by Brian on February 27th, 2013
Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood rocked my world, and I meant to write a review for it. I didn’t, but now Vol. 2: Guts is out. I had never read a Woman Woman comic before Vol. 1. Nothing against the character. It’s just that none of her adventures ever appealed to me. Writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang have reimagined the title as a dark fantasy tale instead of superhero comic, and it works really well.
The story revolves around Wonder Woman protecting a woman who is pregnant with the child of Zeus. Hera, Zeus’ wife, is pissed, and wants the mother and child dead. Meanwhile, Zeus has disappeared, and Apollo is scheming to fill the power vacuum. Princess Diana’s own backstory is explored as well. The supporting cast is fleshed out with smartly designed Greek gods by Chiang.
Out of DC’s New 52 relaunch, only Scott Snyder’s Batman is better. I highly recommend it to comic book fans, but I also think that it could hook non-comic readers too.
by Brian on May 8th, 2012
In September 2011, DC Comics relaunched their entire line of comics with new #1s. They called them “The New 52.” The title that I was the most excited about was “Batman,” written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo. Fast forward to now, and the first collections of the relaunch are hitting the shelf.
Batman Vol. 1 begins with an unexpected and kinetic team-up between Batman and the Joker as they battle their way out of Arkham Asylum. It only gets better from there. Bruce Wayne fends off an attack from an assassin, dubbed the Talon, and discovers that it was sent by a mysterious group that has silently controlled Gotham for generations–Court of Owls. The Court’s existence, which Bruce has doubted his entire life, shakes him to his core and makes him question how well he knows the city that he has been trying to protect.
Snyder is a better writer than comic fans deserve. He makes the story accessible while effortlessly blending new elements into the Bat-mythology. His writing is clever and natural, and he nails Batman’s voice. Capullo blew me away too. I only knew him as a “Spawn” artist before (I know, gross), but he has already shaken that negative association in my mind. His art is gritty and detailed, and he is perfectly suited for the horror elements that creep into the story.
This is easily the best Batman comic that is currently being published, but it also makes a strong opening argument that it’s going to be the best Batman run ever.
by Anne on November 22nd, 2011
I love a good story. I love good characters. Caroline Preston’s The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt has neither. But it does have pages and pages of 1920′s ephemera organized in a coming-of-age story and I found it delightful.
After receiving a scrapbook and a typewriter for her high school graduation, Frankie Pratt types and pastes her way through the twenties. She goes to Vassar, writes for True Story Magazine, and lives in Paris surrounded by ex-pat writers. Frankie meets the interesting people and witnesses the important events of the decade. She receives advice from Edna St. Vincent Millay, sees Charles Lindbergh fly into Paris, and edits a James Joyce piece for Aero Magazine.
Honestly, I was a little annoyed that Frankie Pratt is involved with these people and events. The 1920′s are a fascinating time. It’s the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age and the Prohibition Era. The economy is booming, everything becomes electrified, and the first radio news program is broadcast. Things are changing so rapidly that a coming-of-age tale doesn’t need Ernest Hemingway or Sylvia Beach to hold my interest. I preferred the small, normal details, like Frankie getting a bob haircut, using Pebeco toothpaste, and disliking Lillian Gish’s acting.
But this book is not really about the story, it is about the scrapbook. Each page is filled with postcards, ads, ticket stubs, letters, music sheets, and photos. It is a quick read and a lot of fun.
by Debb Green on September 22nd, 2011
It’s hard to believe. But it’s been 25 years since the first volume of Maus: a Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman was published. A ground-breaking graphic narrative, it told the story of the cartoonist’s father Vladek, and his survival during the Holocaust by portraying Jews as mice and Nazi Germans as cats. All the while juxtaposing this with contemporary portrayals of their family life and father/son issues in the 1970′s & 80′s.
Spiegelman first told his father’s story in 1972 as a cartoon strip in an underground comic called (oddly enough) Funny Animals. He then expanded it with a series of interviews and family stories published in separate volumes – one in 1986 and the second in 1991 (Maus II: a Survivor’s Tale.) In 1992 it became the only graphic novel to win a special Pulitzer Award.
Next month, the world will again be intrigued and inspired when Spiegelman’s newest addition to the Maus saga debuts. MetaMaus will share his thoughts about his unique and prize-winning graphic work. Plus talk about the difficulty of treating the Holocaust in comic form and the structure of memory that unifies the whole work. It will also include a DVD digitized copy of the Maus books with supplementary audio/visual files, documents, and commentary.
For graphic novel and manga fans, this book is a “must read”. But it also deserves a place on everyone’s “should read” list. Here’s a good book trailer video to peak your interest. Be sure to place your hold on MetaMaus soon!
MetaMaus Youtube Video:
by Anne on June 30th, 2011
In The Influencing Machine, Brooke Gladstone brings her analysis and wit from her radio show On the Media to the page. In comic form, Gladstone considers how the media influences the public, how the public influences the media, and the past, present, and future of journalism. Gladstone entertains when discussing media bias, disclosure, multiple media outlets to reflect an individual’s world view, and the digital age where news is created by anyone anywhere as soon as an event occurs.The illustrations, drawn by Josh Neufeld, are fun too. Neufeld tips his cap to iconic images from Hogarth to magazine illustrations from the Civil War era, to Planet of the Apes.
