Category: Graphic Novel
Toyo Harada was nine when his world in Hiroshima Japan was blown apart by an atom bomb. His father died during the war and his mother died in the bombing. Harada was somehow saved. But he came back changed in the Life and Death of Toyo Harada.
Harada has new powers of flight and bewitchery. Initially, he uses his powers for good to prevent future wars. Unfortunately, wars and acts of terrorism continue—but who is behind it?
At the beginning, I was slightly confused about the timeline because of a multitude of unlabeled flashbacks. However, if you persist, you will be rewarded with a twisty plot. The amount of research is intense. Space elevators are real technology. There is an orbit of space junk around the earth—no word from our government whether some if it might be alien.
The best part is the artwork. It’s gritty when the plotting reflects it. It’s pretty when it needs to be like in the cosmos parts. The shading and coloring are excellent. The art is always clear and adds meaning to the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed both the plot and the artwork within the Life and Death of Toyo Harada. I believe you will too. 5 stars!
Thanks to Valiant Entertainment and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: Oct 22 2019
“There was no greater violence than affection.” If you like that quote, I believe you will enjoy Commute, a graphic novel for the #metoo movement.
Unfortunately, I just thought the book was sad. Erin had some difficulties early in life. To “overcome them”, she drinks. Heavily. Every night. Before finding some guy in a bar to sleep with. Even though she doesn’t enjoy it. As one character in the story states, “don’t look for oranges in a gas station.” I wanted to hear her story rather than the sad-sack protagonist. The fact is that while complaining about men either desiring her or making her invisible, she is objectifying herself and all women by constantly worrying about being or becoming fat. Fat to her includes pregnancy, which is just terrible.
As you can probably tell, Commute wasn’t the book for me. I’m sympathetic with the issues portrayed. I hope that all female millennials and younger are not living the protagonist’s life portrayed here. If some of them are, then I hope they get a chance to read this empowering graphic novel. However, if you are not already on that road, I wouldn’t recommend picking this book up. 2 stars.
Thanks to Abrams ComicArts and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Women's Fiction Tagged with: Oct 8 2019
What is hiding shallowly beneath the surface of Boston’s school system? Nascent reporter, Madison, investigates government corruption in the twisty crime comic, Bury the Lede.
Madison is an intern at the Boston Lede, the New York Times of Boston. She is fetching coffee and dreaming of her first byline when suspected socialite murderer, Dahlia, agrees to talk with her in prison. Instead of talking about the death of her husband or the disappearance of her young son, Dahlia gives Madison a hint about widespread city corruption. As Madison pursues the lead, she follows a twisty and torturous path that will impact both her love life and her family.
Bury the Lede is a superior crime comic. The mystery is compelling and a challenge to solve. The relationships, both straight and LGBTQ, feel realistic. The artwork has the feel of a 1950s noir film. Overall, it’s a pleasant way for armchair detectives to spend an hour or two. 4 stars!
Thanks to Boom! Studios and NetGalley for granting my wish for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Lgbtqia, Oct 8 2019, procedural, reporter
Rod Serling, famous host of the fifties sci-fi anthology series The Twilight Zone, is The Twilight Man.
Beginning his biography with his service in the Pacific theater of World War II, this graphic novel uses pictures to show us Rod’s life. He was diagnosed with shellshock after the war (now called PTSD), which left him with horrific nightmares for the rest of his life. Rod moved from college to Midwest radio to NYC television before landing The Twilight Zone.
The Twilight Man is an interesting step back into a more innocent time. World War II, its aftermath, the end of radio dramas, the beginning of television, McCarthy’s red scare, and conspicuous consumption are all addressed here. Rod definitely lived in interesting times. If you would like to read a bit of entertainment history or like biographies, this is a great choice. 4 stars!
Thanks to Life Drawn, Humanoids, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Oct 8 2019, Twilight Zone
Batman is my favorite superhero so I had to read Batman: 100 Greatest Moments! What a great review or catch up on the entire Batman story.
From Batman’s origin to tales from the dark multiverse, all the important stories are here. Each has a short summary of the event and at least one comic page or cover. The time period covered is 1940 through 2011.
Some of the stories are familiar to this long-time Batman fan, but many were not. Now, I just have to find a copy of Gotham by Gaslight, where Batman takes on Gotham’s own Jack the Ripper in Victorian times!
My favorite part was the artwork. The styles vary widely—partly because of timing and partly due to different artists’ interpretations. Some style changes may be caused by modern painting and printing techniques making the images sharper and clearer. Regardless, I loved seeing them all in one book to make comparisons easy.
If you are a Batman fan, you must pick up Batman: 100 Greatest Moments! It is an excellent reminder of why you already, or soon will, love the Dark Knight. 5 stars!
Thanks to Chartwell Books, Quarto Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: batman, Oct 1 2019
Once Upon a Time in France tells the, so unbelievably it must be true, story of Romanian Jew Joseph Joanovici.
After immigrating to France in the 1920s, scrap metal makes him rich. When World War II begins, he slowly starts supplying the Nazis with metal after they occupy France. He uses his money and connections to the Germans to save his family and many other Jews if France from death. He also contributes some his war profits to the French Resistance. When the war ends, society has a difficult time characterizing him as either a hero or a villain. In truth, he was just a man making hard decisions. War truly is hell.
