Thursday, April 3, 2014

Graphic Novels Read in March 2014 Part II

FBP (Federal Bureau of Physics) Vol. 1: The Paradigm Shift (2014) Simon Oliver, Robbi Rodriguez (Vertigo)

When any physics-related catastrophe occurs, such as losing gravity at your local school, you need an agency to call. Good thing FBP is there. (“Better Call Saul” just won’t cut it, I’m afraid.) “The impossible is always possible” is the big tag-line of the series and this is played out in a big way with young FBP agent Adam Hardy. As you might imagine, the agency is filled with its own inner problems as well as the physics problems it seeks to counter. It’s a very simplistic comparison, but think X-Files meets Ghostbusters. Sort of. So far I’m enjoying the series, although I wish the art style was a little more well-defined.  


March: Book One (NF 2013) John Robert Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (Top Shelf)

The first of a projected three-volume series, March is written by Congressman John Lewis, chronicling both Lewis’s own life and the Civil Rights Movement. The black and white illustrations are wonderful and the story powerful without being pedantic. I’m very eager to read the next volume in this series. 


The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza (J 2014) James Kochalka (First Second)

Review to be posted soon at The Comics Alternative


The Mighty Thor Omnibus Vol. 2 (2013) Stan Lee, Jack Kirby (Marvel)

Lee and Kirby really hit their collective stride with this volume, blending Norse mythology, action, and drama, along with some cosmic craziness that was pure Marvel back in the day. These stories still hold up pretty well, far better than those from the first Thor omnibus. I'm not the biggest fan of controversial inker Vince Colletta, but that didn't stop my enjoyment of this volume. If you’re not familiar with how the Thor comic worked in those days, the first 16 pages were devoted to the main Thor story (which often was a little on the trippy side) while the last five pages showcased “Tales of Asgard,” stories of Thor’s early adventures. (Sometimes these are better than the main stories.) Well worth a look. Collects Journey Into Mystery (1952) #121-125, The Mighty Thor (1966) 126-152, Thor Annual #2, Not Brand Echh (1967) #3. 768 pages! Forsooth!


Locke & Key Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom (2011) Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)

Like any good suspense/mystery/horror story, Locke & Key Volume 4 ramps things up even higher with more incredible backstory, character building and mayhem. Really enjoying this. 


Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes (2013) Matt Kindt (First Second)

Matt Kindt’s mind just doesn’t work like ours and that’s a good thing. He’s got the ability to spin several plates and keep them from smashing to the floor, which means while you’re watching one or two plates wobbling dangerously close to a bad end, others are just getting started, which makes Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes worth multiple reads. 

The story is set in the city of Red Wheelbarrow, where Detective Gould - the greatest detective in the world - works. Yet Gould is stumped by a series of seemingly unrelated, bizarre crimes. I’ve loved Kindt’s work on Super Spy and Mind MGMT, but Red Handed may be his finest work yet.  


The Lost Boy (J 2013) Greg Ruth (Graphix)

I can't believe so few people are talking about this wonderful graphic novel. The artwork alone is simply stunning and the story - while clearly a fantasy - is anything but typical. Drawn in absolutely gorgeous pencil and ink, Greg Ruth has created a story that's just as strong as his artwork. Nate's family has just moved to a new town and a new house, where Nate discovers an old tape recorder and reels of tape in his room. What he hears sends him on a quest to discover a place called The Kingdom.... And that's all I'm going to tell you. Read it.


B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs 1 (2011) Mike Mignola, Guy Davis, et. al. (Dark Horse) 

If you’re unfamiliar with Hellboy and B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense), here’s all you need to know: 

B.P.R.D. is an agency based in Fairfield, Connecticut that investigates and defends the world from all occult threats. 

Hellboy (who - played by Ron Perlman - was in two movies, in case you never read the comics) was once part of this group.

He’s not anymore. 

You might think that without Hellboy as the “headliner” that B.P.R.D. might be a lesser title. It’s not. It does, however, take awhile for the title to find it’s way. The first section (which is the first trade paperback), Hollow Earth and Other Stories, is a good introduction to the group and a pretty good adventure. The second section, The Soul of Venice and Other Stories, consists mainly of short adventures and lacks direction somewhat. The final third begins the long Plague of Frogs story line, which finishes this volume and is taken up with three more hardcover omnibus volumes. 

B.P.R.D. is something of an acquired taste, but in my opinion, just as entertaining as the Hellboy stories. Over 400 pages in a very nice, sturdy hardcover book, retail priced at a very reasonable $34.99. 


That’s it for March. Tell me what you read. 

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