of what I thought would be 100-word reviews and they ended up going long - really, really long. So those are now being re-done into normal reviews, which will require scanning some more pages, etc.
However, I switched gears and decided to write capsule reviews of some other random issues I have, and so far I've got two down to just under 100 words. I may be sending those to you in the next day or two, Doug.

Humanbelly said...

Say, what are the parameters of word-counting, exactly? 'Z anyone know?

Does "duh" count as exactly the same amount of words as "anthropomorphically", say?

Does "Wrenchingly, unsustainably depressing" count the same as, "It was sad."--? (I mean, a guy just likes to be clear, natch. .. .)

(heh)
HB

Dr. Oyola said...

My current 100-word review of the ROM toy from 1979 clocks in at 245 words. But I have not tried editing it down yet. . .I WILL DO IT.

Dr. Oyola said...

Oh an HB. .when it comes to word-counting, "a" equals as much as "antidisestablishmentarianism."

Doug said...

Hey, gang - Happy Sunday!

I used Microsoft Word to compose today's post; usually Karen and/or I just compose within Blogger. But since Word provides a running word count in the lower left hand corner, it fit the bill for the task at hand.

To Edo and Osvaldo -- I'd love it (and everyone else probably would, too) if you did what I did and submitted your original draft and then the pared-down final version. I thought it would be fun for everyone to compare my original intent with the finished product within the confines of the 100 words.

I guess the goal of the 100-Word Review is exactly what HB and Martinex stated - to succinctly tease the plot of a story such that it gives readers an idea of what went on while stimulating further conversation.

That being said, it occurred to me while reflecting on Silver Age Thor how similar the strip was to Kirby's later creations, the Inhumans. There were about the same number of major cast members, but what sets Thor and the Inhumans apart (at least at first glance) is that the major adversary in the book is a family member and thus is near-always present. Loki and Maximus bridge the role of antagonist and become really members of the supporting cast of the strips.

Doug

Anonymous said...

The maddening menace of Mangog!!!
The first time I saw that "guy", I thought, "Hoo boy, how'd they come up with him? He makes Ulik look handsome." Even Thor said "yikes" when he first laid eyes on him. One of Kirby's nastier creations.
Mangog was hard to get along with.
He was pretty bull-headed.
...and, I'm outta here.
m.p.

Garett said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the new Thor Epic book, Doug. I've read the second omnibus, but not yet these later issues.

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