Joseph is a complex character stuck in a bad situation. After World War II, people wanted to glorify war heroes and vilify its villains. Unfortunately, Joseph was a little of both. The story is enthralling and little known in popular culture. Once Upon a Time in France does an excellent job drawing the reader into a completely different time and place. It forces contemplation of what the reader would do if in Joseph’s place. The artwork is beautiful and really enhances the feeling of immersion in French culture and the shock of war. 4.5 stars!
Thanks to Dead Reckoning, Naval Institute Press and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: biography, Sep 17 2019, WWII
Who doesn’t enjoy getting Texts from Mittens?
Mittens is a typical cat. He has a healthy obsession with boxes and shampoo caps. His girlfriend, Fiona, thinks he is romantic when he suggests her coming up to his cat condo to rub their faces on an old sock together. He suspects his (human) mother is hanging out with her “sketchy raccoon gang friends”. Mittens helpfully suggests boyfriends for her on an online dating website, “How about Jeff? He owns a seafood shop! Great catch! LOL.” His best friend, tomcat and playa Stumpy, may be involved with a catnip trafficking ring. Overall, Mittens is just your typical house kitty…who texts.
While only occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, Texts from Mittens is cute. Many of Mittens’ obsessions will be familiar to cat owners. Garfield fans will recognize Mittens disbelief at the absurdity of roommate, and “filthy hound” Earl, who carries sticks for no reason. This book would make a good gift for the “crazy cat lady” in your life. 4 stars!
Thank you to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Humor, New Books Tagged with: cats, comics, Sep 3 2019
Aquaman Vol 1: Unspoken Water is Aquaman and his universe’s origin story.
Like traditional mythology, Aquaman’s universe is full of angry, vengeful gods. First, there was Father Sea and Mother Salt. They had a perfect marriage in the world’s seas. Unfortunately, their children, though fully grown, solved their problems in a childishly violent way. But Mother Salt fought back.
First, the Wonder Woman and then the Aquaman movie are box office hits. Mythology is popular again. You can’t simply be a rich millionaire trying to combat crime in a mask anymore. I’m sure the other popular comic book company’s movies also had a lot to do with the mythos trend.
Mythology’s creation stories have certain elements that are all present here. That might he why they all seem so similar. If your story is the first to be read, it seems original and fresh. Aquaman Vol 1: Unspoken Water doesn’t feel like either, unfortunately. The artwork, while effective, is also not particularly original and has a Game of Thrones’ feel to it.
Overall, this book is a good choice for Aquaman fans. For others, it is an okay way to spend a few hours but maybe not worth seeking out. 3 stars.
Thanks to DC Comics and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: Aquaman, Aug 13 2019
Narasumas, Applelonia, and some giant colorful rabbits traipse around a snowy fantasy land in Divine Intervention.
I wanted to like this female led graphic novel fantasy. However, the lettering was so distracting and the story so confusing that unfortunately I did not. Who notices lettering? I never did until reading this tale. Or maybe it was just too much of it? I don’t know but I can’t recommend Divine Intervention. 2 stars.
08Thanks to BHC Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: Aug 8 2019
Enzo and Pascal had an easy night planned. Protecting a witness in a secret hotel room is the safest job for a cop, right? True, until both cops are killed and the witness is taken in Stiletto Vol 1.
Who knew where the witness was hidden? Only other cops.
Detectives Maynard and Alphonse are enlisted to find the cop killers, and the witness, within twenty-four hours or Internal Affairs will take over the case. They also pursue the crime syndicate’s mole in the police force called Stiletto.
I enjoyed the plot. As the author states in his note at the end, it is clearly based on American movies from the 60s and 70s like the French Connection and Bullitt. The story is twisty and full of surprises! The art is very dim and has a noir feel, which is perfect for a crime thriller. There is a brief section at the end describing the writer/artist’s process to create Stiletto Vol 1. The setting feels like any Eastern American city but the author is actually Danish who based some of characters on people seen during his Paris vacation.
Readers who like crime thrillers or graphic novels will enjoy Stiletto Vol 1. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Lion Forge and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: crime, Jul 23 2019
David is having a bad day. First, he confesses his love to a co-worker. Her response is that she is engaged to the very co-worker that encouraged him to express his love. Second, he is crushed by a falling piano. High Heaven is the story of how even heaven disappoints David on this horrible day.
Initially, David is surprised and relieved to be let into heaven by Saint Peter. However, he then sees his “mansion” that looks more like a jail cell and smells strongly of ammonia. The only food on offer is generic cheese crackers and feathers are floating everywhere. When David complains, constantly, he is ostracized by the other residents.
High Heaven is a good idea that needs fleshing out. There is a need to enlarge the characterizations and explain the why behind some of the characters’ decisions. Unfortunately, this is the entire series’ run so I will never find the answers I seek. Therefore, this book gets only 3 stars.