At times, The Influencing Machine felt a little disjointed and some themes were left unconnected, which may be a limitation of the graphic novel form. I wanted more depth where Gladstone provided only small glimpses into the issues. It seemed like she only grazed the tip of the iceberg and I know she has much more to say on these issues. The conclusion also fell a little flat. Gladstone could have used the last few pages to make connections or provide an overall view of the status of the media and the public. However, she only used the last few frames, so the conclusion ended abruptly. Despite these problems, I do recommend checking it out. It is a humorous and entertaining take on this exciting and troubling time for journalism.
by Hal on March 16th, 2011
The first graphic novel to be a contender for the CBC “Canada Reads” competition, Essex County compiles three novels by Jeff Lemire, telling the tale of three generations of the LeBeuf family living in a farming community in Ontario, Canada. Love, grief, filial estrangement and reconciliation, buried family secrets; and of course, the integral sport of hockey find their way to the reader through emotions conveyed in spare yet rich drawings of black & white. Unlike the descriptive power of the novel or the visual display of film, a good graphic novel provides a little of both, leaving enough room for the reader to enter and pace the story to their own heart. This is a good graphic novel.
by John on December 17th, 2010
I was surprised to see Batwoman: Elegy on Amazon’s list of best books of the year. I was even more surprised to see an intro by Rachel Maddow. It’s about a woman at a service academy expelled for refusing to lie about being gay. She becomes vigilante instead, which involves some pretty interesting family dynamics.
Pale King, the last novel by David Foster Wallace (what a great website name) is due out in April. It involves a character named David Foster Wallace, who takes a job with the IRS in Peoria that’s so tedious, he’s given boredom survival training. Even unfinished, this beast has about 500 pages.
Also due in April, Tina Fey’s Bossypants.
J. D. Salinger: a life by Kenneth Slawenski lands in January. It promises lots of new revelations, tho it’s not likely to be more intimate than Joyce Maynard’s At Home in the World.
Leo Tolstoy’s Gospel in Brief has been re-translated for late February release. Recent movie The Last Station called attention to Tolstoy’s unorthodox religious beliefs. Tolstoy focused on lessons from Jesus’s life, and like Thomas Jefferson leaves miracles out of his version.
TC Boyle”s When the Killing’s Done comes out February 22. Alma leads an effort to rid some California islands of invasive species for the National Park Service by killing them off. The protests this trigger are led by Dave, Alma’s ex. Sounds good.
by John on October 7th, 2010
Siege ends several Marvel Comics story arcs that date back to 2006, including the Civil War, the death of Captain America, the whole Asgard moving to Oklahoma thing, and the Dark Avengers, put together by the Green Goblin. A few characters seem to have bitten the dust as well, tho death is always provisional in comics. Ares, God of War in particular goes out with a splash, and it’s hard to see much future for the Sentry. Story arcs like these tend to move kind of slowly, so it’s a little startling here to see so many changes made at once.
The Sentry btw has one of my favorite origin stories, told in New Avengers. At some point in the past supervillain Mastermind has wiped out everyone’s memories of the Sentry including the Sentry’s own. So no one knows he exists, but there are comic books about him, and from these the Avengers deduce that he existed, and still does. Clever, no?
Marvel seems to be turning their backs on the kind of company wide mega-story they’ve been selling the last several years. They’ve branded their new approach “The Heroic Age,” meaning that if you pick up a Spider-Man, you’ll get a Spider-Man story, not an installment in some other storyline. While this may curtail the ambitions of their story-telling, it should solve the problem of finding a sensible sequence to read their bigger stories in. It also looks like they’ll be focusing on characters with movie franchises.
by Kara on August 30th, 2010
Janet Evanovich is taking a new approach to her Alex Barnaby series (Metro Girl, Motor Mouth) and teamed up with her daughter, Alex, to create a graphic novel. Trouble Maker features the artwork of Joëlle Jones and shares many of the characters in the traditional novels.
NASCAR mechanic Alex Barnaby seems to always find trouble and often NASCAR driver Sam Hooker is in the middle of it. A man has gone missing and it’s up to Alex and Sam to find him. In their quest they encounter Petro Voodoo, severed body parts, a high-speed boat chase in the Everglades, and Sam’s overbearing mother.
According to a June 2010 USA Today article, the Evanovich duo (Janet & Alex) always envisioned the Alex Barnaby series as a graphic novel; however, the timing was not right. Because of this, the first two books were released as traditional novels. A graphic novel fits this story well and I look forward to future installments! As I said in my review for Motor Mouth, “The humor is mindless but extremely funny.” ~Enjoy!~
by John on July 1st, 2010
Neutralize Clint Barton
Kill Frank Castle
Kill Nick Fury
Neutralize Bruce Banner
Control the world
Things are desperate, as usual, in the Marvel universe. Norman Osbourn, having thwarted the Skrulls most recent invasion of earth by shooting their queen on national TV, has been given dictatorial powers over national security. He’s replaced S.H.I.E.L.D. with his own H.A.M.M.E.R. He’s replaced the real Avengers with his own band of psychopaths, loonies, monsters, and imposters. He’s made the to-do list above. What else could you expect? He’s the Green freakin Goblin, for Stan Lee’s sake.
The List shows Osborn’s progress in crossing items off the list above, and if you haven’t visited Marvel for a while, it’s a nice place to catch up on some old favorites. It’s a single volume in a coherent order, which is a nice change. Finding the right chronology for Marvel’s other recent events (Civil War, Secret War, Secret Invasion) has been just about impossible, so that characters you know are dead from another book, pop up again in another book read out of order. Death’s always provisional in comics, of course, and characters are beginning to make ironic comments about how many times they’ve died.
The downside of this volume is that it repeats some material we own in other titles (Spider-Man, Avengers). A small price to pay.