Monday, August 5, 2013

Graphic Novels Read in July 2013

Copra Compendium 1 (2013) - Michel Fiffe


Sweet Tooth Vol. 6: Wild Game (2013) - Jeff Lemire


Doctor Strange: The Oath (2007) - Brian K. Vaughan, Marco Martin

Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (mostly Ditko) set the bar very high for Doctor Strange way back in the early 60s, so much so that few writer/artist combinations have matched the level of the originals, both in weirdness and storytelling. 

Brian K. Vaughan is one of the few writers who understands that Doctor Strange is powerful, a bit arrogant, and has a bit of a twisted sense of humor. And that his knowledge of the mystic arts is unparalleled. All of this comes out in The Oath, a very enjoyable mini-series. Doctor Strange discovers his faithful servant Wong has a terminal brain tumor and is not long for this world. Seeking a rare elixir that could change not only Wong’s life, but that of every cancer patient, Strange finds himself fighting for his own life, aided only by... a night nurse? Of course all is not as it seems and there’s more to the story. 

I have two fears about a rumored Doctor Strange movie project: one, that it will never see the light of day; two, that it will, but would suck (on the level of the Daredevil movie. Ugh...). Yet if Vaughan had a hand in writing it, I’d probably feel pretty good about it. 


Mr. Murder is Dead (2011) - Victor Quinaz, Brent Schoonover, Stacie Ponder, Mark Englert, Deron Bennett

Mr. Murder is dead as the book begins. No mystery here; Mr. Murder, nemesis of former cop Gould Kane (a.k.a. The Spook), is dead and Kane looks like the prime suspect. The murder investigation is really only a jumping off point, allowing an aging Kane (sort of a Dick Tracy knock-off) to reflect on his life and career. The interesting part is the way the creators show flashback scenes in the style of Golden Age newspaper strips. The stylistic jumps back and forth can be a bit confusing, but I found them mostly interesting. Unfortunately, they were the most interesting part of the story, one that seemed needlessly convoluted when the final page was turned.  


Stumptown, Vol. 1 (2011) - Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth, Lee Loughridge

Dex Parios is a Portland, Oregon private eye who’s trying to pay off a gambling debt and look out for her brother who has Down’s Syndrome. When Dex gets a call to find the missing granddaughter of a casino owner, she thinks maybe things are starting to go her way. Of course, she’s wrong.   

Greg Rucka has slowly but surely crept onto my list of “must read” comic book writers. Not only does he consistently write strong female protagonists, his sense of crime/noir fiction is well-grounded in tradition, yet willing to explore and push boundaries. Stumptown may be one of Rucka’s more conventional outings, but it’s nonetheless excellent storytelling. 


The Spirit Archives, Vol. 1 (1940/2000) - Will Eisner


DMZ, Vol. 2: Body of a Journalist (2007) - Brian Wood, Riccardo Burchielli

Brian Wood continues the tale of Matty Roth, a would-be reporter in demilitarized Manhattan following a second American civil war of sorts. Matty is still in way over his head, but is starting to figure out a few things, such as who the bad guys really are and how this whole war got started. Wood’s writing continues to impress me, as does Burchielli’s gritty, no-holds-barred art style that works beautifully here. Look for the deluxe editions of DMZ arriving later this year. 


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