Thanks to Ahoy Comics and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: Jul 2 2019
Absolutely beautiful artwork and an intriguing plot enliven Lady Mechanika Vol 5.
Lady Mechanika is again trying to discover who mechanized her when she is interrupted by a new issue. Mr. Lewis, her sidekick, is pulled out of his depression by a new lady love. But is her love for him true? In the meantime, Lady Mechanika runs into a professional hit woman, Mistress Grimm.
I love the new villainess. Her metal mask is truly scary. It will be nice if Mr. Lewis pulls out of his funk and man’s up as Robin to Lady Mechanika’s Batman.
Seriously, the awesome steampunk art here will, I’m sure, inspire amateur seamstresses/metalworkers out there to create some fine clothing. I also like the overt and subtle female empowerment within the plot. Lady Mechanika is obviously an independent woman as well as a take-no prisoners kick-a$$. However, it’s not just the Lady, both young girls in the story are shown in pants and not intimidated by anyone.
Lady Mechanika Vol 5 is a fantastic merging of steampunk and fantasy with a mystery. This series just keeps getting better. 5 stars!
Thanks to Benitez Productions and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: May 14 2019, steampunkish
MAD about the Trump Era has exactly the same feel as the original magazines.
- One overriding belief—check.
- Various writing styles from prose, to parodies, to poetry, to short comics—check.
- Excellent artwork including easily recognizable caricatures of political and pop culture figures—check.
- More clever, and occasionally witty, than laugh-out-loud funny jokes—check.
MAD about the Trump Era definitely brings back memories of making fun of President Nixon. If anything, there is more data to mine for laughs with President Trump. Just his tweets alone could fill an entire book. The jokes are hit and miss—compare them to the sketches on Saturday Night Live. I really enjoyed Captain Red America because it works on a surface level of climate deniers. But there is a deeper self-referential humor in the R on his suit referencing Red Robin of DC Comics, which owns MAD magazine.
Obviously, if you are a MAGA hat wearing staunch supporter of the Donald, this book is not for you. However, it is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for us older democrats (socialists to you, Mein President). 3 stars.
Thanks to MAD Magazine, DC Entertainment, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: May 7 2019, Politics
In Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale, Catwoman’s backstory is revealed and it is harsh.
Catgirl Selina’s mom brings home a new abusive boyfriend every month until she settles on Dernell. Dernell is physically and emotionally abusive to both Selina and her mother. However, when his cruelty impacts another, Selina runs away from home.
I didn’t know before reading it but this book is published as a young adult comic. I don’t believe teen Catgirl is an example of a good role model. She is a thief. None of the events you would expect, like rape and trafficking, happen to Selina after she runs away from home. She is portrayed as happy living on the street. I know it’s a teenage fantasy but I wouldn’t let my daughter read it.
The backstory of why Selina has a connection to cats and Bruce Wayne is interesting to explore. Making Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale a 4 star read for adults. I’m looking forward to the next volume continuing Catgirl’s transformation into a full grown Catwoman.
Thanks to DC Ink and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: catwoman, May 7 2019
There is a new drug in town in the horror/crime graphic novel, Bone Parish Vol 1. Just don’t ask what they make it out of…
Ash is a new hallucinogen that allows user to experience someone else’s life. It is incredibly popular but also so strong it kills some inexperienced users. The creator and her family can’t keep up with demand—no matter how many gravediggers they hire. Ash is composed of the burned remnants of dead bodies. The more interesting the life story, the better the high. When the family’s profit becomes the talk of the drug underworld, other gangs try to take over the family’s business.
The mixing of necromancy, New Orleans’ gothic atmosphere, and a noir crime family is almost as intoxicating as the drug, Ash. Bone Parish Vol 1 is concerned more with introducing the character’s stories and is rather short on plot in the middle section. However, the beautiful and atmospheric artwork makes the trip stimulating. The conclusion also promises more excitement in the next volume. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to BOOM! Studios and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: May 7 2019
I will literally read a grocery list by Scott Snyder—everything he writes is fantastic! Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth is no exception.
Earth is being flooded by purple alien waters. Whomever the water touches turns into a rampaging fish-monster bent on killing any human remaining on Earth. Three ocean deities from other galaxies are determined to transform the world’s population into faithful followers of themselves. Only the Justice League can stop them!
The Drowned Earth story arc appeared across multiple book series including Justice League, Aquaman, and Titans. It is nice to see it all in one place in this hardcover compilation. The use of different artists, depending on the book series, means that the art isn’t very consistent across the full book though it is always consistently good. I rather liked the variety as it allowed me to see different styles applied to the same characters. However, some may find it distracting.
The plot was revving on all cylinders as is usual with a Scott Snyder story. There really is very little discussion or downtime for our heroes. It is mostly fighting or defending the entire time. I know that Aquaman is popular now that the movie has been released but I still have a soft spot for Batman, who is used to good effect in a small subplot during the story. Overall, while I liked Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth, it is probably better suited for readers who have kept up with the Justice League stories. Rather than beginning here, if you are new to DC, begin with Dark Nights: Metal. However, this book deserves 4 stars!
Thanks to DC Comics and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: Aguaman, Apr 16 2019, Justice League, Titans