Category: Graphic Novel
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
It’s just a matter of rebranding. Repeat several times, “I’m not a Crazy Cat Lady. I’m a Cat Enthusiast.”
A humorous graphic look at what it means to be in love with your cat(s). The book is filled with cute illustrations and witty You Know You’re a Crazy Cat Lady When asides. There are also useful quizzes such as when your cat should get their own Instagram page, how to select your cat’s name, and how to make the perfect cat toy using common household objects. There are wise sayings regarding cats like “it’s not drinking alone when the cats are home.”
It’s nice to know that even in the Netherlands there are still crazy cat ladies. Crazy Cat Lady is the perfect gift for a cat owner—crazy or not. All owners will see themselves and their cats in these pages. 4 stars!
Thanks to Workman Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Humor, New Books Tagged with: Apr 2 2019, cats
I love comics and the Rolling Stones (sorry Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) so I had to read the Rolling Stones in Comics!
It tells the Rolling Stones story from its humble beginnings as a R&B cover band through its last tour. It details the issues between the band members, the drugs, the deaths, the music, and the groupies. The books states that Bill Wyman was the first person to coin the term groupies. The books is full of interesting tidbits like that.
The artwork is bright and clear. The book has an innovative solution to the usual problem of trying to stuff too much information in comic book speech balloons. It has a prose introduction to each chapter. Most are about three pages long and also contain pictures of the Stones at the time period referenced in the chapter. It worked for me.
Overall, the Rolling Stones in Comics! Is highly recommended for Stones fans and others who want to revisit the turbulent 1960s and 70s. 4 stars!
Thanks to NBM Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: Mar 15 2019, music
Heartfelt memoir about losing your home in the worst wildfire in decades. A Fire Story is sad but ultimately uplifting.
Multiple fires merged into a Northern California firestorm of epic proportions. The resulting burn area was the size of 15 Manhattans. Entire neighborhoods burned to the ground overnight. Warnings were mishandled so many survivors had virtually no time to take any belongings. Others didn’t escape in time.
The author, a graphic memoirist, uses his craft to document, in real time, the horrific experience of losing your home and all your stuff in a split second. While he is grateful his family is safe, he states,
“Well-meaning people say, ‘It’s just stuff.’ But it’s our stuff. Stuff we created. Stuff we treasured. Stuff from our ancestors we wanted our descendants to have. Stuff is a marker of time and memory. It’s roots.”
Wow, A Fire Story is so real! It throws the reader into a situation that, luckily, few will experience. It will make you appreciate your own stuff more. For myself, I live in a fire-prone area. We’ve been across the street, literally, from two major fires in two different homes and subject to voluntary evacuation orders. I have a bug-out bag of my family pictures and heirlooms ready to go. Are you ready?
If you have been toying with prepping for disaster as a New Year’s resolution, A Fire Story is an excellent shove in that direction. But it is also an exceptional look at human resilience and resourcefulness. I can’t recommend it highly enough. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Abrams ComicArts, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Non-fiction Tagged with: disaster, Mar 4 2019, memoir
Jump into nerd culture with the Long Con.
The Long Con is the longest pop culture convention ever. It appears the Convention caused the apocalypse five years previously. Since he survived the Convention’s destruction, reporter Victor is given the assignment to find out what happened.
Slipping back and forth between the post-apocalyptic present and the pre-apocalyptic past, the plot is interesting and includes many details about conventions. I wish that the characterizations were more fleshed out. However, the humor makes up for it. The Long Con is recommended to those who have either been to conventions or wished they had. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Oni Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Science Fiction Tagged with: Feb 12 2019, Nerdy
For decades, performers have known they have made it big when they hear, It’s Showtime at the Apollo!
More than just about the Apollo Theater in Harlem, this fact-filled graphic novel tells the story of African-American music in NYC from the Harlem Renaissance after WWI through the present. All the greats from all the eras have played the Apollo—Lena Horne, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Gladys Knight, Nicholas Brothers, James Brown, the Jackson 5, Sammy David Jr., Funkadelic and L.L. Cool J.
There are some interesting little known facts. Who knew that February in the 1960s was reserved for the drag show, the Jewel Box Revue? Or about the bomb threat that forced the Revue’s closure? I also learned where the famed Tree of Hope stump came from and why it is lucky.
Most graphic novels do not have so much text. Showtime at the Apollo reads more like an illustrated history than a true graphic novel. Even when the pictures alone could tell the tale, there is a text box labeling what is depicted. The artwork is clear. It is easy to recognize the famous faces.
For anyone who is interested in musical history or the story of African-American entertainment in New York City, this is a fantastic choice. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Abrams ComicArts, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Non-fiction Tagged with: history, Jan 8 2019, music