Friday, September 12, 2014

Read in August Part II

Although I posted the first part of my August reads before the month was out, I am way behind in posting the rest of them... but here they are. I hope you’ll find something that grabs you. 

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

Gaijin: American Prisoner of War (J/Y 2014) Matt Faulkner (Disney-Hyperion) 

First, Faulkner's story (based on true events) has its heart in the right place. This story of a Japanese American boy in an interment camp is beautifully illustrated, but it takes a long time to get past what amounts to a fairly typical story of prejudice, a story adult readers have seen many times before. The storyline eventually gains some depth and layering, but it takes longer than I felt it should. I was also hoping for more clarification in some of the character development and relationships. 

Second, the library I borrowed this book from places this graphic novel in the children's area, which is probably a good call, especially for more mature 10-12-year-olds. I think it belongs in the children's area rather than the YA section. See what you think. 


Trillium (2014) Jeff Lemire (Vertigo)

I admire Lemire for taking some creative chances with Trillium, and not just with respect to the format. We can certainly quibble over reading the title in single issues vs. a collected edition, but regardless, Lemire has given us another excellent story. Yes, Lemire takes some risks here, most of which work; a few, maybe not so much, but I admire how he’s expanding and pushing himself creatively. Is the total story too romantic? Too sentimental? I don't think so, but pick it up and judge for yourself.


Daredevil, Vol. 7 (2014) Mark Waid, Chris Samnee (Marvel) 

While better than the previous Volume 6, this series is perhaps in need of a change, which Waid is giving us by moving Daredevil to San Francisco for awhile. (Read this volume and you'll understand why.) The series is still fun and well worth reading, as is all of Waid's work. And how can you not have a good time with Chris Samnee's art?


Comics Squad: Recess! (J 2014) Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm (Random House Children’s Books)


Pistolwhip (2001) Jason Hall, Matt Kindt (Top Shelf)

Kindt’s first full-length graphic novel presents many of the themes and elements he develops in his other works: noir, detectives, secrecy, espionage... all good stuff. I wonder how many people paid attention when Time listed Pistolwhip as one of the 10 best graphic novels in 2001? Well, if you missed it then, you can get the complete Pistolwhip in hardcover in just a few months. And you should. 


Revolver (2010) Matt Kindt (Vertigo) 

Sam, a thirty-something in Seattle, wakes up to a world of destruction and devastation. He’s even more confused when he awakens again to discover that everything’s just fine. Navigating between these two worlds while looking for answers, Sam (and Kindt) gives you plenty to think about. 


+ Muktuk Wolfsbreath, Hard Boiled Shaman: The Spirit of Boo (2012) Terry LaBan (Createspace)

Siberian noir with a shaman and a talking weasel? Yeah! Muktuk Wolfsbreath seeks to save a young boy’s soul from the powers of darkness, but he first has to confront evil women, demons, animals spirits and stuff I can’t even begin to describe. The Spirit of Boo is a crazy adventure with just the right amount of humor. I’m not exactly sure why it works, but it does most of the time. I didn’t think I’d like this title, but I was pleasantly surprised. (Maybe you will be, too.)


Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity (Y 2011) Dave Roman (First Second)

Astronaut Academy is a fun, zany book about kids who go to school in outer space, training to be astronauts. The artwork makes you think this would be a kids' book, but most libraries place it in their teen section. The book is witty and fun, but jam-packed with tons of characters and situations, which for kids who love it, will be a dream-come-true. For those who don't, well, maybe this isn't for them. But I enjoyed it.


Zaya (2014) JD Morvan, Huang-Jia Wei (Magnetic Press)

What a frustrating reading experience... JD Morvan has the elements of a good story here, but a huge chunk of the tale bogs down in action scenes that often make little visual sense, which is a real shame, since much of Huang-Jia Wei's art is absolutely gorgeous. Maybe a part of the problem with the text is in the translation from the French, but much of the dialogue is redundant and unnecessary. There's a good story here, and good art, but unfortunately they don't meet up very often. For an excellent review of Zaya, check out Shea Hennum’s review


Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000) Chris Ware (Pantheon)

Ware does some absolutely amazing things with art design with this book - a real tour de force of illustration and format. Really more of a character study (or rather, studies) than a story, Jimmy Corrigan is largely a sad, depressing experience, but an incredible one you’ll never forget.


Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus, Vol. 2 (1971/2007) Jack Kirby, Mike Royer, Vince Colletta (DC) 

Yeah, Kirby's Fourth World is all over the place, uneven, and sometimes downright insane, but I love it! Kirby's unbridled energy and imagination are on full display in this volume, which is stronger and more coherent than the first. A generous sampling of several of Kirby's pencilled pages makes this volume indispensable.


Talent, Deluxe Edition (2014) Christopher Golden, Tom Sniegoski, Paul Azaceta (Boom! Studios) 

Reviewed at The Comics Alternative 


+ Dust: Withered Earth (2012) James Ninness, John Narcomey (Keyleaf Comics) 

Interesting dystopian Western tale with plenty of action and violence. John Narcomey's rugged art style works well with the James Ninness quest/redemption story of Jim, a strange drifter who agrees to accompany a woman named Deborah through the desert. You've got a man with no lips as a villain, which sounds pretty cool until you get frustrated trying to figure out exactly what he's trying to say. Worth a look for Western and dystopian fans.


I’d love to hear about what you enjoyed last month... 

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