Monday, August 25, 2014

Graphic Novels Read in August Part I

August is turning out to be an excellent month here at Graphic Novel Universe. Here’s the first part of what I’ve read this month. More to come!

(All works with a + are part of the ongoing SXSW 2014 Starter Pack review series.)

Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller, Vol. 1 (1999) Roger McKenzie, Frank Miller, et al. (Marvel) 

Collecting Daredevil #158-161, 163-167. It pains me to say it, since Daredevil is one of my favorite Marvel characters, but these comics just aren’t very good. You should know that while Frank Miller’s name is the headliner for this collection, he actually wrote none of these stories. (That would come later.) Although Miller’s artwork is good, most of these tales are quite forgettable. I’m hoping Volume 2 is better. 


Forming (2011) Jesse Moynihan (Nobrow)

Moynihan’s take on creationist stories, mythical creatures and gods is absolutely wild, imaginative, colorful and often hilarious. The humor is often juvenile, which may be the whole point of the gods-and-creatures thing Moynihan’s going for here. The first of a projected trilogy from Nobrow Press.  


+ Bikini Cowboy (2010) Fresherluke (L. Frank Weber) 

From ComiXology: Set in the 1800's American frontier, a woman by the name of Whisky Jill must protect a young boy with innate abilities that his original captors seek to exploit.

Together they go on a spiritual journey that shows both the light and dark sides of humanity, and attain enlightenment.

Fresherluke’s Bikini Cowboy defies what we might expect from the book’s title, delivering a truly unique Western adventure story with a protagonist named Whisky Jill - a character you’ll never forget. Despite the title, Bikini Cowboy is a heartfelt tale with lots of humor and plenty of action. Weber’s art (which seems to be 100% pencil work) is astounding. 


Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 (2007) David Petersen (Archaia)

If the rest of the series continues to be of such high quality, I may be posting 5-star reviews for the rest of these books. Mouse Guard contains stunning artwork, which I figured would be accompanied by stories simply too cute to take seriously. Such is not the case. Petersen has successfully built (and is building) a well-structured culture, economy, and society of depth and beauty.


Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Legacy (2008) Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning (Marvel)

I probably should’ve read this trade before watching the movie, but I didn’t... Those unfamiliar with the story and characters (like me) will probably watch the movie and experience some level of disappointment with the book (also like me). The movie wisely cut some of the characters from this volume (Including them would’ve been way too confusing) and tightened up some elements of the story, but there’s a fair amount of common ground here. This is a fun volume, but it seems pretty scatter-shot, taking the equivalent of eight issues to tell about five issues’ worth of story. 


+ The Black Well (2012) Jamie Tanner

From ComiXology: A dog-faced man, a disappearing woman, a headless vampire, a mysterious clinic on a remote island, offering treatment for "unusual ailments"...

A comedy without laughs, a horror story without scares, a mystery without solutions.

THE BLACK WELL is a strange graphic novel by Jamie Tanner, Eisner-nominated author of THE AVIARY...

Reading The Black Well is sort of like watching a David Lynch movie: you’re not quite sure what’s going on, but you keep watching anyway. Tanner’s book deserves more than one read-thorough, but don’t expect to have anything handed to you. 


Airboy Archives, Vol. 1 (1986/2014) Chuck Dixon, Timothy Truman, Stan Woch, Ben Dunn, Bo Hampton, Ron Randall, Larry Elmore, Bill Jaaska, Tom Lyle, Attilio Micheluzzi, Dan Spiegle (IDW) 

In 1986, in the midst of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, it's easy to forget pretty much everything else comics-related, especially comics that weren't coming from Marvel or DC. Yet Chuck Dixon's Airboy, which was originally published every two weeks, was a fun, sometimes gritty, action/adventure title that still works pretty well 30 years later. Eventually Airboy expanded from 16 pages every two weeks to 32 pages, including backup stories of other related characters such as Skywolf. The backup stories are pretty good and often tie in to the Airboy stories, but I prefer the Airboy's adventures. 

Airboy was originally a Golden Age character, but don't let that keep you from reading these tales. (You pretty much get up to speed during the first issue.) The art in all of these tales (from a wide variety of artists listed above) is absolutely stunning.

(Thanks to my friend Chris Marshall over at Collected Comics Library for suggesting this title.)


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